There are 52 character archetypes in the world. These are “Base” character personalities. That doesn’t mean there can’t be hybrids, for example, Hermione Granger is a Bureaucrat, but she’s also a Catalyst and a Perfectionist.
When building a character, it sometimes helps to pick the archetype you need to fill a specific role in the group. Here are the archetypes with example characters.
Analyst: Can explain anything rationally. Ex: Mr. Spock
Anti-hero: The hero who didn’t ask to get involved but does. Ex: Sarah Connor, Wolverine
Benefactor: Has a whole lot of something he wants to share. Ex: Miss Havisham
Bully: Has no tolerance for weakness, especially in himself. Ex: Scut Farkus (Christmas Story)
Bureaucrat: Follows the rules no matter what. Hermione Granger
Caretaker: Cares for others. Ex: Digory Kirke
Catalyst: Makes things happen. The Catalyst’s actions cause reactions in others.
Child: Could be a literal child or just living like one. Ex: Wally McDoogle, Peter Pan
Coward: Afraid of everything, controlled by fear. Ex: Adrian Monk, Cowardly Lion, Alexandra Rover
Curmudgeon: Irritable and cynical and proud of it. Ex: Ebenezer Scrooge
Dreamer: Longs to be something he isn’t. Ex: Annie, William Thatcher (A Knight’s Tale)
Elder/Mentor/Teacher/Parent: Been around long enough to know some vital information. Ex: Ben Kenobi, Mufassa
Explorer/Wanderer: Wants to see the world—could be running from something.
Extraordinary man: The guy who can do anything. Ex: Indiana Jones, James Bond
Gossip: Must be the first to know everything and the one to pass it on. Ex: Rachel Lynde
Guardian: Protects the weak.
Hedonist/Thrill-seeker: Lives for today in case tomorrow never comes.
Herald/Messenger: The bringer of news, good, bad, or necessary.
Hermit/Loner: Just wants to be left alone. Ex: Phil Hercules, Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon)
Hunter/Predator: Can catch or kill anything. Ex: Terminator
Innocent: An inexperienced individual exposed to the evils in the world. Ex: Dorothy Gale
Introvert: Lives inside his shell to prevent anyone from seeing the real him. Ex: Gabriella Montez (High School Musical)
Investigator: Thrives on puzzles and riddles. Ex: Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes
Judge/Mediator: The arbitrator or peacemaker in a conflict.
Leader: Always knows the best thing to do—and people follow. Ex: William Wallace
Magician/Wizard/Superpowers: Has special powers or abilities. Ex: Superman, Harry Potter
Manipulator: Plays with people and situations to get what he wants. Ex: Scarlett O’Hara
Martyr: Willing to suffer or die for others or a cause.
Masochist: Finds pleasure in torturing himself, denying himself—may take on too much.
Masquerader: Pretends to be something he is not.
Monster: A depraved beast. Ex: Gollum, Grendel (Beowulf)
Ordinary Man: Your average Joe, just like you or me or the guy across the street. Ex: Dr. Richard Kimball, Frodo Baggins.
Penitent: Lives to atone for his sin.
Perfectionist: Every action and word must be flawless.
Pleaser/Show-off: Craves approval from anyone and may do anything to get it.
Poet: Life is art, be that through story or song or art or sculpture.
Rebel/Revolutionary: Stands opposed to the status quo and fights for his cause.
Rogue: Looks out for himself and no one else. Ex: Han Solo
Saboteur/Betrayer: For whatever reason, he will make sure something fails. Ex: Edmund Pevensie
Samaritan: Does good deeds wherever he goes.
Scholar: Wants to learn.
Sensualist: Addicted to feeling good about himself.
Slave: Does not belong to himself. Ex: Dobby the house elf
Survivor: Pulls through no matter what happens, doesn’t give up.
Sycophant: Self-seeking, flatterer, who works to please those in power. Ex: Smee (Peter Pan)
Temptress: Uses power (intellect, magic, beauty) to make others weak. Ex: Megara (Hercules)
Thief: Takes what he wants or needs. Ex: Philippe Gaston (LadyHawke), Jean Valjean
Trickster/Jester: Always looking for the humor in a situation. Ex: Fred and George Weasley
Tyrant: Must be in control at all times. Ex: Captain Hook
Victim: Was hurt by someone or lives in fear that someone will hurt him. Ex: Claireece “Precious” Jones
Villain: Seeks to destroy/trap the hero. Ex: Evil Queen in Snow White, Lex Luthor
Waif: Appears innocent and weak and often relies on the pity of others. Ex: The Kid (Dick Tracy)