A character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, play, television series, film, or video game). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "fictional" versus "real" character may be made. Derived from the ancient Greek word χαρακτήρ, the English word dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person". In literature, characters guide readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practiced by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.
A character who stands as a representative of a particular class or group of people is known as a type. Types include both stock characters and those that are more fully individualised. The characters in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1891) and August Strindberg's Miss Julie (1888), for example, are representative of specific positions in the social relations of class and gender, such that the conflicts between the characters reveal ideological conflicts.
Featured film character
Palpatine is a fictional character in George Lucas' science fiction saga Star Wars. The character, portrayed by actor Ian McDiarmid in the feature films, is the main antagonist of the saga; introduced in the original trilogy as the Emperor of the Galactic Empire, an aged, cowled and pale-faced figure, who rises to power in the prequel trilogy through deception and treachery as a middle-aged politician of the Republic. In reality, he is Darth Sidious, a Dark Lord of the Sith who initiates and manipulates the Clone Wars to destroy the Jedi and usher in the totalitarian Galactic Empire. Briefly mentioned by Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Lucas' original scripts of Star Wars characterize the Emperor as a cunning but weak politician under the control of powerful bureaucrats. However, in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the prequels, and Star Wars literature, the character is depicted as the personification of evil and heavy-handed authoritarianism. Palpatine was incorporated into the Star Wars merchandising campaigns that corresponded with the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi and the prequel films. The character has since become a symbol of evil and sinister deception in popular culture, particularly in the United States. (read more...)
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First Sergeant Martin Christopher Keamy is a recurring fictional character played by Kevin Durand in the fourth season and sixth season of the American ABC television series Lost. Keamy is introduced in the fifth episode of the fourth season as a crew member aboard the freighter called the Kahana that is offshore the island where most of Lost takes place. In the second half of the season, Keamy served as a primary antagonist. He is the leader of a mercenary team hired by billionaire Charles Widmore (played by Alan Dale) that is sent to the island on a mission to capture Widmore's enemy Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) from his home, then torch the island.
Unlike Lost's ensemble of characters who, according to the writers, each have good and bad intentions, the writers have said that Keamy is evil and knows it. Durand was contacted for the role after one of Lost's show runners saw him in the 2007 film 3:10 to Yuma. Like other Lost actors, Durand was not informed of his character's arc when he won the role. Throughout Durand's nine-episode stint as a guest star in the fourth season, little was revealed regarding Keamy's life prior to his arrival on the island and Durand cited this as a reason why the audience "loved to hate" his villainous character. Critics praised the writers for breaking Lost tradition and creating a seemingly heartless character, while Durand's performance and appearance were also reviewed positively. Keamy returned in the final season for a tenth appearance. (read more...)
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Nancy Drew is a fictional young amateur detective in various mystery series for all ages. She was created by Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate book packaging firm. The character first appeared in 1930. The books have been ghostwritten by a number of authors and are published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
Over the decades the character has evolved in response to changes in American culture and tastes. The books were extensively revised, beginning in 1959, largely to eliminate racist stereotypes, with arguable success. Many scholars agree that in the revision process, the heroine's original, outspoken character was toned down and made more docile, conventional, and demure. In the 1980s a new series was created, the Nancy Drew Files, which featured an older and more professional Nancy as well as romantic plots. In 2004 the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series, begun in 1930, was ended and a new series, Girl Detective, was launched, with an updated version of the character who drives a hybrid electric vehicle and uses a cell phone. Illustrations of the character have also evolved over time, from portrayals of a fearless, active young woman to a fearful or passive one.
Through all these changes, the character has proved continuously popular worldwide: at least 80 million copies of the books have been sold, and the books have been translated into over 45 languages. Nancy Drew has featured in five films, two television shows, and a number of popular computer games; she also appears in a variety of merchandise sold over the world.
A cultural icon, Nancy Drew has been cited as a formative influence by a number of prominent women, from Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Sonia Sotomayor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush. Feminist literary critics have analyzed the character's enduring appeal, arguing variously that Nancy Drew is a mythic hero, an expression of wish fulfillment, or an embodiment of contradictory ideas about femininity. (read more...)
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Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 is a fictional character and protagonist of the Halo universe, created by video game developer Bungie. Master Chief is a playable character in the trilogy of science fiction first-person shooter video games Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo 3 and will appear in the upcoming Halo 4. Outside of video games, the character appears in the novels Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: The Flood, Halo: First Strike, and Halo: Uprising, and has cameos in Halo media including Halo: Reach, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, The Halo Graphic Novel and Halo Legends. He is voiced by Chicago disc jockey Steve Downes in the video games in which he appears.
The Master Chief is one of the most visible symbols of the Halo series. Originally designed by Bungie artists including Marcus Lehto, Rob McLees, and Shi Kai Wang, the character is a towering and faceless cybernetically enhanced supersoldier; he is never seen without his green-colored armor or helmet. Downes built his personification of the Chief off a character description which called for a Clint Eastwood-type character of few words.
The Master Chief has been called a video game icon, a relative newcomer among more established franchise characters, such as Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Lara Croft. The character has received mixed reception. Reviewers such as Kotaku have pointed to the Chief's silent and faceless nature as a weakness to the character, while other publications said this attribute allows players to better assume the role of the Master Chief. Gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly named the Master Chief as the eighth greatest video game character ever. (read more...)
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Dr. Barbara "Babs" Gordon is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics and in related media, created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. From 1966 to 1988, she was the superheroine Batgirl; since 1989 she has been known as Oracle. Introduced as the librarian daughter of Commissioner James Gordon, Barbara Gordon made her first comic book appearance in a story published in Detective Comics #359 titled "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl" (cover date: January 1967).
As Batgirl, Barbara Gordon has been described as one of the most popular characters to appear during the Silver Age of Comic Books and is also regarded as a pop culture icon due to her appearances in the Batman television series of the late 1960s and continued media exposure. The Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl has been adapted into various media relating to the Batman franchise, including merchandise, television, and animation. (In fact, the Barbara Gordon Batgirl has been a featured character in every Batman cartoon series ever made.) During the early 1970s, the character was also used as an advocate for women's rights
Following the editorial retirement of the character's Batgirl persona in 1988, Alan Moore's graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke depicts the Joker shooting Barbara through the spinal cord in her civilian identity and leaving her a paraplegic. Although Barbara would no longer resume her role as Batgirl in subsequent stories, editor Kim Yale and writer John Ostrander soon established the character as a computer expert and information broker code-named Oracle, providing intelligence and computer hacking services to assist other superheroes. The character first appeared as Oracle in Suicide Squad #23 (January 1989).
In addition to becoming a member of the Justice League of America, Oracle headlined the comic book series Birds of Prey (from 1996 to present) as the leader of a team of female crimefighters who went on global espionage missions. The series depicted Oracle as a great intellect uninhibited by her paralysis, skilled in the martial art of eskrima. Oracle has been adapted into other media, such as the live-action Birds of Prey television series, animation, video games, and merchandise. (read more...)
The Naruto anime and manga series features an extensive cast of characters created by Masashi Kishimoto. The series takes place in a fictional universe where different countries vie for power by using ninja who can use supernatural abilities in combat. The Naruto storyline is divided into two parts, simply named Part I and Part II, with the latter taking place two-and-a-half years after the conclusion of Part I. The series' storyline follows the adventures of a group of young ninja from the village of Konohagakure.
The titular character of the series is Naruto Uzumaki, an energetic ninja who wishes to become Hokage, the leader of Konohagakure. During the early part of the series, he is assigned to Team 7, during which he meets Sasuke Uchiha, a taciturn and highly skilled "genius" of the Uchiha clan; Sakura Haruno, who is infatuated with Sasuke yet has Naruto's affection; and Kakashi Hatake, the quiet and mysterious leader of the team. Over the course of the series, Naruto interacts with and befriends several of his fellow ninja in Konohagakure as well as other villages. He also encounters the series' antagonists, including Orochimaru, a former ninja of Konohagakure scheming to destroy his former home, and the elite ninja of the criminal organization Akatsuki.
While developing the series, Kishimoto created the three primary characters as a basis for the designs of the other three-person teams. He also utilized characters in other shōnen manga as references in his design of the characters, a decision that was criticized by several anime and manga publications. The characters that Kishimoto developed were however praised for incorporating many of the better aspects of previous shōnen characters, although many publications lamented the perceived lack of growth beyond such stereotypes. The visual presentation of the characters was commented on by reviewers, with praise and criticism given to Kishimoto's work in the manga and anime adaptation. (read more...)