Q is for Quest
Quests! They abound in fantasy. There are whole texts written on the subject.
In fact, quests appear so often they are almost cliché. (Tolkien might be responsible for this.) Almost is the key word here, though I am sure lots of people would argue quests are cliché.
I am not entirely certain my favorite fantasy story (the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop) falls prey to the quest storyline. I am pretty sure my own WiP doesn’t have a quest, either. But that’s a function of the MC character and his background. Though the mystery-ish part of the story might count as a quest – he wants answers after all. Not sure about that. The answers shake up his world, but no one else’s.
I suppose how cliché a quest is depends on the story. Lots of stories have the guy searching for the magical and discovering only he can save the world, from Lord of the Rings to The Sword of Shannara to the Seeker to Harry Potter. Many myths have a quest, too.
I’ll admit I never cared much for the Seeker books, but the Sword of Shannara wasn’t that bad. Lots of people think the Harry Potter story very original, but IMHO, the world-building is fairly original and the characters are very appealing. The last book is a fairly straightforward quest – they need to find and destroy all these objects to kill the bad guy. In the first book, they needed to find the sorcerer’s stone (or philosopher’s stone, if your prefer).
So . . . yeah. I don’t think quests are cliché. They could be and it pretty much depends on the story probably. But I suppose you could say that for most supposed clichés.