"Uptown, just another JoeA character who is ordinary enough to be relatable to the average audience member. Everyman characters are often working or middle class and deal with everyday problems, be it school, work, family or romance. They may also be placed in extraordinary circumstances which makes them even more sympathetic as they are in over their head. Everyman characters are not necessary blank slates but are typically more grounded and less wacky then supporting characters. When an Audience Surrogate, you may expect them to be:
Downtown, where you gonna go?"
Downtown, where you gonna go?"
— Golden Boy, "Night Song" (1964)
- A default character for the audience to latch on to, as a sufficient blank slate that the audience will know we are "expected" to identify with said character; and love will come later. This can be useful in an unfamiliar setting; compare The Watson. As the story develops, this type of Everyman may devolve into an inoffensive Foil or Supporting Protagonist. The audience may find them harmlessly uninteresting, and latch onto the action hero, Ensemble Dark Horse, or villain instead.
- An empty vessel for the audience's hopes, dreams and aspirations. (Not to be confused with an Escapist Character who already possesses what the audience craves.) These are the sort of Everyman characters where each audience member is willing to imagine themselves in the character's shoes, with no apparent contradiction. This may lead to some complication (or crowning moment) when the author forces them to undergo some course of action that the audience, having already invested in the character, would not (at first) imagine themselves taking.
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Anime and Manga
- Everyman leads occur more than you'd think in romantic/ecchi anime and/or arcs, letting the audience project themselves upon them. In hentai, they're legion.
- The Producer in the anime version of The Idolmaster. Even his description is nondescript.
- Minako from Sailor Moon in the first series, prior to taking a level in dumbass. She was more of "the everygirl" compared to Usagi, Ami, Rei, and Makato. She had a few odd character quirks like messing up her proverbs but it wasn't until Sailor Moon S when she was flanderized into being just as dumb as Usagi.
- Code Geass: Kaname Ougi is the very example of what an Everyman would most likely do when things go horrendously wrong. Diethard points out how this makes Ougi important to the Black Knights because they can't live on "stars alone" and need an average person for the common people to relate with.
- Krillin from Dragon Ball. Unlike the Saiyans and Piccolo, Krillin has a life outside of martial arts training. We see him fall in love, get married and have a daughter. His extremely non-descript appearance also adds to his accessibility as a character.
- Peter Parker/Spider-Man is often held up as the epitome of this within superhero comics, and possibly the key to the franchise success. Admittedly, he's not a strict example, as he's consistently portrayed as responsible, hardworking, highly intelligent, and when the going gets tough, a wiseass. However, compare him to his contemporaries: he's the average working stiff where the others include super-scientists, a millionaire playboy, an idolized war hero, and a god. Some writers (Joe Quesada especially) tend to turn this into This Loser Is You. He fills the role so perfectly, many other attempts to make an Everyman superhero wind up compared to him.
- Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms Marvel has been repeatedly described as the true successor to Spider-Man for the millennial age. She's dorky, connected to the internet, constantly being underestimated by her conservative family for being unruly, ultimately wants to do some good in the world, and is a fanboy of all the heroes who have come before her.
- A huge part of her appeal also comes from the fact that she is a Muslim girl, reflecting the broader inclusion of different races, religions, and genders in the modern world.
- Captain America, in his Steve Rogers not-so Secret Identity anyway. Interestingly, he was originally a washed-up art student, to deliberately draw parallels to Adolf Hitler.
- Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Barry Allen The Flash are often thought of as these. Both were normal people who were great at their jobs with relatively normal lives. Until a magic super-advanced alien ring summoned Hal and Barry was struck by a lightning bolt while working in his lab. It helps that they're best-friends.
- The original Freedom Fighters seemed to have evolved this way in Sonic the Hedgehog, likely to act as foils to Sonic and the more abrasive additions from the games. A lot of their shortcomings are rather subdued or down more to circumstance than having prominant personality defects, and while a lot have unique abilities, they are played in a more realistic manner than their super powered comrades. This is less prominant in earlier issues and the coinciding TV show, where they have goofier, more prominant personality defects, but they still had visible shades of this at times.
- Tin Tin was intentionally written as a blank slate that readers could project onto. His name literally means "nothing".
- Hawkeye has been portrayed this way relative to the rest of the Marvel Universe, given that he has no powers and no super-genius/super-heart to make him special. A lot of his conflicts deal more with relationships, disability, and personal/financial issues than with supervillains. Still, the comics reestablish his uniqueness from time to time.
Penny: Imagine you want to kill the Avengers... Who do you target first? The normal guy.
Films — Live-Action
- The quintessential example, from Die Hard, is Lieutenant John McClane. He's just an average New York police officer, flown into Los Angeles to see his estranged wife Holly - then Hans and his gang attack, leaving John the only one in a position to stop them.
- Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano. His name is actually Joe.
- Wikus, the "protagonist" of District 9 is a deconstruction of this trope. Whether he's a Punch-Clock Villain, Idiot Hero, or Jerkass Woobie is entirely up to interpretation. Ultimately, he reacts to extreme circumstances (that demand heroism) just as you'd expect an average nerdy professional bureaucrat thrust into a dangerous and unpredictable environment: poorly.
- Joe, the main character of Idiocracy is described as the most average man in existence. The speaker then shows a series of graphs, all of which have Joe at the exact middle of the bell curve, a trend which he describes as "remarkable." It is unclear if he sees the irony.
- Sergeant Eversmann from Black Hawk Down. He lacks many of the various character-building details that less important characters get, is somewhat more thoughtful about the war than many of his comrades, and has never been in combat before. He is primarily an Audience Surrogate who interacts with most of the other important characters in the film.
- Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; he considers himself more differed-from than differing.
- Of Mice and Men has George, largely made distinctive by his relation to Lenny.
- Dr. Watson fills this role in the Sherlock Holmes stories. He does have certain distinct personality traits, such as his eye for attractive women (how unusual), but in many other ways he reflects the typical Victorian citizen who read Arthur Conan Doyle's stories when they were first published, bridging the gap between the readers and the otherwise eccentric Holmes.
- Robinson Crusoe. An average Englishman from late 17th century stranded on inhabitated island. He got no particular set of skills nor character traits (at least for his epoche), yet is able to hold on his own for two decades. Not to mention his adventures before he got ship-wrecked.
- The title character of Alice in Wonderland is a fairly unremarkable Victorian child, in order to better contrast with the insanity of Wonderland
- Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series is an odd example of this: While Harry is the viewpoint character discovering the magical world, he hardly qualifies as ordinary, whereas Ron is ordinary for the magical world and would be unremarkable if he wasn't Harry's best friend.
- Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, whose sympathetic human characterization is said by O'Brien to be "the last man."
- Many of the Doctor's companions from Doctor Who.
- Mickey Smith and Rory Williams are both very deliberately ordinary people whose girlfriends become the Doctor's companions and end up crushing on him. A great deal is made of the contrast between the ordinary, happy life they could offer, and the adventurous, extraordinary one the Doctor provides. In Mickey's case, he is somewhat unceremoniously dumped in favour of the Doctor, with Rory, the episode "Amy's Choice" makes it clear that, despite her zigzagging feelings for both of them, if it came down to a choice between the two she'd choose an ordinary life with Rory.
- Game of Thrones: Ned Stark might be a Lord, but he's a hard-working man who is unfamiliar with the twisted inner workings of King's Landing.
- Kermit the Frog is a mild-mannered character who has to deal with the craziness of his supporting cast.
- Joe Miller of The Lost Room.
- Leonard Hofstadter is the Hollywood Nerd variation.
- Penny is more of a straight example, being an ordinary Girl Next Door who's well-rounded in her knowledge and hobbies.
- Jerry Seinfeld has strikingly average interests such as cereal, sneakers, and Superman comics, but ends up a subversion, becoming one of the most Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists of all time.
- Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years is supposed to represent the life of an average teenage boy growing up in the 1960's.
- Before taking a level in jerkass, Will Schuester from Glee was this.
- Chris Rock from Everybody Hates Chris is an average boy from the 1980's.
- Earl Sinclair from Dinosaurs is an every-dinosaur.
- Denzil from Only Fools and Horses.
- Oliver's Travels: Diane's nice but ordinary son Michael.
- The Wire: The cast is chock full of these, to the point where it would be safe to say that 75% of the show's characters are everymen/women. One of the main attractions of the show was that every viewer had at least one (but probably more than that) character they could easily identify with.
- Ernie from Piranha Club started as something of a loser but through reverse Flanderization, he eventually become one.
- Goat in Pearls Before Swine. He's the only character who reacts to (or even notices) the weirdness that surrounds them in the same way the audience would.
- Charlie Brown. You can't help but identify with him. Charles Shultz relates a letter he got from a fan, who said "my son came home from school one day with a sad frown, slammed his bookbag to the floor, and said, 'Mom, I feel just like Charlie Brown.' He didn't have to say another word. I knew exactly how he felt."
- The Trope Namer is a late 15th century English morality play called Everyman.
- The traditional Cirque du Soleil protagonist (if the show has one) is usually a version of this: see Quidam, "O", La Nouba, Corteo, KOOZA, even the Delirium concert tour. Often they are pulled into the plot by a Trickster. In "O", it's set up that he appears to be an audience member.
- The headless titular character in Quidam is literally an Everyman (the word 'Quidam' means 'nameless passerby', and the soundtrack album version of the title song has the male singer explicitly state "I'm everyman"), but the main character Zoe is also a, less literal, Everygirl. With an Everyfamily made up of an Everyman and an Everywoman. It... gets a little bit confusing.
- The play Everyman is about an Everyman going on an adventure to Death.
- Mark from RENT. Via Supporting Protagonist and You Have to Have Jews.
- Older Than Print: These were often the protagonists of medieval everyman plays.
- Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire is an everywoman.
- Pretty much every protagonist except Alex Shepherd in the Silent Hill series could count.
- Claude of Star Ocean: The Second Story, who is even easier to identify with because the game's Private Action system allows you to choose many actions that show what kind of a person he is.
- Main characters of Nintendo games are often this, usually with Heroic Mime for good measure:
- Jimmy Hopkins of Bully was intended to be this, says the Word of God. Even though he does have incredible strength, he is easily relatable.
- In Final Fantasy XII, Basch was originally intended to be the main character, but it was later switched to Idiot Hero Vaan because the creators thought that he would have more of an Everyman appeal.
- Dave in Maniac Mansion. He's Sandy's boyfriend, but other than that, he's pretty much just an Everyman. And while the other six characters can play an instrument (Syd/Razor), fix radios and/or telephones (Bernard/Jeff, although Jeff can only fix telephones), develop rolls of film (Michael), and proofread manuscripts (Wendy), Dave has no abilities or talents at all. Sadly, since he's the also the lead character, he's also the only one you can't NOT choose.
- Several of the survivor characters in the Left 4 Dead series fall into the everyman trope:
- Louis works at the IT department of an electronics store and plays video games. Other than going to a gun rage on his lunch breaks, Louis doesn't do anything else out of the ordinary.
- Zoey is a college student whose parents are separated. She's a huge fan of zombie films as well, but nothing else stands out about her.
- Coach is a high school health teacher whose knees were injured from college football in his younger days.
- Ellis is a mechanic who occasionally plays in a band with his buddies during his downtime.
- Rochelle is an assistant for the local news and that's all that stands out about her.
- Visual novels, dating sims and eroges tend to have blank slate protagonists so the player can step into the role more easily.
- Kaiden from Mass Effect and Jacob from Mass Effect 2 both stand out as ordinary in their Dysfunction Junction crews. They still have somewhat tragic personal backstories like most teammates, but are too emotionally well-adjusted for it to produce any meaningful conflict. Unfortunately, they both failed at being The Everyman; fans already had Commander Shepard with which to identify, and compared to the rest of the cast, Kaiden and Jacob were seen as too boring to be likable. Both of them having extremely bland power sets didn't help either. Kaiden would be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Mass Effect 3 thanks to having some rewrites to his character and a much better power set but Jacob became even less likable, especially if he'd been romanced in 2.
- The protagonist of The Silent Age is this so much he's even named Joe, as well as given the lowly position of a janitor and a string of the most unfortunate preceding jobs you can think of.
- The protagonist of A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe. Literally has the name Everyman. As it turns out, he is literally a godlike anthropomorphic personification of humankind as a whole.
You have no NAME, you are the EVERYMAN. Your interests are NONSPECIFIC ENTERTAINMENT and SPORTS. Job: wall paint watcher, amnesiac.
- Bob in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is frequently touted as "the world's most average man," despite the fact that he has in fact developed a pretty clear personality.
- Reg, the title character of Regular Guy.
- The Everyman most famous to the average person would probably be Mickey Mouse.
- Most early animation characters fit into this trope, for that matter - such as Bosko, Felix the Cat, Porky Pig, etc.
- Goofy became this in the Fifties, starring as George Geef, with a son, a wife, and increased intelligence (though not much). He's mostly went back to his more famous personality since.
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies:
- In the "Three Bears" series, Papa Bear will often try to come across as an Every Bear, mixing it with Only Sane Man. Averted, of course, through his ill temperament and Junyer's bumbling.
- Several latter-day Elmer Fudd cartoons place the hunter into "everyman" roles, in satirical cartoons on such things as dog-master relationships.
- Sylvester the Cat has also been cast as Every Cat, particularly when paired with Sylvester Jr.
- The titular character from Doug.
- Hank Hill in King of the Hill, although he gradually grew into an uptight Straw Vulcan who served as the stick for everyone else.
- In later seasons, if the authors were feeling particularly conservative that week, he started giving lengthy Author Filibusters on the evils of McMansions, gratuitous lawsuits, gentrification, Hipsters, protesters, the porn industry, etc and ended up simply being right without any sort of comedic twist.
- Arnold eventually becomes this in the later seasons of his series.
- Stan in later episodes of South Park.
- The title character of Rocko's Modern Life.
- The titular character from Timothy Goes to School.
- Horace in The Problem Solverz.
- Nitz in Undergrads. He's lazy and sarcastic, but far less "out there" than any of his friends, and is known for having few extreme interests or opinions.
- Rufus and Amberley in The Dreamstone for the line of work they had, were portrayed as rather normal acting kids who usually handle their jobs in a rather uneventful and conflictless manner until the Urpneys break the normality of things. Less prominant in earlier episodes where they are slightly wackier and brattier (something that actually cost Rufus at least three everyman jobs beforehand).
- Charlie Collins from the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Joker's Favor" fits the description to a T, and that was the whole point. The fact that the Joker would spend two years keeping track of this poor guy only to find him and sadistically hold him up to a promise later, even though it didn't benefit him in the least, only serves to show what a monster he is.
- Bruce Wayne himself presented as this; an affable, unassuming Clark Kent archetype who was often taken aback by the behavior of the people around him. This would become less common as the DCAU focused more on the action elements and didn't have as much time to show Bruce when he wasn't working.
- Sydney Skelley from Ready Jet Go!. She's not a bad character, she's just kind of bland. Her only traits are that she's Ms. Imagination as well as the Nice Girl.