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The Everyman

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"Uptown, just another Joe
Downtown, where you gonna go?"
Golden Boy, "Night Song" (1964)

A character who is ordinary enough to be relatable to the average audience member. Everyman characters are often working or middle class people with regular jobs and they deal with everyday problems, be it school, work, family or romance. They may also be plunged by chance into extraordinary circumstances, such as getting tangled up in a wild caper or adventure, 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 than supporting characters.

When an Audience Surrogate, you may expect them to be:

  • 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 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.

If a leader, then they're a Standardized Leader. The video game version of this is a Heroic Mime in terms of plot, Jack of All Stats in terms of ability, and a Featureless Protagonist when taken to its extreme.

In Dom Coms, the father is often an everyman, struggling just to maintain sanity in his family and keep it together through the zany schemes set up by the wife or kids.

Not every character created with the intention of being The Everyman stays that way. If the writers think Viewers Are Morons, then this character can quickly devolve into a Loser Archetype, with the idea that this is how the average person acts. At this point, the character's message sort of devolves into telling viewers "This Loser Is You".

Despite the name, everymen aren't Always Male but they usually are because Most Writers Are Male.

See also Normal People, The Generic Guy, Vanilla Protagonist, and Unlucky Everydude. Ridiculously Average Guy is when this is taken to an extreme. Drop the Everyman into a fantasy setting and have him still act like everything is hunky-dory and you get the Unfazed Everyman. A character who starts out like this but later becomes a hero (or a villain) better fits the Unlikely Hero or From Nobody to Nightmare Tropes. Bonus points if his name is Mr. Smith.

No relation to the popular Slender Man series EverymanHYBRID. Or the Reaper Bird's Assist Character.


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    Anime & 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.
    • Sasahara from Genshiken is a general otaku who falls for Ogiue.
    • His (unintentional?) expy Kosuda in B Gata H Kei is an ordinary schoolboy trying to make sense of Yamada's WANT/DO NOT WANT/WANT/DO NOT WANT behaviour.
  • 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 nondescript appearance also adds to his accessibility as a character.
  • 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.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Apart from his optimism, there's not much to say about Weslie compared to his quirky friends (Paddi likes eating food, Tibbie likes fashion, Sparky likes sports, Jonie is famous for every bad thing coming out of her mouth coming true, and Mr. Slowy is a Gadgeteer Genius).

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Natasha: There is nothing normal about Clint Barton.
  • 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 fan of all the heroes who have come before her.
    • A huge part of her appeal also comes from the fact that she is a Pakistani-Muslim girl, reflecting the broader inclusion of different races, religions, and genders in the modern world. Her immediate group of non-superhero friends are also from a diverse range of races and religions, and one of them is even a lesbian.
  • While he is incredibly smart and comes from a well off family note  Tim Drake takes this position in the Batfamily by being comparatively average when compared to Bruce, the other four Bat-kids and even his own girlfriend, who is the daughter of a villain. He also dealt with a lot of regular family and school drama in his ongoing. Tim was also the everyman of Young Justice, where his teammates included a demi-god, a telekinetic half-Kryptonian, a speedster from the future, a second generation hero trained by her mother, and a teleporting psychopomp with precognition.
  • The original Freedom Fighters seemed to have evolved this way in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), 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 prominent 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 prominent 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.
  • 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.
  • Clark Kent is just a guy from the mid-west, raised on a farm, got a job in the big city, crushes on his co-worker, likes cheeseburgers, classic movies, and books like To Kill a Mockingbird. Being Superman is just another job for him.
  • Tintin was intentionally written as a blank slate onto whom readers could project. His name literally means "nothing".

    Comic Strips 
  • In Conchy, Conchy is by far the most normal inhabitant of the island. His main function is to ask the other inhabitants to explain their bizarre behaviour.
  • Charlie Brown. You can't help but identify with him. Charles Schulz 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."
  • 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.
  • Ernie from Piranha Club started as something of a loser but through reverse Flanderization, he eventually become one.

    Fan Works 
  • Always Visible: It plays out curiously with Delia‚Äôs family. Just as the girl herself is essentially an ordinary child, so her father, instead of a congressman, is reduced to a simple medicine seller.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • The quintessential example, from Die Hard, is Lieutenant John McClane. He's just an average New York police officer, who flew 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.
  • 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.
  • Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano. His name is actually Joe.
  • Max Rockatansky is the closest to a 'basic' human being in the Mad Max series. He has no weird costumes, no deformities, no tattoos, no fancy hairstyle or color, no gimmick, even his car is pretty basic compared to the crazy roadsters or giant flamethrowing trucks that the series is famous for. He is also a bit of a Decoy Protagonist, as the other characters are the ones who contribute more to the resolution of the plots, and he often has to be dragged along.
  • The Mask: Stanley Ipkiss is like everyday person which he has a normal job, a normal life and living in an apartment and like some people has bad luck on his side but his life changes one night as he finds an ancient mask which he takes back with him to the apartment, he notices it glows so he puts it up to his face and it turns him into a green-headed man named The Mask.

  • Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, whose sympathetic human characterization is said by O'Brien to be "the last man."
  • The title character of Alice in Wonderland is a fairly unremarkable Victorian child, in order to better contrast with the insanity of Wonderland.
  • Bazil Broketail: Despite his impressive war record, Relkin's consistently portrayed as an ordinary young man and professional soldier just doing his job, with no particular skills in any area. That is, until his dormant magic abilities are unlocked. Lampshaded in the final book when a fellow dragonboy shows surprise after Relkin introduces himself. Apparently, he thought that a famous war hero would look more imposing.
  • Orson Gregory in The Dreamside Road claims to have been an everyman before his first run-in with the IHSA led him into becoming an adventurer, over a decade before the story begins.
  • Isaac Asimov's Franchise: Every year, Multivac chooses someone to ask apparently random opinion questions. These opinions (and their intensity) are missing data points that Multivac uses to extrapolate the entire election process. The person chosen is the most average example of America that the Multivac can identify for that year.
  • 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.
  • Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; he considers himself more differed-from than differing.
  • Discussed and Played With in The Mark and the Void with Claude, the protagonist. Paul, a novelist who is trying to write a book based on Claude's life, explains that Claude will be the Everyman protagonist, because banking symbolizes and typifies the modern world. When Paul tries to ditch the novel idea, he argues disparagingly that Claude's abstract and affluent life has nothing to do with the ordinary man, something that Claude also realizes when he travels into the countryside and interacts with regular Ireland. However, Claude does fit the role. He comes from a modest background, and is generally a passive player to the wackier characters around him. When confronted with moral quandaries at work, he feels uncomfortable but usually does not take an active stance, as most probably would.
  • Of Mice and Men has George, largely made distinctive by his relation to Lenny.
  • The Night Room has an Ensemble Cast, but the most prominent of these is Ira, who has a much more "average" relationship to school and parents who are remarkable in the series for only being a little kooky instead of abusive, dead, geniuses, or generally absent.
  • Robinson Crusoe: Robinson himself is supposed to be an average Englishman from late 17th century stranded on an uninhabited island. He has 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 shipwrecked.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Leonard Hofstadter is the nerd variation.
    • Penny is more of a straight example, being an ordinary Girl Next Door who's well-rounded in her knowledge and hobbies.
  • Earl Sinclair from Dinosaurs is an every-dinosaur.
  • 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.
  • Chris Rock from Everybody Hates Chris is an average boy from the 1980's.
  • 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.
  • Before taking a level in jerkass, Will Schuester from Glee was this.
  • Shinji Kido of Kamen Rider Ryuki is clearly the most ordinary protagonist of the entire Kamen Rider franchise; to a point, it can be said that his most remarkable trait is how very average he is. Unlike other protagonist who were either very skillful or intelligent men, had special abilities, a tragic past that define them, a (personal) connection to their enemies or some other quirks that made them abnormal. Shinji is a completely ordinary journalist who just happened to find an Advent Deck during an investigation, and as a result became Kamen Rider Ryuki and fights against the Mirror Monsters threatening people's lives, while trying to find out the truth of the Rider War. His lack of special skills is even reflected in his rider form which is a Jack of All Stats and has little to no true advantages against other riders. This was also his only form during the first half of the series which contradicts him with every other Heisei Kamen Rider, who usually have another one or several forms accessible during a fightnote .
  • Joe Miller of The Lost Room.
  • Denzil from Only Fools and Horses.
  • Oliver's Travels: Diane's nice but ordinary son Michael.
  • 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.
  • Chief O'Brien from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He's the only Starfleet non-com who gets to be a main character, his main desire is to get through his workday and go home to his wife and children, and the writers enjoy making him suffer every so often (in what they call "O'Brien Must Suffer" episodes) because audiences will sympathize with him.
  • Most of the perspective characters from Stranger Things are Everymen. What is interesting is that many of them are based on the Everymen from other famous genre films, books, or TV series.
  • 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.
  • Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years is supposed to represent the life of an average teenage boy growing up in the 1960's.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets: Kermit the Frog is a mild-mannered character who has to deal with the craziness of his supporting cast. Of course, as he himself points out to one of the guests, he hired everyone else, so he's not sure what that says about him.

  • The Trope Namer is a late 15th century English morality play called Everyman.
  • Older Than Print: These were often the protagonists of medieval everyman plays.
  • 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.
  • Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire is an everywoman.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Isaac Clark from Dead Space is just a ship systems engineer. Not a badass security officer or soldier, just a regular guy doing his job and trying to see his girlfriend who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kazuma Kiryu, despite all appearances, is the most 'normal' person in most of the Like a Dragon games, reacting to every bonkers scenario with utter seriousness, and offering to help out (and start sidequests) every time. This allows him to fight Yakuza, manage hostesses, buy real estate, buy porn for children, defend a Michael Hackson's music video shoot, sing karaoke, or train a woman to be a dominatrix.
  • 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.
  • Kaidan Alenko from Mass Effect and Jacob Taylor 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 aside from Jacob's loyalty mission (where he basically has to be provoked by Miranda into cleaning up his own personal baggage).
  • Pretty much every protagonist except Alex Shepherd in the Silent Hill series could count.
  • 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.
  • Big the Cat plays this role for the Sonic the Hedgehog series. In contrast to how the series' universe is usually a fast-paced Fantasy Kitchen Sink, and how most of its cast are particularly action-oriented or goal-driven, Big stands out as just a simple guy who takes it easy, likes to fish, and gives a helping hand when he can, without any real concern about the crazier stuff going on in his world so long as the people he cares about are okay.
  • 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:
  • Lee Everett, the player character of The Walking Dead: Season One. Having grown up in Atlanta Georgia and helped run his parents store alongside his brother, he's more or less just a guy from a poor neighborhood. His normal life gets turned on its head after accidentally killing of a State Senator whom his wife cheated with. This results in him sent to prison with a life sentence, but the police car taking him there gets interrupted by a Zombie Apocalypse.

    Web Animation 
  • Toothy from Happy Tree Friends, who is often used as a placeholder character because of this. The closest he has to a character trait is that he gets hit in the eye a lot.
  • This is the basic gist of OJ's character in Inanimate Insanity. So much so that the creators officially labeled him "The Normal Guy".

  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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). In Aquamania he's even referred to as "Mr. X." He's mostly went back to his more famous personality since.
  • Charlie Collins from the Batman: The Animated Series episode "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. Collins also exploits this when he scares the everliving crap out of the Joker in the final act by threatening to blow himself and the Joker sky-high and pointing out that this is the way the Joker is going to die - no final battle with the Batman, but vaporized alongside a miserable nobody.
  • 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 prominent in earlier episodes where they are slightly wackier and brattier (something that actually cost Rufus at least three everyman jobs beforehand).
  • Arnold eventually becomes this in the later seasons of his series.
  • 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, emotional issues 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. Even though he is anything but average and relatable in intellect, he is still the most conventionally acting out of the ensemble.
    • Sylvester the Cat has also been cast as Every Cat, particularly when paired with Sylvester Jr where he tries to pass common wisdom to his son. He also often interacts with other felines in a typical way, displaying familiarity with social conventions.
  • How to Catch a Cold: The protagonist is described as "common" and he doesn't really have that much of a personality besides wanting to do well at work.
  • 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.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Downplayed with Mr. Peterson, who is pretty average compared to the other characters (all he does is work and act like a typical suburban American father), but can also be as comical as the rest of them.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson started as one of these — fat, lazy, under-educated, struggling to make ends meet, loyal to his family even when they were a perceived cause for his misfortune, etc. As the series went on and Flanderization seeped in, however, more and more absurd things happened to Homer and he became such a colossal Idiot Houdini that one episode ("Homer's Enemy") centered around one Logical Latecomer (Frank Grimes, the titular "enemy") getting pissed off about this.
  • Stan Marsh in later episodes of South Park since unlike his friends he's not poor like Kenny, isn't Jewish like Kyle, and lacks the fatness and emotional problems of Cartman, but is just a boy from a relatively normal family aside from his eccentric dad.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob SquarePants started out as one of these, even if he was unusually dedicated to his job at the Krusty Krab. In later seasons, he's become much more childish and kooky.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Everyman, Everygirl