The characters featured in Don Quixote.
Alonso Quixano a.k.a. Don Quixote
The titular protagonist of the novel, Don Quixote is a gaunt, middle-aged gentleman who, having gone mad from reading too many books about chivalrous knights, determines to set off on a great adventure to win honor and glory.
Tropes that apply to him include:
- Age Lift: Given a mild one in some adaptations, which tend to depict him as grey-haired and elderly, while in the original he was in his late forties, closer to late middle-age.
- Armor Is Useless: Zig-zagged. His cobbled-together plate armor sometimes does protect him from slashes and blade hits, but otherwise he still gets the crap beaten out of him by laborers wielding staffs and shepherds slinging stones. This is Truth in Television, though - ancient armors struggled at stopping the kinetic force of blunt objects and missiles from passing through metal plate and breaking the bones underneath.
- Badass Bookworm: Even if most of his knowledge is about books of chivalry and he is not as mighty a warrior as he believes, Don Quixote is still a very cultured man in a variety of fields (particularly philosophy, as his speeches on the matter are quite impressive) and an unambiguously talented fighter (as he routinely beats soldiers and squires who by all logic should kick his ass through sheer training and age difference).
- Blood Knight: His code of chivalry causes him to attack people for anything he perceives to be an insult.
- Big Damn Heroes: Tries to swoop in and save people in need of rescue on several occasions, but it rarely works out because he either misidentifies who's the oppressor and who's the victim, falls for a trick, or gets the crap beaten out of him anyways.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Laments the decline of knighthood at the time the novel was written and wishes he had lived in the age described by his chivalric romances. This is actually a deconstruction of the trope, as he is operating from a very fantastic conception of those times instead of certain knowledge: the era of the knights and giants he worships never really existed, and it only makes his quest even more pointless.
- Character Development: Becomes noticeably more sane and benevolent in the second half of the book.
- Chuunibyou: He can be considered the Ur-Example of this trope in fiction. Despite being almost 50 years old, he still more or less qualifies, becoming obsessed with novels about Chivalric Romance and deluding himself into believing he's a knight who goes on all kinds of fantastical adventures when he's really just making a nuisance of himself to whoever he meets.
- Combat Pragmatist: Not overly, but he does attack people before they get ready to fight and capitalizes on mistakes and accidents to strike. This is interestingly even more in-character for his chivalry gimmicks, given that knights from medieval legends could be surprisingly underhanded for what one would think.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: When it's time to fight, Don Quixote's capabilities are underestimated by his opponents almost as often as he underestimates theirs. Some of them get beaten precisely for being caught off guard by how dangerous he is despite his hilarious appearance and presentation.
- Forgets to Eat: Used to get so absorbed in reading his books of chivalry, and afterwards in his knightly antics, that he would forget to eat or sleep, which is part of the reason that he's so skinny.
- For Great Justice: Motivated by determination to right wrongs and dispense justice.
- Impoverished Patrician: Having been only a lower sort of gentleman to begin with, he is increasingly poor because he has long neglected the business of his estate and sold off productive farmland in order to buy and read books of chivalry.
- Instant Expert: For all his silliness, Don Quixote is a great swordfighter. Despite being technically just an aged amateur, he wins a duel against a professional man at arms (granted, Quixote wore armor and rode a superior mount, but his opponent was still younger and presumably much more experienced) and he usually only truly loses when overwhelmed by sheer numbers or attacked through means he cannot defend against (like sling stones or windmill's pulls).
- Killed Off for Real: Dies at the end of part 2, one reason being that Cervantes wanted to make sure there would be no more sequels.
- Knight Errant: The insane idea that starts everything is when he gets it in his head that he's a noble knight who rides from place to place in search of adventure, slaying monsters and pining for his lady love.
- Knight Templar: Because of his inability to distinguish fantasy from reality, he more than once causes unjustified harm to others despite being positive that he's doing the right thing.
- Lady and Knight: The Knight to Dulcinea's Lady. This is complicated by the fact that Dulcinea is a product of his imagination.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Has lots of those moments. Some of them end well for him and some don't.
- Lord Error-Prone: An overconfident gentleman who fancies himself a great expert on adventuring and being a hero but is actually clueless about it.
- Made of Iron: Judging from all the various beatdowns he endures without lasting effects, he is surprisingly tough for someone his age and training (or lack thereof).
- Meaningful Name: "Quijote" is the Spanish name for the component of plate armor that protects the thigh, which is called the "cuisse" in French and English.
- Nice Guy: While he often causes more problems than he solves, Don Quixote does mean well.
- Oh, Crap!: Has a minor one when the Vizcaian squire gives him a good tajo, which shows him that the fight is not going to be a Curb-Stomp Battle in his favor as he had previously thought. However, he recovers pretty fast, as expected of someone who thinks of himself as a knight, and ends up soundly winning.
- Perilous Old Fool: Middle age is clearly not a fit time to start a career as a vigilante, but he does it anyway to his friends' and relatives' chagrin.
- Windmill Crusader: The Trope Namer, a delusional would-be knight errant who engages in a constant struggle against evil sorcerers and wicked monsters that exist only in his own mind. Most famously, he mistakes a group of windmills for "thirty or forty outrageous giants" despite his squire Sancho telling him that he is wrong, and gets thrown into the air by one of the sails when he sticks his lance into it.
A simple peasant farmer whom Don Quixote ropes into being his squire, promising to make him the governor of an Island when he gets his Standard Hero Reward.
- Big Eater: "Panza" is a nickname that refers to his paunch, and he is known to stuff his belly whenever there's food available.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: While he was gullible enough to believe Don Quixote's promises in the first place (as well as uncultured enough to buy into his fantasy world with some frequency), he still posesses basic sanity and tries to stop Don Quixote from getting into obvious trouble whenever he has a chance.
- Foil: The complementing and contrasting opposite to his master in both body and temperament. Physically, Don Quixote is tall and thin as a scarecrow while Sancho is short and plump. While Don Quixote is an overly idealistic Lord Error-Prone who lives in his own fantasy world, Forgets to Eat, has no regard for his own safety, thrives on hardship, and takes himself way too seriously, Sancho is an unsophisticated farmer governed by his own appetites and desires, has a sane and realistic outlook, is a bit of a coward, wants the easy life promised to him as a reward, and has a sense of humor.
- Hurricane of Aphorisms: One of his specialties. He lampshades it claiming that he knows so many aphorisms that they come in groups to his mouth. Interestingly, at the first part of the novel, Sancho Panza gives an Hurricane of Aphorisms only once (Chapter XXVII, part I). In the second part, Flanderization sets in, and Sancho gives them continuously, and also his wife and his daughter.
- Lovable Coward: Always looks to save his own hide, in contrast to the suicidally brave Don Quixote, but this is entertaining rather than making him unsympathetic.
- Meaningful Name: See Big Eater above.
- Simple-Minded Wisdom: The sharpest knife in the drawer he is not, but still he can give out really wise statements. In fact, the laws he dictated during his short spell as governor of Barataria are said to be so good, they were still followed in the place long after he left.
- Social Climber: Spends much of the book obsessed with the rewards that Don Quixote has promised of elevating his social status, and reminds anyone who will listen that "I am an old Christian, and therefore fit to be a lord".
- The Squire: Follows his knightly master on a donkey while attending to his needs.
Dulcinea del Toboso
Don Quixote's muse and lady love, who is actually a figment of his imagination whom he based upon a buxom country wench from his neighborhood named Aldonza Lorenzo.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Trope Namer. Don Quixote loves her even though he has never seen or met her before, because she doesn't even exist. At one point he practically admits to Sancho that her role as his motivation to perform great deeds is more important than whether she's even a real person.
- The Ghost: Don Quixote talks about Dulcinea all the time, but since she doesn't actually exist—at least not as he imagines her—she is never introduced to the reader in person.
- Oblivious to Love: Don Quixote was once in love with the real Aldonza, but she never noticed and probably wouldn't have given it any thought.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: According to our lovestruck protagonist, her beauty is beyond compare and puts all other women to shame.
Don Quixote's old, beaten horse.
- The Alleged Steed: Possibly the first and surely the most famous example.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Subverted. His name was chosen by Don Quixote because it sounded cool to him, but it actually isn't, at least in a classic sense. "Rocinante" literally means "one who acts as a rocín (work horse)," although Quixote apparently formed it from rocín and antes, translating thus as "one who was previously a work horse."
- Cool Horse: Played with. His owner thinks of the horse as such, while the reality is that Rocinante is a poor old animal that should be anywhere except with a loon like him. That said, even with all of his mileage, Rocinante is as resilient as his rider and rarely fails at his reluctant war horse tasks. More famously, he becomes instrumental in Quixote's victory against the Vizcaian, because old or not, Rocinante is still faster and has more stamina than their opponent's mule.
- Moody Mount: Not usually, but has his moments.
- Uncatty Resemblance: He is basically an equine version of his owner: an old, awkward creature in a mission beyond his capabilities.
Sancho Panza's donkey / RucioSancho Panza's own steed, a white donkey.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Whenever Rucio is used as his name.
- The Alleged Steed: Like Rocinante, Rucio is old and tired, and suffers the additional setback of carrying a substantially heavier rider.
- Cool Horse: In a way; Don Quixote is initially against Sancho having a steed of his own, as most squires of his books are portrayed as traveling on foot, but he eventually concedes because he considers a sign of distinction for him as a knight that his squire rides his own mount.
- No Name Given: Played with. The animal is technically nameless, but Sancho refers to him as rucio, an old Spanish word for a light-furred donkey. As the term is otherwise rarely used in Spanish language nowadays, modern adaptations in the need of a name for him often upgrade it to a proper name, naming him Rucio.
- Put on a Bus: Stolen in the First Part. The Bus Came Back in the Second.
- Uncatty Resemblance: Like Rocinante to Don Quijote, Sancho's donkey is an animal counterpart to his owner: he's shorter, stockier and less intellectual than his master (represented here by Rocinante), as well as more hedonistic and grounded.