Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale):
So, Kristen, there must be something really special about you for Robert
to take such a liking to you and risk the lives of his entire family. Tell us about yourself. Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan):
Me? Oh, no. I'm just a hollow placeholder for all of the teenage girls in the audience to project their personalities onto. I have none of my own whatsoever.
There are three things that can be referred to as an Audience Surrogate:
This trope is about the third one, as the other two have tropes of their own.
- The viewpoint character; See Point of View.
- A character who asks questions the audience would ask and says things the audience would say.
- A character who the audience (or the children in the audience) doesn't just sympathize with, but are supposed to actively see themselves as — by desire, by default, or by author inference.
Compare Sliding Scale Of Viewer Intelligence
usually use a variant of this, the Heroic Mime
. This Loser Is You
is an Audience Surrogate by definition. Super Trope
for Ascended Fanboy
, The Everyman
, and Unfazed Everyman
(See Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions
for an explanation of the difference), and related to Escapist Character
and Otaku Surrogate
. Parent of Lead You Can Relate To
(see parent/child relationships page). Examples below should not cover these.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Kagome Higurashi from InuYasha.
- Ryuk, in Death Note, is the character who's in it for the same reason as the audience is: Gambit Pileups are fun to watch.
- Aizawa also counts as this later in the series, by virtue of not being a super-genius but still being smart enough to suspect Light of being Kira.
- Kirie serves this purpose in Uzumaki: asking the necessary questions as well as witnessing all the strange goings on in her cursed town; and her love interest, Suichi, plays the role of Author Avatar, providing many of the answers that would have been difficult to provide otherwise.
- Saten Ruiko from A Certain Scientific Railgun is pretty much the only unambiguously normal person of the main cast.
- In the fist half of Fist of the North Star, Bat and Lin both seem to exist mainly to have someone for Kenshiro to provide exposition during a sudden plot development.
- Kyon, the only Ordinary High-School Student in Haruhi Suzumiya. This is probably also the second reason why he is the most frequently shipped character in the fandom.
- Na´ve Newcomer Rakka serves as the audience surrogate in Haibane Renmei, as the other characters explain how the world of the show works and what the Haibane are to the audience through her.
- Chris Thorndyke from Sonic X.
- Armor in the X-Men anime.
- Medaka Box: Zenkichi Hitoyoshi is quite literally, the Normal of the main cast. He's often left to comment on the absurdity of the cast, but isn't without his own quirks and moments of badassery.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has the main character Yugi Mutou. Jonouchi also had his moments that qualify for this trope.
- One of the Fullmetal Alchemist OVAs used this, "filmed" in the first person from the perspective of an unnamed probationer alchemist who interacts with Fuhrer King Bradley and Roy Mustang before a giant alchemist vs. homonculus battle.
- Benio of Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, beneath her straight-A student mask, has a Sister-sister Incest fantasy with a side dish of lolicon tendencies. This is from a seinen yonkoma manga, which means a large number of the readership are otaku, who stereotypically have these kinds of fantasies.
- In Shirokuma Cafe one episode has a character named Mr. Necktie who (despite the series takes place in a world where humans and animals live as equals) is completely surprised by the talking, walking animals and constantly questions their lifestyles, and the world in comparison to ours, as if he literally crossed through the fourth wall.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars.
- Director Bruce Robinson used this trope so literally that the second half of his title duo in Withnail & I doesn't even get a name. Paul McGann's character (credited as "...& I" in the credits, but revealed to be named "Marwood" in the script) is never named in the course of the film, allowing the audience to more easily identify with his misfortunes.
- J.K. Simmons as the unnamed CIA director in Burn After Reading.
- Lambert was meant to represent the voice and thoughts of the viewing audience in the original Alien. "Get out of there, Dallas! NOW!"
- Joe Black in Meet Joe Black, particularly at the beginning (when he serves as the exploratory vehicle within Bill Paxton's estate), and the end, when he tears up watching the party-farewells and acts as the receptacle for Bill's summative reflections - essentially parroting the anticipated reaction of the audience watching the end of the movie.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Brad and Janet.
- New BPRD recruit John Myers serves as this in the first Hellboy.
- Jake Sully in Avatar, who starts as an average Joe Everyman and ends as an Escapist Character.
- Cindel Towani, the little girl in the Ewok TV movies.
- In Amadeus, the priest to whom Salieri tells his story.
- Agent Phil Coulson from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ended up being this trope by default. Originally created in Iron Man 1 for the purpose of saying SHIELD's full name and being told it was too long, he caused such an impression with his little time on air that he scored a role on the following movies of the MCU and became a Canon Immigrant to the comics, probably because of his characteristics that allow him to represent the aging comic book fan, and at the same time do awesome things like hanging out with his favourite superheroes despite having no superpowers himself and fire a laser gun at the Big Bad. He even gets to acts a little like an Ascended Fanboy in The Avengers without losing his charm.
- The boy in the Lone Ranger costume who is listening to an aged Tonto tell the story.
- Kat Dennings stated in this interview that the character of Darcy in Thor: The Dark World is basically Audience Surrogate.
- The four hobbits (Merry and Pippin in particular) in The Lord of the Rings.
- Bilbo in The Hobbit.
- In his introduction to The Book of Lost Tales, Christopher Tolkien supposes that the reason The Silmarillion was less popular than The Lord of the Rings is that it lacked an Audience Surrogate. In fact, the original draft of The Silmarillion (the Lost Tales) actually did have an Audience Surrogate — a Man named Ălfwine of England to whom the tales of the First Age were narrated by the Elves.
- Bella of Twilight has a very inconspicuous personality, her actions are often hard to interpret, her characterization is only implied and the story is told in the first person so the audience can project themselves onto her very easily by disregarding some elements of said characterization when they contradict their views. Stephenie Meyer has even said on her website that she deliberately avoided describing Bella's physical features so that it would be easier for the readers to picture her as themselves.
- Firestorm in Less Than Three Comics' Brat Pack. Even though he should be the opposite, what with his family upbringing and all. Sometimes Mr Perfect will take this role.
- Italo Calvino's If On A Winters Night A Traveler, written almost entirely in the second person, is centered around two readers: one as a stand-in for male readers, another for female.
- Harry Potter. Especially in the earlier books when he's just discovering the wizarding world. Even in the later books, after several years of spending time at Hogwarts and learning about magic he doesn't develop extra knowledge about the wizarding world or magic relying on others to give him, and the reader, the occassional Info Dump. Being The Boy Who Lived does not always agree with his deepest wish to settle down with a family and lead a normal (for a wizard) life.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur Dent.
- Never Where: Richard Mayhew.
- To some extent, Taran, the hero of the Chronicles of Prydain. The author never gives him a physical description, or an age, and his backstory isn't revealed until the final chapter of the final book. Although he is, ultimately, the true hero of the series, he's also something of an Everyman, making it easy for young readers to connect to him.
- Light And Dark The Awakening Of The Mageknight: Daniel Fife makes his target audience clear by stating in the narration that Danny is an Ordinary High-School Student and starting the book on the first day of school when the plot doesn't truly start until the following summer. Until then he's occupied with bullies and crushes.
- Ibn Fadlan in Easters of the Dead. It's noteworthy as Michael Crichton explicitly noted he required a cultural outsider for audience surrogacy purposes in his retelling of Beowulf. He also subverts it by putting footnotes in to outright explain the differences in both historical context and religious differences Ibn experiences in contrast to the target audience.
- Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is an ordinary, if virtuous and poor, kid, who — like everyone else in and out of story — is curious about what's in the mysterious titular factory, and it's through his perspective that the audience is introduced to all of the other major characters as he and his family follow news of the Golden Ticket contest. And then he finds the last ticket and gets a chance to visit it...
- In The Insect Play, the Tramp (known as the Vagrant in some translations) is the only human character present for most of the play. He mostly serves to draw analogies between human societies and insect societies.
- "Interviewer," in Autistic License. In some variations, he spends the entire time on stage! Kudos to any actors with that level of stamina. Unless the variation is just him sitting the entire time, which only hammers the point home.
- Dr. Lyman Hall in 1776. As the newly-arrived delegate from Georgia, he has to meet the Congress, which is a handy way to introduce the audience to the various state delegations—and be a little taken aback by them. The Founding Fathers were a lot of bickering real people rather than wise marble statues. (Hall also serves as Chekhov's Gunman, but that's another story.)
- Rule of thumb: If a game has a Silent Protagonist, that character is an Audience Surrogate.
- Magma in the first X-Men Legends game, who is a mutant saved and taken in by the X-Men. We go through her first days in training all the way up to becoming the newest member of the team, though the first few missions don't even have her as a playable character.
- Ethan Mars in Heavy Rain. There are four main characters in the story, but it's clear right from the beginning that Ethan's the one the player is supposed to empathize with the most.
- Phil from the Riddle School series is confirmed to be this via Word of God.
- Raiden is pretty much this in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Like the player he has experience from the prequel based on "virtual reality" and the game is not subtle at all in later parts when Raiden is told to "Turn the game console off." It is also worthy to say that Raiden has dogtags written by the player in the game's beginning and he throws it away in the end, having decided to find a new identity.
- Martin Walker from Spec Ops: The Line is played for every negative connotation this trope provides. He treats the events of the story the way your average modern military shooter player would: As a power fantasy and a chance to feel like a hero. In the process, he does a number of horrible things, and every single one of them is your fault.
- James Vega of Mass Effect 3 performs this role for people new to the trilogy. He is literally the only crewman (or significant character for that matter) that Shepard hasn't met in either of the first two games.
- Final Fantasy X is Yuna's story from start to finish, but one of Tidus's major roles in the plot is so people who've lived within this society all their lives have to explain it to somebody.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction has your character, who gets to hang out with Yugi and Joey and save the world.
- Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: a child, not having learned yet all she needs in order to survive in the universe, suddenly thrust into a life of excitement and adventure (and, more importantly, authority [at least, in her own mind] over more experienced adults). Isn't that what lots of kids fantasize about (among other things)?
- Orko on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) was clearly supposed to represent the target demographic viewer.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- Spike seems to be a surrogate for the Periphery Demographic, being The One Guy and all. Case in point, the end of the episode "The Ticket Master", where he complains that he's not interested in going to the Grand Galloping Gala, but is secretly delighted about getting an invitation (though this was hinted at because Spike's supposed disinterest didn't appear until Twilight got the two tickets and he wasn't considered.)
- Later, Big Macintosh takes up the role of representing the Periphery Demographic in "Lesson Zero", where he, despite being the most muscular pony on the show at the time, shows genuine interest in owning an old doll meant for girls. Sound familiar?
- Rainbow Dash in "Read It and Weep". She passes off reading a popular book series as uncool, until she picks up a copy and discovers that she likes it, and then tries to hide the fact from her friends. Several older fans compared this to how they first got into the show.
- The Cutie Mark Crusaders represent the children who aren't sure what they're good at and what they want to do with their lives.
- And of course Twilight Sparkle is this for the intended audience demographic.
Twilight Sparkle: All the ponies in this town are crazy!
- Beast Boy acts as this sometimes in Teen Titans. As the youngest, and the least smart, he sometimes has the science-y stuff explained to him by his more educated teammates (e.g. the Chromaton Detonator in Apprentice: Part One, Xenothium in X).
- Kid Flash in Young Justice. He is the only member of the team with a remotely normal childhood, as well as the only one who lives in an a two-parent household and attends public school. Rocket takes on this role later in the series, where other character summarize the events of past episodes for her.
- Word of God is that The Falcon is this in Avengers Assemble.
- The Simpsons
- Lisa, Yeardley Smith's character, often fills this role on the series (whenever Comic Book Guy isn't around):
Marge: Don't you remember when Maggie shot Mr. Burns?
Homer: I thought Smithers did it.
Lisa: (under her breath) That would have made a lot more sense.
- Frank Grimes in the infamous eighth-season episode "Homer's Enemy". The character's sole purpose was to represent a realistic person from our universe — accustomed to toil, pressures and hardship with little, if anything, to show for it — transplanted into a universe that caters to and rewards the lazy and stupid, and how it would understandably drive him/her absolutely insane.
- Granted, his childhood was pretty exaggerated and far from being realistic so perhaps more of a cariacture of a real person.
- Gus in Recess can be considered one, as he seems the most confused about the way the school is set up, causing the other kids to explain them to him- and the audience.
- Huey Freeman in The Boondocks passively observes the antics and idiosyncracies of the other characters, sometimes as the Only Sane Man.
- Fry in the first season of Futurama, although he started to move away from this role once he became more accustomed to life in the 31st century.
- South Park has Stan and Kyle, which would make sense since they were supposedly based off of the show's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone respectively.
- Jubilee is this in the beginning of X-Men. It's through her eyes that we're introduced to the REAL main characters and the mutant world at large.