By Michael Schilf · January 23, 2010


A Warrior is a hero that has expertise in combat or warfare. This type of hero rises to the occasion by taking on a leadership position, and becomes extremely influential within his or her own circle. Warriors can be motivated by revenge, oppression, or moral responsibility. The traditional warriors tends to be serious and driven, often using action instead of dialogue to achieve their means. This role tends to skew more towards males, but the female Warrior has a strong presence in history, literature, and film as well.

Warriors in Film:

The character of Warrior is usually present in screenwriting through genres such as Action, Epic, and War. Although the traditional screenplay Warrior inflicts violence upon his enemy, this hero garners respect and admiration from the audience. The audience is able to justify the forceful actions of the hero Warrior because of his past, or because of the gross injustices he (or his counterparts) have endured. Strong and often silent, the Warrior becomes a hero because of his willingness to sacrifice himself for a cause.

Examples of Warriors in Film:

King Leonidas in 300: King Leonidas (Gerald Butler) serves as the King of Sparta, who leads his small army to defeat the vast and powerful Persian Empire.

William Wallace in Braveheart: William Wallace (Mel Gibson) is a commoner who unites Scots against the opposing English rule.

Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai: Algren (Tom Cruise) is an American military advisor learns to respect the Samurai culture that he was hired to destroy. 


Sometimes referred to as the “lovable loser,” the Fool is an anything-but-elegant hero.  His desires rarely stray too far from our own – prove his value to society, garner the respect and praise of his peers/superiors, and perhaps find true love in the process – but the Fool is his own worst enemy: his physical clumsiness and intellectual limitations perpetually impede on the fulfillment of his own goals.  And though we frequently share a good laugh at his expense and misfortune, we undoubtedly root for the Fool to succeed because, truth be told, we all can be fools sometimes, and there’s something undoubtedly reassuring about seeing the foolish underdog save the day and end up a hero.

Fools in Film:

Although the Fool could certainly be described as a tragic figure, he almost exclusively appears within the comedy genre, and rightfully so – the Fool starts as such an unfortunate character, we need to see him achieve that happy ending, thus making comedy the most suitable genre.  In these films, there is very typically a secondary character to whom the Fool is actively trying to impress for various reasons, and a primary antagonist who actively attempts to disrupt this goal (often for his own gain).  This antagonist is frequently a polar juxtaposition of the Fool (intelligent, suave, etc.), making the Fool’s eventual victory that much more satisfying.

Examples of Fools in Film:

Tommy in Tommy Boy:  The simpleminded son of an auto parts factory owner, Tommy proves his value and saves the factory from a group of scheming con-artists.

Harry & Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber:  With a stroke of dumb luck, this dim-witted duo unknowingly stumble into a major crime operation and while fighting for the affection of an entirely disinterested female.

Billy Madison in Billy Madison:  In order to take over his father’s hotel empire, the 27-year-old Billy must repeat grades 1–12 and prove his competence.


In Greek mythology, the Muses were nine goddesses who inspired the creation of poetry and literature.  Today, they take on a less literal role, but still are regarded as a key source of inspiration.  We’ve heard on numerous occasions writer/directors discuss certain actors as their muse:  for John Hughes it was Molly Ringwald; for Tim Burton, Johnny Depp.  Whether male or female, dead or alive, the Muse speaks to us in a way that inspires us to achieve something great.

Muses in Film:

The 1997 Disney cartoon Hercules depicts the Muses in their original form as the nine Greek Goddesses.  Most films, however, rely on the more contemporary symbolic understanding of the Muse.  The Muse can be male or female and can work in most genres, but tends to appear most often within dramas and can take on either a lead or supporting role.  While some Muses consciously act as mentor figures, aiming to inspire one or many individuals, the Muse can also act as an inadvertent form of inspiration for a character, unaware of his/her tremendous impact on the life of the protagonist.

Examples of Muses in Films:

John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society:  More closely aligned with the Muse in its original form, Keating inspires his students (particularly Neil Perry and Todd Anderson) to explore their inner artistic voice.

Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver:  Escalante, the lead protagonist of this story, sets out to change the lives of these students who had all but given up on themselves, and inspires new hope in them.

Angela Hayes in American Beauty:  Though completely unaware of doing so, Angela Hayes provokes Lester Burnham to awaken to a new perspective on life simply due to his preoccupation with her radiant presence.


The Savior is one of the oldest characters in the history of storytelling, and arguably the most famous Savior character role is Jesus Christ from within the New Testament. The Savior is often a highly selfless character, willing to sacrifice him/herself for the greater good.

Saviors in Film:

In film, the Savior appears in most genres other than comedy, appropriate given that the notion of self-sacrifice is not usually a very humorous one.  It is much more common with the Savior than other character roles for the Savior to die in the end, but this is not required of the role.  What is required, however, is that the Savior has more than just his own life at stake.  Whether it be just one person, a small town, or the entire human race, the Savior is responsible for the wellbeing of more than him/herself, and the plot requires a great deal of sacrifice from him/her in order to fulfill that responsibility.

Examples of Saviors in Film:

Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List:  Schindler is a relatively well respected member of the Nazi Party who risks everything in order to save as many Jews as possible.

Neo in The Matrix:  The fate of Zion and the human race rests in Neo’s hands, and he must ultimately be willing to sacrifice his own life in order to save mankind.

Gandhi in Gandhi:  Led the Indian independence movement through nonviolent resistance against the British, and ultimately died for his cause.