A large group of indistinguishable henchman feature throughout my screenplay. What is an acceptable naming method for them?

Let's say I wanna call them 'Red shirts'. Can I ...

A) Call them all RED SHIRT, even though they are different characters?

B) Call them RED SHIRT #1, RED SHIRT #2, etc, even though by the end of the film I'll be up to a crazy number like RED SHIRT #36?

C) Give them all arbitrary descriptions such as TALL RED SHIRT, ANGRY RED SHIRT, etc, just to make them distinguishable?

D) Something else?


If they have lines or specific actions, it's important to give them all names. Why? Because each one will be played by a different actor. Each actor needs to know where s/he is at any given time, what s/he is saying and doing, and so forth.

The director needs to know those things as well. The casting service needs to know the number of unique henchmen. Etc. Etc.

If you look at the credits for actors in a movie, some of the character names will be "Woman in park" or "Lunch patron #3." That's fine. In general, people with a spoken line get a credit.

Then there are extras. Extras do not have speaking lines but they're important to the film. You can name and describe extras as a group.

Chances are you will have maybe 3-6 named characters who are henchmen and 30+ who are extras. It will be easier for casting if you consolidate the lines with just a handful of them (cheaper to pay extras).

Figure out which henchmen are characters, name and describe them (if a description is necessary beyond the range for the general group, for example, the group is probably all adults). For the others, state how many need be in each scene they appear and what they are doing.

  • Henchman #1 (female, late 30's, tall and muscular)
  • Henchman #2 (male, mid 50's, short and wiry)
  • Henchman #3 (early 20's)
  • Thanks for your response, Cyn. To clarify, they never have any spoken lines, and their faces are almost never seen. Think, for example, of The Sons of the Harpy in Game Of Thrones. Having said that, a few of them have important scenes when they interact with the main characters, but the majority of them are just causing havoc with other extras. So taking your advice, I'm thinking the few in big scenes could be 'RED SHIRT IN PARK', and 'RED SHIRT IN THE TEMPLE', etc. And the rest could be numbered, but their numbers could repeat in later scenes, simply so they are re-used?
    – Andy A
    Apr 22 '19 at 10:14
  • @AndyA I didn't put details on how one writes in extras because I don't know how one does it in a script and didn't want to mislead you. My guess is you'd say something like "a dozen other HENCHMEN are in scene, guarding MAIN CHARACTER, focused and menacing." But I could be totally off, which is why it's in the comment. Apr 22 '19 at 14:20
  • 1
    P.S. I'm resisting calling them RED SHIRT unless you plan for them to start dying. Apr 22 '19 at 14:21

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