Insufficient attention has been paid to how concepts of resilience can be operationalised in wicked, contested situations. Within the environmental sciences, the contemporary social-ecological resilience narrative is not geared to examining social dilemmas in ill-defined problem contexts. These conditions require a different resilience narrative, one centred on epistemological and ontological considerations. This paper examines four resilience narratives (engineering, social-ecological, epistemic and intersubjective) in order to stimulate an improved awareness of the possibility of more deliberative choices for research and governance in the resilience domain. We argue that the resilience research community needs to be more cognizant of the diversity of resilience narratives in order to empower and learn from the perspectives and local practices of stakeholders, who will often express narratives better aligned to the wicked situation at hand. Ultimately, the resilience narratives of the research community can be little more than toolkits to support greater understanding of the diversity of people, perspectives and ‘performances’ jointly narrating the ‘real’ stories of our wicked and contested realities.