Stereotype List

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A list of stereotypes and archetypes for use in games. Everyone gets stuck now and then, and this list might help you out of a pit.

== Kids, stereotypes and archetypes are NOT the same thing

Function-Based Stereotypes[edit]

Function-based stereotypes are categorized by their role in the story, and most of them are so generic personalities that they can be customized to almost any genre.


Maverick Cop/pig/Special Ops/Starship Captain who doesn't play by the Rules but gets the Job done: Who needs skill or experience when you can rely on a chiselled jaw, neccessary plot development and sheer dumb luck? Captain Kirk is an example, but there are many examples in movies and fiction.

Temperamental Police Chief: Or any superior officer whose job is to get outraged at the rules-breaking antics of the cocky hero.

Straight Talkin' Lawman: Think Gary Cooper in High Noon. Duty to be done no matter what.


Alien Companion: (S)he comes from another time/dimension/planet. Ready to guide other people through strange places because maybe (s)he wants to go home, keep on visiting the multiverse, or some secret divine task. Examples : Jhary-A-Conel (Corum), Pie'oh'Pah (Imajica)

Joker/Jester: He/she is always making jokes, even in the face of certain death. Can be either useless or competent, and is usually likable. In horror genre is the first to get killed. Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, Chandler in Friends, Leo Valdez from Heroes of Olympus.

Mount: Loyal and faithful steed that often has more bloody sense than its rider.

Redeemed Hero: He was a bad guy but is trying to return to the light. Ser Jorah Mormont from A Song of Ice and Fire.

Roommate: Usually of a ditzy New York woman. She's sassy, cynical, worldly wise and doesn't think much of men.

Trusty Companion: The hero's sidekick, this character has no obvious powers or skills. His redeeming quality, however, is his absolute loyalty. Stays with the hero through it all, even if the hero treats him poorly. He can also serve as a moral anchor for the protagonist. LotR (Samwise), Buffy: the Vampire Slayer (Xander).

Young Hero: (...that becomes experienced) Not really tied to any setting, a staple of heroic stories. Star Wars (Anakin and Luke Skywalker), Wheel of Time (Rand and his friends), The Belgariad by Eddings (Garion) and many, many others.


Absent-Minded Savant: This is the character who's the world's foremost authority in his field, but woefully unequipped for life in the real world: the physicist who can model Heisenberg uncertainty experiments in his head, but can't remember to wear matching socks, or the befuddled old mage who remembers his spells at the WORST possible time.

Conspiracy Theorist: "The NSA & CIA work together to cover up the fact that they have alien technology." "AIDS was created by the Russians." Totally obsessed and often a danger to the people around him. Often a Believer, but more out-of-it and dangerous. "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you."

Friend of All People: He or she is the urchin who knows all the streets and everyone in them.

Grizzled Detective: he's seen it, done it. He's got his problems. He's jaded, cynical but still does the right thing against his own better judgement. Chandler's Philip Marlowe is your old standby. John McLeanin Die Hard. Garibaldi in B5. Richmond in Suikoden II. Ggyjvxfhd

Love Interests[edit]

Lost Love: They're out there....somewhere, though circumstances have seperated them and the protagonist, and one day they'll be reunited. The Lost Love usually gets killed a few minutes after such an event.

Otherworldly seducer/Seductress: Like the rat-demoiselle who seduces the mouser, his/her wrongness is part of their charm. Poison Ivy or James Bond

Spitfire Tomboy Who's Nonetheless Cute As A Button: Quite often, turns out to be the Hero's True Love Who Gets Overlooked For Half The Series In Favor Of Someone More Exotic.

Star-crossed Lovers: The girl and boy who can't get each-other because of their environment. From Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Can easily be put in just about any setting. Also see The Lost Love.

Girl Next Door: self-described as ordinary and the guy's best friend, the Girl Next Door is usually hated by the guy's girlfriend, actually very beautiful, and most definitely matched with a super hot sports extraordinaire. See: Taylor Swift-You Belong With Me


Innocent Farmboy: Doesn't have to be from a farm per se, but is naive, innocent, honest, and gets by on pure luck, innate ability. Usually has at least one guardian angel. Examples would be Luke Skywalker, Eragon, Arthur, Link, and the protagonist in All Quiet On the Western Front. D'Artagnan as well.


Gentleman Spy: Suave, certain of himself, this man keeps his suit straight even after escaping from an exploding plane in a helicopter. Ladykiller with a quick and ironic wit. Often a bit cruel. James Bond of course.

Girl Who Becomes a Boy: She becomes sailor, bard or warrior. Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire, Mulan.

Likable Thief (with a heart of gold): Again, not really tied to any genre, although the halfling is a classic fantasy example. Again, Salvatore (Regis), but also Star Wars (Han Solo). And let's not forget Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherburt from Disney's Tangled.

Scoundrel: Related to the Likable Thief and the Brash Pilot. Ruggedly handsome, charming but also a bit egoistic and arrogant. Can't be bother by rules or laws. Very pragmatic and often materialistic. His smarts often save him from the mess he gets himself in. Harrison Ford is often the Scoundrel, as he played both Indiana Jones and Han Solo.


Mechanic: This guy is the ultimate in his field, but no one knows it but people in the know. If it's broke he can fix it. If it ain't broke, he can make it better. He is also the Cliff Clavin of his field... he knows all sorts of little details about the Eludium-235 Detonator, and he doesn't mind sharing... all day. He is the first one to squeal when interrogated. He's also an ex-megacorporate employee... and sometimes they come knocking.

Mad Scientist': Tinkering with science, occultism or something else, this guy is detached and out-of-it. Often portrayed as a villain but needs not be such. His creations are foremost, even to the exclusion of himself. Dr Frankenstein from the novel by Shelley, or Emmet Brown in Back To The Future. Has its share of examples in Lovecraftian fiction, as well.



Hustler: This is a soft, decadent type, with or without a heart of gold, that likes setting up deals, likes seeing deals work out, and likes taking his percentage. Crapgame in Kelly's Heroes is a perfect example.


Gentleman Villain: Suave, certain of himself and powerful. High breeding mixed with unbound ambition to Rule The World. The villains in the James Bond movies. Dracula.

Knight in Black Armor: Avatars of Evil dressed in black, come to destroy the hero, they usually are a mirror image of the same. Example: Darth Vader (Star Wars).

Urban Villain: Suave, charming, the guy you can't quite bring yourself to hate. Usually working toward an admirable goal, but using questionable methods. Often either a friend of the protagonists, or someone the protagonists will have to team up with. Occasionally, just a bad guy you want to root for. Ex: Ozymandias from the Watchmen, Riku from Kingdom Hearts and quite a few from Edding's Belgariad series.


Amazon: This female character, usually a warrior but sometimes a wizard, MUST ATTEMPT do everything better than her male rival. Usually these are both PCs and often they are dating. eg Annie Oakley.

Boisterous Barbarian: Likes ale, wenching, and bashing in heads, not necessarily in that order. Almost invariably burly and bearded, unless female--in which case 'wenching' should be replaced either with 'manning' or simply with the understanding that the Amazon is so intimidating that men are too scared to approach her.

Brooding Swordsman: Dark, Mysterious, often melancholy he usually wears a black cloak (or trenchcoat, if modern) and always carries a sword. Haunted by his own personal demons or a past he cannot forget he sits quietly and (you guessed it) broods, until combat ensues and he turns into a quisenart of destruction. eg. Elric, Drizzt Do'Urden and any Vampire:tM character who carries a katana.

Independent Woman: She’s tough as a man and intent on proving it at all times. Often loses her independence by falling for the male hero after proving she's just as good as him. example - Red Sonja

Mercenary: He doesn't care if he fights in the side of good or evil. He is neither particularly clever or strong but he is tough, gets the job done and wants payment. Then off to another place. Clint Eastwood in westerns or some of his opponents there are good icon characters.

Vet: This guy was in the Big One, and compared to the Big One, everything is the Little One, and he's always telling you how much harder he had it. Older, salty, and prone to flashbacks in the middle of a firefight. ex Louis Fedders.

Genre-Based Stereotypes[edit]

Although this list has been categorized by genres, an efficient method to employ a stereotype is to move it from a familiar genre to a fresh environment with appropriate modifications.

All genres[edit]

Believer: Believes everything, even the most far-fetched and unlikely theories. Put on the map by David Duchovny's Fox Mulder of The X-Files.

Sacrifical Virgin: Stereotypical beautiful innocent female, except she is always hunted after because well, she's so damn pretty and pure that she would make a swell addition to one's villianous flesh cookie batter. Often saved by some heroic dullard on a horse with a pointy stick. Princess Peach from the Mario franchise.


Street Samurai: Cyberpunk. Modernized version of the Oriental samurai, although more pragmatic. William Gibson's Neuromancer introduced this concept in the person of Molly.


(Elvish) Archer: Fantasy. LotR (Legolas), Salvatore (Catti-brie). Linked with The Ranger.

Grumpy (Dwarven) Warrior: Fantasy, obviously. Effectively used in LotR (Gimli) and R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels (Bruenor).

He Who Is Foretold In The Prophesies: a.k.a. the "Chosen One" The prophesy is an old favourite in fantasy literature, and is also easily used in RPGs. He Who Is Foretold often has additional powers that are crucial to the story. The Belgariad (Garion, and just about everybody he travels with), Star Wars ('He who will bring balance to the Force'), Harry Potter ('...the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...').

Jive-Talking Wizard: A more annoying cousin of the Old Man, this character constantly makes obscure references, veiled warnings, and obscure prophecies, but whenever someone asks them to talk straight, they reply that the time is not yet right, the questioner is not yet ready for such knowledge, ad nauseum. He may speak in rhymes.

Prodigal Son / The Hidden Heir To The Throne: LotR (Aragorn), Simba (Lion King). Anybody any more examples? Linked with "He Who Is Foretold In The Prophesies". King Arthur / "The Once and Future King."

Prophet: Hey, somebody has to make the prophesy. Related with The Wise Old Man, although that one is often more active.

Stuck-Up Paladin: Fantasy, again. Paladins can be so 'holier-than-thou' and condescending, they're a real pain in the ass.

Stupid Orcs: Never see an orc mage.

Psuedo-Evil Witch: Joins the hero with dubious intentions. Clearly evil, but hates the guys you're fighting even more. Very powerful, condescending, often scantily clad and with posh English accent.

Female Mage/Healer: The ever faithful sidekick who specializes in healing her comrades, she is only really there to be the main love interest of the male lead. Gentle, powerful, kind, gracious--this character is infuriatingly perfect and usually completely two-dimensional--as well as brick stupid, seeing as she falls in love with the main male lead despite his violent tendencies and god complex.


Film-fan: Knows every film and can spew forth relevant quotes in every situation.

Nerd: Member of the chess team, high grades in mathematics, plays games and reads comics. Complete lack of social skills. Of course, can also be 'redeemed', and those computer skills sure can come in handy. Mostly harmless, until stroked the wrong way. Buffy: the Vampire Slayer (Willow), Revenge of the Nerds. Also see: The Mad Scientist.

New Kid: whether they are reluctant about the move or excited for a fresh start, New Kid faces the challenge of making new friends, rude front desk ladies, bullies, etc. (Can also apply to "'Hero/Heroine Thrown Into a New World'" cliche); usually fixes social issues or influences the authoritative figures into making the school a fairer/more harmonious place

Popular Girl: by money or own accomplishments, this girl has it all. Or does she? Her arrogance and bitchiness may cause her friends to abandon her if they see her true self. Or the girl is 'redeemed' by a movie-shaking turn of events. Often captain of the cheerleading squad. Buffy: the Vampire Slayer (Cordelia), Mean Girls {Regina George), Sarah Michelle Gellar's character in Cruel Intentions.

Psycho-analyst: Too busy analysing himself, his friends and their relations to actually live life. Dawson from Dawson's Creek.

Quarterback: Handsome, athletic but often also a bit lacking in mental and social skills. Can be a bully to the Nerd, and is often the Popular Girl's love interest. (And vice-versa). Has a squad of henchmen, who are always a bit more stupid and depend on the coolness of the leader.

Bad Boy: Slightly alternative, ruggedly handsome and mysterious. The guy doesn't care about looks and coolness and is thus not part of the Popular Gang. But he is rather interesting... Cool due to his rebelliousness.

Loner: Similiar to the bad boy. Few friends, whether by choice or force. Nothing particularly special about him. Smart, but doesn't associate with nerds.

Vixen: Often bubble headed, sometimes dangerous, always sexy.

Scene: The type between "prep" and emo. Often wears bright colors and poofy hair


Brash Pilot: The guys in the jets and choppers -- brash, cocky and arrogant. Often look down upon the ground hogs. Exemplified by Maverick (Tom Cruise's Character in Top Gun), Lt. McKay (the heli pilot in Tour Of Duty). Wedge Antilles in Star Wars can also be seen as a Brash Pilot (although his character eventually becomes more mature later on, turning him into the Competant Officer.)

Loudmouth Sergeant Who Loves his Men: Loud, gruff, tough and grizzled, this archetype takes in much of the Grizzled Veteran, only the Sergeant also operates as a mother hen for his men. He is a decent fighter, but his strength lies in his ability to get his men, who are each better at a specific aspect of soldiering than he is, to do their job and not shirk from doing it well. Think Big Joe from Kelly's Heroes.

New Recruit: Young, naive and overly enthusiastic. Get their dreams of fame and glory shattered, if not by the Drill Sergeant, than often on the field of battle. Some survive to become more experienced characters and thus can become a Drill Sergeant or Grizzled Veteran. Most of the characters in Tour Of Duty and Band of Brothers.

Officer Fresh From The Academy: Has all the training but none of the experience. Can be a real threat to his unit if he stubbornly leads them, believing his theoretical knowledge and the rules to be superior to his lower-ranking's advice. Maj. Frank Burns in M*A*S*H.

Sergeant: A variation on the Drill Sergeant, this guy saves the lives of his soldiers time and again. Knows that practical knowledge beats the Rules and the Academy every time. Stern but fair. Adored by the men, hated by the Officer Fresh From The Academy. Sgt. Zeke Anderson in Tour Of Duty.