An archetype is a typical example that is often followed by others on account of its being the model or a primeval image. This image resides in the mental recesses of mankind and represents our collective consciousness. These models or examples could be characters, ideas, things, objects, situations, and even contexts. Some could be symbolic, while others could be real. The 20 best archetype examples in literature and movies are as follows.
This is one of the best archetype examples. Actually, it is a character type of archetype that has resided in the mind of human beings since time immemorial and has become a reason of the argument that man is by nature at war with other men. However, this could be the other way around. Such an archetype is a symbol of courage, strength, power, ethical framework, and the support of the public. A warrior archetype is often on the right side and fights back against the invasion of the wrong side. Despite having strengths in the characters, such archetype examples could have some weaknesses, such as ego and pride. Some of the best warrior types of archetype examples are as follows.
- William Wallace in Braveheart
This archetype not only presents the child as a character but also as a child storyline. A child shows up in the story having lost innocence and gained maturity or has gone from rags to riches. Most of such child characters are naïve, innocent, and childlike. These coming-of-the-age stories teach lessons about the loss of innocence and achievement of maturity. Children in such stories become adults with a reasonably balanced state of mind and the ability to have decision-making skills. Some of the best archetype characters and storylines are as follows.
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
This is the subcategory of the child archetype in which an orphan shows his survival skills, empathy, and perseverance in difficult situations after the demise of his/her parents. Such characters lose their innocence too soon and gain maturity before an appropriate time. They become highly responsible in their circles and often help their young siblings to achieve adulthood. Such characters are often protagonists having gone from rags to riches despite having a lack of confidence and willingness to please others at the cost of their self-respect. Some of the best examples of such characters are as follows.
- Cinderella in Cinderella by Charles Perrault
- Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Such type of archetype character appears in the stories to convince the readers about the significance of the old people who have experience as well as insight into worldly affairs. Such archetype characters appear in the stories helping the protagonists when they are caught in the web of difficult situations. They prepare other characters to face the world and move through trials and tribulations with their heads up. Some of these archetypes could be parents, close relatives, uncles, aunts, or even neighbors. Sometimes, they could also be wizards and leave the world when the time is ripe after having their advice given. Some of the best mentor archetypes are as follows.
- Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Old Major in Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Magwitch in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Overcoming the Monster Story Archetype
This is the storyline archetype that has been quite common in ancient folktales, myths, and legends. In such stories, a hero appears on the scene and tries, often successfully, to save his tribe, nation, or country from some monster. Although this is a typical story archetype, some modern stories may show such protagonists with some differences. Such stories often show protagonists having a mentor, some comrades, and supernatural powers to help them. Some of the best overcoming the monster archetype stories are as follows.
- Beowulf by Anonymous
- Gilgamesh by Anonymous
- Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Rag-to-Riches Story Archetype
This type of story archetype is quite common in cultural folk stories as well as modern stories and even stories of modern property tycoons. Such stories present characters starting their careers from absolute poverty and working very hard to reach the pinnacles of their careers. It is not necessary that they earn just wealth; some of them could be kings, princesses, modern executives, businessmen, or military commanders. Such stories present hard-working, patient, tolerant, and persevering protagonists who could have some negative traits later in life. Some of the best rag-to-riches story archetype examples are as follows.
- Cinderella by Charles Perrault
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Charlie and Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Creator Character Archetype
Such character archetypes are not only artists but also writers, scientists, executives, and even magicians who are involved in creating ideas, thinking of out-of-the-box solutions and making things. Such characters exist as protagonists as well as antagonists. Interestingly, sometimes antagonists are better creator archetypes than the protagonists who are calm, peaceful, and comfortable when tides subside. Yet, they do not avoid taking up moral responsibilities on account of their being visionary. Their goals are often abstract in case they are idealists. Some of their positive traits are creativity, the urge to execute things, and vision. However, they also prove egotistic in case they have some good status. Some of the best creator archetype examples are as follows.
- Jekyll and Mr. Hide by R. L. Stevenson
- Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Willy Wonka in Charlie and Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This is also one of the best archetype characters due to the pervasiveness of the figure. For example, these characters could be parents, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, or even an adult in the house. They are selfless, altruistic, loving, caring, and protective. Sometimes such characters grow overprotective or helicoptering due to their obsessive caregiving nature. Their positive traits include generosity and altruism. However, when they become over-protective, they also adopt some negative traits. Some of the best caregiver archetype characters are as follows.
- Jocasta in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
- Samwise in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R . Tolkien
- Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Hero Archetype Character
The hero archetype is perhaps one of the best archetype characters in literature. It appears in stories, epics, plays, novels, and short fiction. It could be a woman, a child, a man, a warrior, or any other character. The main thing about such archetypes is that they are the main characters, make the storyline move forward, show the major themes, and outline the main ideas of the author. They have several positive traits but could have some negative when it comes to the mundane matters they think are difficult to handle. Some of the best hero archetype characters are as follows.
- Oedipus in Oedipus Rex by
- Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Macbeth in Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Although this type of archetype resembles that of the caregiver archetype, it has some specific features. A mentor is a wise fellow who thinks about the welfare of others, guides them selflessly, and helps them without any tangible interests in his/her mind. However, such sages are not relatives of the characters, specifically, the protagonists. Their major positive feature is that they guide the heroes toward the welfare of the entire city, nation, or state, but when it comes to the warning, they prove themselves neutral, egoist, and highly indifferent. Some of the best mentor or sage archetype character examples are as follows.
- Tiresias in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
- Dumbledore in Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
- Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Joker Archetype Character
Although seemingly insignificant, this character archetype appears almost in every other fictional piece or play or even a poetic piece. In fact, this archetype has various types, such as a jester, fool, hedonist, or even clown. The idea that they only appear in comedy is quite outdated as far as their clownish role is concerned they appear in tragedies, too. Sometimes, they make their appearance at such a critical juncture that the entire tense situation is calmed down. Some of the best joker archetype characters are as follows.
- Fool in King Lear by William Shakespeare
- Gravedigger in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Joker in The Dark Night
The lover archetype is a unique archetype in that such characters are heroes, warriors, and even soldiers. Yet, they fall in love with ladies, show emotional outbursts, prove sentimental, and in some cases, highly effeminate. They often die young when they are just lover archetype characters but are generous, kind, and caring. However, sometimes they show egoism and excessive obsession with love, proving themselves good for nothing. Some of the best love archetype characters are as follows.
- Romeo and Juliet in the same play by William Shakespeare
- Bassanio in Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
- Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This popular story archetype has so much seeped into the human unconscious that every other story seems to be a quest archetype. The hero of these stories often seems running on the quest for something. Although ancient folk tales and legends solely rely on the quest archetype, some modern stories also rely on this archetype due to its popularity and connection with the human unconscious. This quest could be for knowledge, treasure, character, love, or money. Some of the best quest archetype examples are as follows.
- Odyssey by Homer
- Gilgamesh by Anonymous
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Ruler Archetype Character
This is one of the oldest character archetype characters that has been the starting point of every other folk tale, legend, or even myths. Most of the protagonists or even heroes were either kings or princes. This archetype has some highly positive features such as kindness, broadmindedness, wisdom, acumen, political shrewdness, and strategic decision-making skills. However, sometimes a ruler archetype could have some high or even villainous features. It, however, is not necessary that a ruler archetype is always a good ruler or a bad ruler, or even a young man. He could be any person who has statecraft skills and rules a state, country, or region. Some of the best ruler archetype characters are as follows.
- Claudius and King Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Achilles in Iliad by Homer
- Gilgamesh by Anonymous
Tragedy Archetype Storyline
The storyline archetype of tragedy is one of the fundamental archetypes that has been followed until now. Its protagonist is a hero, having some tragic flaws with various positive traits. The fall is often unjustified, invoking pity and fear among the audiences, specifically of the plays, but not limited to them. Thus, it accomplishes their catharsis. The hero does not need to be a young man; he could be an old man, woman, young girl, or even an orphan. Some of the best tragedy storyline archetypes are as follows.
The outlaw archetype is a type of character that appears in stories and folklore as a brigand, but he robs the rich and gives that wealth to the poor. He is involved in plundering, rebellion against the law, hiding in the forests with his comrades, and playing hide and seek with law enforcement. The images of an arrow, a saber, and a thick forest constantly reverberate in the storyline until the end comes near. Some of the best western stories revolving around such archetype characters are as follows.
- Moriarty in On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- Humbert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Magician Archetype Character
This is one of the best archetype characters that helps writers create magical stories. The magician character appears in various fantasies and even common fictional stories. Such characters are protagonists, having positive traits more than negative ones. They weave magic and help people during difficult times, along with providing advice and consultation free. Mostly, they weave magic tricks to impress others. However, some of them also turn to bad things or harm others. Some of the best magician archetype characters are as follows.
- Prospero in The Tempest by William Shakespeare
- Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings by J. K. K. Tolkien
Seductress Archetype Character
Although there are various types of women characters, one of the best archetype characters is that of a seductress. She could be termed a temptress or siren as well. Such a character is often a beautiful lass, a supernatural type of damsel, or a witch. She is beautiful with a bewitching smile and magical dimples. They appear at the moments when the lost travelers need them the most. In most cases, they lure them to their ruins. Their major positive traits are charisma and allurement, but they could be immoral and even empty of promises. Some of the best seductress archetype characters are as follows.
- Sirens or Circe in The Odyssey by Homer
- Mephistopheles in Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Delilah in Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns
Leader Archetype Character
Such characters, as the title suggests, are people having charisma, the power of pull, and the articulation of language. They act as leaders when their races, tribes, or nations are facing challenging times. Then they appear on the scene and use their decision-making skills to avoid pitfalls or disasters that befall their tribes or nations. Such people are noble by birth and win the hearts and minds of the people around them merely because of their qualities. They have the most positive qualities, but sometimes they may harbor a grudge, ambition, or egotism. Some of the best leader archetype characters are as follows.
- Creon in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
- King Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Ralph in Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Explorer Archetype Character
Such characters are explorers and inventors by nature. They move out of their places and move into the world to explore more about it. They roam around in forests to explore new worlds, go out on expeditions and watch out for new flora and fauna. However, they are not expeditious by nature though they could be curious and ingenious. Most of such characters have positive traits, but some could have some negative traits that make them look like villains. Some of the best explorer archetype characters are as follows.
- Odysseus in The Odyssey by Homer
- Alice in Alice in The Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift