Fictional Characters

focus photo of super mario luigi and yoshi figurines. Fictional Characters
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A fictitious character, or fictional characters is any animate figures within a story. Whether it is a person, animal, being, creature, or thing in a story. Writers use characters to perform the actions and speak dialogue, moving the story along a plot line. A story can have only one character (protagonist) and still be a complete story. This character’s conflict may be an inner one (within him/herself), or a conflict with something natural, such as climbing a mountain. Most stories have multiple characters interacting, with one of them as the antagonist, causing a conflict for the protagonist.

What’s a character in a story?

Characters archetypes, such as the hero, the wise man and the joker are heavily influenced by psychology. But in a good story characters play different roles. It’s more about how they behave rather what they are. And it is worth mentioning that a character can wear more than one hat and serve multiple aspects of the plot and the story as a whole.

Related: The Enneagram

A character’s development speaks of the depth and complexity of a character. It’s possible that a character starts out thoroughly developed, or it may be that the author chooses to slowly develop that character as the plot unfolds.

Types of Fictional Characters

a. Major characters

These are the most important characters in the story. There are two types, of which there may be a couple for each.


This is the main character, around which the whole story revolves. The decisions made by this character will be affected by a conflict from within, or externally through another character, nature, technology, society, or the fates/God.


Often the deuteragonist; the person second in importance to the protagonist in a drama. This character, or group of characters, causes the conflict for the protagonist. However, the antagonist could be the protagonist, who is torn by a problem within. Most times, something external is causing the problem. A group of people causing the conflict would be considered society, perhaps the members of a team, community, or institution. Additionally, the antagonist could be a part of nature, such as an animal, the weather, a mountain or lake. A different kind of antagonist would be an item such as a pen, car, phone, carpet, etc. These are all considered technology, since they are instruments or tools to complete a job. Finally, if the conflict comes from something out of the character’s control, the antagonist is fate or God.

b. Minor characters

These are the other characters in a story. They are not as important as the major characters, but still play a large part in the story. Their actions help drive the story forward. They may impact the decisions the protagonist or antagonist make, either helping or interfering with the conflict.

Characters can have different traits. Major characters will usually be more dynamic, changing and growing through the story while minor characters may be more static.

Foil – A foil is a character that has opposite character traits from another, meant to help highlight or bring out another’s positive or negative side. Many times, the antagonist is the foil for the protagonist. The Lancer — The second-in-command foil to The Leader.

Static – Characters who are static do not change throughout the story. Their use may simply be to create or relieve tension, or they were not meant to change. A major character can remain static through the whole story.

Dynamic – Dynamic characters change throughout the story. They may learn a lesson, become bad, or change in complex ways.

Flat – A flat character has one or two main traits, usually only all positive or negative. They are the opposite of a round character. The flaw or strength has its use in the story.

Round – These are the opposite of the flat character. These characters have many different traits, good and bad, making them more interesting.

Satellite Character — When a character is wholly defined by their relationship to someone else, common syndrome among sidekicks. Satellite Characters ‘revolve’ around a more important character. They aren’t given more depth due to their otherwise irrelevancy to the plot. Some examples other are mothers whose only role is to ask about the character’s day. Love interests can also be ‘satellite characters’, if the romance is not integral to the story.

Stock Characters

These are the characters that rely heavily on common tropes and stereotypes. For this short selection we’re going to leave aside subgenre specific characters such as pirates, prince charming, dark lord, damsel in distress, geek, nerd, witches and wizards.

Boy or girl next door

This character is so named because they are usually childhood friends with the protagonist and live just next door. They’re wholesome, unassuming, likable, and reasonably good-looking. Their friendship with the protagonist slowly turns into romantic attraction as they grow older.


The Bully is someone who delights in tormenting the protagonist. They target everyone who isn’t as popular as they are, or someone who’s weaker and won’t fight back. These characters are mostly found in stories concerning youths.

Comic relief

A character, typically sidekicks to the protagonists, whose main purpose is to be funny, particularly in stories which are not (completely) comedic.

Speaking of trying to defy genre conventions, let’s talk about Donkey from Shrek. Shrek was originally made to try and make fun of fantasy/medieval conventions in fairy tales and the first Shrek film is the perfect example of this. All of our favorite fairy tale characters seem to be a little bit different than what we remember, and this unique perspective on the sub-genre is why I think Shrek has stayed in the public consciousness so long. However, I also think that it is in large part due to Eddie Murphy’s brilliant voice over work for the character of Donkey.


Sleuth is a fun, sometimes playful, word for “detective.” As a verb, it’s also what a detective does. When you seek clues, you sleuth. You, sleuth, you! The word sleuth comes from the Old Norse sloth, meaning “trail” and sleuthing is following a trail.

In literature, specially in the mystery genre the sleuth is often the main character, whose main job is not the police force but they can solve crime. D. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of master sleuth Sherlock Holmes, was born in Scotland on May 22, 1859. Doyle wrote four novels and 58 short stories about Sherlock Holmes published over a span of 40 years (1887–1927).

The mad scientist

These characters are very intelligent but are also pretty weird. Their eccentric behavior stems from their absolute devotion to work, which always interferes with other aspects of their life.

They forget anything that’s outside of work, including names, dates, eating, sleeping, and even grooming themselves. This is why they always appear disheveled and slightly crazed. They’re pretty much the good version of the absent-minded professor.

Red herring

In literature, the definition of red herring refers to a misleading, or false, clue. It is a common literary device used in mysteries and thrillers that can lead readers down a false path or otherwise distract them from what’s really going on in the plot.

The red herring device is especially common in mysteries, thrillers, and detective stories, where writers want to keep their reader guessing until the very end. In creating a red herring, a writer often includes details added to purposefully mislead readers and lay a false trail. This prevents them from predicting an outcome. Red herrings are the tricks that lead readers astray and thereby surprise them even more when something is revealed.

Roles of a sidekick

Undying Loyalty — A sidekick is always consummately loyal to their hero, right? Well, they don’t have to loyal and they are not always reliable either. Because the role already implies a strong bond we will simply assume any of these into under the larger category of Best Friend — Heroes often cite their loyal sidekicks as these.

A Day in the Limelight — When a sidekick becomes the main focus of the story for an episode or two.

  • Kid Sidekick — A sidekick who is a child.
  • Older Sidekick — A sidekick who is older than the hero.
Hero’s Sidekick
  • Battle Butler — A fighting sidekick who is also employed by the hero as a servant.
  • Bumbling Sidekick — An incompetent sidekick who makes the hero look better.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick — A sidekick who is better at what they do than the hero, The Jeeves — An immaculate butler.
  • The Caretaker — A sidekick who dedicates themself to taking care of someone else.
  • The Champion — A sidekick who dedicates themself to getting the best for someone else.
  • Chessmaster Sidekick — A sidekick who is actually manipulating events.
  • The Confidant — A sidekick who is the only person the hero confides in.
  • The Conscience — A sidekick who acts as the voice of reason to the hero.
  • Cowardly Sidekick — A sidekick who is cowardly, to make the hero seem braver.
  • Dead Sidekick — The sidekick dies, motivating the hero, or stays as a ghost.
  • Non-Player Companion — A video game sidekick who is not controlled by the player.
  • Platonic Life-Partners — Sidekicks often live closely with their heroes despite not being romantically involved with them.
  • Psycho Sidekick — A less morally righteous sidekick who takes care of unpleasant business for the hero.
  • Reckless Sidekick — A sidekick whose reckless tendencies get them into situations they must then be rescued from.
  • Romantic Wingman — A sidekick who helps out with courtship endeavors.
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick — When the sidekick is more polite than the hero.
  • Sarcastic Devotee — A sidekick who mocks the hero despite being deeply loyal to them.
  • Sassy Secretary — A mouthy and sarcastic secretary sidekick.
  • Secret-Keeper — A sidekick who knows a big secret about the hero.
  • Silent Partner — A sidekick who doesn’t say anything.
  • Support Party Member — A non-fighting, muggle Best Friend — The non-powered sidekick to a powerful hero.
  • Sycophantic Servant — A sidekick who demeans themself to uplift the hero
  • Translator Buddy — A sidekick who has to explain what the hero means all the time.
  • The Watson — A sidekick who exists to ask questions on behalf of the audience.

Villain’s Sidekick

  • Bastard Understudy — A villain’s sidekick secretly planning to betray their master.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey — Villain sidekicks tend to be goofy and less serious than their employers.
  • The Starscream — A villain’s sidekick who makes no secret of their disdain for the villain and plans to usurp them.
    • Deck of Wild Cards: All of the villain’s sidekicks want to overthrow them.
  • The Dragon — A villain’s sidekick.
  • The Creon — A leader’s sidekick who would not want to be in charge.
Non-Human Sidekick — A sidekick who is not human.
  • Companion — A fairy who is a sidekick.
  • Gratuitous Animal Sidekick — An animal sidekick.
  • Robot Buddy — A robot sidekick.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick — A sarcastic sidekick who isn’t human.
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick — A sidekick who is a usually inanimate object.
  • Virtual Sidekick: An AI (not a robot) serving as a sidekick.

Point of View

  • Supporting Protagonist — A sidekick who is the POV character despite the story not being about them.
  • The Storyteller — A common role for sidekicks is to ensure the hero’s story is passed on.

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