Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What makes a great character?

We all have our characters that we love. They are part of us. They speak to us in ways non-writers don't understand. ;) So, what makes a character great? Is it personality? Quirks? Habits? Actions?
I've been thinking about some of my favorite characters from books and movies and decided to put some of my favorite t.v. show characters on here. Enjoy! :)

J.D. from Scrubs

Okay. So I got introduced to this show just recently. My hubby and I have been watching it on Netflix and it is seriously hilarious. The show is told through J.D.'s point of view. He's weird, he's quirky and the thing I love about him is that he doesn't care. One of his famous little quirks is he cocks his head to the side and looks up. It's a cue for a daydream coming on, and let me tell you, his daydreams are freaking hilarious and SO random. But, that's just his character. He's random and fun, but is so loyal and loving to his friends.I really love this character and was sad when he wasn't on the show anymore. It just wasn't as good. What I'm trying to say, is when you become so invested in a character and the book ends, its really hard to let them go. I think that is why I like series so much. I just love seeing what else could happen in the characters life. I love those kinds of books.

Sydney Bristow from Alias

Uh ... this girl kicks butt. Literally.  I loved Alias from the beginning. I loved Sydney's character. She was a double agent for the government trying to take down bad people. She wasn't afraid of beating the crap out a bad guy. Yet, when she wasn't doing her job, she was kind, sweet, had regular problems like a non-existent relationship with her dad, and a complicated love interest whom I adored. And was extremely loyal to her friends. It was one of those shows that I cared about the characters so much, that I tuned in every week to see what was happening to them. Loved her character. I loved seeing the different sides of her. I try to keep my characters like that in my books. Different sides for different situations and/or people. Try to get into their heads and dig deep into their personalities. Show the reader you know your character inside and out.

John Locke from Lost

Okay. So, this guy was strange. He was SO interesting and complex that I just had to find out what made him tick. Why did he do the things he did? Which is so great. I love the characters that just do things out of the ordinary. That make you think. Locke definitely had reasons for the things he did on the island, but he never let us know why. He kept us guessing, and that is a great thing complex characters have. They're different. Not ordinary. Make your characters interesting enough that we want to find out what happens to them. We want to know why they do the things they do. Make them stand out. Surprise us.

Chandler from Friends

Do I even have to explain why I loved this character? He was freaking hilarious. He had his funny quirks, his hilarious phrases, and I loved seeing him freak out in different situations. Honestly, he was my favorite character on the show. He had a great personality. Even though he had his weird girlfriends, it was so fun to see him go through his relationships and finally settle down with his perfect match. So, give us a likable, amazing character with habits that are all his own. Put him/her in different situations and let us go through them with him. I love likable characters. Even if they have their issues, if a character can make me laugh, and can laugh through things as well, then I'm all for them.

Who are some of your favorite t.v. characters?


16 comments:

The Lovely Getaway said...

Chandler from Friends was one of my all time favs! :) great list! thanks for sharing.

Diana

Cynthia Lee said...

I've always loved Malcolm Reynolds from Joss Whedon's Firefly. *sighs* He was played by Nathan Fillion. I love a complicated man with a bit of a dark side combined with goofiness and slight befuddlement.

As for female characters, I love all the girls that are nothing like me. Lisbeth Salander, for example. Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise. Kick-ass girls that I resemble not at all. ;)

Karen said...

We must have very similar tastes because I also LOVED these characters. (You had me at Sydney--she was the BEST)

Enjoyed this post, it made me think. Thank you! :)

Emily said...

I loved those characters too! Especially JD. If I think about characters from books I would say the ones I found interesting, complicated, and so real are Zoey Rebird, Catniss Everdeen, and Ender. I like a lot of secondary characters in shows too, like Casey in "Chuck" and and agent Cho in "Mentalist". Speaking of Mentalist, Patrick Jane is a great character.

Michael Offutt said...

My favorite t.v. character is Emily Deschanel who plays Dr. Temperence Brennan on the show "Bones". Then after her, I love Gregory House.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Michael Offutt I LOVE Bones! Best. Show. Ever. :)

Christine Tyler said...

Locke is definitely one of my all-time favorite characters :D

Favorite tv characters? How about a movie that had such a sweet character scene I had to read the book?

In The Last Unicorn, Molly Grue has such an interesting reaction to meeting the unicorn. "How dare you come to me now, when I am THIS?" She's angry, and then forgives the unicorn. I grew up with that as my favorite character-reveal-scene, and was nerdy enough to cry when I bought the movie and saw that scene again as an adult. This last year I finally read the book (which the movie was quoting directly!), just to hunt down clues as to why Molly Grue reacted this way. I was so intrigued by her story...

Jolene Perry said...

LOVE Braff - We've watched that show from the beginning. LOVE.

I also love the flaws - I was just looking over one of my projects and wanted to strangle my MC for being so stupid!!

Devin Bond said...

Brennan and Booth from Bones are my fav. (Though pretty much everyone on Bones is wicked awesome.) Then it's probably House. Their quirks are just awesome.

Kimberly Krey said...

I seriously love JD from Scrubs. Locke was interesting - and definitely kept us guessing, like you said - but I really loved Jack the best. I also liked Coach Sylvester from Glee (before I stopped watching it). She was hilarious!

Phil said...

I love all 4 characters from Will & Grace, but Karen Walker is my favorite. Her one-liners were hilarious. For current shows, I love Leslie Knope in Parks & Recreation. But with that, too, I love all the characters. The cast gelled perfectly.

With beloved tv and film characters, I think it's a perfect fusion of the right actor with the right part - the writing and acting have to be of equal quality.

Ruth said...

I LOVED Alias! I died if I missed a week. Because of course, we didn't have such things like DVR or hulu back then. My favorite tv show right now is Modern Family. Those characters and relationships are crazy funny.

Kari Marie said...

What a great way to distill characterization down to easy points to remember. I may have to do this for myself ;)

Everyone you listed here is top notch. I loved John Carter (Noah Wylie) on ER.

Diana said...

I loved Alias too. Currently I'm love Dexter because he has such a huge flaw but he is so likable. Chandler from friends was a fav of mine too. ;)

Melanie Jacobson said...

Man, I think you picked all of my favorite characters, too. I think the best acted show on TV right now with the most nuanced characters is Parenthood. You should check that out on Netflix, too.

Oh, and I'd have to add the Gilmore Girls (both of them) and Veronica Mars to this list. Good stuff!

Steven Whibley said...

Great post! I really enjoy the Sam and Dean Winchester characters from "Supernatural." Love them, love that show!! Oh, and Dexter.