What makes a good fictional character?

It can be on TV, novels, movies, or comics. What do you think makes a excellent character?

To be relatable, in both their circumstances and their flaws.

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A clear motive and personality, as well as a defined sense of morality based on those two things. All of the best characters, even the irrational villains, have a clear reason for what they do, and a defined set of values (good or bad) that guides their choices. If characters have an unclear motive or personality they aren’t really characters, just stock cardboard cutouts that aren’t interesting or compelling.


If they have flaws, if they’re properly developed, if one manages to make them more than just a guy who looks cool. They can be funny, well rounded, interesting, or just have flaws that prove he’s human.

If you actually care if the charater dies or not, or if you feel when the charater dies can really be an example of this.

To have a clear intention on what he’s doing and why. Also, to be funny sometimes (ex: Jack Sparrow) often helps a lot.

As of current year; being written in a way anyone can like the actual character and not just the fact they’re trans, black, female, etc. Too many movies have fallen way to deep in that rabbit hole.


Yeah, try not to make this the whole charater, it gets really annoying and feels like you’re saying “Wow, we’re so inclusive, right? We are cool becuase we have these kinds of characters!” With no other point to them. Make it a trait or thing about the character, and try to not beat people over the head with it.



I don’t think imperfections alone make excellent characters, some imperfect characters have very little to no redeeming qualities, or are just there to take space.

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One thing that people seem to demand is that a character have a very detailed backstory of some sort as a way to make them feel more alive.

I think that it’s not necessary to do that if you want people to like the character. Examples being Sonic and Mario and the Toa Mata of G1 when they were introduced. They have practically no backstory when they arrived yet people loved the characters anyway.

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I meant characters that are imperfect as people, not imperfectly written.

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To me, a good fictional character is one that has a memorable design/appearance and has memorable moments.

It can be due to some shenanigans (cartoons in general), a quote or two or just their design alone.

Characters that are good usually tend to be memorable for one reason or another; which is a goal of a writer. The most generic character can be made memorable through just one moment that sticks with the audience.

A good character arc, and that alone. Why just that? Because it encompasses everything else, and a character is nothing if there isn’t some kind of story they can tell.

A good character arc requires that a character have some sort of flaw that they would then proceed to overcome by the end of the story.

It also requires that the character have some want or goal, a motivation, and for that motivation to play a role throughout the entire story.

Together these two things, a flaw and a motivation, make the character relatable. We all have flaws that we want to overcome, and we all have a goal that we want to reach. Baking those things into the DNA of the character instantly makes the reader empathize with them.

This relatability is also responsible for a character being memorable. The more personal the struggle of a character through their arc, the more memorable they become to a viewer.

A good arc also almost guarantees the story the character is a part of as a whole will be at least somewhat enjoyable.

Notice the ideas here have nothing to do with physical appearance, design, personality, or social identity. That’s because these are the things that are external to a good character. No matter their appearance, personality, race, gender, or identity, all good characters have the building blocks of a good character arc to stand on.


To be fair not every characters needs a backstory though. Sometimes they’re so entertaining (or scary) that explaining anything ruins it.

I loved the first season of higurashi but the second season kinda ruined how creepy the first was by trying to explain oyashiro sama and other events.

Mario is a really bad character IMO

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I’ll admit this, sometimes it’s hard to make peace with flaws in a character, especially when some of them are a reflection of our own. It makes it hard and often times painful for me to see a character with the same flaws that I do, without any hope for change. I realize that I’m being a bit sullen, but that’s something that I realize I may have to make peace with.

Well stated.

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For me its moral ambiguity

One thing I think is really important is a strong and layered personality. They need to have a good solid “character”

What makes them who they are? Why do they do the things they do?

Personality can also play a lot in their job or occupation.

You could have a military general that’s a bit of an A hole, but it’s clear he knows what he’s doing.

Or what about a kindly baker man?

A boring and dull bank clerk that might have a really exciting/interesting/unexpected hobby.

Or a guy who ended up working fast food or retail into his 40s even though he only planed to stay there to pay off collage.

Or you could also have their occupation and personality conflict.

A pirate who, while from the view of the law is as evil as you can get, but actually a really sweet and nice guy when you get to know him.

Or a superhero that does really good thing, but purely for the attention and glory.