Types of Characters in Fiction (And Using Them in Your Story)

A good story uses a diverse range of characters to entertain readers or communicate a message.

Your story’s overall theme depends on how you portray these characters.

So, to help you write killer fiction, we’ll take a look at various types of characters used in fiction and how you can use them in your story.


The protagonist is the figure central to your story’s plot. If anything, they must exist in your story.

Although it’s not necessary for your protagonistic to have certain qualities, experience internal conflicts, or grow through significance, it does give the story some flavor.

When you write in the first person, protagonists are usually the perspective character (though not always).

Some examples include:

  • John McClane in the Die Hard movie series
  • Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid movies


An antihero is a heroic character who lacks moral judgment but is nonetheless someone your readers will root for. They’re often protagonists but not always.

We tend to get emotionally invested in these characters, given their lead role in the story. A famous example is Water White from the show Breaking Bad, who cooks meth and kills his enemies while trying to support his family.

Maybe the fact that they’re usually so competent or come from a tragic background is what makes us sympathize with them.

Some examples include:

  • Patrick Bateman in American Psycho
  • Don Draper from Mad Men


The antagonist is the character who antagonizes the protagonist.

They’re not necessarily villains. An antagonist can be a good character, especially in cases where the protagonist is a villain.

The antagonist is the second-most important character in the story and doesn’t necessarily have to be a person. A harsh jungle in the forest can be an antagonist.


Also called a mentor character, a guide is a character who offers something of value to your protagonist. This could be in the form of advice, training, support, objects, etc.

Guides don’t always have to be people. It could be an event, the protagonists’ experiences and memories, or an object. The guide’s primary role is to help the protagonist reach their goal.

Some examples include:

  • Miyagi in The Karate Kid
  • Leonard Shelby’s notes in Memento


A contagonist is a crucial character who is the secondary antagonist.

They’re usually in alliance with the antagonist, but they tend to have different goals. Sometimes, they have a personal connection with the protagonist, but this isn’t always the case.

Think of them as a mini-boss to boost the protagonist’s growth and development in your story.

Some examples include:

  • The hyenas in The Lion King
  • Sandman in Spiderman 3


Deuteragonists (aka sidekicks) are characters who support your protagonists in some way.

Deuteragonists tend to be close friends with the protagonist. They can have conflicting views and weird traits, and their interaction with the protagonist should create conflict, spice the plot, and foster character growth.

Some examples include:

  • Sancho in Don Quixote
  • Huckleberry Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


Henchmen, also called hecklers, are more often than not a group than a specific character. They play a key role in opposing the protagonist, but not as heavy as the antagonist.

They come in great numbers and can serve as the opposition to the sidekick.

Love Interest

Let’s talk about love. Every good story has a touch of romance. A love interest is a character that can heighten emotions in the protagonist and antagonist and can sometimes be the reason for their conflict. They often overlap with other characters like the guide, sidekick, or even a henchman.

The love interest doesn’t have to be romantic; it could be platonic. Usually, if the love interest is hurt, your protagonist is also hurt.

Some examples include:

  • Veronica and Betty in the Archie Comics
  • Aldonza Lorenzo in Don Quixote


Where the love interest offers positivity and comfort, the temptress offers false love.

Sometimes, the temptress is not a person; it can be an object or force alluring enough to disrupt the protagonist.

Some examples include:

  • Peter Parker’s dark personality due to the symbiote in Spiderman 3
  • The Sirens in Odyssey


A confidant shares the most vital relationship with the protagonist. They can often overlap with other characters like guides, love interests, or sidekicks.

Confidants offer advice that can positively or negatively impact the protagonist, leading to their growth.

Some examples include:

  • Agamemnon in Hecuba
  • Miyagi in the The Karate Kid


The foil is a character whose general character and personality clash with the protagonist. They need not be an antagonist, but their differences from the protagonist are used to highlight the qualities of both characters.

Oftentimes, the relationship between your foil and protagonist will end in friendship.

Some examples include:

  • Frankenstein and his monster in Frankenstein
  • Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in Star Wars

Ways to Use These Types of Characters In Your Novel

Here are some ways you can portray each of the types of characters mentioned above.

Dynamic Characters

A dynamic character changes at the end of the story—either a positive or negative change. A positive character usually learns the knowledge and skills needed to overcome the antagonist.

Static Characters

A static character remains fixed in their development throughout the story. A good static character stays the same while changing those around them. Don’t give a character a static role simply because you don’t want them to change.

Symbolic Characters

Symbolic characters support a theme in your story without coming off as too preachy. They can represent a problem other characters face or an issue bigger than just one person.

Stock Characters

A character takes a stock role when they fulfill certain duties and character archetypes to serve the story. These are most of the characters in a good story, and they add a sense of realism.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re thinking of writing a fiction story, using one or some of these types of characters is an excellent place to start.

Don’t make the mistake of cramming all these characters into your story. It will overcrowd your book and possibly confuse your reader. Instead, carefully pick a few characters and decide how you’d like to portray their development in the story.

Try making it diverse; it’ll make your fiction story all the more interesting.

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