The character tropes are the most obvious elements of a story: the hero, the villain, the sidekick, and so on.
They’re how we describe characters in a sentence or two. The problem is that they’re not always useful for describing characters in stories.
For example, if you have a story about a guy who works as a mechanic for his family’s auto repair shop, you can say he’s “the mechanic.” But that doesn’t really tell us anything about him.
We might ask what kind of person he is or what he does for fun; but even then we don’t really know anything about him. His personality traits would be better described by another trope.
So let’s take a look at the different types of character tropes and how they apply to storytelling.
What Are Character Tropes?
Character tropes are the foundation of storytelling.
They are the archetypes that have been used for centuries to represent the basic characteristics of human beings, and they can be used to evoke strong emotions in your audience.
Character Tropes List
The character tropes list includes some of the most prominent archetypes in fiction. While the list is not intended to be exhaustive, it does include some of the most popular, recurring characters.
The list below represents a variety of different types of characters and their roles in fiction:
The Protagonist: The protagonist is the main character, whose actions drive a story forward. He or she is driven by a goal or goal-oriented motive. The protagonist’s goals shape his or her actions, which are usually motivated by this goal.
The protagonist often has some kind of internal conflict that makes him or her more human and relatable as well.
The antagonist: An antagonist is a character who opposes another character (usually the protagonist). Antagonists often try to foil the protagonist’s goals or stop them from achieving their goals at all costs.
Antagonists may also be morally ambiguous, such as those who are forced into villainy through circumstances beyond their control or those who become villains due to external pressures like social pressure or political power.
A Hero: A hero is an archetype in which a person (usually male) possesses heroic qualities such as courage, nobility, and strength of purpose
15. Character Trope – The Manic Pixie Dream Girl
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a character trope where the male protagonist falls in love with an ethereal, beautiful woman who lives in his imagination.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl often acts as the female protagonist’s emotional support and is portrayed as being more idealistic, sensitive, and intelligent than other women. She can be incredibly sweet and kind towards him and he finds himself unable to resist her.
She inspires him to become a better person, and she encourages his dreams while they’re together.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl has been around since the dawn of cinema, but it’s only recently that the term has gained traction among filmmakers and critics. It was first used by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas for actor Nicolas Cage’s role in 1994’s Leaving Las Vegas.
This type of character became known as “Cage’s girlfriend” or “Nicolas Cage’s girlfriend,” which just perpetuated the association between these types of characters and men who have them around them for their own personal gain (i.e., Nicolas Cage).
14. Character Trope – The Chosen One
The Chosen One trope is a character who, for whatever reason, is prophesied to save the world. They are often destined to do good, but sometimes their fate is much more complicated.
The Chosen One is usually an innocent and generally non-violent character. As such, they are often a major part of the plot and have a large role in the story’s resolution. In many cases, they are also the only person who can defeat or avoid an evil that has been plaguing an area or country for years or even centuries.
The Chosen One’s job doesn’t end once they’ve saved the day; they’re often tasked with continuing to fight evil forces until their inevitable defeat at the hands of another hero (or villain). As such, there may be a sequel or other spin-off featuring them after their heroic finale.
13. Character Trope – The Antihero
The antihero is a character who is not necessarily evil. They may be good at heart, but they have made decisions that have led to some negative outcomes. The antihero is often an underdog who is fighting against the odds, and their struggle can be inspiring.
The antihero may be a villain or he may be a protagonist. He may even be both at the same time. In any case, an antihero will always have an interesting story to tell because he’s living life on his own terms, doing what makes him happy despite what other people think of him.
The antihero is often the result of a character being forced into a situation where they make a choice that turns out badly for them. In other words, he has no choice but to become an antihero because of some tragic event in his past or present life.
This type of character usually ends up being more sympathetic than others because we can relate to them in some way or another.”
12. Character Trope – The Dumb Jock
A dumb jock is a physical specimen who is not particularly bright but still very active. He is often seen as an adversary and rival to the smart jock, but this can be due to their different interests and personalities. While dumb jocks are often seen as less intelligent than their smart counterparts, they are not necessarily unintelligent.
Many of them have high intelligence and some have even become successful in business or politics.
The term “dumb jock” was coined in the 1980s by sociologist Michael Kimmel. He argued that young men who are good-looking and physically fit tend to be more popular among women than those who do not meet this criteria (Kimmel & Messner, 1989).
In his research on high school students, Kimmel found out that the popularity of a student depends on three factors: his looks, athletic ability, and academics. A “dumb” or “smart” jock was determined by how well he performed on his course work and how well he looked in clothes compared with other boys at his school (Kimmel & Messner).
Dumb jocks are usually characterized by their athleticism and physical strength (Kimmel & Messner). They tend to
11. Character Trope – The Mean Girl
The character trope of the mean girl has been with us since high school. But today, thanks to social media and a generation of teens who are more comfortable with their own bodies than ever before,
it’s more common than ever for this character trope to be played out in real life. In fact, it may be the most common trope on television today.
The Mean Girl is a character type that can be found in both film and television. She’s usually someone who is mean to another person because she feels insecure about her own personality or because she wants something from them. She may also be plain mean just because she can be!
The Mean Girl is often a villain, but sometimes she can actually be an antihero (or at least not hero material). There are few characters that are more hated by their peers than the Mean Girl – and rightfully so! These characters are villains by nature, but they can also have redeeming qualities if they learn how to act like people rather than just being jerks all the time.
10. Character Trope – The Femme Fatale
The Femme Fatale is a character type that has been used in literature and film for centuries. In fact, she’s one of the oldest archetypes in storytelling. The femme fatale is a woman who seduces an innocent man for her own gain.
She usually appears as a beautiful woman, often dressed in elegant clothing, who uses appearances to lure her victim into her web.
The femme fatale often takes over or destroys the hero’s life and eventually ends up with the hero’s wealth and/or his soul. This can be seen throughout history and has even been used in movies such as All About Eve and Casablanca. However, there are many variations on this theme including:
The Innocent Victim – The innocent victim is usually a young man who meets the woman at first sight or after being attracted by her beauty and charm. He will be drawn into her web and slowly become trapped until he realizes his mistake and attempts to escape but it is too late.
The Innocent Bystander – In this variation on the theme, an innocent bystander is caught up in someone else’s game without realizing it at first. He may not know what is going on around him but soon finds himself involved in
9. Character Trope – The Sidekick
The Sidekick is a character who accompanies the protagonist on their journey. They are a sort of “odd man out” who often acts as a foil to the lead character and/or provides comic relief. In many cases, they also have a special connection with the protagonist or have some kind of power over them.
The Sidekick is usually defined by their relationship to the protagonist, making it seem like they are always there for them and that they can’t go anywhere without their help. There are also times where they will be part of an episode where it’s just them and their relationship with the main character without any other characters around.
There are two types of sidekicks: those who are loyal friends and those who are actually spies working against their friend. The former tends to be more interesting because you never know what’s going on in their head and if they’re going to betray you or not!
Even though this trope is usually used to describe characters that accompany main characters through out their adventures, it can also be used for other things such as animals, objects and even places (like cities).
8. Character Trope – The Wise Elder
A character trope is a character trait that has been used in many different ways. Some examples include: Wise Elder, Mentor, and Selfless Hero. These three archetypes are common in fiction because they can be used to make the story more interesting.
The Wise Elder is an archetype that comes from many different religions and cultures. The wise elder is usually a person who has lived a long life, had many experiences, and has wisdom to share with others.
They tend to be wise beyond their years, but also kind and caring towards others. They often have wisdom to share with younger generations or just those who listen to them.
The Mentor archetype is also one of the most common archetypes used in literature today. Unlike the wise elder, this character doesn’t have much experience under their belt; however they do know what they’re talking about and they want to impart their knowledge onto others in hopes of helping them become better people or more successful at whatever it is they do in life.
7. Character Trope – The Damsel in Distress
The damsel in distress is a character trope in which the main character is saved from danger by another character and then falls in love with that person. The term is also used to refer to female characters who are portrayed as being helplessly and needlessly victimized.
The trope was popularized by the novel The Three Musketeers, which has been adapted into many films, television shows, comic books and video games.
In one of the novels, D’Artagnan saves Constance de Brinvilliers from being raped by Milady de Winter. In another book, Athos saves D’Artagnan’s life from attackers during a duel at court.
In modern times, people often use the phrase “damsel in distress” when describing situations where someone needs rescuing, as opposed to being saved themselves. This usage has led to some confusion as to whether or not this usage refers specifically to female characters; however, it can be used for both sexes.
6. Character Trope – The Neurotic Type
The neurotic type is one that has a unique way of looking at things. They see the world in a way that is different from everyone else, and this is what makes them so interesting and fun to be around.
The main trait of the neurotic type is their thought process. They have a very unique way of looking at things, which makes them stand out from other people.
They tend to be very calm and cool under pressure, but when they are stressed out or in a new situation they will overreact and become agitated. The reason for this is because their mind processes things differently than most people do.
The neurotic type will also have a tendency to panic when they are stressed out, even though they may not appear as such on the surface. This leads them to overreact during stressful situations and make mistakes that they would not normally make if they were not so stressed out by something going wrong or some other event happening around them.
5. Character Trope – The Mad Scientist
A mad scientist is a character archetype who is obsessed with science and technology, often to the point where they lose touch with reality. They are typically portrayed as an evil-hearted person who uses their genius for selfish means.
This trope is most often found in science fiction stories, but it also appears in fantasy settings.
The mad scientist may be a villainous character who uses science for evil purposes, or he may be a hero who uses his skills for good. The latter version is far more common than the former, even though it’s easy to see how both types of characters could exist in the same setting.
The mad scientist’s hidden motivation is often to gain power over others or the world around them by controlling people or objects through magic or technology. They may have some form of moral code, but it’s not always clear what it is and when they break it by using their abilities for personal gain.
4. Character Trope – The Smart Girl
The Smart Girl is a character trope in which a girl is portrayed as being intelligent and having good academic skills. She may be described as being studious, interested in learning, or highly motivated by her schoolwork.
In some cases, she may even be an A student. She does well in class and is usually described as being very knowledgeable about whatever subject in which she studies.
The Smart Girl is sometimes paired with another trope, the Nerdy Best Friend, who also has above average intelligence but isn’t necessarily as studious or knowledgeable as the Smart Girl.
In some cases, they may share interests such as reading manga together or playing video games together. The Smart Girl’s intelligence often comes off as arrogant; she expects everyone else to recognize her smarts and often belittles those who don’t share her interests.
3. Character Trope – The Geek or Nerd
The geek or nerd is a character trope in fiction. A geek is often associated with a stereotype of intelligence, bookishness and interest in science topics. The character is often portrayed as socially inept and awkward, but can be more than that.
He or she may be shy, but also intellectual and knowledgeable enough to have a wide range of interests and knowledge.
The nerd has become more prominent in recent years; however, it remains largely an American stereotype. In the United States, the word “geek” often refers to someone who is socially awkward or socially inept compared to other people his or her age (such as high school or college students).
This can include being overweight or having acne due to poor hygiene habits. In some cases, it also includes being obsessed with computers, video games, comics and/or movies related to these subjects (for example: anime).
Some people are both geeks and nerds because they are interested in many different things and they have lots of friends who share their interests with them.
2. Character Trope – The Bad Boy
The Bad Boy is a character trope that features a male character who is rebellious, antisocial, and/or unkempt. He may be portrayed as a criminal or delinquent. He may also be noted for his sexual prowess and his ability to get the girl. In other words, he’s “bad” in ways that are usually associated with men.
The Bad Boy is often seen as an anti-establishment figure or rebel. He is often rebellious against authority and tends to break rules without thinking twice about it. His actions are often considered illegal or unethical by society because they go against what society has deemed right and wrong.
The Bad Boy can sometimes be considered a bad character because of how he treats women and people around him who are weaker than him (such as children).
In movies, television shows, and video games where these characters exist, they can be either good guys or bad guys depending on the story being told. If they’re good guys, then they will protect those who cannot protect themselves from harm (such as children).
If they’re bad guys, then it could mean that their motives are purely selfish (such as stealing money for personal gain
1. Character Trope – The Token Minority
In the movie The Martian, Matt Damon plays astronaut Mark Watney, who is accidentally left behind on Mars after a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate. After being stranded for two years, he has only enough food and water for about three weeks.
Watney’s crewmates return to the planet’s surface for rescue, but due to a communication glitch they don’t realize that Watney has been left behind with no supplies. The crew assumes he died of dehydration and starvation because there was no response from him when they tried to contact him by radio.
The movie ends with Watney being rescued by NASA personnel who come to extract him from Mars. In the end credits, we see a montage of scenes showing what happens next:
Watney meets up with another astronaut who had been stranded on Mars before him; they train together as they learn how to live in space; Watney gets married; he and his wife have a baby boy; and finally Watney returns home where his entire family greets him at the airport with open arms.
Character Tropes – Wrap Up
Character Tropes are common, predictable patterns in a characters personality that can be used to identify their character. They are not just a simple checklist of traits but rather a way to describe an individual’s personality and how they react to certain situations.
Character Tropes include:
The Hero/Villain – The Hero is the main character of the story and has immense power or skill. He will often be considered naive or innocent by others, but he possesses great courage and wisdom that makes him a perfect choice for saving the day.
The Anti-Hero/Antagonist – The Anti-Hero is usually much more powerful than the hero, but still makes bad decisions at times. He may try to help people or even be good at heart, but he cannot see past his own selfish motives or desires.
The Fool – This character is unpredictable and often appears out of nowhere with no background information provided on him/her whatsoever. They often act foolishly but manage to get away with it due to their ability to charm people into doing what they want instead of thinking things through first!