Different types of characters in books and movies

Written by Nicole

Hi, I'm Nicole! Here at Nikkaflora, we help people create their dream story and their dream life through the power of storytelling, creativity, and personal growth. In my free time, I enjoy watching Dragon Ball and drinking boba.


Whether you’re a novel writer or an aspiring filmmaker, it’s important to learn about the different types of characters in books and movies. These individuals are categorized into many archetypes such as the hero, the lover, and the magician. While not every archetype may apply to your book or movie script, learning about the art of character creation will help you become a better storyteller. 

This blog post differs from others you may have encountered because many of the examples here will dive deeper into the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. If you have not read their books or seen the movies, then don’t read this article if you don’t want any spoilers. I’m just giving you a heads up first.

Although at this point, the Hunger Games series has already been out for years. The newest movie, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, already debuted in theaters as of November 2023.

If you have not heard of that book and upcoming movie, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel of the mainstream Hunger Games trilogy. However, instead of Katniss Everdeen being the star, this will be centered around President Snow when he was a young man along with his love interest: Lucy Gray Baird.

With that being said, let’s move on to the different types of characters found in books and movies. I suggest you grab some paper and a pen so that you can take notes. We will learn so much today!

Click on the image above to watch the video or scroll below to read my blog post.

This image features the word “protagonist” since it is the first type of different character in books and movies. A protagonist is the main character whom the story is about. Examples of protagonists include a young boy or girl who is training to be a hero or a reclusive teen showing off their high school journey. This graphic also consists of a dark background with subtle images of leaves used as decor. Image by © Nikkaflora.


The first type of different character you will encounter in books and movies is the protagonist. This individual is the most important because he or she is the main character of your story. While each individual plays a particular role, the plot will be centered around your protagonist and their purpose.

A protagonist is someone who is relatable to your target audience and can appeal to your readers and viewers. For example, if you want to write a romance book specifically for teenagers, it makes the most sense to write about two high schoolers falling in love. Or you can make a story about two teens developing feelings for each other at their part-time job. It happens often in real life, and this young demographic will relate to it.

There are instances where books and movies do not feature slice of life themes. Another case is if you are directing a film about your main character going on adventures in many galaxies. Almost everyone on Earth has never been to outer space, so they won’t be able to relate to your protagonist in that aspect. However, even if your main character isn’t human, they still need to possess qualities that your readers can understand if they were in the character’s shoes. 

For example, Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher series is a Witcher. A Witcher is a mutant who possesses magical abilities and specializes in defeating monsters. Even though Geralt isn’t really human, he still has human-like qualities that everyday people have. 

Geralt is a lone-wolf which appeals to people who are used to doing things on their own. He is fiercely loyal to his loved ones and travels to the ends of the world to protect them. Many people in real life love their family and friends. They also go out of their way to take care of the people closest to them.

Another thing to mention about the protagonist is that they need to have a purpose. And they also tend to be dynamic characters. A dynamic character is someone who evolves as an individual and goes through significant changes throughout the story.

For example, I’ll talk about the Harry Potter series since this franchise is very popular and well-known around the world. When Harry was a baby and lost his parents, his aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon took Harry in and raised him.

I say the word “raise” very loosely because they were just awful people. In the first movie, Harry does not even have his own room. He lives in a space under the stairs while his aunt, uncle, and cousin Dudley abused him.

Luckily, his unfortunate situation starts to change when a man named Hagrid finds the poor boy and reveals that Harry is a wizard who can use magic. Harry eventually learns about Hogwarts and goes on all sorts of magical adventures with his friends: Ron and Hermione.

This alone causes Harry to be a dynamic character because he gains confidence, discovers who he truly is, and he eventually stands up to his relatives.

I know I said I’ll be mainly talking about Hunger Games, but Harry Potter is a perfect example to learn from too.

In Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen is the protagonist. In the books, the story is told from her perspective. And in the movies, all of the events and supporting characters are centered around her.

As for some backstory about Katniss, she was born and raised in District 12 of the country Panem. Panem consists of the Capitol, which is the luxurious jewel for the richest residents and the government, along with the 12 districts, which house poorer people who don’t have the same status.

Many people in District 12 find it difficult to survive because the government uses the Peacekeepers (military soldiers) to restrict access to food, water, and other necessities. In order to combat this, Katniss becomes the main provider of her family. She ventures out into forbidden areas so that she can use her bow and arrows to hunt for animals.

In the beginning, it is clearly shown that Katniss has a stoic and independent personality. She is used to working on her own. Her once cold facade toward other people gradually changes when Katniss volunteers to take her sister Prim’s place in the Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is a punishment set by the Capitol many years ago. Each district must give up one male and one female tribute between the ages of 12 to 18 so that the children can compete in an annual battle to the death.

While in the Hunger Games arena, Katniss becomes more compassionate because she watches some of her dear friends die. She also grows to be more trusting of other people since Peeta’s kindness melts down her icy walls.

At first, Katniss’ purpose was to survive in her first Hunger Games and then go home to her sister, mother, and best friend, Gale. While she does achieve this goal, Katniss eventually fights for all of the districts and works together with her friends in order to overthrow the notorious President Snow.

Katniss Everdeen is a perfect example of a protagonist because her personality changes, and her purpose evolves into something greater than her self-interests. She goes from being nearly an impassive person to a fiery woman who stands up to an entire dictatorship during war.

A great protagonist needs to change throughout the plot and be consistent with trying to fulfill their purpose in life. He or she also should be likable and relatable to your target audience.

The “antagonist” is the second type of different character in books and movies. This person actively opposes the protagonist, along with having their own goals in mind. Examples of antagonists can be an evil wizard trying to defeat the chosen one or a bully who picks on vulnerable students in school. This graphic also consists of a dark background with subtle images of leaves used as decor. Image by © Nikkaflora.


The second different type of character in books and movies is the antagonist. This is the villain of the story, someone who opposes the protagonist and does everything in their power to foil the main character’s plans. The antagonist also has their own goals that they want to achieve whether it’s lowering the protagonist’s self-esteem or attaining world domination.

Examples of an antagonist include:

  • The bad boy who bullies nerds and breaks girls’ hearts
  • A mean girl in high school who verbally abuses the main character
  • An alien lord who invades Earth with a massive army
  • A pirate king who steals treasure from sailors in sea
  • A crafty criminal who constantly eludes the police force

Some of the most popular villains in our current pop culture include Joker from Batman, Scar from Lion King, and Voldemort from Harry Potter.

While there can be more than one antagonist in a book or movie, in the Hunger Games, the main evil-doer in Panem is President Snow. He is the one in charge of the Capitol’s military, the Peacekeepers. He utilizes his soldiers to threaten the Districts’ citizens with violence, as well as psychological torment.

Personality-wise, he is a cruel person who kills children and poisons the people who work alongside him. He even tortures Katniss’ lover, Peeta, and brainwashes the poor guy into being a human weapon with the sole purpose of killing Katniss.

President Snow is a sadistic jerk, but he is one of my favorite characters from the series. In the movies, the actor Donald Sutherland did an amazing job portraying Snow. I just wanted to briefly commend his work, as well as all of the other actors and actresses.

As for his goal, President Snow wants to continue ruling over all of the districts in the same cruel manner. He faced rebellions in the past, but his military forces subdued them and killed the people who opposed him. Snow sees Katniss as a threat and tries to get rid of her countless times, but he is eventually defeated in the Mockingbird saga.

What is interesting about Snow and Katniss’ dynamic is that this isn’t some cat and mouse game where they try to chase and kill each other. It is also a political game.

The people in the Capitol worship President Snow, and then they eventually like Katniss too when they watch her compete in her first Hunger Games. Throughout the series, the shift of power switches from President Snow and his peacekeepers to Katniss and her rebellion allies as she unites all of the Districts.

No matter what kind of book you are writing or movie you are filming, a great antagonist must have substance and be appealing to your target audience. They have to focus on their own goals, create conflicts, and challenge the protagonist throughout the plot.

As for the third type of different character in books and movies, “secondary characters” take precedence after the protagonist and antagonist. Secondary characters are vital to a story because they support both of the main characters. Examples of them include the martial arts master who trains the main character and the girl or boy whom the protagonist crushes. This graphic also consists of a dark background with subtle images of leaves used as decor. Image by © Nikkaflora.

Secondary characters

The third different type of character found in books and movies is the secondary character. Secondary characters are the supporting characters who play major roles in the plotline. While they may not be the stars of the show, they add depth and help the protagonist or antagonist with their goals. 

They can be family and friends of the protagonist. Or it can be a general or sidekick who serves as the right-hand of the antagonist.

Honestly, there are many common archetypes labeled under secondary characters. I’m not going to be able to talk about them all in this blog post. However, I will go over the ones which apply to the Hunger Games series.

The first kind of secondary character I will go over is the love interest. The love interest is the person whom the protagonist falls in love with, and the love interest tends to reciprocate the same feelings too. Or it could be someone who has loved the main character since the beginning of the plot, and then the protagonist eventually falls for them. Either way, it needs to be clear that there is romance involved between both parties.

In Hunger Games, Peeta Mellark is Katniss’ love interest. He was also born in District 12, and he worked as a baker in his family’s business. Peeta is a sweet guy who has been in love with Katniss since he was 5 years old. Honestly, that is really cute, and I can relate to Peeta in that aspect.

Even though he loved Katniss from a young age, they did not really talk to each other until he and Katniss were chosen to be tributes for their first Hunger Games. What I like about Peeta is how intelligent he is.

Although the Hunger Games is a fight to the death for District tributes, it is a televised show that the Capitol residents watch. With this knowledge in mind, Peeta uses his charm and starts a fake romance with Katniss so that the two of them can get supporters and sponsors to help them survive in the deadly arena.

If you want to see an example of this, you should watch the scenes where Peeta talks to Caesar and the Capitol citizens on Youtube. Peeta knows exactly how to win over crowds and manipulate people’s opinions.

Although the romance between Peeta and Katniss starts off as fake, Katniss gradually falls in love with Peeta too. Peeta becomes the most important person to her, and they both risk their lives to protect each other.

Even if you are not writing a love story or making a romantic film, the love interest is still found in many books and movies.

Another secondary character is the mentor. The mentor is the person who teaches the protagonist how to be better whether that be in skillset, character development, or both. Katniss and Peeta are both assigned a mentor which is Haymitch Abernathy.

Haymitch won the 50th hunger games, which happened at least 20 years before Katniss and Peeta competed in theirs. He is also the only living victor from District 12, so whenever new tributes are chosen, Haymitch is forced to coach them every year. No other tribute from 12 survived until Katniss and Peeta proved otherwise.

Haymitch is skilled with knives, and he specializes in strategy too. In his game, he formed an alliance with the female tribute from his district. Teaming up with someone else generally increases your odds of staying alive. He also looted food and created a rainwater system.

They don’t show much of Haymitch’s backstory in the movies, but Haymitch is still a formidable mentor. He teaches Katniss how important it is to open up and make other people like her. If the Capitol residents and sponsors like you, they can send you items while you’re out in the Hunger Games arena. If the other tributes trust you enough, they will form an alliance with you. Haymitch also gives Peeta tips to help him succeed in staying alive too.

So far we have gone over 2 secondary character archetypes: the love interest and the mentor. Now I’m going to talk about the foil character.

A foil character is someone who contrasts with another character, usually the protagonist. Their purpose is to highlight certain qualities of the protagonist.

So I’ll go over Katniss’ personality first. Katniss Everdeen is strong and independent. She is used to doing many things on her own. She seems stoic and reserved, but she is also fiery and passionate about her goals and her family.

Before Katniss competed in her first Hunger Games, her sister Primrose was first chosen as the female contestant. Katniss volunteers to be the female tribute so that her sister doesn’t have to be in the games. At first, Katniss only cared about being the sole survivor while she was out there in the arena. However, after she witnessed more cruelty from President Snow and the peacekeepers, it strengthened her resolve to overthrow his dictatorship.

So the person, or rather 2 people, who are her foils are Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne. Other writers might say Peeta is her only foil, but I have my own reasons as to why I think Gale is her foil too.

Peeta’s personality is kind of different from Katniss’. While Katniss seems closed-off to people who are not her family, Peeta is open, kind, and likable. Peeta is able to use his charm to win over Capitol residents, and his social skills allowed him to form an alliance with Districts 1 and 2 during the Hunger Games.

Peeta teaches Katniss about the importance of teamwork while they compete in the games together. Katniss was mainly on her own, but then she eventually works together with Peeta in order to take out the remaining tributes. Katniss always viewed the world as this harsh and never-ending environment, but Peeta’s constancy to stay true to himself inspires Katniss to change as a person. And to change the world they live in.

As for Gale, he is Katniss’ best friend. Gale grew up alongside Katniss in District 12. His personality is also a lot like Katniss’. He is strong, independent, and takes care of Katniss’ family while she is away in the Capitol and in the Hunger Games arena. He is a strong and silent type.

Because he is a lot like Katniss, Gale eventually highlights Katniss’ new qualities as her character evolves. For example, while Katniss hates President Snow and his ways, she still doesn’t want civilians in the Capitol to be killed when Snow and the rebel forces waged war. Meanwhile, Gale doesn’t think twice about killing the Capitol’s residents. One example of Gale’s ruthlessness is how he helped with the bomb attack set up by President Coin.

As Katniss spends more time with Peeta, she is influenced to become more compassionate and open to love. She detested the bombing of Capitol children and residents. Katniss and Gale also grew apart after the war ended.

Peeta is a more straightforward foil because his personality is vastly different from Katniss’. However, Gale serves as a more subtle foil because he is so similar to her. Since Gale’s personality remains the same, his constant traits emphasize Katniss’ growth throughout the series.

While there are more types of secondary characters, the love interest, the mentor, and the foil are perfect examples to start learning about. The love interest is someone who opens the protagonist’s heart and can influence them to change. The mentor challenges the protagonist and pushes them to become better people. And the foil highlights certain qualities that the protagonist has.

I suggest exploring more books and movies if you want to discover more information about how to create amazing support teams for your main character and villain.

“Tertiary characters” serve as the fourth type of different character in books and movies. While tertiary characters tend to have less scenes in stories and film, their interaction with the main character is still significant to the plot. Examples of these people include a peddler who hands the protagonist a magic pendant or an enemy spy who helps the main characters escape. This graphic also consists of a dark background with subtle images of leaves used as decor. Image by © Nikkaflora.

Tertiary characters

The last different type of character in books and movies is the tertiary character. Tertiary characters are the third most important characters in a story. They may seem similar to secondary characters, but the distinction is that they might have one single scene or they appear less frequently in general.

Even though they may have 1 scene or a few lines, tertiary characters are still necessary in advancing the plot.

Examples of tertiary characters can be:

  • A peddler who sells the main character a mysterious magical stone
  • A classmate whom the protagonist talks to a few times
  • A resident who helps the wounded heroes hide from bandits

In the first Hunger Games book and movie, there are two characters I will talk about: Rue and Thresh. They are the tributes from District 11.

Rue appears in multiple scenes and may even be considered as a secondary character in the first book. However, it is crucial to talk about both characters together. So in the first Hunger Games, Katniss competes by herself but this changes when she forms an alliance with Rue. Katniss and Rue survive together for a while until someone from District 1 murders Rue.

Then Katniss sings to Rue as she dies and holds her during her last moments. Meanwhile, Thresh saw how Katniss cared for someone from his own district. After Rue dies, there is a scene where Clove, the female tribute from District 2, attempts to kill Katniss and mocks Rue’s death.

Thresh decides to intervene, he kills Clove, and saves Katniss’ life. Thresh only has a couple scenes, but since he saw how compassionate Katniss was toward Rue, he gave Katniss one-time help.

Obviously if Katniss died in the first book, there would be no trilogy. President Snow and the Capitol soldiers would still be in power, the Hunger Games would still continue, and the people who live in the districts would continue to face miserable conditions and beatings from the Peacekeepers.

These are perfect examples of tertiary characters. Despite their short-lived scenes, they play crucial roles in advancing the plot. Rue faced an unfortunate fate which caused Katniss to become more compassionate and trusting of her newfound allies. Rue’s death, along with others, causes Katniss to become a hero who fights alongside the rebel soldiers in war. As for Thresh, he saved Katniss’ life which then allows the storyline to keep progressing forward.

To summarize, let’s go over the different types of characters in books and movies one last time.

The most notable character is the protagonist. This is your main character whom the plot is centered around.

The antagonist also plays a vital role in any story or movie. This individual actively opposes the protagonist and has their own goals that they want to accomplish.

Afterwards, the secondary characters can also be developed. Some examples include the lover, the mentor, and the foil.

Last but not least, the tertiary characters have their unique role in the story too. While they appear less frequently compared to the rest of the cast, their few lines and scenes are instrumental in moving the plot along.

Thank you for reading Different types of characters in books and movies! 💜

I know this blog post was more of a deep analysis of the Hunger Games series and some of their most notable characters. I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I hope you learned something in your storytelling journey.

Comment down below and let me know if there are other types of characters I have not mentioned in this blog post. Also what books do you like to read? What movies do you like to watch?

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Until then, let’s create, appreciate, and f*** that hate! Bye guys!

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