Friday, October 23, 2015

Archetypes | The Many Heroes

It's been awhile since I wrote about Archetypes...a long while. 
With NaNo coming up, I know a lot of people are in the middle of planning their novels—unless you're a brave Pantser in which I applaud you *claps*—and so I thought I would bring back the archetypes in order to help some of you along. Even if you know your story inside and out already, I encourage you to see if you can spot your character among the archetypes below. *points down*

Keep in mind that archetypes aren't cliches, they're patterns that naturally occur in stories. When I write, I often include archetypes without even knowing it and that's not a bad thing! To get a little more background on what an archetype is, follow this link.

That being said, make sure that as a writer you're still being creative. Look for your character to fit into an archetype rather than looking for an archetype that can become a character.

The Warrior

The warrior is often characterized as someone who faces physical obstacles and faces external forces. The forces don't have to be human—they can be monsters or even extreme conditions like snow storms or crossing a sheer ledge in the pouring rain. The warrior isn't the underdog—he/she is already trained or is born with the abilities that will theoretically help him/her to achieve their goal—they're the 'chosen one'. That doesn't mean it's easy going for them though. Think James Bond or "The Last Samurai".

The Lover

Pretty self explanatory. The lover is motivated by love. Prince charming is probably the most obvious of heroes we could choose for this one but personally I think that any character who's motivated by love for their family can also be classified as a lover. Maybe other archetypes will fit them better but who said you can have more than one ;) 

The Scapegoat

Seems like an odd type of hero right? This hero will stir up a lot of feels with your readers though. Why? They endure suffering all for the sake of other people. Usually it's for a large group of people—think of a rebel who's trying to stop the oppressive king from hurting his villagers. He endures public torture, humiliation and death threats all while trying to save the people. See? FEELS! 

The Transcendent Hero

Also know as the tragic hero. The only reason why we get to call this hero 'the transcendent' is because they have a groundbreaking, heavenly light shining, light bulb momenting, discovery or piece of wisdom at the end of the novel...and their lives. Usually they die. Yep. More feels. *sobs* 

This hero has a fatal flaw that results in their downfall throughout the novel. Think of Hamlet. Or Macbeth. Or Romeo.
Alright, let's just go with all Shakespearean tragedy heroes. 

The Romantic/The Gothic

Different from the lover but sometimes this character is also propelled by their love. This hero has a undeniable dark side to their moon. 
I'm gonna use our dear Dr. Frankenstein from Mary Shelley's novel, "Frankenstein", as an example. He's definitely the protagonist in the novel—well some would argue that—but as the novel goes in, it gets harder and harder to defend him and his so called 'humanity'. 
Also, DEATH NOTE!!! *clears throat* That is all. 

The Apocalyptic Hero

This hero faces the destruction of society as their main apposing force. This isn't a post-apocalyptic hero so Katniss doesn't count. This hero is in the midst of the destruction. Cassie from "The 5th Wave" would be closer to matching this description.


This hero is a failure for a living. Was that a little harsh? 

However this hero isn't the anti-hero you're thinking of. They're coming up. 
Instead, this hero is usually humorous and while he/she has a goal, no one actually expects him/her to succeed. Think of Forrest Gump. He's an underdog, you can't help but laugh at certain things he says or does but in the end, you only want him to find the reach the top. 

Defiant Anti-Hero

Anyone seen Code Geass? Defiant Anti-Heros like Lelouche go against society's model for what it means to be a hero. Depending on what your story world is like, this hero could be almost anyone. Robin Hood comes to mind and then so does Tally from "Uglies".

The Unbalanced Hero

There's always that one hero who's a little bit crazy. They're unstable emotionally or psychologically and despite their quest, they usually can't break from it. Hamlet fits into this one pretty darn well. Also, Roderick from "The Fall of the House of Usher" is definitely unbalanced. 

The Denied

The protagonist here has some sort of status or 'otherness' that makes their heroism possible. Maybe they work for the government of a corrupt society so they have inside information? Or maybe they're the opposite. Maybe they're an outcast and so no one expects them to be the hero they turn out to be. This hero could also have some sort of ability. Think of the show, "Heroes". If it weren't for the abilities of the characters in the show, they wouldn't have been able to save New York.

The Superheroic

Cue the "Superman" theme song! 

This one is rather easy to understand. Your hero here doesn't belong to society. They're set apart because of their ability. However, society needs them. If it weren't for this hero, New York would be destroyed—again—and everyone would die in a blazing inferno of Smaug fire...not necessarily in that order. 
Seriously though...could you imagine Smaug in New York? 

There you have it! What hero is your protagonist? And as a fun bonus question, if your villain was the protagonist, what type of hero would they be? 

Write on, Wordlings! 


  1. Great post, Cassia. ^ ^ Bryce and Mor both fit in the Warrior archetype haha.

    1. Thank you!
      I can definitely see the two of them as the warriors :) Mor especially!