30 Classic Archetypes to Help Your Story Pop

There is nothing new under the sun. And these character archetypes are in everything you watch and read. If’ you’re stuck trying to make one of your characters more interesting, maybe changing who they are and what motivates them will take your story to a new level. These archetypes may be just what your story needs. Don’t forget to add flaws and secrets to each character, whether it’s in the story or simply something that motivates them, and pushes them forward – or slows them down.


  1. The Hero: A noble, brave, and self-sacrificing character who embodies strength, courage, and honor.
  2. The Villain: An evil, manipulative, and cunning character who opposes the hero and seeks to harm others.
  3. The Mentor: A wise, knowledgeable, and experienced character who guides and trains the hero.
  4. The Rebel: A non-conformist, free-spirited, and unconventional character who challenges authority and social norms.
  5. The Lover: A passionate, emotional, and sensual character who seeks romantic or sexual relationships.
  6. The Sage: A wise, introspective, and philosophical character who provides insight and perspective.
  7. The Jester: A witty, funny, and entertaining character who brings levity to serious situations.
  8. The Innocent: A pure, kind, and naive character who sees the good in everyone and everything.
  9. The Explorer: A curious, adventurous, and daring character who seeks new experiences and knowledge.
  10. The Creator: An imaginative, artistic, and visionary character who creates and inspires.
  11. The Caregiver: A nurturing, compassionate, and selfless character who puts the needs of others before their own.
  12. The Outlaw: A rebellious, daring, and independent character who lives outside the law.
  13. The Magician: A mysterious, powerful, and mystical character who wields supernatural abilities.
  14. The Ruler: A authoritative, commanding, and dominant character who leads and governs others.
  15. The Everyman/Woman: An average, relatable, and ordinary character who experiences the ups and downs of everyday life.
  16. The Artist: A creative, expressive, and unconventional character who values self-expression and individuality.
  17. The Teacher: A knowledgeable, patient, and inspiring character who shares their expertise with others.
  18. The Trickster: A mischievous, playful, and unpredictable character who enjoys causing chaos and confusion.
  19. The Warrior: A fierce, strong, and courageous character who engages in physical combat and protects others.
  20. The Explorer: A curious, adventurous, and daring character who seeks new experiences and knowledge.
  21. The Advocate: A passionate, determined, and justice-oriented character who fights for a cause or group.
  22. The Scientist: A logical, analytical, and research-oriented character who seeks to understand and explain the world.
  23. The Rebel: A non-conformist, free-spirited, and unconventional character who challenges authority and social norms.
  24. The Detective: A analytical, perceptive, and deductive character who solves mysteries and crimes.
  25. The Survivor: A resilient, resourceful, and adaptive character who overcomes adversity and obstacles.
  26. The Martyr: A sacrificial, selfless, and honorable character who willingly suffers for a cause or belief.
  27. The Monster: A fearsome, monstrous, and dangerous character who represents chaos and destruction.
  28. The Leader: A charismatic, visionary, and persuasive character who inspires and motivates others.
  29. The Healer: A nurturing, compassionate, and empathetic character who provides physical or emotional healing.
  30. The Anti-Hero: A flawed, complex, and morally ambiguous character who may do the right thing for the wrong reasons or vice versa.

Directing Actors by Judith Weston

If you read only one of these books, make it this one. She shares the do’s and don’ts of dealing with sensitive actors who pour their souls out in front of staring crew members as well as script analysis to understand the subtext and undertones of each line and each character’s action. She reminds us to only use actable direction; never tell a performer how to do it but give them business and actions that support and motivate the actor to reach the moment they are chasing. I will re-read this book annually as a reminder of what is most important when directing talent. I suggest you do so as well.

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Dialogue by Robert McKee

Is it any wonder after finishing Story that I immediately bought Dialogue? Answer: No. It’s the next logical step. Except that in this case I actually read Dialogue first, then Story. See… I am an enigma. Which of the two books should you read first? You pick. But read them both.

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Story by Robert McKee

Buy it. Read it. Read it again. Study it. Dog ear the pages. It’s a veritable treasure trove of story knowledge. McKee is a genius and a master when it comes to story. I put off reading it because so many people have said it’s a difficult read. Wrong. Ignore those voices, whether your own or others’. Thank me later. Actually, thank Mr. McKee. He wrote it. He is the genius.

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Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics by Michael Rabiger

Honestly, I am currently struggling to read through this one. But that’s only because so much of it is beginner level and quite basic. But every now and then it shocks me to run across something I haven’t thought through on my own. So I will definitely finish it. We will likely require this as coursework reading for our film students.

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