I've been researching this on my own for weeks without finding anything useable. I need a list of American-style (not Japanese, anime, etc.) character archetypes in American fiction of any type and the psychology of each archetype. At this point genre doesn't matter. A character archetype example: The villain who secretly yearns to be killed, and "finally" released from being alive. My goal is original character creation and I need lists to show me new things. No anime/manga, absolutely no TV Tropes. No IRL psychology like Jung, absolutely no Greek myths. And I'll buy books if I have to.

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    Will this list be written on a cambric shirt with no seams nor needlework? Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:15
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    This might be the first question I have downvoted. And the first where I have upvoted all the answers.
    – user5645
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:49
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    A new and original archetype is a contradiction in terms. See Google's definition of the term "archetype": > 1. a very typical example of a certain person or thing. > 2. an original that has been imitated. > 3. (in Jungian psychology) a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious. Your question specifically excludes both the originator of the modern concept of archetype (Jung) and the most exhaustive repository of archetypal characters (TV Tropes), so that doesn't leave much left. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:53
  • I didn't ask for a new and original archetype. I've encountered that type of villain in two different movies and I thought he made a good example of an archetype. Sorry. Luckily the wonderful Bookeater realized that I need a list of "stock characters", not character archetypes, so thanks to Bookeater's infinite wisdom I now have a great resource and the correct search term if I want to keep researching. Thanks also to the other people who were serious here, and a look of disapproval for the trolls. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:28

3 Answers 3


it is an interesting question, but I can't imagine it being one that has an actual answer. It is claimed that there are Seven Basic Plots (That number does change depending on who is talking about it)

So there are a finite number of plots to tell, there are also a finite number of personality types to fit into those plots.

I can't think how you could get away from real life psychology, since stories are written by people for consumption by people. Invariably all stories are about people to some degree.

Story telling has been central to human civilisation for as long as we've been able to go back. In that time all of those possible mixes have been discovered and written many many times.

when you consider that the Iliad is circa 3000 years, and that those stories still resonate in modern literature it is difficult to think that any modern countries have added anything to the concepts of story telling characters. It would be even harder to consider that any particular country has managed to create and maintain its own niche.

  • First, thank you for being mature. With entertainment being so different by nation I had to exclude certain things I don't want to use in my own work. Anime and manga archetypes for example. Anyway there must be someone here who has seen a list - I recall seeing a weirdly thorough psychological profile of characters from the XMen cartoon years ago. Hopefully someone with resources will chime in. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:14

What you seem to need are Stock Characters. A nice list from "Absent-minded professor" to "Zombie" can be found here. It has a nice reference list as well.

Some more background, including the categories you reject is here

  • Stock characters, huh? I checked the first list and it meets my needs. This list is way better for me than any of the many, many archetypes links I clicked during my research. Thank you! Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:08
  • @AlmostASeriousAuthor Glad it helped. Have fun!
    – Bookeater
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:22

Almost all literary tropes have made it to tv/film except for the small number that don't work visually. On top of that the main characteristic of the english language is theft of which Japanese influence is only the latest (although to be fair a dominant influence for anime/manga and other post ww2 japanese culture is american popular culture). If we also exclude greek, we then also have to exclude latin as the myths only really differ in the names of the gods. And if we ignore Jung we should also ignore yoga (which is a interesting blend of indian religion and traditions, british military tradition including calisthenics and good old American con-arts and cultish thinking) and German (thank god that we don't have to list Nazi influences like Jewish, Socialist, Fascist, and other minor influences). If we follow along that line of thinking we should also probably also exclude Russian and Scandinavian myth. So I have compiled a list of all archetypes that meets this stringent list of restrictions and present it here for your approval:


  • You do realize this is an argumentative, mocking troll-answer right? Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:10
  • A bit. The question was a little short on possible serious answers due to the list of exclusions. On the other hand, I believe all the presented facts to be accurate if interpreted to be a little overbroad.
    – hildred
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:21

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