List of stock characters

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A stock character is a dramatic or literary character representing a type in a conventional manner and recurring in many works.[1] The following list labels some of these archetypes and stereotypes, providing distinctive examples.

Character Type Description Examples
Absent-minded professor An absent-minded scientific genius[2] Professor Calculus, Professor Keenbean, Emmett Brown
Angry Black Woman An assertive, opinionated, loud, and "sassy" black woman (typically African-American) with a sharp tongue, often depicted as nagging and emasculating a male character[3] Sapphire in Amos 'n' Andy,[4] Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty,[5] Aunt Esther in Sanford and Son
Antihero A protagonist lacking conventional heroic qualities, such as morality, courage, or idealism[6] Huckleberry Finn,[7] Han Solo,[8] Snake Plissken
Author surrogate A character sharing the traits of its author or creator[9] Jon Arbuckle, Ralphie Parker
Bad boy A roguish macho Charlie Harper, Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause
Battle-axe An old,domineering, brash and brazen woman Agnes Skinner, Thelma Harper
Black knight An evil fighter antagonist Darth Vader, Mordred
Boy next door An average and nice guy John Truett in Meet Me in St Louis, George Gibbs in Our Town
Bug-eyed monster A staple evil alien[2] Formics
Cat lady An old woman overly concerned with her cats Arabella Figg,[10] Crazy Cat Lady
Contender A competitive underdog Rocky Balboa, Terry Malloy
Criminal Often a thief. Has a strange gait, slouched posture and devious facial expression. Usually wears black and white stripes. Flynn Rider
Crone A malicious old woman, often occult or witch-like Baba Yaga, Wicked Witch of the West
Damsel in distress A noble Lady in need of rescue, traditionally from dragons Princess Peach, Princess Buttercup, Andromeda, Princess Zelda
Dandy A young man more interested in fashion and leisure than business and politics. prominent in Victorian writings. Lord Byron, Dorian Gray
Dark Lady A dark, malicious or doomed woman Lady Macbeth, Miss Trunchbull, Annie Wilkes
Dark Lord An evil, very powerful, often godlike or near-immortal sorcerer Crimson King, Ganondorf, Morgoth, Sauron, Voldemort, White Witch
Elderly martial arts master A wise, powerful man teaching his powerful craft to a young student, often needs to be avenged Keisuke Miyagi, Pai Cheng-Tien in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Pai Mei
Everyman An ordinary individual C.C. Baxter in The Apartment, Everyman
Fall guy A scapegoat Alex Parrish (season 1)
Farmer's daughter A desirable and naive young woman, also described as being an "open-air type" and "public-spirited"[11][12] Crushinator
Femme fatale A beautiful but mischievous and traitorous woman Ruth Wonderly, Poison Ivy, Salome
Final girl A "last girl standing" in a horror film Laurie Strode, Sally Hardesty, Lila Crane
Gentleman thief A sophisticated and well-mannered thief Arsène Lupin, A. J. Raffles, Simon Templar
Girl next door An average girl with a wholesome conduct Winnie Cooper, Betty Cooper
Grande dame French for "great lady"; a flamboyant woman, prone to extravagant and eccentric fashion; usually a stereotype of an elderly high society socialite[13][14][15][16] Constance in Gosford Park, Princess Dragomiroff in Murder on the Orient Express; Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest
Hag A wizened old woman, often a malicious witch Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Baba Yaga
Harlequin A clown or professional fool Till Eulenspiegel
Hooker with a heart of gold A prostitute with heart and intrinsic morality Nancy in Oliver Twist, Fantine, Inara Serra
Hopeless Romantic A loving, passionate character that often finds love at first sight, is obsessive over a romantic partner, usually views life differently, very optimistic

Ted Mosby

Hotshot A reckless character known for taking risks Martin Riggs, Pete Mitchell in Top Gun
Idiot savant A person with extraordinary but narrow intelligence and some form of social or developmental disability Shaun Murphy in The Good Doctor, Raymond "Rain Man" Babbitt
Ingenue A young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome Ophelia, Cosette, Snow White
Jock (athlete) A male athlete who is often muscular, but not very smart Luke Ward
Knight-errant A noble Knight on a Quest Galahad, Sir Gawain, Percival
Little Green Men Little humanoid extraterrestrials with green skin and antennae on their heads;[17] known familiarly in science fiction fandom as LGM The Great Gazoo; Martians in Martians, Go Home
Loathly lady A woman who appears to be hideous, often cursed The Wife of Bath's Tale
Lovers Main characters who deeply and truly fall romantically in love, despite the blocking effect of other characters; often moonstruck, star-crossed lovers that are strongly fraternizing with the enemy Romeo & Juliet; Tony and Maria in West Side Story
Mad scientist An insane or highly eccentric scientist, often villainous or amoral[2][18] Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Henry Jekyll, Dr. Moreau, Rotwang, Davros
Magical Negro A black man with special insight or mystical powers coming to the aid of the white protagonist Bagger Vance, John Coffey in Green Mile, Dick Hallorann in The Shining
Mammy archetype A rotund, homely, and matronly black woman Aunt Jemima, Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Aunt Chloe in Uncle Tom's Cabin, Louise in Forrest Gump, Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird, Mammy Two Shoes in the Tom and Jerry series
Manic Pixie Dream Girl Usually static characters who have eccentric personality quirks and are unabashedly girlish Sam in Garden State, Summer in 500 Days of Summer
Mary Sue An idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character, often considered a stand-in for the author Wesley Crusher, Bella Swan
Miles Gloriosus A boastful soldier (originally from the comic theatre of ancient Rome) Falstaff, Baron Munchausen, Volstagg
Mother's boy A man who is excessively attached to his mother Private Frank Pike, Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory, Eddie Kaspbrak in Stephen King's It, John Candy in Only the Lonely, Norman Bates in Psycho, Buster Bluth in Arrested Development (TV series)
Nerd A socially-impaired, obsessive, or overly-intellectual person, often interested in doing well in school (academically and in terms of behavior) Martin Prince, Steve Urkel, Sheldon Cooper
Nice guy A male character of wholesome morals, agreeable personality and usually modest means who may struggle with finding females willing to date him Jon Arbuckle, John McTavish, Marty Piletti
Noble savage An idealized indigene or otherwise wild outsider with noble characteristics Chingachgook, Tarzan, Winnetou
Outlaw A romanticized, often charismatic or social bandit Robin Hood, Han Solo, Billy the Kid, Man with No Name
Pantomime dame A pantomime portrayal of female characters by male actors in drag Widow Twankey
Petrushka A Russian kind of jester
Pierrot French pantomime
Princesse lointaine A romantic love interest and beloved sweetheart and girlfriend for a Knight-errant Dulcinea
Redshirt An expendable character who dies soon after being introduced; this refers to characters from the original Star Trek television series, often from the security or engineering departments of the starship, who wore the red variation of the Starfleet uniform and whose purpose in the narrative was to serve as cannon fodder Star Trek
Rightful king A usurped, just ruler whose return or triumph restores peace Aragorn, Aslan, King Arthur, Richard the Lionheart (in the Robin Hood mythos), Pastoria
Senex iratus A father figure and comic archetype who belongs to the alazon or impostor group in theater, manifesting himself through his rages and threats, his obsessions and his gullibility Pantalone in Commedia dell'arte; Frank Costanza in Seinfeld
Shrew A woman given to violent, scolding, particularly nagging treatment Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Lois in Malcolm in the Middle
Sinnekins Pairs of devilish characters who exert their perfidious influence on the main character Flotsam and Jetsam, Hotep and Huy in The Prince of Egypt
Soubrette A character who is vain, girlish, mischievous, lighthearted, coquettish, and gossipy Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro
Southern belle A young woman of the American Old South's upper class Elsie Stoneman, Scarlett O'Hara, Blanche Dubois, Blanche Maxwell in Mandingo, Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly in Django Unchained, Mistress Epps in 12 Years a Slave
Space Nazis Nazi-like antagonists in science fiction works Patterns of Force, Iron Sky, Galactic Empire (Star Wars)
Spear carrier A minor character who appears in several scenes, but mostly in the background Momo in Avatar: The Last Airbender
Straight man A sidekick to a funny person who makes his partner look all the more ridiculous by being completely serious. Kermit the Frog, Jim Halpert, Oliver Hardy, Bud Abbott
Superhero An unrealistically powerful hero dedicated to protecting the public[2] Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Avengers, X-Men
Supersoldier A soldier who operates beyond human limits or abilities Captain America, Soldier, Master Chief in Halo
Supervillain Antithesis to the Superhero Lex Luthor, The Joker, Dr. Doom
Swashbuckler A joyful, noisy, and boastful Renaissance era swordsman or pirate Peter Blood, Zorro, The Crimson Pirate, Dread Pirate Roberts, Captain Jack Sparrow
Tomboy A girl with boyish and/or manly behavior Arya Stark, Jo March, George Kirrin, Merida
Tortured artist A character who is in constant torment due to frustrations with art and other people Brian Topp
Town drunk A male in a small town who is drunk more often than sober Barney Gumble, Haymitch Abernathy, Otis Campbell
Tragic hero A hero with a major flaw that leads to his or her eventual death and downfall Sigurd, Boromir, Orpheus, Anakin Skywalker, Jay Gatsby, Charles Foster Kane, George Amberson Minafer
Tragic mulatto A mulatto who is sad or suicidal because he or she fails to fit in with white or black people Judy Kovacs in the episode Are You Now or Have You Ever Been in the television series Angel, Eliza, Cassy, and Emmeline in Uncle Tom's Cabin, Peola Johnson in Imitation of Life (1934 film)
Übermensch[2] A (often only seemingly) perfect human being, especially the DC Comics character Superman Superman, Captain America
Vice An allegorical evil part in medieval morality plays
Village idiot A person known locally for ignorance or stupidity; this character often turns out to be very brave and good, and sometimes, underestimated (see Wise fool) Neville Longbottom, Patrick Star
Villain[2] An evil character in a story Snidely Whiplash, Fu Manchu, The Master, Lord Voldemort, Palpatine, Professor Moriarty, Count Dracula
Whisky priest A priest or ordained minister who shows clear signs of moral weakness, while at the same time teaching a higher standard Father Callahan, Elmer Gantry, Samuel Parris, Harry Powell
White hunter White big-game hunters in Africa Allan Quatermain, Kraven the Hunter
Wise fool A fool with an attribute of wisdom Shakespearean fool, such as in King Lear, Stańczyk
Wise old man An elderly character who provides wisdom to the protagonist Obi-Wan Kenobi, Albus Dumbledore, Yoda, Gandalf, Keisuke Miyagi
Yokel An unsophisticated country person Rose Nylund, Cletus Spuckler, Eb Dawson in Green Acres, Goober Pyle, Ezekiel in Total Drama
Youxia A Chinese type of the Knight-errant Li Mu-Bai, Fong Sai-yuk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 2008-05-03.
  2. ^ a b c d e f John Clute, Peter Nicholls (1993), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Orbit, ISBN 1-85723-124-4
  3. ^ Kelley, Blair (25 September 2014). "Here's Some History Behind That 'Angry Black Woman' Riff the NY Times Tossed Around". The Root. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  4. ^ Naeemah Clark (November 10, 2013). "Find real African American women in a beauty salon, not on reality TV". Greensboro News & Record.
  5. ^ Kretsedemas, Philip (2010). "'But She's Not Black!'". Journal of African American Studies. 14 (2): 149–170. doi:10.1007/s12111-009-9116-3.
  6. ^ "American Heritage Dictionary Entry: antihero". 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  7. ^ Hearn, Michael Patrick (2001). The Annotated Huckleberry Finn: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade) (1st ed.). New York: Norton.
  8. ^ Laist, Randy (2011). Looking for Lost: Critical Essays on the Enigmatic Series. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 84. ISBN 9780786485888. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  9. ^ Pandey, Ashish (2005). Academic Dictionary Of Fiction. Isha Books. p. 18. ISBN 8182052629.
  10. ^ Rowling, J.K. (26 June 1997). Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-7475-3269-9.
  11. ^ Wood, Robin (2006), Howard Hawks, Wayne State University Press, p. 30, ISBN 978-0-8143-3276-4
  12. ^ Marie-Luise Kohlke; Luisa Orza (22 October 2008). Negotiating sexual idioms: image, text, performance. Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-2491-5. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  13. ^ "In search of old, grand-dame style New England hotels | United States Forum | Fodor's Travel Talk Forums". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  14. ^ "Where to Stay in London - Best Hotels & Travel Guide (Condé Nast Traveller)". 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  15. ^ Bean, Kitty (2007-11-30). "Grande-dame hotels unveiling fresh faces". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  16. ^ "Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Hotel: The Grande Dame Walks Her Talk - Travel with a Purpose - Travel with a Purpose". 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  17. ^ Peter Graham (22 May 1998), The Planet of the Zogs, Times Educational Supplement
  18. ^ De Camp, L. Sprague (1953), Science-fiction Handbook: The Writing of Imaginative Fiction, p. 28