Created By: deathpigeon on April 18, 2012 Last Edited By: deathpigeon on April 20, 2012
Nuked

The Four Motives

Why characters do what they do.

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In fiction, every character, be they hero or villain, needs a motivation. This motivation defines the character as itís why characters do what they do. Motivation also makes characters more believable, as most people would find it hard to believe that The Hero would save the world just because, but most people would believe The Hero saving the world because the woman he loves is being threatened, or the Big Bad killed his parents, and heís seeking revenge, or heís always dreamed of being a great hero, rather than a mere than just a farm boy in the middle of nowhere, or he loves danger and the adrenaline rush that comes with it. In the same way, most people would find it hard to believe that the Big Bad wants to destroy the world just because, but most people would believe the Big Bad wants to destroy the world because the woman he loves rejected him for another man, or he was mocked for being crazy, or because he was destined to save the world, and hated the pressure of it all, or because he thought it would be fun to do so.

The characterís motivation can come in many different varieties. These varieties can be grouped into four broad categories:

  • Love: People with this motivation love or want to be love, and they act accordingly. This can range from someone wanting to get married to someone who just want friends, and people with this motivation can range from heroes who are selfishly dedicated to someone else to Yanderes who selfishly want someone else for themselves.
  • Revenge: People with this motivation were mocked, abused, and made to feel inferior, or lost something or someone they held dear. They seek to strike back at or seek justice from those who wronged them.
  • New Purpose: People with this motivation want to belong in the world, to break free from what people want from them, or to be badass or beautiful enough to be the centre of attention. Most importantly, they want something to change, be it their lot in life, their destiny, or who they are.
  • Entertainment: People with this motivation want to do whatever the heck they felt like, and damn the consequences. They may or may not care about others, but they try to always have fun, regardless of the situation.

These motivations are rather broad, and can encompass a lot of different tropes and motivations.

Examples

Love

Revenge

Live-Action TV
  • Terui Ryu is motivated by revenge for what the Weather Dopant did to his family.

New Purpose

Entertainment

Live-Action TV
  • Asakura Takeshi and Jun Shibaura are motivated by entertainment, both thinking the Rider War is nothing more than a game. Ren Akiyama and Miho Kirishima on the other hand are motivated by love, as their wishes are to save their fiance and sister respectively.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • April 18, 2012
    MyTrainIsOff
    Love: Harry Potter is mostly motivated by Love Revenge: Baby Doll from Sucker Punch is arguably motivated by this.

  • April 18, 2012
    Duncan
    This might make more sense as an index, if this is a trope at all. e.g. just putting For The Evulz under Entertainment.
  • April 18, 2012
    Earnest
    The Crusading Widower is usually somewhere between Love and Revenge.
  • April 18, 2012
    dyson88
    where do money or power fit in on this list?
  • April 18, 2012
    Psyga315
    Multiple characters from Kamen Rider are motivated by different things. To name a few:

    • Terui Ryu is motivated by revenge for what the Weather Dopant did to his family.
    • Asakura Takeshi and Jun Shibaura are motivated by entertainment, both thinking the Rider War is nothing more than a game. Ren Akiyama and Miho Kirishima on the other hand are motivated by love, as their wishes are to save their fiance and sister respectively.
  • April 18, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Duncan has a good point because motivation in general could be an omnipresent trope...

    What about examples of the kind of works that usually feature these motivations? Or including a selection of examples and then leaving it?

    e.g. Love motivates most characters in Romantic Comedy films and Fairy Tales. Sex And The City has characters who are motivated to find love, but they're not sure how it's actually going to manifest.
  • April 18, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    We have a Motivation Index. It has a lot more motivations than this.
  • April 18, 2012
    deathpigeon
    @Train: One could also say that Harry is motivated just as much by Revenge for his parents.

    As for the Sucker Punch example, Examples Are Not Arguable.

    @Duncan: There's already an index for Motivations, but these motivations were built specifically to encompass many Motivation tropes...

    @dyson: Depends upon the situation, but, if you want money and power for the sake of money and power, then I'd put them in New Purpose and Entertainment, respectively.

    @Heart: Well, many works don't only have characters of one motivation, but it might be a good idea to talk about what sort of genres each motivation is most prominent. Thanks for the idea.

    @Wacky: We have The Four Loves, despite Love Tropes having far more types of love. The Four Loves works because it gives more general types of love that other tropes fall under, and this has a similar principle.
  • April 20, 2012
    Statalyzer
    This is a weird choice of a trope. There's no reason given for having 4 of them, and there's even less reason behind these being the 4 rather than some other list of 4. Sounds like the original troper just pulled them out of the air (which wouldn't be the case with The Four Loves).

    Psychology generally teaches the 4 motivations as Love, Duty, Fear of Punishment, Chance of Reward.
  • April 20, 2012
    Statalyzer
    This is a weird choice of a trope. There's no reason given for having 4 of them, and there's even less reason behind these being the 4 rather than some other list of 4. Sounds like the original troper just pulled them out of the air (which wouldn't be the case with The Four Loves).

    Psychology generally teaches the 4 motivations as Love, Duty, Fear of Punishment, Chance of Reward.
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