Cliché is basically when a regular guy finds his moment to become the hero, the villain yells YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE and escapes so he can have the final battle where by the power of love the hero will prevail.
But the ultimate truth is that it is an overused formula that works. Most likely, depending on your story, you don’t want to deviate from it that much. Rather, you just want to play around it a little.
Utilize the cliché!
First of all, allow these things to happen, but add your own twists to them! If a reader is expecting something to happen towards the climax of your story, use that knowledge to your advantage and surprise them by making it not happen, or happen in a new and unique way.
In Disney’s Frozen, there was a true love’s kiss moment. It still ended up happening, but it was a kiss on the cheek to a sister, which is also considered true love.
Make the cliché your own
If your story has a ‘chosen one’ like in Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland, where a prophecy foretold that the hero will come and fix all the problems, give it a twist in the end. Say your character is said to be the chosen one, he endures hardships and eventually triumphs through arduous adventures. In the end, they unravel the prophecy, and realize… “Oh, it said Elric was supposed to fulfill the prophecy, not Eric! Typo, haha. Anyways, thanks for saving our lands.” This actually shows that despite the prophecy, believing is enough, and can hold high moral value.
Good vs Evil
If your story has a good vs evil theme going, a nice way to make it less generic is by showing the evil’s point of view and showing how they are the ‘good’ guys in their own story. It’s always fun to let the reader decide which faction he wants to support, after all! Some of the villain characters can turn out to be the coolest.
Embrace the cliché
Sometimes, things are just supposed to happen the way they do, even in real life. Some clichés just need to happen in your story because it would make for the most powerful ending, and there’s no need to hide that fact. When you find yourself in that situation, go all out! Have the victory moment.