Jung called this group The Soul-Driven group of archetypes.  They are driven by strong motivation, passion, perfectionism and (in some cases) spirituality. Characters like these –who always want and expect the most out of life –constantly push the envelope, making them great protagonists.

1. The Explorer, otherwise called the seeker, the wanderer, the individualist, or the pilgrim.

The Explorer archetype is on a quest, searching for a way home, some important knowledge, a treasure, a key to happiness or a “better way.” He appears to be constantly searching — for a treasure, a place, or self-discovery.

The Explorer doesn’t stay in his lane, or follow rules or conventions if he finds them inconvenient. He acts intuitively, strikes out boldly, and maintains his originality while changing the world.

The Explorer runs the risk of never settling down, or starting a family, or missing out on a more serene type of fulfillment. At times he also runs the risk of being too independent to the point of self-sacrifice –of losing friends.

Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, and Chris Pine, in Star Trek, is a classic example of The Explorer. After all, Kirk’s mission is “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Captain Willard (played by Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now!), went up-river, and directly into the Heart of Darkness (in this case, Vietnam) to find and assassinate the presumed insane Colonel Kurtz – played by Marlon Brando.

What he found in his journey was a truth about the nature of war, and humanity, and that the “horrors,” he witnessed, were inevitable, and even necessary in an a war like the Vietnam War.

These archetypes are not always found in action films. Other examples of The Explorer archetype include; Julia Roberts as Erin in Erin Brockovich, Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien and Harrison Ford as Indian Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

2. The Rebel, also known as the revolutionary, the misfit, the outlaw or the wild man.

The outlaws and The Rebels in film are outrageous, outspoken, and radical in their approaches to attacking and solving problems in life. They have new, innovative, radical, ways of thinking about and addressing issues.

They are all about creating a better world, and if it involves invoking a new approach, or a different way of thinking about a solution, even if it’s controversial, they will push ahead if they feel they’re in the right.

The Rebels are generally respectful of others’ thinking, opinions, and others’ solutions, yet they push their own creative, innovative approaches through, diplomatically, to find radical ideas that work best.

At their worst, however, they are not diplomatic and appear reckless, adopting dangerous methods for change. They leave collateral damage and create enemies in their wake.

Consider Hunter Thompson, (played by Johnny Depp) in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He and his Samoan lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, are completely rebellious, speeding through the desert high on cocaine, poppers and LSD, wreaking havoc, frightening tourists, and breaking laws randomly.

Thompson and Dr. Gonzo are considers heroes by many, but symbols of ultimate debauchery to others. The Rebel archetype walks a tightrope, and can succeed through innovation or fail tragically.

Consider Clyde Barrow, (played by Warren Beatty), leading the Barrow Gang, with Bonnie Parker, who robs banks and helps out the working stiffs during the Great Depression. Was a big ero for the common man.

In a bloody version of “the Robin Hood” archetype, the Barrow Gang’s journey wreaked havoc across depression-era America, as Barrow stood up to the banks and lent a hand to the destitute – yet ended in a violent blaze of glory.

Other examples of The Rebel archetype include; James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, Arnold Swartzenegger in The Terminator, and Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun.

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

The Lover is generally seen in the context of friendship or spiritual love, but is most often seen in movies in the context of romance. His or her journey is about finding satisfaction, bliss, or fulfillment through intimacy or passionate commitment.

This archetypal character 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 many love stories, the lover and his or her love interest are in immediate conflict when they met. It’s kind of a cliché, going back to Shakespeare, but seen recently in La La Land, where Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone get caught up in “road rage” on the LA freeway.

So many romantic comedies still use that trick to get the lovers involved at an emotional pitch. Oddly, it still seems acceptable in today’s screenplays. You have to remember Hollywood doesn’t want anything too original. It’s all about writing something familiar, with a twist.

Again, we see that device in Groundhog Day, as Bill Murray, the weatherman Phil, comes off as arrogant, and self-absorbed to Rita, played by Andy McDowell. It’s only through conflict—and by getting to live the same day over and over — 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.

Other ways this archetype’s story can end badly –The Lover’s role might take the form of an unscrupulous seductress, or someone seeking power through love. Both scenarios are easily capable of going sideways fast.

Other examples of The Lover archetype; Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, Nicolas Cage as Ronnie Camaroni in Moonstruck.

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

The Creator archetypes have vision, are imaginative, possess skills and talent, and are motivated to create art, music, poetry, literature, inventions or social change that will be seen as great art or innovation.

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 sometimes drink a lot of wine or absinthe or some other drug of choice to fuel their originality.

At the center of their journey, they struggle to create a unique style, or voice, in the process discovering their true identity. In films like Whiplash, the conflict comes from with the artist being pushed to the edge by their mentor.

In more tragic depictions, The Creator is seen as the tortured artist, stuggling on the streets, or shooting heroin like Basquit or go completely mad and cut off an appendage as with Van Gogh. They are also sometimes portrayed as perfectionists who give up everything 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 archetype; 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, and Christian as played by Ewan Magregor in Moulin Rouge.

When you think about characters you go to see in the movies, a lot of the characters in this group stand out. Especially “The Explorer,” such as Indiana Jones and Captain Kirk.  There are “lovers” in almost every commercial film, too.  And “The Rebel” is always fun to watch, as exemplified by Bonnie and Clyde, or The Terminator.

 

 Get a free copy of Screenwriter’s Cheat Sheet.
Get feedback on your script before you send it out.

Join the free Facebook Group L.A. Creative Professionals

Image credit: Creative Commons,  Indiana Jones – Crystal Skull Poster 2008, photographed by suzie licensed under CC By 2.0