Literature / 45 Master Characters - Support Characters

This is a summary of the Friend, Rival, and Symbol archetypes from 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters (see footnote on that page). There is also a list of Hero archetypes here and Heroine archetypes here.

Note: The support characters may be closely identified with the Hero, the Heroine, or both. These characters can interact on either side of the gender line.

Quick Overview

The Friend archetypes are those characters who are generally supportive, but may (for good or bad reasons) do things to hinder the Hero.

  • Magi
    • An advisor much wiser and more experienced than the Hero, but who may be hard to win over as a potential source of information or help. Also may mislead or manipulate the Hero as a form of "teaching."
  • Mentor
    • "Closer in level" to the Hero, and, when a positive character, far more likely to go all-out in helping him. When negative, may be competitive or controlling, and even jealous.
  • Best Friend
    • The Hero's confidant, always ready to lend a hand - but may hold the Hero back out of fear for his safety or fear for the loss of their close friendship.
  • Lover
    • A "secure base" and a shoulder to cry on, and the character the Hero should be closest to by the end of the story. Need not be a mate per se; may be a child or a pet.

The Rival archetypes are those characters who mostly hinder the Hero, without necessarily meaning him ill; a Rival is not a Villain, but may be a form of Antagonist.

  • Joker
    • Uses verbal humor and practical jokes to keep everything on a comedic rather than dramatic level, which may prevent people from getting down to discussing important issues. Craves attention and may lie or mislead others for the fun of it.
  • Jester
    • Well-intentioned but clumsy, or otherwise capable of causing physical havoc without meaning to ("What does this button do?"). Most times the Hero can't even bring himself to scold the character.
  • Nemesis
    • Consciously tries to mess things up for the Hero - a true rivalry here - yet when things really get bad might even lend a hand to get things back to normal. Would not enjoy life nearly as much if the Hero weren't around to spar with.
  • Investigator
    • Asks questions, demands details, and generally slows things down and saps the Hero's patience. Has little understanding of "acceptable risk" and doesn't want the Hero to make decisions based on limited data, even in a time crunch.
  • Pessimist
    • Points out everything wrong with the Hero's plan, and everything that could possibly go wrong, completely undermining the Hero's confidence. Doesn't believe anything will ever work, so never gives anything a try. Is a natural Devil's Advocate.
  • Psychic
    • At her best, uses predictions to guide the Hero (thus almost a type of Magi); usually, however, she withholds information and masks the truth, and may seek to be acknowledged for her unique powers. Needn't be a real psychic; can be, for example, a psychologist or behavioral analyst who can predict what people are going to do next.

The Symbol archetypes represent what the Hero was, is, and hopes to become. These qualities can overlap with other support characters; a Best Friend might also be the Lost Soul clinging to old influences (e.g., still a gang member), a Mentor might also be the Double and everything the Hero wants to be. A Lover who is also the Double is likely a Morality Pet (I think).

  • Shadow
    • Represents the character flaws that the Hero is trying to overcome. The Hero prefers to avoid this character - doesn't like being forced to think about his negative side.
  • Lost Soul
    • Represents what the Hero used to be, what he does not want to fall back to. May be a longtime friend who remains tied to old influences.
  • Double
    • Represents what the Hero wants to be, the person he is trying to become. A role model, but not the same function as the Magi or Mentor.


Character Examples


  • The Magi: See Trickster Mentor.
  • The Mentor: Compare with Mentor Archetype.
  • The Best Friend:
    • Spike from My Little Pony Friendshipis Magic
    • Both Hobbes and the MTM from Calvin and Hobbes: The Series
    • Happy (for Natsu) from Fairy Tail
    • Ivan Vorpatril cousin of Miles Vorkosigan. Lazy and reluctant, seemingly a useless courtier, but is always there for Miles.
    • Toki Zha and Dea-Htuhok Kho in Albedo: Erma Felna EDF for the titular heroine, albeit Dea appears earlier in the story, but chronologically speaking Toki goes first. In both cases, they help Erma as much as they can, in Dea's case, to deal with all the chaos regarding the Ekosiaki crisis and in Toki's case. she's mostly helps her to smile when Erma needs a good laugh.
  • The Lover:


  • The Joker: See The Imp.
  • The Jester: See The Klutz.
  • The Nemesis: See the Arch-Enemy
  • The Investigator: See the Obstructive Bureaucrat
  • The Pessimist:
    • Near as I can tell, while The Pessimist probably counts as The Eeyore, not all Eeyores are playing the role of The Pessimist. Consider Puddleglum, who keeps reeling off the potential negative consequences of the party's actions, not to mention how their actions are going to be fruitless, yet continues to work just as hard as the rest and plays a crucial role in securing a positive ending.
    • Might also be referring to Commander Contrarian?
    • A positive example of a pessimist would be the Devil's Advocate.
    • Sherman of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, despite being one of the heroes, fits this.
  • The Psychic: As a positive character, the book mentions the Oracle from The Matrix. As a negative example, Hannibal Lecter.


  • The Shadow:
    • Dostojevsky put at least one of these into every novel. It's also called the Doppelgänger. They commit the crimes the heroes only want/dream of, or are just professional villains compared to them. And they usually bite the dust at the end.
  • The Lost Soul:
    • Almost every movie about a man trying to leave a gang (or the Mafia) has some version of this.
    • Suzaku from Code Geass fits into this one, as well as being a direct rival to Lelouch. Lelouch at one point had a certain amount of belief in Britannia as a child, but lost it when his mother was murdered and his father, the Emperor not only did nothing about it, he basically told him to go to hell, right before exiling him to Japan. Suzaku, seven years after their last encounter, has become convinced there is something in Britannia worth his effort to try to change it from the inside. As a bonus, he is indeed an old friend of Lelouch's, which makes their present-day relationship...complicated to say the least.
  • The Double:

Here list examples of stories or series in which these characters interact with the Hero or Heroine in a way that strongly showcases their role:

  • Magi
    • Madame Web, a psychic who takes an interest in manipulating Spider-Man to her own ends. Uncle Ben is also a constant source of inspiration, but being dead, never gets involved.
  • Mentor
    • Robbie Robertson, Captain Stacy, and/or the Ultimate version of Ben Urich, who act as father figures to Peter and help guide him on his journalism career.
  • Best Friend
    • Harry Osborne. Holds Peter back because of his family's connections.
  • Lover
    • Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy, depending on the writer.
  • Joker
    • Flash Thompson, bully with a heart of gold.
  • Jester
    • Betty Brant, original love-interest and co-worker whose good-natured stupidity and unwillingness to actually talk about any problems tended to make her the epicenter of disaster.
  • Nemesis
    • Felicia Hardy/Black Cat, a thief with a heart of gold who is only interested in playing cat and mouse games with Spider-man.
  • Investigator
    • Aunt May, whose constant fretting is a source of frustration for Peter.
  • Pessimist
    • JJ Jameson, who constantly criticizes every single thing Peter does in both identities.
  • Psychic
    • Ezekiel Simms, who gives Peter vital warning about his latest enemies, but fails to mention that they were his enemies, not Peter's.
  • Shadow
    • Venom / Eddie Brock
  • Lost Soul
    • Flash Thompson becomes this after high school. He remains stuck in a rut while Peter's life changes.
  • Double
    • Almost any of the other Marvel Superheroes, but probably Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man specifically.

Final Fantasy X
  • Magi
    • Auron serves this role for the viewpoint protagonist, Tidus. He offers advice and is a wise character, but never goes into depth (as Tidus puts it, "You can always count on Auron to complicate things.") and is somewhat distant.
  • Mentor
    • Wakka somewhat serves this role, as he acts like a sort of "big brother" character when Tidus first meets him.
    • Likewise, Lulu acts as Yuna's mentor, acting as a mature older sibling would.
  • Lover
    • Yuna becomes this for Tidus. At the beginning of the game, she's the only one that believes he is from Zanarkand and his relationship with her is the most prominent out of the entire party.

Final Fantasy X-2
  • Best Friend
    • Rikku shares this sort of relationship with Yuna, the protagonist. Out of all the members of the Gullwings, Yuna seems to trust her the most.
  • Lover
    • Tidus to Yuna
  • Psychic
    • Young prodigy Shinra definitely plays this role.
  • Double
    • Tidus is Yuna's Double. She acts very much like him in this game and seems to have modeled some of her ideals and lifestyle after his own.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • Magi
    • Princess Celestia (who is also a Female Messiah) often tricks or encourages Twilight to accomplish her goals of protecting Equestria.
  • Best Friend
    • Spike to Twilight Sparkle.
  • Shadow
    • The Great and Powerful Trixie who takes Twilight's pride in her magic skills and takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Joker
    • Discord, after being The Derelict in his first couple of appearances, turns to the side of good thanks to Fluttershy. However, he still retains his mischievous traits and doesn't reveal crucial information until after the hard work is done.
  • Double
    • Star Swirl made many achievements in magic and created a friendship with Scorpan which turned the reluctant invader into an ally of Equestria. As a student of magic and as a leader of companions, Twilight Sparkle looks up to him.
  • Lost Soul
    • Moondancer, an old friend of Twilight's in Canterlot who shared Twilight's love of books and lack of interest in socializing. Twilight has come out of her shell quite a bit since then, while Moondancer pulled further away, to the point of barely acknowledging other ponies at all.

Harry Potter
  • Magi
    • Dumbledore fits this perfectly. He becomes a bit of a mentor as well during HBP, but become the Magi again when he dies.
  • Mentor
    • Sirius Black fits this to a t, down to the envy towards the protégé.
    • Lupin can also fit here (mainly on the third book – though he attempts to retain this position in the seventh book).
  • Best Friend
    • Ron and Hermione equally fit. Hermione also has shades of the lover, especially in the movies.
  • Lover
    • Ginny in the later books.
    • Luna was this by the end of the fifth book, and continues to be a platonic version of this role for Harry.
    • To Draco, Myrtle becomes this in the sixth book.
    • Kreacher is this to Regulus Black.
    • Nagini is this to Voldemort. Interesting subversion, as she has part of his soul.
  • Joker
    • Peeves, mainly in the first books, is a negative example.
    • Fred and George are a positive example.
    • Sirius Black was a very negative example of this for Snape.
  • Jester
    • Dobby is this, mainly in the second book.
    • Hagrid often plays this role, a trait Harry and his friends exploit at times.
    • Collin Creevy is a minor example, though he fits the description.
    • Ron and Tonks have shades of his role.
    • Neville is an interesting subversion: his friends forgive him for his general klutziness, but some of the teachers give him a hard time. It all changes when he takes some levels in Badass.
  • Nemesis
    • Draco Malfoy is a textbook example, down to the sparring.
    • Dudley also fits - especially in the last three books.
    • Harry is this to an extent for Snape. Snape protects his hide fearlessly book after book. And yet - he hates his guts. (He has his reasons...)
  • Investigator
    • Snape played this role in the early books, as did most of the teachers.
    • Hermione has distinct shades of this. Dumbledore lampshades it in the last books.
    • Percy is a minor example.
  • Pessimist
    • Neville plays this role in the first book. He gets over it.
    • Molly Weasley is a more distinct example.
  • Psychic
    • Trelawney is a weird play on this one. She isn't aware of the trueness of her prophecies, nor to their effect on Harry, but she presumes to be in possession of great psychic powers that could benefit him.
    • Firenze is more of a classic example, of the often withholding information variation.
  • Shadow
    • Voldemort. A classic literary Foil.
    • Snape by the end of the sixth book, though he becomes more a double by the end of the series.
    • Interestingly, Snape's main shadow is Peter Pettigrew, as he is his own Foil. Snape is a brave man whose undying love for Lily caused his remorse, and caused his Heel–Face Turn, leading to his role as a spy for the Order in the lines of the death eaters. Pettigrew is cowardly man, who backstabbed Lily and James from within his position as their secret keeper and order member, and then joined the Death Eaters.
  • Lost Soul
    • Draco fits here, mainly in the sixth book. He plays this role mostly for Snape, but also for Harry.
    • Grindlewald is this to Dumbledore, though he is mostly his shadow.
  • Double
    • Very much a post-mortem kind of gig when it comes to Harry. James Potter, Lilly Potter, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin all fit.
    • The epilogue can lead us to believe Snape has grown into this role after Harry had seen his memories (Harry even names one of his sons after him).
    • Cedric Diggory played this role before he died.
    • Almost all of Ron's brothers are this to him.
    • While Snape was clearly envious of James Potter's life, his real goal was to be more like Lily.
    • Aberforth and Albus Dombledore are this to each other.

Alternative Title(s): Master Support Characters