What Makes A Memorable Character (Part 2)

The final piece on what makes characters timeless.

By Katy Goh

In our previous article, we went through five different memorable character types. We will now finish off the list with these last four notable character categories:

The Complicated

These characters walk a thin line between what constitutes as good and bad, sometimes wavering to either side because of unfavourable situations or because it suits their interests best.

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Regardless, these characters are morally on the gray side and we fluctuate between liking them to sympathising with them and then to downright disapproving of their courses of action. It is never easy to dissect these characters and their motivations; are they downright insane or just a victim of their circumstance? Were they just in their actions? What is does it mean to be just in a situation like theirs?

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They break the rules, make morals fluid and aren’t easily categorised as a certain type of character. The characters that fit this mould are Handsome Jack from the Borderlands series, Deadpool from Marvel comics, Constantine and the Comedian from DC comics, Rick from Rick and Morty, and Elizabeth from the Bioshock series.

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The Redeemer

The redeemers are characters who have done wrong in the past and hope to set things right in order to attain internal peace with themselves, or for a brighter future.

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These characters are relatively easy to sympathise with as we can all relate to having made mistakes, sometimes with good intentions, albeit having incurred relatively grave consequences for doing so.

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We watch these characters grow from their mistakes and fight for their right to undo the wrongs they have done, to redeem themselves for inflicting harm unto others. Their perseverance despite facing much ostracisation and rejection from society is indeed truly admirable. We also feel a sense of achievement when we see them finally reaching their goals and leading happier futures; ones that they have fought so hard for.

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 Spawn from Image Comics, Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender, Gaara from Naruto and John Marston from Red Dead Redemption are exemplary characters that fall under this category.

The Representative

Given the abundance of strong male and mostly straight protagonists, modern audiences call for more representation in works of fiction so as to reflect the growing inclusivity and diversity of modern day society.

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These characters give minorities hope and a little bit of happiness as they get to see their kind represented. Minorities from different creeds and colours can feel empowered through these characters as they struggle through discrimination and can then help to spread awareness and understanding to other social groups.

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Examples include Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Midnighter and Apollo from DC comics, Black Panther, Storm, Kamala Khan and Miles Morales from Marvel comics as well as Sailor Uranus and Pluto from Sailor Moon.

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The Femme Fatales

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These women are deadly, skilled and very attractive. They pose as illicit liaisons because of their questionable motives, unstable personalities or their skill sets. By exuding sexual appeal and confidence, they are able to manipulate others to their will just with a flick of their wrist.

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However, these women are not just used for mere eye-candy, they boast impressive intellect, skills or have a unique personality and backstory. These women are admired for their achievements, lusted over for their beauty and sometimes pitied for their harsh past. Examples include Black Widow and Emma Frost from Marvel comics, Poison Ivy and Catwoman from DC comics, Boa Hancock from One Piece.

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The Extremists

These characters, as the name suggests, push the limits to the extreme by committing some of the most atrocious and despicable actions ever known to men. They tend to be rather insane and psychopathic, having little to no empathy for their victims and even relish in their misdeeds.

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They evoke fear in us with their unpredictability and the air of mystery behind their motives. We can try to dissect them as thinly as we want to analyse their intentions, but we sometimes fail to comprehend them because they are beyond rhyme and reason.

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Classic examples are the Joker, Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki, Johan from Monster, Majinbu from Dragon Ball Z, and Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones.

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All in all, there a multitude of character tropes and we have only briefly touched on a few of the more prominent ones. Many of the characters we have stated can fall in any of the other aforementioned categories but we have chosen to state them according to their most notable trademarks.

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Which character trope is your favourite? Which ones did you like that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below!


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Character archetypes are useful for classifying and understanding the personality and traits for a character. But ultimately what makes characters memorable are their actions and emotions. We emphatise with the characters that we like, because we can identify with what they are experiencing and the hardships that they have to go through.

This requires good writers behind-the-scenes to develop a character properly through good dialogue and storytelling, and in the case of movies, good directors to help channel that out into a motion picture. Remember to also thank the show’s creators for giving you memorable characters in pop culture.


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