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A stock character is a dramatic or literary character representing a generic type in a conventional, simplified manner and recurring in many fictional works.[1] The following list labels some of these stereotypes and provides examples. Some character archetypes, the more universal foundations of fictional characters, are also listed. Some characters that were first introduced as fully fleshed-out characters become subsequently used as stock characters in other works (e.g., the Ebenezer Scrooge character from A Christmas Carol, upon whom the miserly Scrooge type is based). Some stock characters incorporate more than one stock character; for example, a bard may also be a wisecracking jester. Some of the stock characters in this list may be considered offensive due to their use of racial stereotyping.


Character Type Description Examples
Absent-minded professor An eccentric scientific genius who is so focused on his work that he has shortfalls in other areas of life (remembering things, grooming).[2] This is the benign version of the mad scientist.
Action hero A hero of an action story, often one who is comfortable with the fast pace of events in the story. They are resourceful, courageous, and have strong commitment to their cause. Often overlaps with chosen one and/or superhero. See: List of action heroes.
Ace pilot The advent of aviation spawned a genre of adventure stories in which the ace pilot was the natural hero. Traits often attributed to the ace in war films are "boisterousness, camaraderie, stoicism and omnipotence".[4] Books and comics: Biggles and Hop Harrigan; Daredevil pilots in Hollywood films as the wars of the twentieth century were fictionalised, such as Flying Tigers and God Is My Co-Pilot;[5] later Maverick in Top Gun.,[6][4] Carol Danvers
Angry black woman An assertive, overbearing, opinionated, loud, and "sassy" Black woman with a sharp tongue, often depicted as nagging and emasculating a male character.[7][8] Sapphire in Amos 'n' Andy,[9] Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty,[10] Aunt Esther, Florence Johnston
Angry white male A reactionary, white man whose frustration with progressive policies and social changes escalates into rage and, in some cases, violence. This leads to the character's downfall.
Annoying neighbor A comic character known for pestering and hounding the protagonist. As they live next door to them, this creates a pretext for frequent unwanted interactions.
Antihero A protagonist lacking conventional heroic qualities, such as courage or idealism.[11] An antihero has weaknesses and may engage in criminal acts at times, but lacks any sinister intentions and is usually, if begrudgingly and unconventionally, ethical.
Aristocratic twit A weathly, pampered person from a high social class who is affable, good-natured, and dim-witted. While their life of privilege may have given them a posh education and a smattering of pretentious foreign phrases and classical references, they have been so sheltered from everyday life by their retinue of servants and advisors that they often misjudge or misunderstand everyday situations when left to their own devices.
Author surrogate A character sharing the traits or appearance of its author or creator.[14] The author surrogate may be disguised to some degree, or there may be little attempt to make them appear different (for example, they may have the same first name and job). Jon Arbuckle, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Ralphie Parker, Henry Chinaski in Barfly (surrogate for Charles Bukowski)


Character Type Description Examples
Bad boy A roguish, good-looking macho, often a womanizer. In his frequent sexual affairs, he shows a "dark triad" of Machiavellian traits. In historical fiction, he is a rake or cad.
Bard A lute-playing singer-songwriter in Medieval and Renaissance stories who sings about the events of the day to earn a living. The Bard may be a wandering troubador travelling from town to town, and playing at taverns (or busking when gigs are scarce), or they may have a steady job in a noble court, playing for royalty at feasts. The bard may overlap with the jester if they use their songs to speak blunt truths to a king or entertain the nobles with humour (also providing comic relief in the story). The bard may also be a wandering minstrel who voyages with the hero to chronicle the hero's exploits in song. Cantus in Fraggle Rock, Marillion in Game of Thrones, Dandelion/Jaskier in The Witcher, Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess
Battle-axe An old, domineering, brash and brazen woman Agnes Skinner, Thelma Harper, Marie Barone
Beatnik A hipster character, with a distinct counterculture style (usually wearing black or muted colors, turtlenecks, leotards for women, a beret, and sunglasses), loves jazz and avant-garde art and poetry, marijuana, bongo drums, and has a disdain for anything popular in mainstream culture. Judy Funnie, Maynard G. Krebs, the cast of Off Beat Cinema, Eddy Crane, the leader of a crime gang in The Beatniks (1960)
Bitter war veteran[15] Man who fought as a soldier during a war; he usually leaves home a naïve young man, experiences the horrors of war, and returns home embittered and deranged. He often has flashbacks and nightmares about the war.
Black best friend In American films and television shows, a Black best friend is a secondary character, often female, who is used to "guide White characters out of challenging circumstances." The Black best friend "support[s] the heroine, often with sass, attitude and a keen insight into relationships and life."[17] One criticism of the stock character is that little of their inner life is depicted.

In the film The Devil Wears Prada, Tracie Thoms plays friend to lead character played by Anne Hathaway; Aisha Tyler played a friend to Jennifer Love Hewitt on The Ghost Whisperer; Lisa Nicole Carson played a friend to lead character Calista Flockhart on Ally McBeal

Black knight An evil fighter antagonist, whose identity is often concealed behind his visor. He may be associated with death. He battles the good knight-errant. Black Knight, Nathan Garrett, Darth Vader
Blind seer A mystic who is sightless, but uses spiritual or psychic powers to sense the events and sights around them. The blind prophet Tiresias, Chirrut in Rogue One, "One Hundred Eyes" in Marco Polo, Zatoichi (blind swordsman) Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars: Rebels (blind Jedi knight)
Boy next door A nice, average guy who is reasonably good-looking Marty McFly, Luke Skywalker, Rodney Trotter
Braggart A character who speaks with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about their achievements, possessions, or abilities, typically to prove their superiority and create admiration or envy. Some braggarts may misrepresent or exaggerate their accomplishments. The classical archetypes are Alazon and Miles Gloriosus, with the latter being a boastful soldier.[18] A later example from the Italian commedia dell'arte is Il Capitano.[19] Zapp Brannigan from Futurama, Carlton Lassiter from Psych
Bug-eyed monster Staple evil aliens[2] in science fiction of the 1930s were often described (or pictured on covers of pulp magazines) as grotesque creatures with huge, oversized

or compound eyes and a lust for women, blood or general destruction. || Formics, Alien

Bully A villainous character often found in stories centered around youth, especially in school. They delight in tormenting the protagonist and they may use emotional abuse and physical threats or assaults. Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story, Roger Klotz in Doug, Bulk and Skull, Henry Bowers from It
Byronic hero Byronic heroes are dark, gloomy, and brooding. Their passionate nature is often turned inward, as they ruminate on a private torment or a difficult secret from their past. They tend to be lonely and alienated, and have views or values that conflict with those of the wider community. The name refers to the Romantic poet Lord Byron, who was active in the 19th century. Lord Ruthven in The Vampyre (1819), Edmond Dantes from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), Heathcliff from Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847), and Rochester from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847)


Character Type Description Examples
Cat lady An eccentric, lonely woman, often living alone. She may be depicted as dotty and benevolent or as unhinged. Crazy Cat Lady, Arabella Figg,[20] Angela Martin
Chosen one A person destined by prophecy to save the world, frequently possessed of unusual skills or abilities.
Christ figure Someone who dies a martyr only to rise from the dead to fight evil, as in the story of Jesus. The similarity may be intentional or not. The Doctor, Spock, Harry Potter, Aslan (Narnia), Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)
Chuck Cunningham The opposite of the Cousin Oliver: a minor character, usually a sibling of one of the main characters, who is quickly jettisoned when a breakout character emerges from a continuing series. From the point of the character's disappearance, the series treats the character as if they never existed. Named after the character in Happy Days, who disappeared after Gavan O'Herlihy left the series after one season. (This is distinct from the phenomenon of killing off a character or sending them away, in such cases the character always existed in the fictional universe but is no longer around.)
Con artist A person who tricks people out of money by gaining, and then betraying, their confidence. Del Boy, Artful Dodger, The King and the Duke
Competent man A person who exhibits a very wide range of abilities and knowledge, making him a form of polymath. While not the first to use such a character type, the heroes and heroines of Robert A. Heinlein's fiction generally have a wide range of abilities. The competent man, more often than not, is written without explaining how he achieved his wide range of skills and abilities. May also be called a "Heinleinian hero". Lazarus Long, Jubal Harshaw
Conscience A character, often supernatural or fable-like, who provides moral guidance and advice to the protagonist.
Corydon A Corydon is a stock character for a herdsman in ancient Greek pastoral poems and fables and in much later European literature. The Corydon character may be portrayed as amorous or cowardly. A Corydon character is used in the fourth Idyll of the Syracusan poet Theocritus(c. 300 – c. 250 BC). The second of Virgil's Eclogues has a goatherd character named Corydon who is in love with another man, Alexis. In Calpurnius Siculus’ Ecologues, there is a Corydon character who may be an author surrogate for Siculus. In Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen has a cowardly shepherd named Corydon in Book VI, Canto X; he is afraid to help Pastorell when she is being pursued by a tiger.
Contender A competitive, scrappy underdog who is driven to keep trying to win despite obstacles and poor odds. Rocky Balboa, Lightning McQueen, Daniel LaRusso
Cousin Oliver A young child who joins the cast of an ongoing series (usually a sitcom) after the previous younger characters have grown older and can no longer provide the comic plot lines they used to as child actors. Named after a character added in the final episodes of The Brady Bunch, after the youngest Brady stepsiblings had grown into preteens. Scrappy-Doo, Nicky and Alex Katsopolis in Full House, Ricky Segall in The Partridge Family
Career criminal Often a cunning thief. Has a strange gait, slouched posture and devious facial expression. Flynn Rider, Bernie Rhodenbarr, Cash Register Thief
Crone A cruel, withered old woman, often occult or witch-like (see: Hag).
Curmudgeon A usually middle-aged or elderly character who outwardly is bitter, argumentative and politically incorrect. The curmudgeon usually has more sympathetic traits that are revealed over the course of a work of fiction. Knemon in Dyskolos, Alf Garnett, Grinch, Daisy Werthan


Character Type Description Examples
Damsel in distress A noble, beautiful young Lady in need of rescue, traditionally from dragons. In early 20th century films, she is threatened by a robber or kidnapper.
Dandy A good-looking, well-off young man more interested in fashion and leisure than business and politics. Prominent in Victorian writings. Dorian Gray, Lord Byron
Dark Lady A dark, malicious or doomed woman. Her darkness is either literally, in the sense she has a colored skin, or in a metaphorical sense (e.g., that she is a tragic, doomed figure).
Dark Lady (Hispanic) This Hispanic or Latin stock character is a beautiful and aristocratic woman whose mysterious and inscrutable personality makes her seem alluring. Scholars have called the Dark Lady and the Latin lover the only two positive Hispanic stock characters.[21] Dolores Del Rio played various Dark Lady roles, such as Flying Down to Rio (1933) and In Caliente (1936)
Dark Lord An evil, powerful sorcerer. The dark lord is often wounded, though still powerful enough to defile the land. He may be a Devil archetype.
Dastardly Whiplash A classic villain archetype from the silent film era, who will tie a maiden to train tracks or burn down an orphanage as part of their schemes, all while twirling a long mustache. They have over-the-top personalities. Dick Dastardly, Simon Legree
Donor A supernatural being in fairy tales and fantasy literature who helps the protagonist or tests them. The fairy godmother is a classic example in fairy tales.
Domestic (Black) Due to the US history of slavery one of the common early depictions of Black people in films was as domestic servants. The pejorative Mammy stereotype is a subcategory. Beulah, Gone With The Wind, Driving Miss Daisy, The Help
Doppelgänger A malevolent character that resembles but is not necessarily related to another, benevolent, character in the same fictional universe; may come from a parallel universe. Usually portrayed by the same actor in a dual role. Bizarro, Mirror Universe
Dragon Lady A stereotype of East Asian and occasionally South Asian and Southeast Asian women as strong, deceitful, domineering, or mysterious.[23] The term's origin and usage arose in America during the late 19th century. This ethnic stereotype may negatively depict women as promiscuous, deceptive femme fatales. Anna May Wong in the movie Daughter of the Dragon 1931;[24]Lucy Liu in her roles in Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill, and Payback; Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies
Drill Sergeant The staff sergeant or gunnery sergeant in charge of instructing incoming military recruits in basic training. They are strict, demanding officers who are either loved or hated; good drill sergeants earn respect of their recruits when the training ends up saving lives, while bad or sadistic drill sergeants may be reviled or even fragged.[6]
Dumb blonde An attractive, young, blonde-haired woman with little common sense Goldie Hawn's characters on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Rose Nylund, Chrissy Snow, Leni Loud


Character Type Description Examples
El bandido This pejorative stereotype of a Mexican bandit was common in silent era Western films. It depicted the characters as missing teeth, being poorly groomed (unshaven, unwashed hair), unintelligent, and as having a violent, treacherous, and emotionally impulsive disposition.[21] The villain in Bronco Billy and the Greaser (1914)
Elderly martial arts master A wise old figure who's mentoring the young disciple in his ancient craft.
Everyman An ordinary, humble individual, the Everyman may be a stand-in for the audience or reader.
Evil twin A malevolent character that resembles and is usually related to (most commonly a literal twin of) another, benevolent, character in the same universe; usually portrayed by the same actor in a dual role. Adam Chandler`(All My Children)
Alex Drake (Pretty Little Liars)


Character Type Description Examples
Fall guy An unaware scapegoat for a villain's larger plot.
Falstaff Falstaff is a comic figure who is depicted as a fat, vain, and boastful knight who spends most of his time drinking and hanging about with petty criminals, living on stolen or borrowed money. He is ultimately repudiated by other major characters who eventually see him for the debauched, dissolute character he is. The word "Falstaffian" has entered the English language with a connotation of being corpulent, jolly and debauched.

The Falstaff character has appeared in other works, including:

Farmer's daughter A desirable, wholesome, and naive young woman, also described as being an "open-air type" and "public-spirited"[25][26] Bradley Sisters; Mary Ann Summers, Daisy Duke, Elly May Clampett, Daisy Mae Yokum
Farmer's wife In Western films, the "long-suffering farmer's wife" is a foil used as a contrast to the other female stock characters (Hooker with a heart of gold and the Schoolma'am).[27] The farmer's wife character also appears outside of Westerns. Mrs. Hale, the farmer's wife in Trifles, Curley the farmer's wife (never named, which shows that she is just a stock character) in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
Female clown (Hispanic) In this stereotype, also called a "Mexican Spitfire" (or "Latin Spitfire"), a Hispanic woman's ditzy antics are used to make the audience laugh derisively at her. While she is alluring, her value as a full character is blunted by her comic treatment. This is the female version of the Male buffoon (Hispanic).[21] Carmen Miranda, Lupe Vélez (notably in the eight-film Mexican Spitfire series that lent its name to the stock character)
Femme fatale A beautiful, alluring, woman who is also traitorous, cunning and deceptive. She draws men into a honey trap, and may be motivated by revenge or money.

Figaro is a comic character who plays the role of a barber who has become a cunning, scheming, insubordinate gentleman's valet. The character is inspired by the commedia dell'arte stock character of Brighella,[28] and like his predecessor he is a clever liar; moral and yet unscrupulous; good humored, helpful and brave, though somewhat embittered and cynical. Though he is normally calm, collected and intelligent, he can be irrational when angered. Given that the Figaro character tries so protect his wife from the romantic advances of his aristocratic master, the Figaro character is viewed as a fighter for freedom from tyranny, and as a result, some governments censored works about Figaro. The playwright of The Barber of Seville, Beaumarchais, may have created the Figaro character as an author surrogate, as Beaumarchais himself served time in jail for insubordination to the nobility.

The Figaro character in Giovanni Paisiello's The Barber of Seville 1782 opera; Mozart's titular character in the opera Le nozze di Figaro (1786); the Figaro character in Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville 1816 opera
Final girl A "last woman standing" from a group left in a horror film after a serial killer or monster has eliminated her companions.
Foil A character, especially in a double act, who is in most respects the opposite of the protagonist or straight man. The contrast between a character and their foil allows each characters' traits to be highlighted.
Folk hero A character whose heroic acts are left behind in their people's consciousness, often centuries after their death. See: List of folk heroes
Fool A court jester who made the king and nobles laugh by telling rhyming jokes and riddles, and by doing physical feats like juggling. Jesters could criticize people at court and make fun of royal decisions, as long as the criticism was hidden amidst witty wordplay and riddles. Shakespeare used the fool as a main character so that he could have a character who could speak truthfully, even to a powerful king. Simpleton fools include Ivan the Fool. Wise fools include the Wise Men of Gotham, who only pretended to be simple as a ruse.
Fop A pejorative character in English literature and especially comic drama, as well as satirical prints, the fop is a foolish "man of fashion" who overdresses, aspires to wit, and puts on airs. The fop may aspire to a higher social station than others think he has.

He may be somewhat effeminate, although this rarely affects his pursuit of an heiress. He may also overdo being fashionably French by wearing French clothes and using French words.

Sir Novelty Fashion in Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift (1696), Sir Fopling Flutter in George Etherege's The Man of Mode, Sir Fopling Flutter (1676), and Lord Foppington in The Relapse (1696) by John Vanbrugh.
Former/hiding Nazi A character who is a former Nazi and is often very clearly German, may attempt poorly to conceal their past (often played comically). Former Nazi characters in places such as the USA will often be scientists or other educated professionals, characters in South America will usually be authority figures of the Third Reich who are hiding from the consequences of their actions during the Holocaust. Dr. Strangelove, Franz Liebkind
French maid A stylized, sexualized, flirtatious domestic servant with a distinctive black uniform with white lace and apron. Her uniform may range from a conservative knee-length skirt in more realistic period pieces to a short skirt, stockings, and garters in more fantasy-oriented depictions. She may use a feather duster. She is a version of the cheeky, saucy soubrette character.


Character Type Description Examples
Gangster's moll In film noir films about crime, the gangster’s moll is usually an attractive, blonde who may be a former showgirl. The gangster often uses the moll as a "trophy" to boost his status. The gangster's girlfriend in The Public Enemy (1931); the moll The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967); Hilda, the gun moll in The Housekeeper's Daughter (1939) (played by Joan Bennett).
Gay best friend Beginning in the 1980s, screenwriters of romantic comedy films and TV shows set in high schools added the "gay best friend" stock character. This comedic character type has elicited controversy in the gay community, because while they have introduced "...queer storylines to mainstream audiences," they have also entrenched a stereotype that gay men's only "interests are makeovers, shopping and drama".[31] In addition, "gay best friend" characters tend to be sidelined into the role of giving relationship and fashion advice, and their character rarely has depth or development.
Geek An eccentric or non-mainstream person who is an expert or enthusiast obsessed with an unusual hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a "peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, boring, or socially awkward".[32] The geek character overlaps with the nerd, but the geek may be depicted in a more negative fashion.
Gentle giant A folklore figure who, despite the huge size and enormous strength, has a good heart (see: Giant).
Gentleman thief A sophisticated, well-mannered, and elegant thief. He typically tries to avoid violence by using deception and his wits to steal. A. J. Raffles, Kaito Kuroba, Sly Cooper, Neal Caffrey, Arsène Lupin
Girl next door An average young woman, reasonably attractive, with a wholesome demeanor. Rachel Green, Carrie Bradshaw, Bridget Jones, Leni Loud
Gracioso A stock character, popular in 16th-century Spanish literature, who is comically and shockingly vulgar Clarín, the clown in Pedro Calderón de la Barca's Life is a dream, is a gracioso. Examples of similar characters in Anglophone culture include Bubbles, Wheeler Walker, Jr. and the stand-up persona of Bob Saget
Grande dame French for "great lady"; a haughty, flamboyant and elegant woman, prone to extravagant and eccentric fashion. She is usually a stereotype of an elderly high society socialite.[33][34][35][36] Constance in Gosford Park, Princess Dragomiroff in Murder on the Orient Express; Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest
Greaser A caricature of working-class 1950s American urban youth. Usually seen wearing a leather jacket, white t-shirt (or black if not wearing a jacket), blue jeans, and a slick hairdo with generous amounts of pomade. Frequently has a thick Northeastern ethnic accent, a love of rock and roll, cigarette smoking, motorcycle or hot rod riding and customizing, and a "tough guy" or "cool" demeanor. The British equivalent is the rocker. Arthur Fonzarelli, Danny Zuko, Bowzer, Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker
Grotesque A deformed or disabled person whose appearance scares strangers or inspires pity, and who may be mistreated. The grotesque is a tragic figure.
Gung ho American[37] American military character who is overly enthusiastic and unquestioningly convinced about the right-mindedness of the nation's war.[38][39]

A character who lives in traveling caravans, doing juggling or dancing, and having an irascible or passionate temper paired with an indomitable love of freedom. The "gypsy" stock character is very loosely based upon the Romani people, who were historically and pejoratively known as gypsies. Critics of how Romani people have been portrayed in popular culture point out similarities to portrayals of Jewish people, with both groups stereotyped negatively as wandering, spreading disease, abducting children, and violating and murdering others.[40] They are often shown using mystical powers of fortune telling, and they may be associated with "sinister occult and criminal tendencies"[41] and with "thievery and cunning",[42] Romani women have been portrayed as provocative, sexually available, gaudy, exotic and mysterious.[43] 


Character Type Description Examples
Halfbreed harlot This pejorative stereotype of a Mexican prostitute was common in Western films. She is the female counterpart to El bandido, a pejorative stereotype depicting a violent Mexican bandit. The "halfbreed harlot" is depicted as a lusty nymphomaniac with a hot temper. Filmmakers use the character to serve as a sex object and provide titillation to viewers.[21] Chihuahua, the girlfriend of Doc Holliday in My Darling Clementine (1946)
Hag A wizened, withered, and bitter old woman, often a malicious witch.
Hardboiled detective A private investigator or police officer rendered bitter and cynical by violence and corruption. They are often hard-drinking antiheroes who use questionable tactics. Typically the protagonist in film noir crime movies and hardboiled novels and pulp fiction. Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Perry Mason, Sam Vimes, John Rebus
Harlequin A clown or professional fool who pokes fun at others, even the elite. He is a light-hearted, nimble, and astute servant, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, and pursuing his own love interest, Columbina, with wit and resourcefulness, often competing with the sterner and melancholic Pierrot. Till Eulenspiegel
Krusty the Clown (The Simpsons)
Hawksian woman The Hawksian woman is a character archetype of the tough-talking woman, popularized in films by director Howard Hawks. The archetype was first identified by film critic Naomi Wise in 1971. Actresses who played Hawksian women include Katharine Hepburn, Ann Dvorak, Ava Gardner, Rosalind Russell, Barbara Stanwyck, Angie Dickinson, and Lauren Bacall, who played the type opposite Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep.
Hispanic Maid A Hispanic female middle-aged maid who works for an American middle-class family. She generally can't speak English and is portrayed as being religious and having superstitious beliefs. She sometimes becomes the first person to witness paranormal activities in the house and run away from it in horror movies. Rosalita in The Goonies
Consuela in Family Guy.
Holmesian detective A masterful police detective or private investigator who is modelled on the fictional 19th century detective Sherlock Holmes. These characters may emulate his perceptiveness, intelligence, and use of deductive reasoning. Hercule Poirot, Columbo, Dr. John Thorndyke, Benoit Blanc in Knives Out, Shinichi Kudo
Hooker with a heart of gold May also be known as a "tart with a heart".

A prostitute who has a good moral compass and intrinsic morality.

Hopeless romantic A loving, passionate character that often finds "love at first sight". He is obsessive over a romantic partner (or love interest), to the point where it is his dominant personality trait, and usually views life very optimistically.
Housewife A busy mother of the protagonist family, she takes care of the children and does the housework. Her appearance ranges from homely to average.
Hotshot A reckless, impulsive macho character known for taking risks. Martin Riggs, Agent J, Axel Foley, James T. Kirk


Character Type Description Examples
Idiot savant A person with extraordinary genius in a narrow area who has a social or developmental disability, often consistent with being somewhere on the autism spectrum. Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)
Raymond "Rain Man" Babbitt
Shaun Murphy (The Good Doctor)
Abed Nadir
Igor The assistant to the mad scientist. Often walks with a pronounced hunched back and speaks in a halted speech pattern inspired by Peter Lorre and/or a low monotone accent. Though inspired by the assistant to Victor Frankenstein, this character was originally named Fritz, and did not originate in Mary Shelley's novel, instead being taken from an early stage adaptation of the story.[44]
Immigrant A character from a foreign land whose bizarre manners, quirky behavior and unusual traditions often clash humorously with Western cultural norms. Balki Bartokomous, Luigi Basco, Fez, Latka Gravas, Borat
Incompetent officer[6][45] Usually from a wealthy background, the incompetent officer is usually senior to the hero and an antagonist in military fiction.[citation needed] The incompetence is depicted either as stemming from blind innocence or fundamental stupidity.[45] Amos T. Halftrack, General Paul Mireau (played by George Macready) in Paths of Glory, Glenn Ford (character name) in Teahouse of the August Moon, Captain Cooney (played by Eddie Albert) in Attack (1956), Lord Cardigan (played by Trevor Howard) in The Charge of the Light Brigade
Ingénue An attractive young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome.
Innocent A character, often a child (or a child-like adult) who is shows moral purity, kindness and goodness. They may be naive and vulnerable.
Irish The Irish stereotype was developed during the vaudeville era, where it was called "stage Irish". It was an "exaggerated caricature of supposedly Irish characteristics in speech and behavior, which depicted Irish people as "garrulous, boastful, unreliable, hard-drinking, belligerent (though cowardly) and chronically impecunious".[48] In 1920s-era films, Irish characters were "fighters, gangsters, rebels or priests".[48] In the 1950s, Hollywood films depicted Irish women as an "Irish colleen" with a "feisty independent spirit."[48] In the 1990s and 2000s, a new stereotype emerged: the "Irish male as a romantic ideal", with a soft, "soulful and poetic" demeanor.[48] During that same era, another Irish male stereotype emerged: the balaclava-wearing IRA bomb-maker or fighter, sometimes with an "indecipherable, tongue-twister accent".[48]
Italian Italian stereotypes depict men with "over-the-top gaudy couture", an "insatiable libido that will sooner or later lead to infidelity", "temper problems", a lifestyle of "vanity and violence", "tough", "uneducated", involved in "illegal activities, like bribery", and having "connections to the Mafia". Italian women are depicted as "vain, hot-tempered, [and] power-hungry."[49] Casino, Goodfellas, The Godfather, The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey


Character Type Description Examples
Japanese person

From 1945 through the 1960s, Hollywood depicted Japanese men as a "pint-sized man wearing black-framed spectacles, with protuberant incisors", like the "klutzy photographer "Yunioshi" in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Japanese women are depicted with the traits of the geisha: "feminine, subservient, eager and willing to please males." Caucasians with makeup to try to make them appear Asian were typically cast in Asian roles until the 1960s. By the 1970s and 1980s, Japanese people started being portrayed as a "fusion of tradition and high tech", with the historical references being to ninja and samurai, which are both "part of the 'mysterious East’" (e.g. Gung Ho[50] (1986)). Depictions of Japanese people also link them to sumo wrestling, kabuki, or eating sushi.[51]

Gung Ho[50]

Stereotypes of Jews in literature Stereotypes of Jews in literature have changed over the centuries. While there are some sympathetic Jewish characters in fiction, there have been recurrent pejorative and racist anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes in literature from the Medieval era until the 20th century.

Antisemitic portrayals:

and manipulates people.

  • In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Marble Faun, Jews are described in a racist way.
  • The greedy banker and art collector character in Honoré de Balzac's series La Comédie humaine is a racist stereotype of Jews.
  • In George Sand's drama Les Mississipiens (1866), the Jewish capitalist, Samuel Bourse, is a "Shylock in modern dress".
  • The Faust legend version from 1587 has Faust borrow money from a Jew, who demands one of Faust's legs as security for the debt.
  • Veitel Itzig, the Jewish villain in Gustav Freytag's Debit and Credit has been called the "most poisonous stereotype of the greedy, utterly immoral Jewish businessman in nineteenth-century literature."

Some Jewish characters are portrayed more sympathetically:

Jewish American Princess A pejorative stereotype of well-off young women at Jewish "summer camps, Hebrew schools, [and] the suburbs of New Jersey" with a focus on grooming (flat-ironed hair), trendiness, "upmarket loungewear", luxury brands (Neiman Marcus, Filene’s) "entitled dispositions toward luxury", and a liking for ease and comfort. They often engage in "manipulation and acquisitiveness" and they may act spoiled or engage in "pouting, complaining, [and] cajoling."[54]

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Herman Wouk’s 1955 novel Marjorie Morningstar; Philip Roth’s 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus[54]

Jewish mother A nagging, loud, highly-talkative, overprotective, smothering, and overbearing mother, who persists in interfering in her children's lives long after they have become adults and is excellent at making her children feel guilty for actions that may have caused her to suffer. Molly Goldberg, Auntie Nelda
Jock A popular high school or college athlete who is heavily interested in sports and hook ups. He may also be a dumb bully and the boyfriend of the school diva.
Judas These characters, named after the Biblical character Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, are traitors or turncoats who sell out their comrades to the enemy for profit or advancement, or out of spite.

Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) betrays rebel leaders Han Solo and Princess Leia to Darth Vader; Cypher in The Matrix (1999) betrays Morpheus, Trinity and Neo to the enemy "machines"; biotechnology company representative Carter Burke in Aliens (1986) betrays Ellen Ripley and the space marines sent on the rescue mission

Jungle girl An adult woman) archetype or stock character, often used in popular fiction, of a female adventurer, superhero or even a damsel in distress living in a jungle or rainforest setting. A prehistoric depiction is a cave girl.


Character Type Description Examples
Keystone Kop A bumbling police officer, named after the Keystone Kops comic silent film series. May have a predilection for donuts. If set in the southern United States, the character is usually also portrayed as racist, corrupt and lacking regard for the rights of whom he is accusing. Chief Wiggum, Barney Fife, Rosco P. Coltrane,[55] Charlie Dibble
Knight-errant A noble Knight on a quest for his Lady or who is seeking some Holy Grail. He expresses his courtly love for his beloved from afar. Lancelot, Aragorn, Bronn, Jack Reacher[56]


Character Type Description Examples
Latin lover A handsome, sharply-dressed man who seduces women with his suave, confident demeanor and his elegant courtship and tango dancing skills. Paradoxically, he shows both tenderness and "sexual danger". He draws the woman into a passionate romance that is doomed due to the pair being enmeshed in an intrigue. The Latin lover may be Italian, Spanish, Latin American, Romanian (from the inspirations with vampire) or French.[21] Rudolph Valentino, Ricardo Montalbán, Gilbert Roland
Legacy hero A character thrust, often unwillingly, into the role of a hero through nepotism, sometimes having been previously unaware of their family's legacy.
LGBTQ characters In many forms of popular entertainment, gay men are portrayed stereotypically as promiscuous, flashy, flamboyant, and bold, while the reverse is often true of how lesbians are portrayed. Similar to race-, religion-, and class-based caricatures, these stereotypical stock character representations vilify or make light of marginalized and misunderstood groups.[57] In U.S. television and other media, gay or lesbian characters tend to die or meet an unhappy ending, such as becoming insane, more often than other characters.[58] See: Gay characters in fiction and Media portrayal of LGBT people
Little Green Men Also known familiarly in science fiction fandom as "LGM".

Small humanoid extraterrestrials with green skin and antennae on their heads.[59]

Loathly lady A woman disguised as an ugly hag (often cursed), reveals her true beauty when the curse is lifted. The order may also be reversed.

Male counterparts also exist such as the Beast from Beauty and the Beast.

Loner An isolated, alienated person who struggles to connect with people.
Lovable loser A woebegone, yet sympathetic and usually determined, character for whom nothing goes right. Charlie Brown, Sad Sack, Milo Murphy, Meg Griffin
Lovers Main characters who deeply fall in love, despite the blocking effect of other characters or events; often star-crossed lovers that are strongly fraternizing with the "enemy". They may face a tragic end.


Character Type Description Examples
Machiavelle A villain who is obsessed with power and willing to do immoral acts of murder to secure or enhance their position. A machiavelle villain typically follows the principles set out by Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, a guidebook for 16th century rulers. The machiavelle devises ruthless plots to eliminate rivals and their families and is willing to do anything, including betrayal of allies or murdering noncombatants, to win more power. Examples in Shakespeare include Richard of Gloucester in Richard III and both Edmund and Cornwall in King Lear.
Mad scientist An insane or eccentric scientist or professor, often villainous or amoral.[2][60] Not all mad scientists are evil; some intend to be benevolent, but unintentionally cause an accident due to their hubristic attempt to play God in the lab. May have an Igor, a hunchbacked assistant. Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Henry Jekyll, Dr. Moreau
Magical Negro A black person with special insight or mystical powers, who ends up coming to the aid of the white protagonist. Uncle Remus, John Coffey, Bagger Vance
Male buffoon (Hispanic) This stereotype is used for comic relief. The characters' struggle to learn English or control their hot-blooded temper is used as a source of humor.[21] Pancho in The Return of the Cisco Kid, Sgt. Garcia in Walt Disney's Zorro, Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy
Mammy archetype A rotund, homely, and matronly black woman. She has a sunny demeanor and she is devoted to her role as a cook and caregiver. This archetype originated during the era of slavery, and it is considered to be a pejorative racial stereotype. Aunt Jemima, Mammy Two Shoes, Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird
Man alone A solitary, rootless nonconformist"[61] or antihero whose extreme moral beliefs have led them to be friendless. Associated with Literature of New Zealand. Johnson in the New Zealand novel Man alone; the strictly moral comic book character Rorschach (Walter Kovacs)
Manic Pixie Dream Girl Usually static young female characters who have eccentric personality quirks and are unabashedly girlish, dreamy, and attractive. They often exist only to serve as a source of inspiration to the male character, and as such, little of their inner life is depicted. Zelda Spellman, Bo Peep, Debora from Baby Driver
Masked villain A masked villain is a stock character in genre fiction that was developed and popularized in movie serials, beginning with The Hooded Terror in The House of Hate, (1918) the first fully-costumed mystery villain of the movies, and frequently used in the adventure stories of pulp magazines and sound-era movie serials in the early twentieth century,[62][63] as well as postmodern horror films[64]. *"The Clutching Hand" in The Exploits of Elaine
Mean Girl[66] Also known as "Queen bee" or "school diva".

An attractive and popular high school girl who uses her status to bully others (primarily the protagonist). She is often the girlfriend of the school's popular jock.

Middle child In a family setting, usually the second of three children, who is often neglected and/or disrespected due to their parents (and the overall story) paying more attention to the youngest and oldest siblings Stephanie Tanner, Jan Brady, Chris Griffin[67]
Miles Gloriosus A boastful soldier whose cowardice belies his claims of a valour-filled past. His boasts may also extend to his purported feats in the bedroom. Originally from the comic theatre of ancient Rome, this stock character was often from a low class and he was typically engaged in sexual dalliances, excess drinking and thievery. In commedia dell'arte, the boastful Il Capitano was one of the four core stock characters. He brags about dubious tales of military or sexual prowess to hide his cowardly nature. Falstaff, Baron Munchausen, Buzz Lightyear, the British mercenary Spence (who is revealed to be a coward)
Milkman A delivery person roped into a sexual affair with a married customer. Common in pornographic films; the delivery person need not be delivering milk, though this specific type was a common joke when milk delivery was a common profession. Ernie Price
Miltonic hero A romanticized type of antihero who is both charismatic and wicked. The Miltonic hero resists the instructions of authority figures and feels that moral rules do not apply to them. The name refers to poet John Milton. Milton's Satan character in Paradise Lost, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Melmoth in Melmoth the Wanderer (the title character sells his soul to the Devil)
Miser This stock character is based on Harpagon in The Miser and onEbenezer Scrooge, main character from A Christmas Carol.

An old, miserly and wealthy boss who refuses to spend money and prefers to hoard it. "Miser" characters range from excessively thrifty, but otherwise benign types, to avaricious, cold-hearted types who are willing to harm others.

Mother's boy An awkward man who is excessively attached to his mother. Often he continues to act in a childish, submissive fashion even into adulthood.
Mother-in-law A stereotypical portrayal of a character's spouse's mother; frequently a battle-axe and always disapproving of her daughter/son-in-law. Pearl SlaghoopleViola Fields, Jane Fonda in the film Monster-in-Law, Marie Barone (Doris Roberts) in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, who is extremely meddlesome and incessantly makes conceited remarks to her daughter-in-law Debra, Adele Delfino (Celia Weston) on the television series Desperate Housewives
Mythological king A king in myth and/or legend, usually a heroic one. King Arthur


Character Type Description Examples
Napoleonic villain Named after the common (but false) myth regarding ruler and military commander Napoleon Bonaparte's short height. This is usually comical villain whose short stature drives them to seek world domination.
Nazi zombies Dead Nazi soldiers or officers reanimated as undead monsters. These characters appear in horror-themed films and video games. Appear in:
Nemesis A persistent, indefatigable villain, equal to or better than the hero(es) in skill and power, who thwarts all attacks and reappears even after being killed. In serial and episodic fiction, a nemesis will often evolve into an archenemy.
Nerd A socially-awkward, obsessive, or overly-intellectual person. They are often interested in doing well in school (academically and in terms of behavior). They tend to dress in unfashionable clothes. The "geek" character is similar, but may be depicted in more negative manner.
Nice guy A male character of wholesome morals, agreeable personality and usually modest means. In romantic fiction, he usually struggles with finding women willing to date him (since, as the phrase goes, "nice guys finish last"); in ideal happy endings, he finds a woman more appropriate for him (possibly a Manic Pixie Dream Girl) than those who rejected him Granville, Tim Canterbury, Neville Longbottom, Marty Piletti
Noble savage An idealized Indigenous person or otherwise "wild" outsider who is uncorrupted by civilization. Chingachgook, Mowgli, Tarzan


Character Type Description Examples
Occult detective A detective who uses traditional techniques to solve supernatural mysteries. The occult detective may have few or no supernatural powers of their own (or, if possessing such powers, little understanding of how to harness them) and instead rely on someone who does, such as a psychic or medium, as a sidekick. Carl Kolchak, Fred Jones, Melinda Gordon, Reigen Arataka
Outlaw A bandit depicted in a romanticized way, often charismatic and appealing, despite their lawless conduct. Robin Hood, Billy the Kid, Jesse James


Character Type Description Examples
Pantomime dame A pantomime portrayal of female characters by male actors in drag. Widow Twankey, Mary Sunshine
Paul Lynde-type An easily irritated villain with a distinctive, whiny and slightly effeminate voice. Named after character actor Paul Lynde, who played numerous characters of this style during the prime of his career in the 1960s and 1970s, and adopted by numerous others after Lynde's death in 1982. Norman Normanmeyer, Roger the Alien
Petrushka A Russian kind of Pulcinella-type jester. He is presented as mischievous, self-serving, gluttonous, aggressive, and cowardly.[70]: 62  He is usually at the center of conflict in the Petrushka carnival plays, often getting himself out of trouble by killing the other puppets on stage with a swing of his club.
Pierrot French pantomime, a sad clown in a distinctive all-white attire and makeup, often pining for the love of Columbina, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Pagliacci, Puddles Pity Party
Pirate A romanticized stereotype of high seas pirates of the 18th century. Features may include a black tricorn hat with skull and crossbones, unkempt facial hair, missing body parts (e.g. eyepatch, peg leg, hook for a hand), adventurous but surly demeanor, and a distinctive accent. Variants on the theme include air pirates and space pirates. Captain Hook, Long John Silver, Captain Blood (novel)
Preppy In 1980s TV shows and films (or in works set in this era), preppies are students or alumnus of Ivy League schools who have American upper class speech, vocabulary, dress, mannerisms and etiquette.[71] Like the related yuppie stock character of the 1980s, preppies range from benign (albeit materialistic and pretentious), to arrogant or even immoral. Jake in Sixteen Candles, Steff McKee and Blane McDonough in Pretty in Pink
Prince Charming

A handsome, courageous fairy tale stock character who comes to the rescue of a damsel in distress and must engage in a quest to liberate her from an evil spell. Often charming and romantic, these characters are essentially interchangeable, serving as a foil to the heroine; in many variants, they can be viewed as a metaphor for a reward the heroine achieves for the decisions she makes.[72]

This stock character type suits most heroes of a number of traditional folk tales, including "Snow White", "Sleeping Beauty", and "Cinderella", even if in the original story they were given another name, or no name at all.
Princesse lointaine A romantic love interest and beloved sweetheart and girlfriend for a Knight-errant. She was usually a woman of much higher noble birth, often far distant from the knight, and usually wealthier than he was, beautiful, and of admirable character. Some knights had, indeed, fallen in love with the princess owing to hearing descriptions of her, without seeing her due to her beauty and virtue. Dulcinea, Guinevere
Psycho-biddy An embittered, usually psychotic, faded ex-celebrity, typically an old woman. Baby Jane Hudson, Norma Desmond, Joan Crawford as portrayed in Mommie Dearest


Character Type Description Examples
Quincy punk

An "establishment showbiz" version of punks, which were dubbed "Quincy punks" after a 1982 episode of the TV series Quincy, M.E., about a crime-solving medical examiner. The episode "Next Stop, Nowhere" depicted punks as nihilistic "spiky-haired teenagers and flippant young adults" who are "cartoonishly naive and short-sighted" and full of "punk rage", and who think with "rigid ideology and relentless hopelessness". The punks are shown with "torn clothes, spiked hair, bizarre makeup, and (for some reason) bandanas."[73] Maclean's calls it a "fake Hollywood-ized version of a punk."[74]

Several punks in the opening of Terminator are vandalizing an observatory and then attempt to rob the titular humanoid robot, the rebellious teen Abby 1982 episode of the TV series Quincy, M.E., entitled "Next Stop, Nowhere" (played by Melora Hardin)


Character Type Description Examples
Rake A seductive man who habitually behaves immorally, and is especially, a womanizer. Don Juan, Glenn Quagmire.
Raw recruit Young, naive and impressionable, the raw recruit has to learn how to live with military discipline and understand the reasons behind the way the military works. He often ends up in a position of leadership (as an Idealistic Lieutenant) by the end of the story. They may have a "tragic" death towards the end of the movie,[6] particularly if they show the protagonist a picture of a fiancée or wife they "have back home".[citation needed] Juan Rico of Starship Troopers; a parody of this character is Dead Meat from the comedy Hot Shots!, whose obviously impending doom is played for laughs; "Soap" MacTavish from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare also fits this category, becoming a captain in the sequel.
Rebel A maverick who refuses to follow society's rules and conventions. He may simultaneously be a loner or hotshot. John Bender, Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (played by James Dean), Dirty Harry franchise, Bart Simpson (the Simpsons)
Redneck In the 1970s, B movie "hixploitation" films depicted rednecks as Appalachian or Southern "good old boys" involved in illicit moonshine operations. Other redneck subtypes include crooked Southern sheriffs, "back-road racers", and truckers.[75] Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Deliverance (1972), Breaker! Breaker!, Moonshine County Express
Redshirt A minor, expendable character who is killed soon after being introduced. This refers to characters from the original Star Trek television series, often from the security or engineering departments of the starship, who wore the red Starfleet uniform. They are cannon fodder.
Reluctant hero A character who is thrust against their will into a heroic role; overlaps with the everyman and the antihero Shaun Riley, John McClane, Neo
Rightful king A usurped, just ruler whose return or triumph restores peace. The rightful king may be a reluctant hero who is reticent to take the throne. Simba, Aragorn, King Arthur, Pastoria, King Richard, Duke Senior (As You Like It)
"Runyonesque" characters

Characters appearing in short stories by US sports writer and author Damon Runyon, which depict Prohibition era underworld New Yorkers from Brooklyn or Midtown Manhattan. "Runyonesque" refers to the type of situations and dialog that Runyon depicted,[76] populated by gamblers, bookies, boxers, hustlers, actors, and gangsters, few of whom go by "square" names, preferring creative nicknames. His characters use colorful street slang.

Characters have colorful monikers such as "Nathan Detroit", "Benny Southstreet", "Big Jule", "Harry the Horse", "Good Time Charley", "Dave the Dude", or "The Seldom Seen Kid".


Character Type Description Examples
Schoolma'am A pretty young woman schoolteacher in a frontier town or settlement. Her wholesome, virginal demeanor, modest dress, and education distinguish her from the other Western female stereotype (whores at the brothel or saloon). Schoolmarms represent civilization. Pretty, young teachers may be a love interest for the hero. Old teachers tend to be spinsters who are strict disciplinarians.

My Darling Clementine, Helen Crump Taylor, Miss Turlock

Senex amans This stock character in medieval romances and classical comedies is an old, ugly man who is married to a pretty young woman. The senex amans, which is Latin for "ancient lover", is depicted as having wrinkles, greying hair, and struggling with impotence. He is often cuckolded by a good-looking young man who charms the young wife. Chaucer's "Miller's Tale" and "The Merchant's Tale," Marie de France's "Guigemar" and "Laustic" and Tristan and Iseult. In Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, the old king of Ghana is a senex amans, as he is trying to seduce the young woman Imoinda.
Senex iratus A father figure and comic archetype who belongs to the alazon or impostor group in theater, manifesting himself through his rages and threats, his obsessions and his gullibility Pantalone
Arthur Spooner
Grampa Simpson (The Simpsons)
Sexy mother An attractive middle-aged woman who has an open and active sex life, mostly with younger men (see: MILF or cougar).

A similar term for elderly-aged women is known as "Sexy grandma" or "GILF".

Sexy dad Male counterpart of "Sexy mother" - sometimes also called "Hot dad" (see: DILF or sugar daddy).

A charismatic and attractive middle-aged man who is dating and having sex with younger women.

Shrew A woman given to violent, scolding, particularly nagging treatment of men. Lois Griffin, Wilma Flintstone
Sidekick A loyal companion to the protagonist (or antagonist) who may also be the best friend, love interest or partner in crime.
Sinnekins Pairs of devilish, impish characters who exert their perfidious influence on the main character.
Sissy In the 1930s, the "sissy" or "pansy" was a pejorative stereotype used as one of the earliest gay stock characters in Hollywood films. "Sissy" characters had an "...extremely effeminate boulevardier type sporting lipstick, rouge, a trim mustache and hairstyle, and an equally trim suit, incomplete without a boutonniere."[78] Filmmakers used the characters to elicit a "quick laugh", and they never had any character depth. These roles "...cemented the gross stereotypes of gay men that are still seen today."[78] Blaine Edwards and Antoine Meriwether, Mr. Ernest in Our Betters, Lindy in Car Wash
Sleazy lawyer A corrupt attorney who uses technicalities to get obviously guilty, but wealthy and well-paying, clients acquitted. Sleazy lawyers are driven by a mixture of desiring wealth and a ruthless, competitive desire to win at all costs. They are masters at manipulating witnesses, D.A.s and judges to ensure they win. They range from lawyers who work within the law, by gaming the system or finding loopholes, to those who break the law by destroying evidence or intimidating witnesses. Billy Flynn, Saul Goodman, Lionel Hutz
Sleazy politician An elected official who is embroiled in corruption and scandals such as taking bribes, using secret slush funds, embezzling money, or engaging in affairs with staff (or other sexual misconduct). They may be hypocrites, who speak out against crime, while using illegal drugs and hanging out in brothels. Frank Underwood, Willie Stark, Boss Hogg[79][80]
Slow burn A character who begins as calm and collected but increasingly becomes more angry and exasperated as the childish antics of those around them escalate Squidward Tentacles, Theodore J. Mooney, Emil Sitka in the works of The Three Stooges
Smurfette Named after the comic character Smurfette from The Smurfs.

A female character in an otherwise all-male cast. Often portrays exaggerated feminine traits. Her male counterpart is known as a Lincoln Loud, named after the cartoon character from The Loud House

Soubrette A female character who is vain, girlish, mischievous, lighthearted, coquettish, and gossipy. The role of the soubrette is often to help two young lovers overcome the blocking agents (e.g. chaperones or parents) that stand in the way of their blossoming romance.
Southern belle An elegant, beautiful young woman of the American Old South's upper class. She speaks with a Southern accent and is flirtatious. There is a good, wholesome variant and a vain, darker version. Scarlett O'Hara, Blanche Dubois, Elsie Stoneman
Space marine A type of military soldier or marine who operates in outer space and on extraterrestrial planets. Doomguy, Master Chief, Space Marine (Warhammer 40,000), Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers
Spear carrier A minor character who appears in several scenes, but mostly in the background roles. The term is a reference to minor characters in old plays set in Roman eras who would literally carry a spear as they played guard characters.
Starving artist An impoverished painter, jazz musician, screenwriter, or novelist who is so dedicated to their artistic vision, that they refuse to sell out and do commercial art (or pop music, or mainstream feature films, etc.). They live in an attic or couch surf, dress shabbily, and struggle to put food on the table. The depiction ranges from a romanticized, rose-tinted glasses portrait of libertine, Absinthe-sipping bohemians to a gritty social realist examination of the artist's impoverished existence. A starving artist may also be a troubled artist. The depiction of Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris, both male leads in Withnail & I, Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard, the painter and playwright in Design for Living, various bohemians working as actors, artists, and writers in Moulin Rouge!, Llewyn Davis in Inside Llewyn Davis, Mark Cohen (Rent)
Straight man Not confused with heterosexual man.

A sidekick to a funny person who makes his partner look all the more ridiculous by being completely serious.

Oliver Hardy, Bud Abbott, Moe Howard, Burton Guster
Succubus A demon that appears in the form of a female lover. The male version of a demon-lover is an incubus. Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"
Superhero A noble, brave being with extraordinary powers who dedicates their life to defending the general public.[2] Many superhero figures are a secret alter-ego personality of a "normal" person, e.g. Clark Kent/Superman, Bruce Wayne/Batman See: List of superhero teams and groups
Superfluous man In Russian 19th century literature, a dashing young aristocrat who is bored from his privileged life, and who distracts himself from his sense of ennui by engaging in intrigues, casual affairs, duels, gambling, and drinking. He is selfish and manipulative, and cares little about others or broader issues in society. Eugene Onegin
Supersoldier A soldier who operates beyond human limits or abilities
Supervillain The nemesis to the Superhero, the supervillain is a sinister being and plots crimes against society. Their origin story, which explains why they turned evil, is often important to their character. See: Lists of villains
Surfer Spaced out, marijuana-loving Californian surfer who wisecracks their way through life and uses youthful slang. Despite their lack of a job or fixed address, they have a happy-go-lucky demeanor. Jeff Spicoli, Tommy Chong
Swashbuckler A joyful, noisy, and boastful Renaissance era or Cavalier era swordsman or pirate. He is chivalrous, courageous, and skilled in sword fighting and acrobatics as he seeks vengeance on a corrupt villain. In films, the story may be set in the Golden Age of Piracy. D'Artagnan
Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)


Character Type Description Examples
Thug A henchman or gang member who commits violent crimes Bill Sikes, Francis Begbie, Biff Tannen
Thug (Black) In American films and TV shows, Black men are depicted "...playing drug dealers, pimps, con-artists and other ... criminals".[17] A criticism of this stock character is that the "...disproportionate amount of Black people playing criminals in Hollywood fuels the racial stereotype that Black men are dangerous and drawn to illicit activities."[17] The Wire, Denzel Washington in Training Day, the gun runner character Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) in Jackie Brown
Tiger mom A stereotype of East Asian mothers who relentlessly push their children to achieve success. Tiger moms set the highest standards and insist that their children strive for top marks so they can get into the best schools. In US TV and movies, this ethnic stereotype depicts East Asians as a "model minority". Bi Sheng Nan (Tiger Mom)

Ming Lee (Turning Red)

Token black character A character with no distinguishing characteristics whose sole purpose is to provide nominal diversity to the cast. In 1980s TV shows, screenwriters introduced the "African-American workplace pal" stock character as a way to add a Black character in a secondary role.[81]
Tomboy A girl or young woman with boyish and/or manly behavior. Sometimes wears clothes associated with men.
Tortured artist A painter, sculptor, or other creator frustrated with their artistic challenges, or with being misunderstood. They may have mental health issues or addiction, and they are hard to be around due to their narcissism and frustration. Brian Topp, Vincent van Gogh
Town drunk A male in a small town who is intoxicated more often than sober. They often have a good heart and may end up helping the protagonist. He can also be a street hobo. Barney Gumble, Otis Campbell, Uncle Billy
Tragic hero A hero with a flaw, mistake, or misconception (hamartia) that leads to their eventual death and downfall. Historically, they were the main character in a Greek or Roman tragedy. The flaw often arises due to the character's hubris. Despite the character's flaw, the audience usually finds them to be admirable or appealing at a broader level, which increases the dramatic impact of their downfall. Michael Corleone, Jay Gatsby, Randle McMurphy
Tragic mulatto A mulatto who is sad or suicidal because they fail to fit in with white or black people. The tragic mestizo has a similar clash with whites and Native Americans.
Tricky slave A cunning individual, of a lower social class than the heroes (originally bound in slavery), who facilitates the story's completion in exchange for improvement of his lot
Tsundere In Japanese anime and manga, a character who is initially cold (and sometimes even hostile) before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time. Similar in temperament to the curmudgeon, but usually young and female.


Character Type Description Examples
Übermensch[2] A (often only seemingly) perfect human being Superman, Hercules, Don Pedro
Unseen character A character who is frequently referenced in the script of a production but never seen. In stage, film and television, they may be indirectly present through hearing their voice offscreen (such as Carlton the Doorman), or from a first-person perspective as the cameraman, answering questions addressed to them by bobbing the camera up and down to nod or left and right to say no (as with Vern in the Ernest P. Worrell series). Unseen characters may become seen near the end of a series.


Character Type Description Examples
Valley girl A teenage girl from the San Fernando Valley with a distinctive accent and emphasis on superficial traits. She is typically a materialistic upper-middle-class young woman.[83] The term in later years became more broadly applied to any female in the United States who embodied ditziness, airheadedness, or greater interest in conspicuous consumption than intellectual or personal accomplishment.[84] Moon Zappa's character in "Valley Girl," Cher Horowitz in Clueless
Vamp A woman with dark hair, usually seen wearing jet black dresses, and having a macabre sense of humor. A goth variant of the femme fatale. Morticia Addams, Vampira, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Natasha Fatale
Vice An allegorical evil part in medieval morality plays. The Vice can be an allegoric representation of one of the Seven Vices or a more general portrayal of evil as the tempter of man. Vice often takes the audience into complicity by revealing its evil plans, often through soliloquies or monologues.[85] Its enacting is frequently comic or absurd. Richard III in Shakespeare's drama of the same name; Iago (who plays up the more villainous aspects of the Vice) from Othello; and Sir John Falstaff (who plays up the more comic aspects of the vice) from Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Vietnam veteran A man who served in the Vietnam War and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological problems. Because of what he witnessed and what he went through during the war, and the disrespect he received from domestic anti-war protesters, his mental state was portrayed as fragile and unstable, and therefore this character has marital problems with his unhappy wife (or girlfriend) and his son. He still can't adjust to his post-war civil and daily life. This character can be seen in most American action and drama movies, and he is generally portrayed by an American action star. Travis Bickle, John Rambo
Village idiot A person known locally for ignorance or stupidity; this character often turns out to be brave and sweet, and is sometimes underestimated (see Wise fool). Michelangelo, Bertie Wooster, Patrick Star
Villain[2] An evil, "cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot".[86] The antonym of a villain is a hero. The villain's structural purpose is to serve as the opposition of the hero character and their motives or evil actions drive a plot along.[citation needed][87] In contrast to the hero, who is defined by feats of ingenuity and bravery and the pursuit of justice and the greater good, a villain is often defined by their acts of selfishness, evilness, arrogance, cruelty, and cunning, displaying immoral behavior that can oppose or pervert justice.[citation needed] See: Lists of villains.


Character Type Description Examples
Wealthy Southern aristocrat A usually male character who is well-dressed, well-educated, wealthy, arrogant, and haughty yet still has a healthy sense of humor.
Whisky priest A priest or ordained minister who shows clear signs of moral weakness, either due to alcohol use, having a mistress, or doing other forbidden activities, while at the same time teaching a higher standard and showing courage and moral resolve on a broader level. The stock character name was coined by Graham Greene to describe the renegade priest in The Power and the Glory (1940).
White friend In fiction centered around a group and/or family of Blacks or other people of color, the white friend is an exaggerated parody of white stereotypes (in some cases, stereotypes of white Americans), including awkwardness around people of color, inability to dance, and being an all-around "square". Chelsea Daniels in That's So Raven, Tom Willis
White savior A usually white/western, often male person, who saves an indigenous population from an external threat.[88] T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jake Sully in Avatar
White hunter Khaki-clad, pith-helmeted Caucasian big-game hunters or safari leaders in Africa, used to illustrate the Imperial or racist mindset of the colonial era. Allan Quatermain, Kraven the Hunter, Redvers Fenn-Cooper
Wimp Weak-willed, mild-mannered, ineffectual, not well-liked and easily manipulated Wallace Wimple, Caspar Milquetoast, Arthur Carlson
Wise fool A person who seems like an idiot or simpleton, who may speak inarticulate nonsense in one moment, only to later show wisdom later on. The fool's mocking humour shows his ability to understand events or speak blunt truths to a leader.
Wise old man An elderly and wise man who serves as mentor (or father figure) to the protagonist. In fantasy, he may also be a wizard.


Character Type Description Examples
Yokel An unsophisticated country person whose rural accent, lack of formal education and coarse manners are used for comic relief. Trevor Philips, Cletus Spuckler, Dale Gribble, Ernest P. Worrell
Youngest child The underestimated youngest child in a family of many children, usually all of the same gender. Often portrayed as the most childlike of the children due to their youth; in a plot twist, this character may be portrayed as comically sinister. In a continuing live-action series, they may be effectively succeeded by the even younger "Cousin Oliver." Stewie Griffin, Maggie Simpson, Bobut on Aliens in the Family
Youxia A Chinese type of the Knight-errant. They are type of ancient Chinese warrior folk hero celebrated in classical Chinese poetry and fictional literature. It literally means "wandering vigilante", but is commonly translated as "knight-errant" or less commonly as "cavalier", "adventurer", "soldier of fortune" or "underworld stalwart".[89] Fong Sai-yuk
Yuppie In 1980s and early 1990s films and TV (or works set in that era), a young, urban professional who is driven by their goals of career success and achieving wealth. Typically a lawyer, financial executive, or businessperson, they love their luxury car (a Saab or BMW), their house in a trendy downtown neighborhood, dressing in designer clothes, and eating at hip restaurants. May be depicted as benign for satirical purposes, or depicted as immoral, villainous profiteers. Patrick Bateman, Jordan Belfort as portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street, Benjamin Coffin III


Character Type Description Examples
Zanni Servant characters in commedia dell'arte. Zanni was of two distinct types: one is an astute, cunning servant and the other is a silly, stupid servant. They were called First Zanni and Second Zanni. Mezzetino and Brighella are examples of the First Zanni; Arlecchino and Pulcinella are examples of the Second Zanni. The Second Zanni provides comic relief. Arlecchino (or Harlequin), Brighella, and Pulcinello.
Zombie A type of undead creature that appears across various media. It is a mythological undead corporeal revenant created through the reanimation of a corpse. In modern popular culture, zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works. The term comes from Haitian folklore, in which a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magical practices in religions like Vodou. Modern media depictions of the reanimation of the dead often do not involve magic but rather science fictional methods such as carriers, fungi, radiation, mental diseases, vectors, pathogens, parasites, scientific accidents, etc.[90][91] Necromorph, Simon William Garth, Solomon Grundy

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