Hero Archetype #7 — The Charmer

We all know them.  The Charmers of entertainment.  That type of character that could sell snow to an Eskimo.  Didn’t you hear?  He’s got a bridge in Brooklyn he wants to sell you.  It’s a steal!

Okay, seriously though, there was always something about the charmers in a story that just crack me up.  I don’t know if it’s the wit that usually goes along with it, or if they get me with the nostalgia of days gone by.  I really can’t place it, but I don’t care to anyways.

Why are they so great?  Because frankly, they’re usually hilarious.  For the sake of argument, I’m going to use Matthew Broderick’s titular character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

At this point I’m sure we’ve all seen the movie.  But if you haven’t, here’s Exhibit A:  Ferris Bueller on a school day.

Who cares if I'm possibly only a figment of Cameron's imagination?

Who cares if some people think I’m only a figment of Cameron’s imagination?

Props to anyone who gets that caption above, and if you do leave it in the comment!

Moving on, look at him.  Have you seen anyone look anymore relaxed and confident than that young man right there?  Granted, we’ve all had those days where we played hooky and did the farthest thing from worry about what we’re missing at school, but this is different.

While the rest of us were hiding in our sweat pants in front of the TV, Mr. Bueller here is planning one hell of a day!

That’s one of the things that makes the Charmer such a great archetype to play with, they have big dreams.  They’re ambitious.  They think out of the box, and somehow they usually manage to get away with it through gifts of gab and guile, something I also enjoy.

Not only does Ferris masterfully get out of school without even his parents suspecting he was up to no good, but he also gets his girlfriend sprung, gives his best friend the best day the poor recluse has ever had.

When Cameron was in Egypt's land...

When Cameron was in Egypt’s land…

Don’t you see the epic victory in that?

Granted, he’s not your typical hero.  There really is no villain in this story.  Despite Mr. Rooney trying to ruin his day, the poor fool was totally out classed and did nothing but beat himself up the entire afternoon.

I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.

“I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.”

Well, obviously that won’t be how he continues to hold that position….

Moving on, what is heroic about Ferris, is that he’s the paragon of the idea, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The whole movie is one young man defying the odds to have the last real day off with his best friend and girlfriend.4

Don’t you see how epic that is?

Now like I said before in my Unsung Hero post, think of how this can be combined with any of the other archetypes that exist.

The possibilities are endless, and the best thing about this type of character is that they’re rarely anything but well received.

As long as you craft everything properly this will add a nice little comedic and/or inspiring relief to any kind of story.

Granted, there are ways this could go wrong.  If your story relies on your character being stone faced, for example, this isn’t going to work.

But say you have an Accidental or Byronic Hero as your main protagonist?  There’s really nothing that directly pushes back against giving them a little bit of humor and charm.

The best part is that the more unconventional, and yet well crafted your characters are, the better your writing will be because it makes your story stand out.

The only way to get noticed is to bend/break a little rule here or there.  The one caveat is that you have to do it properly and you have to do it well.

You can’t just throw a grenade into the proverbial room, but there’s nothing against a fire cracker or two.

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Think I’m crazy?  Whatever you think, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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