character types

There are typically six types of characters in a thriller novel: the protagonist, the antagonist, the supporting cast, the mentor, the love interest, and the sidekick. However, there can be many variations on these five types.

For example, the antagonist could be a rival instead of a villain, and the sidekick could be a friend or family member instead of an assistant. Mentors can come in many different forms, such as a teacher, priest/pastor, or an expert in the field the protagonist is researching. Ultimately it all comes down to what best serves the story and its unique plot.

There are many different types of characters in a thriller novel. This blog post will discuss the main character types and their variants.

Here are the five main character types in fiction:

1. Dynamic character

A dynamic character undergoes a change or growth during the story. For example, in The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling starts as a naive FBI trainee, but she quickly learns to become tough and resourceful to survive in the world of serial killers. She goes from being someone who is easily manipulated by Lecter to becoming someone who can outsmart him.

2. Round character

In a thriller, a round character is usually the protagonist who goes through a transformation during the story. This type of character is fully developed and three-dimensional, with flaws and hidden depths revealed over time.

They are believable and relatable, making it easy for readers to invest in their journey. While flat characters may be witty or act as comic relief, the round characters drive the plot forward and keep readers engaged. Examples of well-known round characters from thrillers include Michael Corleone from The Godfather and Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

3. Static character

A static character is a character who doesn’t change or develop throughout the story. For example, in the thriller novel Gone Girl, the protagonist, Nick Dunne, is a static character. He doesn’t undergo any significant changes or developments throughout the story.

4. Stock character

A stock character in a thriller is typically either naive and trusting or someone who is street-wise and cynical.

For example, the naive and trusting stock character might be a young woman new to the city who doesn’t know which areas are safe to walk around at night. The street-wise and cynical stock character might be a man who has lived on the streets for most of his life and knows how to defend himself against danger.

5. Symbolic character


A symbolic character in a thriller is often used to represent an idea or theme. For example, in the movie The Omen, the baby Damien is used to symbolize evil. In the film Jaws, the shark is used to symbolize fear.

Novels are more interesting when they include a variety of different character types. Characters are usually grouped into archetypes in fiction. By exploring these six archetypes, you can create a cast of intriguing and complex characters:

The Protagonist

– This is the main character of the novel and the person you’ll be rooting for the most. The protagonist is the central character of a story and is almost always a man or woman who must face extraordinary circumstances. They are often fighting against an antagonist, the villain of the story. The protagonist can be anything from a police officer trying to solve a crime to a soldier fighting in a war.

The Antagonist

– This is the character who is against the protagonist and is trying to thwart their plans. The antagonist is the story’s villain, and they usually oppose the protagonist. They can be anything from a serial killer to a corrupt politician.

One of the most important aspects of a thriller novel is creating a believable and compelling antagonist. This character is essential in creating tension and driving the plot forward.

The Supporting Cast

– These are secondary characters who help move the plot along but may not have a lot of dialogue or screen time. These characters support either the protagonist or antagonist and can provide valuable insight into their motivations.

The Mentor

– This is a character who mentors or guides the protagonist during their journey. A mentor figure can be a great asset to the story. They can offer wisdom and guidance to the protagonist, helping them grow and learn.

The Love Interest

love interest

– The love interest is the character who provides emotional support to the protagonist and helps them maintain their focus on their goals. They are often romantic partners or close friends.

The Sidekick

– Sidekicks are often the most loyal characters in a story. They are always there to support the protagonist and can provide valuable insight into their motivations. They can be anyone from a best friend to a partner in crime. Some sidekicks can also be quite funny, providing comic relief in tense situations.

One of the most famous sidekicks in literature is Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

You can find many other character types in thriller novels, but these are some of the most common. By understanding these different archetypes, you can better understand the motivations and goals of the characters in your story. And by using them to your advantage, you can create a more complex and compelling plot.

Other types of characters to consider for your thriller novel

Archetypes such as the rebel, the scapegoat, the caregiver, the victim, the magician, the warrior, the foil, and the martyr.

The rebel archetype is great for thrilling stories because of their non-conformist attitude and willingness to buck the system. They’re often characters underestimated by those in power but always manage to come out on top. Their unpredictability makes them exciting and compelling to read about, and they can add a lot of tension and suspense to a story.

The scapegoat is an archetype often used in literature and film to create a character who is blamed for the group’s problems. You can use this character to stir up conflict and generate suspense.

For example, suppose the protagonist is trying to solve a crime. In that case, the scapegoat could be someone who is falsely accused of committing the crime, which would create tension as the protagonist tries to clear the scapegoat’s name and find the real perpetrator.

The caregiver archetype might be embodied by the protagonist’s mother, who always puts her family first and tries to protect them.

The victim archetype can be invaluable if you’re looking to create a genuinely suspenseful and edge-of-your-seat thriller. After all, what’s more suspenseful than watching someone who seems completely helpless try to outwit their captor?

The victim archetype can also help to create sympathy for the protagonist, making readers or viewers root for them even more. And because we as humans are constantly confronted with our mortality, a story about someone fighting for their life can be incredibly gripping.

The magician archetype might be embodied by the protagonist’s best friend, who always comes up with new ideas.

The warrior archetype uses their strength and determination to fight for what they believe in.


The foil character can be anything from a best friend to an enemy. Foil archetypes are often used in thriller books and movies to create a sense of suspense and tension. The foil typically has qualities that contrast with the main character, making them seem evil or dangerous.

This can add to the story’s suspense, as readers or viewers wonder whether the foil will succeed in harming the main character. Sometimes, the foil may also be a love interest for the main character, complicating matters further. Having a foil archetype in a story can create a thrilling and tense experience for readers and viewers alike.

The martyr archetype can be a great way to ratchet up the tension. This archetype is all about someone willing to sacrifice themselves for a cause or ideal, and as such, they often create situations where the stakes are incredibly high.

By having a character-driven character who needs to martyr themselves, you can create scenes of extreme danger and suspense, keeping your readers on the edge of their seats. However, be careful not to overdo it – too much self-sacrifice can start to feel overly dramatic. Striking the perfect balance is key to creating a thrilling masterpiece.


So, what types of characters will you create for your thriller novel? Once you have a solid grasp of the different archetypes, it will be easier to construct your story. Keep in mind the different roles these characters can play and how they can interact with one another to create an exciting and suspenseful tale.

Let us know how your writing is coming along – we’d love to hear about it!


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