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230 Examples of Archetypes

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An archetype is an abstract person type that is used in literature to develop characters and social sciences to model behavior. These are also an element of culture that appear in religion, philosophy, literature, myths and legends. These can serve as abstract role models or as cautionary tales that examine painful character flaws and failures. The following are common examples of archetypes.
Absent Father / Mother
Absent-minded Professor
Adventurous Child
Aloof Boss
Amateur Detective
Angry Loner
Annoying Neighbor
Anthropomorphic Animals
Audience Surrogate
Author Surrogate
Authority Figure
Awkward Nerd
Backstabbing Friend
Bad Boss
Bad Boy
Beautiful Loner
Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory
Black Knight
Black Widow
Blind Seer
Boy / Girl Next Door
Career Criminal
Chooser of the Chosen One
Chosen One
Class Clown
Clumsy Hero
Con Artist
Concept Personification
Crazy Cat Lady
Crooked Cop
Damsel in Distress
Dark Lord
Disaffected Detective
Don Juan
Drill Sergeant
Dumb Jock
Dumb Muscle
Evil Matriarch
Evil Twin
Fairy Godmother
Fall Guy
Fallen Angel
Father Figure
Femme Fatale
Gentle Giant
Gentleman Thief
Girl / Boy Genius
God / Goddess
Good King / Queen
Good Samaritan
Gossiping Servant
Grande Dame
Grandstander Bully
Great Imposter
Guardian Angel
Hardboiled Gangster
Hardboiled Private Investigator
Henchman / Thug
High Chair Tyrant
Hopeless Romantic
Incompetent Gangster
Intelligent / Deep Loner
Jester / Harlequin
Kindhearted Princess
Last Man
Logical Leader
Logical Nerd
Lone Hero
Loose Cannon
Lovable Rogue
Loyal Friend
Loyal Servant
Loyal Skeptic
Machiavellian Villain
Mad Scientist
Mama's Boy
Man Alone
Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Mary Sue / Gary Stu
Mean Popular Girl
Mother Figure
Nefarious King / Queen
Noble Savage
Old Wise One
Oppressed Princess
Overinvolved Mother or Father
Personification of Joy
Personification of Mother Earth
Personification of National Character (e.g. The American)
Personification of Old Age / Youth
Personification of Peace
Personification of Sadness / Despair
Personification of War
Precocious Child
Prince Charming
Prodigal Son
Rebel Without a Cause
Rebellious Teen
Redeemable Villain
Reluctant Hero
Reluctant Monster
Reluctant Private Investigator
Rightful Heir or Ruler
Robin Hood
Scorned Goddess
Shadow Leader
Shallow Rich Girl
Sibling Rivalry (e.g. The More Successful Brother / Sister)
Side Kick
Sleazy Politician / Lawyer / Businessperson
Slow Burn
Social Climber
Star-Crossed Lover
Starving / Tortured Artist
Straight Man
Strong Silent Type
Superfluous Man
Superhero Alter Ego
The Addict
The Advocate
The Alchemist
The Beggar
The Brilliant Detective
The Builder
The Conspiracy Theorist
The Creator
The Crone
The Crusader
The Curmudgeon
The Cursed & Unlucky
The Diplomat
The Eccentric Foreigner
The Environmentalist
The Eternally Young
The Foil
The Gigolo
The Giver
The Glutton
The Gourmet
The Healer
The Imposter
The Improbable Survivor
The Innocent
The Likable Troublemaker
The Lucky
The Martyr
The Muse
The Mystic
The Narcissist
The Nice Guy
The Nonconformist
The Novice
The Orphan
The Perfectionist
The Pessimist
The Philosopher
The Pilgrim
The Pioneer
The Psychopath
The Reformer
The Ruthless
The Saboteur
The Sage
The Savant
The Scapegoat
The Shrew
The Sloth
The Sociopath
The Stickler
The Storyteller
The Therapist
The Trickster
The Usurper
The Vagabond
The Victim
The Vigilante
The Weakling
The Workaholic
Town Fool / Village Idiot / Town Drunk
Tragic Hero
Troubled Vet
True Believer
Underdog Contender
Unseen Character
Useful Idiot
Voice of Reason
Wannabe Hero
Weakling Prince
Whisky Priest
Wicked Stepmother
Wise Fool
Witch / Warlock
An audience / author surrogate is a character in a story that represents the audience or the author.
A Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory is an individual who feels powerful due to a management position in a company but struggles because people outside this context don't respect them. Originates with a line from the animation series The Simpsons in which a character brags that his father is a "big wheel at the cracker factory."
Concept personification is a character that represents an abstract concept such as "freedom."
A Dilettante is an enthusiast for something for which they have little ability and knowledge. For example, a wealthy patron of the arts who can't recognize artistic talent.
Everyman is a protagonist who is a completely ordinary and humble person.
Grande Dame is a female socialite who is upper class and influential.
The High Chair Tyrant makes demands, gives nothing, is overly sensitive and lashes out at anyone who doesn't serve their immediate wants.
The Hopeless Romantic is tragically optimistic and trusting.
The Last Man cares only for safety, security and basic needs such as entertainment. They fear and punish risk-takers, individualism and freedom seekers.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a female character who is overwhelmingly positive, outgoing, innocent and cute.
Mary Sue is a female lead that has no flaws and far more talent/ability/power than anyone else in the story. Male characters of this flavor are rare, as male characters are often given tragic or comical flaws, but are known as Gary Stu.
Noble Savage is a character that represents the humble wisdom and goodness of humankind in a supposedly more innocent time / society / culture / community. Historically extremely common in myth, literature and film.
A Ronin is a samurai without a master. These are outcasts who are highly capable and dangerous to an elite.
Slow burn is a character that is exceptionally plain to begin with that is slowly revealed to be extraordinary.
A Soubrette is a lively and flirtatious character.
A Strong Silent Type is a humble character who doesn't say much but is unbelievably resilient and capable.
Superfluous Man is a privileged character who causes trouble and pursues vice out of boredom and a lack of purpose / moral fiber.
A Swashbuckler is witty, good at fighting and reluctantly virtuous.
The Trickster is an extremely common archetype of religion, legend and myth that uses superior intelligence to trick people or gods. Typically more mischievous than evil.
Tsundere is a Japanese term for a character that is initially stern, cold and harsh who slowly reveals that they have great emotional depth.
Ubermensch is an individual who is completely free of social and cultural constraints who bravely seeks self-fulfillment.
An unseen character is a person who is often mentioned but never appears in a story or film.
A useful idiot promotes a cause they don't understand because they have been manipulated by powerful and shadowy elements.
A straight man is a serious character who serves to make comical situations more funny.
A foil is a situation where two characters are opposites in order to highlight their character traits. For example, a married couple where one is obsessed with social status and appearances and the other is humble and aloof.


Archetypes are recurring characters and themes found across cultures in religion, myths and literary works. Many of these can be traced back for hundreds or in some cases thousands of years and are still commonly used in modern works. Due to their familiarity and presence in important cultural artifacts, people may use archetypes in their view of the world and in constructing their identity.
Overview: Archetypes
An abstract person type that is used in literature to develop characters and social sciences to model behavior.
Personality Archetype
Character Archetype
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about archetypes.
Character Flaws
Cultural Concepts
Human Behavior
Last Man
Useful Idiot
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