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12 Best Character Archetypes For Film: Part 3

In earlier blogs we’ve discussed the first six archetypes; The Everyman, The Innocent, The Hero, The Explorer, The Caregiver and The Rebel, which are based in Carl Jung’s observations of myth and storytelling.

The best part of this breakdown is finding the shadow side, and the vulnerablities, and what leads to the downfall of these archetpes.  In writing screenplays characters change through conflict.

They can change for the better, or they can spiral downward out of control.


7.  The Trickster, also thought of as the fool, the jester, the joker, or the comedian.

The Trickster relies on his wits and is willing to cross boundaries, break taboos, insult anyone in his way to achieve success.

Beyond the goal of simply solving the problem, plot-wise, the Trickster appears to be above-it-all.  It appears his real goal is to ignore all the boring people in the world and to enjoy life to the fullest.

More than joy, actually he wants to laugh about life, or at life, which other characters can enjoy, or sometimes be insulted about.

Often The Trickster’s jokes are at someone else’s expense.  He often comes off as arrogant and self-absorbed.

Consider Elliot Gould as Trapper John in M*A*S*H.  When he and Hawkeye (Donald Southerland) arrive at the M*A*S*H unit they are faced with the mindless bureaucracy of the military.

Upon arriving at the hospital, they’re told by one of the officers, they can’t even go near a patient until the Colonel says it’s okay and he’s still out to lunch.

Trapper John replies, “I want to go to work in one hour.  We are the Pros from Dover and we figure to crack this kid’s chest and get out on the golf course before it gets dark.”

The movie also makes the point that for Hawkeye and Trapper John, the dark humor and the drinking and debauchery were coping mechanism that enabled them to stay sane saving lives during wartime.

Another great example is The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowsky.  The Dude has definitely touched on something relatable and familiar than fans enjoy.  The movie has a huge cult following.

The Dude rides around town in a bathrobe and flip-flops, drinking White Russians.

Again, the Trickster can come off as lazy, flippant, irresponsible, and  a drunk. Sometimes the sloth, gluttony, and exaggerated sexuality in The Trickster looks like a con job to obfuscate the brilliance and mastery hidden beneath.

Other examples of The Trickster;

Axel Foley as played by Eddie Murphy, in Beverly Hills Cop.

Mellissa McCarthy as Megan in Bridesmaids.

Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly  in Duck Soup.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean.

8. The Lover, also referred to as the intimate, the spouse, the partner, or the people pleaser.

The Lover appears in narratives in the context of parental love, friendship and spiritual love, but is most often seen in movies in the context of romance.

His or her journey is aimed at finding satisfaction, pleasure, bliss, or fulfillment through intimacy or passionate commitment of some kind.

The Lover is generally driven to bond with someone, a lover, friend, or with a group that holds a connection for them. They are drawn to a lasting and true love, and not just surface commitment.

In so many movie love stories, the lover and his or her love interest in in immediate conflict.

For example, in Groundhog Day, Bill Murray, as the weatherman Phil, comes off as arrogant, and self-absorbed to Rita, played by Andy McDowell.

It’s only through conflict that Phil learns to be a better man who would appeal to Rita.

On the downside, (or the “shadow side”) they may fear the loss of love, they may be crushed if love is withdrawn, or they may become addicted to love, or sex.

Being people-pleasers, they can give up too much, and even sacrifice everything only to find an unrequited love. They may find themselves controlling, or working to sustain a relationship with a lover who may stray.

The Lover might  show up in a story as an unscrupulous seductress, or someone seeking power through love.

Other examples of The Lover;

Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic.

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca.

Nicolas Cage as Ronnie Camaroni in Moonstruck.

9. The Creator, also labeled the inventor, the artist, the innovator, or the musician.

The Creator archetype has vision, is imaginative, possesses skills, and talent and is motivated to use their abilities to create art, music, poetry, literature, or a invention or social change that will be admired and seen as great art or innovation.

At the center of their journey, they struggle to create a unique style, or voice, in the process discovering their true identity.

They tend to be non-conformists, leaving conventional social life behind to find themselves and their art.  They move to Paris, live as paupers, and drink wine or absinthe or some other drug of choice to fuel their originality.

There is a kind of shadow archetype of the creator as the tortured artist.  He must live on the streets and shoot heroin like Basquit or go completely mad and cut off an appendage as with Van Gogh.

There are also seen as perfectionists who give up everything, including their lovers, and money to realize their vision.

There’s an almost romantic aspect to the artist who plays God.  Jim Morrison, as played by Val Kilmer in The Doors lived like he was indestructible, and presented himself as God-like at times.

In the movie Almost Famous, the lead singer of the fictional band, Sweetwater jumps from a rooftop into a swimming pool screaming “I am a Golden God.”

Other examples of The Creator;

Ray Charles as played by Jamie Fox in the movie Ray.

Andy Kaufman as played by Jim Carrey in The Man on the Moon.

Craig Schwartz as played by John Cusack  in Being John Malkovitch.

Christian as played by Ewan Magregor in Moulin Rouge.

For further information on how to use Archetypes in your screenplay, or to ask about careers in writing, click here.

Image credit: Creative Commons Captain Jack Sparrow, 2011 by  Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC By 2.0


12 Best Character Archetypes For Film: Part 3

David Silverman, MA, LMFT

A lot of careers can really knock you around. The competition is fierce, in graphic design, journalism, you name it -- especially in creative careers in Hollywood. Writers and performers get slammed with rejection constantly. If you're going through something -- anxiety, addiction or depression -- I help people like you get through it. And thrive. Let me help you get your dream back on track.

Please check out my website: My story: my brother grew up with a severe case of OCD, and while I just a kid --- in family therapy with him, I witnessed a miracle as he was transformed, and now is enjoying the life he deserves. I went to Stanford University to study Psychology, and USC Film. I've worked in FIlm/TV and experienced high levels of anxiety, and got slammed with rejection myself. I learned how to get through it. Today, I love to help people to regain the lifestyle they deserve.

David Silverman Psychotherapy

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APA Reference
Silverman, D. (2015). 12 Best Character Archetypes For Film: Part 3. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Apr 2015
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