Archetypes Examples

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Where can you find examples of archetypes in the world around you?

Are they easy to find in literature, TV, movies, and video games?

How can you learn to identify an example of archetype categorization in your favorite characters?

Archetypes are present in characters from every form of literature and media. Even if they aren’t as obvious in some works than in others, these archetypes are there, and they connect these works through their shared, common character categories.

When you understand the basic qualities and traits of character archetypes, you’ll be better able to identify those archetypes in your favorite characters. This can take some practice, but once you have the hang of it, you’ll start noticing these archetypes everywhere you look.

Take a look at some examples of archetype categories in the list below. They may just help you learn something about yourself in the long run.

Archetypes Examples

In this list, you’ll find examples of fifteen archetypes to consider. This is by no means an exhaustive list; it simply samples archetypes from various lists and collections that have been put together throughout the years. Although some of these are Jungian archetypes, many are not. Keep in mind that Jungian archetypes really only scratch the surface of what’s available in terms of character categorization.

Consider each of the examples listed along with the archetypes and think about why they fit into these categories. Do they make sense to you, or are you surprised by some?

Option #1. Warrior

  • Hercules of myth, legend, and films: No matter the iteration, Hercules is a Warrior through and through. With a muscular build, physical strength, and good character, he meets all the requirements.
  • Mulan of legend and film: Mulan is a less-common example of a female Warrior who challenges social norms as well as enemies.
  • Black Panther of the Black Panther film: This character takes up his father’s old task as a warrior and defender of his people.

Option #2. Caregiver

  • Marlin from Finding Nemo: Marlin will go to any length to take care of his son, even at risk to himself.
  • Samwise in The Lord of the Rings: Sam proves that even a best friend can be a caretaker when they’re needed enough.
  • Mary Poppins of Mary Poppins: Literally a nanny who takes care of children, Mary Poppins is kind, gentle, caring, and knows when to show some tough love.

Option #3. Child

  • Tommy Pickles from Rugrats: A literal child as well as an archetypal Child, Tommy leads his friends with his energetic and positive nature.
  • Linus van Pelt from Peanuts: With an upbeat view of the world around him, Linus can usually find the good in any situation (and works as a foil to fellow Child, Charlie Brown, in this way).
  • Shirley Temple of her film series: Shirley Temple was a real person, but the character she portrayed in her films was an Innocent Child stereotype full of bright, happy, uplifting words and songs.

Option #4. Trickster

  • Tom Huck of Huckleberry Finn: With a sharp tongue and quick wit, Huck can talk his way out of anything—the sign of a true Trickster.
  • The Doctor in Doctor Who: Never quite ready to tell the truth, The Doctor is a “good guy” but nevertheless a deceiver.
  • Jack Sparrow of The Pirates of the Caribbean series: Jack Sparrow is charismatic and likeable, so much so that even his nemeses sometimes get swept up in his tricks.

Option #5. Seductress

  • Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks: This character uses her sexuality to get what she wants, sometimes with unwanted consequences.
  • Catwoman of the Batman series: Another supporting lady who uses her looks and body to her advantage, Catwoman also has some superhuman skills, too.
  • Cleopatra of legend: Known for her charm and looks as well as for driving men to destruction, Cleopatra is one of the earliest Seductress examples.

Option #6. Absent-Minded Professor

  • Professor Farnsworth in Futurama: This character is played for laughs and is written as doddering and unpredictable.
  • Doc Brown from Back to the Future: One of the most well-known examples of the Absent-Minded Professor archetype, Doc Brown is a little zany but knows his science.
  • Wayne Szalinski from Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: It doesn’t get much more Absent-Minded Professor than a scientist who accidentally shrinks his own children.

Option #7. Boy/Girl Next Door

  • Mary Jane of the Spider-Man series: Peter Parker’s love interest in most iterations, Mary Jane is kind, attractive, and perfectly suited to the Girl Next Door archetype.
  • Both Jim and Pam from The Office: These two characters embody the nice, easygoing, casual nature that is the Boy and Girl Next Door archetype.
  • Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years: Accessible, approachable, and kind, this character fits into the Girl Next Door archetype as well.

Option #8. The Chosen One

  • Harry Potter of the Harry Potter Series: Harry is chosen and marked by a scar to prove it. He remains the protagonist and saves the day in the end.
  • Frodo of The Lord of the Rings: Frodo doesn’t want to be chosen, but he ends up saddled with a major responsibility and eventually saves the world anyway.
  • Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Luke wants nothing more than to be the Chosen One and gets his wish, although not without sacrifice.

Option #9. Gentle Giant

  • Frankenstein’s Monster of Frankenstein: Perhaps the first fictional example of this archetype, Frankenstein’s Monster was relatively kind but never had the chance to show it.
  • Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot is big and looming, but has a heart of gold. Still, he’ll fight when he has to.
  • Fezzik of The Princess Bride: He is a gentle and kind soul who happens to be big and strong, too.

Option #10. Hotshot

  • Han Solo in Star Wars: One of the most recognizable Hotshots in fiction, Han is an action-motivated character who is never above taking chances and flaunting his skills at the same time.
  • John McClane in Die Hard: This character is yet another action-packed example of the combination of suave, arrogant, and risky that makes up a Hotshot.
  • Jack Harkness of Doctor Who: This recurring side character is full of himself and seems to act before he thinks.

Option #11. Bard

  • Tom Bombadil of The Lord of the Rings: Wandering and singing songs that hold mystical powers and share historical events, Tom Bombadil is the essence of a Bard.
  • The nameless bard in The Odyssey: This character serves the purpose of a bard and may also represent Homer, too.
  • In real life, William Shakespeare was known as The Bard for his ability to tell poetic tales of the human condition.

Option #12. Double Agent

  • Alex Krycek in The X-Files: It was hard to pinpoint which side Krycek was on, which is one of the makings of a Double Agent.
  • Other Father from Coraline: Other Father also shows loyalties to both sides of the conflict, shifting between the two rather than picking a side.
  • Severus Snape from Harry Potter: Snape works for the good guys and the bad guys, crossing lines and sharing information with both sides.

Option #13. Messenger

  • R2D2 in Star Wars: The Messenger archetype serves the purpose of letting the Hero know he has a job to do or a quest to fulfill.
  • Hermes of mythology: One of the most well-known Messengers in literature and myth, Hermes brings information to the gods and goddesses and is fitted with wings to make the job go even faster.
  • Hagrid from Harry Potter: Since Hagrid arrives and tells Harry that he’s a wizard and will be rescued from his dismal life, he is also a Messenger.

Option #14. Dreamer

  • Truman Burbank in The Truman Show: Truman knows there’s something more out there in the world, and he’s determined to find out what it is.
  • Sarah in Labyrinth: Sarah believes she can find a more exciting life, and does so—with perils to go along with it.
  • Pinocchio of film and literature: Pinocchio dreams of becoming a real boy and living a normal life.

Option #15. Bully

  • Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story: Intimidating and beating up younger kids earns this character a place on the traditional, textbook Bully list.
  • Biff in Back to the Future: Biff terrorizes both boys and girls with his common Bully attitude and his tendency to use power against others.
  • John Bender in The Breakfast Club: Irritable, mean-spirited, and rough around the edges, this character is a Bully who eases up a bit by the end.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve seen some archetype example selections, you may be able to better relate these to your own life. Which of these characters do you like because you can see yourself in them? Which do you like because they represent something you’d like to be? Can you learn more about yourself when you understand and recognize archetype examples in the characters you love?

One of the most important ways to use archetypes is exploring your own self and examining the person you’d like to become. When you’ve pinpointed a few archetypes that stand out to you, ask yourself why. Take some time for self-reflection to determine just how these archetypes affect your life.

Don’t neglect the archetypes you find yourself disliking over and over again, too. These may offer further insight into your own character, personality, and sense of self. With some time and practice this information can help you dive deeper into your journey toward self-actualization.

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