Created By: Xzenu on September 19, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on November 21, 2011

Plot Gravity Character

The plot, or a big part of it, orbits around this character

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Rolling Updates * Early Development Phase

There are many ways to get a plot going and keep it going. One of these ways is to have at least one character with a certain... gravitational pull. A character who's mere existence passively sucks plot into his or her orbit.

For such a character to work out in a good work of fiction, three things are needed.

  1. First of all, the character need to have certain traits that make the whole thing believable. Ranging from charisma to divinity, the list of traits can include anything that fit the story. Whatever these traits are, they provoke or inspire other characters to do the actions that make up the plot. A charismatic or beautiful characters may have people falling in love with him or resent him. A divine character may merely have pilgrims seeking her favor, but it may also be that the universe revolve around her in some metaphysical or literal sense.

  2. Second, the story must not focus too closely on the greatness of such a character. If there are several Plot Gravity Characters they can balance out each other, and if there is only one then he need to often take a back seat in favor of lesser characters.

  3. Third, it really help if the character's gravitational pull is a part of the basic premise from square one. If the character is introduced later (say, in a sequel, a later season of a series, or in Fan Fiction), it is likely to at best result in a Broken Base as some fans are going to resent the new dynamics of the work. And this is assuming the character is worked into the story in a good way, not just suddenly show up and take over.

These three needed things are not needed to create a Plot Gravity Character. However, they are needed to create a good Plot Gravity Character, rather than some variant of Mary Sue.

Please keep the example list to canon characters - no Fan Fiction or real life.

Contrast Villains Act, Heroes React for a very different (and much more common) way to build a plot.


Comic Books
  • The Sandman has Lord Morpheus himself. Him being the lord of the dreaming is the central fount of the plot. In some stories he is not main character, in others he is balanced out by other ancient deities such as Death and Destiniy.
  • Lucifer has two: Lucifer himself, and the true ruler of the universe who creation itself revolve around. No, not Yahweh. Elaine.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • September 19, 2011
    Something that always bothered me about the concept of "Mary Sue" is that it has so many elements of this trope - elements I recognize in some of my favorite characters, such as Sandman and Lucifer. In my eyes, a huge aspect of "Mary Sue" is this trope done wrong, while a skilled author can do it right.

    This thread is my attempt to pinpoint this phenomenon.
  • September 19, 2011
  • September 19, 2011
    Compare Spotlight Stealing Squad, when a character is treated like this by the author, despite the fact that this shouldn't be the case given the setting.
  • September 19, 2011
    Doctor Who in more or less immortal, has control over time and space, and after five minutes in his company, his human companions aren't usually able to go back to their previous doctor-less existences without deep, existential issues. Toss in an sentient ship that has a tendency to plonk him down in the middle of a crisis that requires his attention, and there is no plat that can possibly escape his gravity!
  • September 19, 2011
    Mass Effect: Commander Shepard.
  • September 19, 2011
    Interesting idea, though I wonder if a plot can have one or more of these as well as Villains Act Heroes React. I'm thinking of several characters in the Deryni works who seem to function this way: Saint Camber of Culdi, Duke Alaric Morgan, and King Kelson Haldane.
    • Camber was an √©minence grise who served on the councils of prior Festillic monarchs, then retired to pursue arcane academic study and enjoy his family before events prompted him to lead a coup d'√©tat against a tyrannical King Imre Festil. He was later canonized, only to have his sainthood officially revoked. He also took on semi-divine traits after his "death". Other characters react to his existence even two centuries on.
    • Alaric Morgan was destined by his parents to be a magical protector and guide for then-Prince Brion Haldane, and he inherited a wealthy and powerful duchy. He is a known Deryni mage when there are fears and outright bans on such people, so many people react to his dangerous position, highly ranked and openly favoured by the Haldane kings yet possessing "evil" magical powers. He's also handsome and charismatic, inspiring deep loyalty in his own men. Since his parents were a normal human and a Deryni, he also faces some opprobrium from some Deryni as a "rogue half-breed".
    • King Kelson Haldane is also half-Deryni, a young and open-minded monarch with a degree of charisma himself. In some circles, he arouses the same emotions Morgan does, being a mage in a position of temporal power. Kelson is apt to play with the trappings of his rank, or forgo them altogether if that will serve the needs of diplomacy, and he will do so with both gravity and joie de vivre.

    There are other plots and other characters who come to the fore from time to time, and it is true that some plot threads are more VAHR, but these guys seem to have the strongest pull on events, and frankly much of the story wouldn't exist without them.
  • September 20, 2011
    This is an in-universe, uncontrollable superpower for ta'veren in the Wheel Of Time series. Events warp around them, crating chaos in their wake.
  • September 20, 2011
    ^^^^^^ Let's rephrase it: which part of this doesn't fit under Magnetic Hero, The Chosen One and Black Hole Sue?
  • September 21, 2011
    • Magnetic Hero is about pulling characters in, this one is about pulling plot in.
    • The Chosen One typically have the chosen character revolve around destiny, not the other way around.
    • Black Hole Sue is what happens when a Plot Gravity Character is abruptly inserted into a pre-existing storyline, upsetting the already existing dynamic.
    • Living Mac Guffin: This is what happens when this character run away or get kidnapped or similar.

  • September 21, 2011
    Actually, is there such a thing as a protagonist that is not automatically this? By definition the plot is going to revolve around the main character. This kind of smells like People Sit On Chairs to me.
  • September 21, 2011
    Most protagonists are not this, and most characters who are this are not the protagonist. The description is not yet good at explaining the concept, thats why it has the Early Development Phase tag.
  • September 21, 2011
    Actually, I'm starting to suspect that protagonists are not even capable of being this trope. The very nature of a protagonist is to act and react. These actions revolve around something such as a mystery, a quest, a conflict, or a plot gravity character.

    At first I assumed that these characters are protagonists: The characters I'm thinking of when defining this trope are Sandman, Lucifer and Lady Isobel. They are all protagonists, the first two even have their works named after them. But then I realized that they are not always the protagonist: Each work contain many stories, and it is in the stories where they are NOT protagonists they fill this role. In Lucifer, the titular character and Eleine kinda goes pingpong about this, taking turns to be the protagonist orbiting each other's gravity.

    Also, mysedai wanted to add Dr Who. From what I have seen, he's not an example in his own show. In Torchwood, however, this is the role he fills! As far as I have seen (First season, and a bit of season 2) he's not even IN the show, but he still exist as a force of plot gravity. Jack is the central protagonist. The other character's revolve around him in the Magnetic Hero kind of way, while he revolve around the doctor more in this kind of way.