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Stock Characters

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Minor characters are often stock characters, stereotypical simplifications of human personalities, with a few distinctive features. A stock character relies heavily on cultural types or stereotypes for its personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. They are, therefore, instantly recognizable to members of a given culture. This permits the author to economically introduce characters without elaborate description and character development.

Stock characters have existed since ancient history. Theophrastus, Aristotle’s student defined 30 stock character types as follows:

  • The Insincere Man (Eironeia)
  • The Flatterer (Kolakeia)
  • The Garrulous Man (Adoleschia)
  • The Boor (Agroikia)
  • The Complaisant Man (Areskeia)
  • The Man without Moral Feeling (Aponoia)
  • The Talkative Man (Lalia)
  • The Fabricator (Logopoiia)
  • The Shamelessly Greedy Man (Anaischuntia)
  • The Pennypincher (Mikrologia)
  • The Offensive Man (Bdeluria)
  • The Hapless Man (Akairia)
  • The Officious Man (Periergia)
  • The Absent-Minded Man (Anaisthesia)
  • The Unsociable Man (Authadeia)
  • The Superstitious Man (Deisidaimonia)
  • The Faultfinder (Mempsimoiria)
  • The Suspicious Man (Apistia)
  • The Repulsive Man (Duschereia)
  • The Unpleasant Man (Aedia)
  • The Man of Pretty Ambition (Mikrophilotimia)
  • The Stingy Man (Aneleutheria)
  • The Show-Off (Alazoneia)
  • The Arrogant Man (Huperephania)
  • The Coward (Deilia)
  • The Oligarchical Man (Oligarchia)
  • The Late Learner (Opsimathia)
  • The Slanderer (Kakologia)
  • The Lover of Bad Company (Philoponeria)
  • The Basely Covetous Man (Aischrokerdeia)

Each character is characterized by the trait that dominates him. It is interesting to note that thirty characters represent negative characteristics. It is, therefore, suspected that Theophrastus must have catalogued other characters that possessed positive traits.

Some examples of contemporary stock characters are:


The Chosen One: is a hero who must typically fulfil some ancient prophecy and then save the world. He typically requires help of a Wise Old Man to fulfil this destiny and is frequently of apparently humble origins.

The Clumsy Hero: a well-meaning person who accidentally destroys friend and foe alike.

The Competent Man: a character who can do anything well. Example: James Bond

The Contender: a person with raw talent, but who must rely on the guidance of a Wise Old Man to overcome personal limitations (lack of discipline or confidence).

The Cop on the Edge: a reckless cop forced to bend the rules to see justice served.

The Elderly Martial Arts Master: a Wise Old Man archetype; typically an extremely old Asian man who is nonetheless a near invincible master of the martial arts.

The Haunted Hero: a character who must deal with his traumatic past, or some curse, before he can succeed.

The Tart with a Heart: a person who is outwardly tough and hard but has a heart of gold.

The Honest Thief: a thief only steals for vengeance on the rich; typically gives to the poor. Examples: Robin Hood, Zorro

The Knight-errant: a chivalric wanderer who searches for adventures to prove himself as a knight. Don Quixote is a parody of the knight-errant.

The Noble Savage: a member of a disadvantaged or dis-empowered ethnic group or culture who aids the (usually white) Hero by helping him out of a jam or introducing him to spiritual enlightenment.

The Private Investigator: a cool, relaxed, intelligent, sardonic, and introspective hero who stumbles into detective stories to solve a mystery case. He often relates events through an internal monologue, drinks whiskey, chain-smokes cigarettes and dresses in a trench coat and fedora

The Repentant Traitor: a villain who is won over by goodness and joins the good side, betraying his original gang.

The Sidekick: a trustworthy type who shows surprising resourcefulness and bravery; a foil for the hero.

The Wise Old Man: an elderly figure who trains and advises the hero; often portrayed as a wizard or hermit.

Prince Charming: the prince who rescues the damsel in distress.

The Subservient Negro: an ethnic stereotype; a helper that the (usually white) hero depends; is usually expendable. The character usually dies nobly.

The Competent Girl: a young woman who is cool and calm in the chaos and dysfunctional characters around her.


The Bad Fiancé?: a villain who is romantically interested in the heroine despite a complete lack of interest on her part; often rich, snobbish and macho.

The Big Boss: the chief villain who keeps returning to place the hero in mortal danger.

The Brought-Back-to-Life Villain: a villain who apparently dies yet comes back unhurt.

The Crazy General: a high-ranking military man who goes crazy and starts a war or worse.

The Dark Lord: a sinister villain with an entourage of henchmen bent on conquest of the world.

The Evil Clown: a supposedly wholesome figure who hides inner horrors.

The Evil Genius: an evil character who is a foil of a superhero in comic books or in spy stories.

The Evil Twin: the alter ego of the hero who continually tries to thwart the hero but ends up losing.

The Femme Fatale: the vamp; the beautiful, seductive, but evil woman who leads the hero to his doom.

The Henchman: a major villain's frequently incompetent stooge.

The Mad Scientist: the crazy science who accidentally meddles with the forces of nature causing trouble that the hero must correct.

The Miser: a wealthy, greedy man who lives miserably in order to increase his wealth. Example: Ebenezer Scrooge. T

he Pied Piper: an obvious villain that children don't recognize as they are misled.

The School Bully: a character who has a weakness that he covers up by being loud, aggressive and mean.

The Wicked Step-Mother: a vicious and controlling woman who has a dominant relationship with a young girl. She is often a gold digger.

The Wicked Witch\Evil Wizard: uses magic or other supernatural powers to lead the hero or heroin astray.

Either Side

The Bitter War Veteran: a man who leaves home as a naive young man, is damaged by the realities of war and returns home bitter and deranged.

Comic Relief: a cowardly type who brings a bit of laughter.

The English Butler: very proper, skilful, and loyal to his employers; always comes to their aid, when needed; often a Competent Man, a foil to a less competent or intelligent employer character.

The Popular Girl: a girl who is well-liked and appreciated at her school but is very mean and prissy; frequently surrounded by disciples.

The Fool: a clown or joker who speaks in riddles and puns; often very intelligent, reveals weaknesses of the characters he fools.

The Jock: usually the best player on the sports team; loved by everyone for his prowess. There are two varieties: The Nice Jock who tends to be the muscle of the group, and he is usually found on the outskirts of The Misfits; The Mean Jock who is usually an agent of antagonism and takes pleasure in tormenting The Nerd. Both are typified by lower-than-average intelligence.

The Lovable Rogue: a not overly sophisticated personage who is always full of confidence. Example: Crocodile Dundee.

The Military Man: typically a harsh and unforgiving, authoritarian person who usually associated with negative aspects of the militarism.

The Super Soldier: An elite warrior who has abilities or powers beyond those of normal soldiers.

Transient Characters

The Angst-ridden Youth: a young male character, usually handsome and virile, but angry and at odds with the establishment. Epitomized by James Dean.

The Avenger: a hot-blooded young man who loved one is cruelly injured or killed; seeks revenge outside the law.

The Outlaw: a cold-blooded desperado or a gallant thief. Example: Robin Hood.

L'Enfant Terrible: a child or teenage prodigy exhibiting extraordinary skills - often negative.

The Tough: uses physical persuasion and intimidation to get what he wants.

The Trickster: a supernatural or mysterious character who acts with no visible objectives or motivation; is a catalyst for events.

The Vigilante: an antihero of who must serve justice, usually for the wrong causes or outside the law.

Neutral Characters

Fictional Fictional Character: a character that is fictional even in the context of a fictional story. This character can be a foil for the protagonist for comedic or dramatic effect.

The Absent-minded Professor: an academic whose focus on learning divorces him from the reality about him

The California Girl: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who only eats health food and loves the environment more than anything else.

The Pretty Ugly Girl: a girl who appears plain and uninteresting but is actually quite attractive.

The Damsel in Distress: the young, beautiful, virginal woman who must be rescued from some cruel fate by the Hero.

The Dumb Blonde or Bimbo: a woman who is simply unintelligent but attractive.

The Ingenue: a sweet, beautiful and virginal woman, in mental or emotional rather than physical danger.

The Fop: a highly fashionable aristocrat; typically overdressed; with over cultivated speech. The fop is usually not too intelligent and always talkative.

The Foreign Exchange Student: exotic appearance or mannerisms often serve as comic relief.

The Reclusive Genius: an intelligent and antisocial character who antagonizes the main characters for most of the story, but provides crucial support at the story's climax.

Ill-Fated Lovers: fiercely and irrationally passionate lovers who try to establish or maintain a relationship despite social or parental disapproval.

The Jolly War Veteran: a lovable and a bit daft veteran; frequently sings old military songs; military lingo pepper his speech.

The Nerd: the often introverted, overly sensitive genius. He frequently has an ardent, futile crush on the Pretty Ugly Girl but can't get her attention because she herself has a crush on The Jock or the Nice Guy The Nerd Girl: notable for her intelligence; often kind and good-hearted; may be quite attractive or have the potential to be so.

The Nuclear Family: a family with a simple-minded father, a reasonable mother, a troublesome son, an anxious daughter and a peculiar younger child.

The Rake or Cad: a man who seduces a young woman and impregnates her before leaving, often to her social or financial ruin; often portrayed as a heavy drinker or gambler.

The Redshirt: an inconsequential character who is killed or injured soon after his or her introduction in order to indicate the dangerous circumstances faced by the main characters.

The Tomboy: a female character who is 'one of the guys'. Usually displays superior physical or athletic prowess.

The Town Drunk: serves as a figure of fun and serves as a moral example.

The Whiz Kid: a brainy sidekick to the hero; often, physically the weakest of the group. As a result, he can be useless in a fight, but knows everything about technology.

The Womanizer: a man characterized by having many love affairs with different women. Example: James Bond.

The Jokester: often a part of a group of adventurers, the Jokester copes with the seriousness of the situation (often war) with constant good humour. He may be crying on the inside but laughter mask insecurities.

The Wacky Neighbour: a character who lives close to the main character and has eccentric qualities.

The Warning: a character who warns others about eminent disaster and then dies.

The Wedge: a minor character that possesses a character shield and survives the entire story without succumbing to mortal danger. These characters never ascend to primary status.

The Rookie: an often young, bright, and eager to please; typically fresh out of school and often at the top of his class; tends to act 'by the book' because it's all they know.

The Nurse: typically a woman who finds the hero (or villain) injured, and nurses him back to health, falls in love with him, but will never have her love returned because of his love for another.

The Tyrannical Boss: authoritarian, bad-tempered and inflexible, the tyrannical boss is often seen in comedies. He or she rules over the workplace with an iron fist.

The Protective Father: a man who seeks to protect his daughter from a young man he deems too unworthy or unsuitable.

What is
.Narratology ?

Narrative Structure

The Narrator
Corporal Form
Physical Position
Narrator's Bias

Literary Devices

Stock Characters
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