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When the protagonist is the most interesting character

It’s almost a cliche at this point that the central characters in any story are rarely the most interesting ones. More often than not they tend to be relatively bland, and the story grows out of their interactions with a cast of more interesting side characters. However, every so often a protagonist will end up being the most interesting character in their story. For instance, in Osamu Tezuka’s "Buddha" manga, the Buddha is actually one of the more well-rounded and relatable characters, even given that the legends about him tend to paint him as an almost perfect, untouchable being. What are some other examples of this phenomenon, where the main protagonist really is the most interesting, or one of the most interesting, characters? What is it about them that makes them so interesting?

  • I believe this statement can be completely true. Sometimes the evil character is more relatable and evokes more emotion than the Plain Jane good person. For example, in The Vampire Diaries, everyone loves Damon. He's mysterious, alluring, and sexy. More than that, people want to believe in him. They want to see the whole "bad-boy turned good" phenomenon play out. Like in Maleficent or Wicked, entirely new stories are revealed. It shifts from delivering a story about monsters to explaining how they became this villain everyone believes them to be. I think that villains are important in literature and film, because sometimes they teach us more than the heroes. People can't relate to a perfect character. They can easily relate to the villain, because they see their flaws scattered in themselves. – nicolemadison 1 year ago
  • what if we explored the possibility of "supporting characters" being the REAL "protagonists"? Or the possibility of multiple protagonists? – Dena Elerian 1 year ago
  • From my experience, the most fetching leads out there tend to have an equally, or slightly more, fascinating and multi-layered antagonist who may mirror the protagonist in their values and goals (if not their means of attaining them). – Michel Sabbagh 6 months ago

Psychopaths as Protagonists

With this article, I want to explore the role of the psychopath protagonist in Film, TV and Literature, attacking it from a screenwriter’s perspective. Most of the content I’ve watched, the protagonist has always been someone with a moral compass, giving the audience someone to root for. However, what do you do when your protagonist has no moral compass? How do you find a way for your audience to root for them? I refer you to Frank Underwood of House Of Cards or Travis Bickle as examples of the Psychopath Protagonist.

  • I think establishing sympathy between psychopathic protagonists and audiences helps. Sympathy doesn't necessarily mean likability, but understanding between people that can result in pity. It helps if there's something relatable about the protagonist. I've not watched House of Cards but I do know of Nightcrawler, in which the protagonist (albeit more sociopathic) can be relatable due to his struggles to land a job. When he finally finds one, his determination to succeed can invoke sympathy, even as he embraces a morally gray industry... Though in saying that, it might help (from a screenwriter's perspective) to frame psychopathic protagonists, or any immoral character, within the context of the society they live in. – Starfire 3 years ago
  • There is a difference between Travis Bickle and Frank Underwood. The idea of a psychopathic protagonist can be a little diverse. There is a difference between the anti-hero and the villain protagonist, not to mention the other subcategories. For example, Travis Bickle isn't intentionally an evil character, he is more of an anti-hero struggling with a form of PTSD whereas Frank Underwood actually fits into the psychopath mold as he strives for power. How do stories with unlikeable protagonists garner our attention? It varies from story to story, so I think this needs to be a little more specific. Would this cover literature as well? You specify screenwriters in the topic so I think you have to distinguish between them. Even the writing for television and film differ. It would be interesting to compare/contrast the differences between television villain protagonists and film villain protagonists. – Connor 3 years ago
  • I believe that the audience can feel any amount of empathy for really any character in television. As far as psychopaths go, it's possible to be able to empathize for them, but the majority of psychopaths I've encountered in media have been inherently evil, but I've still found a way to root for them in some instances. The character that sticks out to me the most would be Ramsay Bolton from HBO's "Game of Thrones". Although he's a sadistic, twisted, cruel, and monotonous heir to the throne in the North, I empathize with Ramsay due to the relationships he has with his father and his step mother. Ramsay is bastardized his entire life which ultimately leads to his aching desire to fulfill his father's prophecy of becoming the King of the North and Westeros as a whole. All Ramsay wants is to satisfy his father's demands, and when he realizes this won't be possible once his new baby brother is born, he decides to take action and murders his father and his new born brother with a ruthless and literal stab in the back. If this moment hadn't occurred, I think it would've been possible to appreciate Ramsay as a psychotic protagonist, but considering the rest of his torture frenzies and the murders of his family members, the defending arguments supporting Ramsay crumble under their own weight. – ralphpolojames 3 years ago

Can a protagonist wear glasses?

When looking at protagonists or leading characters throughout film history, particularly modern history, are there ever primary characters who wear glasses while being a hero, or while being at the height of their strength? Examples that I’m thinking of specifically are the main character from "Kickass"- he only seems to be wearing his glasses when he’s in his "nerdy" stage. Superman only wears glasses to be a nerdy disguise. Perhaps the one outlier I’ve seen is in the movie "Falling Down", which stars Michael Douglas as a disgruntled citizen who’s had enough, and he has his glasses the entire movie- but it plays to his characters attitude and personality. Will a main character wearing glasses just prove to cause too many subconscious feelings for viewers? Will the glare be too much? What is the issue?

  • I think the audiences associate glasses with brainy activity, and find it unsuitable for actions(there's a practical danger too). But there are few examples where the protagonists wear glasses, such as Half Life's Gordon Freeman(because he's a scientist), and the protagonists of Persona 4 when they are fighting the Shadows(their glasses work as filter to see the world).In order to change this, the creators can go with Gordon Freeman approach(glasses as a tool to describe the character), or Persona approach where the glasses works as a special item. – idleric 5 years ago
  • Glasses are often used to depict an archetype and makes it easier for the viewer to determine what type of character they are dealing with. Of course this doesn't always have to be the case. There are always those surprise genius type characters that are always fun to deal with as well.Some motions often are used with glasses to help in determining what the wearer is thinking. Such actions as propping up the glasses or having a gleam in the lenses of the glasses often depict the wearer's mindset that a person would not be able to do otherwise without eyewear.Of course if you want to expand it to sunglasses and goggles, they also have their own for of role typing too. – Kevin Mohammed 5 years ago
  • I assume we're talking perpetual and consistent glasses wearing, right? Not like Doctor Who or Twilight Sparkle who wear glasses just when they need to read? As ~idleric said, Gordon Freeman from "Half-Life" wears glasses, although we don't see his face other than on the box-art. Pepper Ann from the Toon Disney series back in the 90s wore glasses, and had an awesome unconventionally deep raspy voice. Jimmy Kudo, under the fake persona of Conan Edagawa, in the anime, "Detective Conan" wears glasses (fake ones though). Apparently a few protagonists from harem animes wear glasses, but this is more to make them out to be like the a typical nerdy dude who is extremely fortunate to be around a bunch of women who find him appealing. Most famously Harry Potter wears glasses, and he is arguably one of the most popular protagonists of all time. And, if we're not just talking youthful protagonists, Wayne Szalinski from the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" series wears them as well. So for the most part, glasses do intend to usually denote a sense of nerdieness, geekiness, or scholastic interest. But these types of character CAN be the lead in a piece of media. However, I have yet to personally see a specifically non-nerdy character as the protagonist of a piece of media, who still wears glasses simply because their eye-sight is bad. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
  • As someone who has worn glasses for virtually my entire life, I find this a very interesting topic. And one that I've never thought about. Expanding on Jonathan's point about Harry Potter, I don't think Harry was necessarily supposed to be a "nerdy" character. He wasn't exceptionally smart, (constantly having to rely on Hermione for help on homework) and I think his glasses were simply a physical characteristic that didn't necessarily speak to his personality. He would definitely be worth exploring for this article. – Jon Rios 5 years ago