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Sliding Scale of Proactiveness

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A sorting method for how a character relates to the plot. Note that to fit on this scale, a character must be a lead of some form (most Protagonists, Antagonists, and some Sidekicks fall somewhere on the list, but never an Innocent Bystander, a Red Shirt, or a Mook.)

Note that it's quite possible to shift within this scale; a character may react to something by coming up with a plan to take advantage of the situation. Alternately, a character may have a problem in front of them for several episodes before deciding to be proactive and doing something about it.


Mostly orthogonal to morality, but note that villains frequently score higher on this scale than heroes, for reasons of threat (if the villains aren't proactive, it's probably a case of Orcus on His Throne.)

See also Character Calculus.

Most Proactive:

  • The Chaotic: Acts as he will, regardless of the circumstances. Almost always a villain, or in some way insane.
  • The Man or Woman With The Plan: The Chessmaster and all his friends. Usually a villain, although it's quite possible to have a Heroic Man With The Plan. Big Bads are generally here before they Take Over the World or otherwise accomplish their Evil Plan, Heroes are here much more often if the Villain has already done so.
  • The Reactionary: Does things in reaction to the plot, rather than being directly proactive. Can be Heroic or Villainous. This is the typical level for most heroes.

Least Proactive.

  • Arbitrary Skeptic: Refuses to do anything about the plot even though they should and if they were at all logical would, because they don't believe anything needs doing. If presented with absolutely irrefutable evidence something needs to be done they may become the Reactionary, if they don't they are holding the Idiot Ball.
  • Do Nothings: Least proactive relevant item available: continues on as if nothing had happened. Frequently a form of Idiot Ball. In older works, the character is usually female. Different from muggles because they actually have a function in the story.
  • Muggles: These guys don't do anything because they simply aren't important to the plot.