Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, we share eight archetypes for heroes and heroines for you to use in your stories.
We found this great resource for writers on tvtropes. If you’re looking for archetypes for male and female characters, have a look at this list. Follow the link at the end to read more, and to find a list of examples.
Archetypes for Heroes
- Apollo: The Businessman: A logical, focused team player who is good at planning but poor at dealing with chaotic forces (including emotions and relationships).
- Ares: The Protector: A physically oriented warrior, who revels in competition and risk, defends his kin, fears nothing anyone can do to him – except losing the ability to fully use his body (paralysis would be death to him).
- Hades: The Recluse: A sensitive introvert with a rich inner life, a dreamer and philosopher who shies from people; he might yearn for love or companionship but is at a loss as to how to get it.
- Hermes: The Fool: A playful, carefree soul who enjoys his freedom and doesn’t worry about consequences; he won’t deliberately hurt others, but neither will he let himself be tied down to a relationship (and prison would be death to him).
- Dionysus: The Woman’s Man: A fun-loving, sensual man who can’t relate to masculine pastimes but revels in the company of women, who helps the women around him to find courage and realize their own worth – although the Dionysus himself often feels flawed and may never find the perfect woman he seeks.
- Osiris: The Male Messiah: A spiritual leader focused on his mission, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, bringing wisdom and transformation into the lives of those he passes.
- Poseidon: The Artist: An artistic but emotionally volatile man who takes any criticism poorly (rejection is death to him); his behaviour and reactions are not easily predicted, and even he may fear that he will harm those he loves.
- Zeus: The King: A powerful leader, even a bit of a control-freak, who demands obedience and rises to any challenge, but sees emotions as weaknesses.
Their villainous versions are as follows:
- Apollo: The Traitor: A disillusioned or cynical team player who feels he can do the work better than his boss and backstabs him or, in contrast, does evil in the name of his team, for the good of the team. The hero will either be the boss or a co-worker that wasn’t aware of his team’s corruption and the Traitor’s eager role in aiding it.
- Ares: The Gladiator: A warrior more concerned with battle and war than sportsmanship and protection. He fights for no one but himself and his pleasure in fighting, and will often have a Kick the Dog moment where he picks war over peace with friends and family.
- Hades: The Warlock: A secluded introverts whose lousy people skills cause him to hurt others. Where the positive side of this archetype would try to learn from his faux pas, the Warlock blames others for not understanding him. Also, a character who resents the people around him because of a social/political difference; in fantasy, the non-human who resents humans.
- Hermes: The Derelict: A criminal who doesn’t want to work within the parameters of law and decorum. He may think himself better than normal life, may have no problem with getting rich of people’s weaknesses, or be too lazy/dumb to work a 5-to-9, so he steals instead.
- Dionysus: The Seducer: He does not respect women or want to help them, only use them for sex. He sees every new conquest as a trophy for himself. He doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions and often overindulges in other things.
- Osiris: The Punisher: A Messiah without patience and compassion is a visionary who quickly realizes most people aren’t as far-sighted as himself. Instead of working to teach other his ways, he pushes people into Sink or Swim Training from Hell at best. At worst, he kills anyone who doesn’t match his ideals. He sees it as weeding out the weak, the job of the grim reaper incarnate.
- Poseidon: The Abuser: A psychopathic and vengeful man who will not rest until he gets his revenge, no matter who gets hurt in the process. He’s the kind of man who will beat his wife and then give her flowers and apologies and repeat the cycle.
- Zeus: The Dictator: Primary obsessed with control, The Dictator is prone to making up new rules whenever it suits him, purely to watch people struggle to abide by them and punish people for breaking them. He even takes it a step further, blaming the victim for breaking the rules, and even using their inability to follow said new rules to make more rules. And of course, anyone that dares betray him will suffer the consequences. As will anyone unfortunate enough to be around him when that happens.
Archetypes for Heroines
- Aphrodite: The Seductive Muse: An expressive woman, full of life, who sees the simple solutions other people don’t – but seeks intimacy and is strongly identified with sexuality, to the point where ‘this archetype has a bad rap’.
- Artemis: The Amazon: A powerful, independent woman who loves competition, but also identifies with nature and feminism.
- Athena: The Father’s Daughter: Furthers her career by aligning herself with powerful men and trying to prove she’s every bit as capable as the men around her; doesn’t connect with other women, but loves to be in control.
- Demeter: The Nurturer: A compassionate caregiver who sacrifices much in order to help others – particularly children or those she feels she is responsible for; her whole identity is tied up in caring for others.
- Hera: The Matriarch: A strong, supportive, committed woman who sticks by her family no matter what, yet won’t let others wrong her even if they’re family; she’s the shoulder everyone can lean on yet she wants to keep tabs on everyone too.
- Hestia: The Mystic: A calm, gentle woman of simple tastes, who enjoys solitude and does not shy from basic household chores (a career doesn’t much interest her); she needs to be creative and can be free-spirited, and she wants to do things for herself rather than be beholden to someone else.
- Isis: The Female Messiah: A selfless woman who never sways from her life’s mission, she doesn’t take sides but acts as a detached observer, although she stands up for her own beliefs.
- Persephone: The Maiden: A carefree, childlike woman who prefers to let others handle the details of life so she doesn’t have to worry about it; she easily opens up and approaches people that others might shun, although sometimes this can harm her.
Their villainous versions are as follows:
- Aphrodite: The Femme Fatale: A cold, apathetic woman who uses sex to get what she wants from men.
- Artemis: The Gorgon: A vengeful woman who can easily go into a rage when she feels threatened.
- Athena: The Backstabber: This woman would do anything to get to the top, even if it meant ruining the lives or careers of others.
- Demeter: The Overcontrolling Mother: A woman who butts into her children’s lives. Her need to be needed is taken to extremes; she might even kidnap her children if they tried to leave her.
- Hera: The Scorned Woman: She doesn’t take betrayal well and demands respect from all.
- Hestia: The Betrayer: The Betrayer hides under an innocent shy mask. In reality, she is manipulative and only out for herself.
- Isis: The Destroyer: A steadfast woman who never sways from her life’s mission, but sees things in black and white; she is a firm believer in “the ends justify the means”.
- Persephone: The Troubled Teen: A selfish girl who likes to indulge herself in parties, drugs, and/or sex; should she get in a pinch she expects her family or friends to bail her out and clean up the mess she leaves behind.