When friend think of the most iconic films in cinema, odds room there is a well-rounded, memorable, possibly even complex character attached to it. However, you may be surprised that plenty of of these good films additionally use basic characters that lack complexity. These are level characters. In this article, we’ll take a look in ~ what a level character is, how they differ from round characters, and also why writers intentionally use flat characters in your stories. 

flat character definition

First, let’s specify flat character

Flat personalities come in numerous varieties, however they all loss under the very same definition. Let’s take it a look at the level character an interpretation to far better identify what a level character is.


What is a flat character?

A level character is a character the lacks complexity and also has a one-dimensional personality. Flat characters typically stem from a stereotypical character favor “bully” or “boss”. They can frequently be defined in just a couple of words.

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Flat characters, often referred to as stock characters, never deviate from their rather basic traits. They room the opposite of “round characters” that have complicated personalities and adjust throughout the food of a story. Flat characters are regularly used to assistance main personalities in a story.

Characteristics that a flat character:

One-dimensionalConform to a stereotypeLack an arc or development

Flat personality in detail

Traits the a flat Character

To much better distinguish what a flat character is and also what specifies one, let’s look at the characteristics of a level character in detail.


Flat personalities are precisely that — flat. They room one dimensional and lack any complexity. Flat personalities lack complexity in that they have no inner conflict, no complicated relationships, and also only a couple of defining qualities. A “bully” is a common flat character that lacks any defining attributes besides gift mean and nasty.


Flat characters usually stem from some form of stereotype or personality archetype. This stereotypes assign flat characters their defining qualities. A good example the this have the right to be uncovered in the personality Crush from one of the best animated moviesFinding Nemo.

Crush is a flat character the stems native the surfer stereotype. His entire personality have the right to be summed up as “surfer turtle.” yet he serves an important purpose in relocating the plot forward.

Crush might be a stereotype, yet in the scene, the stereotype immediately informs the audience on every little thing they should know around his personality.

No arc or development

Flat characters are additionally typically static characters. Static personalities are personalities that continue to be unchanged indigenous the beginning to the end of a story. They have no personality arc or character development. While most flat personalities are static characters, not all static characters are flat characters. Therefore what is the opposite of a flat character?

flat character meaning BY contrast

Flat vs round Character

A level character is a character the lacks complexity. Together we mentioned in the flat character definition, most flat characters can be defined in a mere couple of words. Flat characters are usually additionally static characters that have no arc. Along with being fairly simple, flat characters behave quite passively in a story and also do no make any crucial decisions.

The opposite of a level character is a ring character. Round characters are an ext fleshed out with complex personalities. Audience’s know an ext about a round character’s history, motivations, fears, and relationships. Round personalities are also more dynamic and typically readjust over the food of the story together they deal with more conflict. For this reason, protagonists and also antagonists are typically round characters. For some examples of a round character and why they room not flat, examine out the video failure below.

You can be thinking that a round character in all elements sounds much better than a level character. So why carry out writers usage flat characters intentionally? Well, flat personalities are not constantly uninteresting or no useful. There are many examples that iconic personalities that can be defined as flay and also actually are an excellent for certain purposes.

how come use flat characters?

Purpose that a flat Character

There room several factors to use a level character in a story. The important thing is to know the function of a flat character prior to you compose them in. Otherwise, the character will certainly be uninteresting and also unnecessary.

Move the plot along

The an initial reason to use a flat character is to merely move the plot along. This is common in genre story that are more plot-driven than character driven films or a personality study. Using flat personalities to move the plot along is effective since they do not odor the audience with any type of character details.

In this interview, screenwriter Travis Seppala talks much more about how and why flat personalities are frequently used together plot devices that relocate a story forward.

As Seppala stated in the interview, flat characters actions and also behavior is propelled by the story and also plot rather than their character. This deserve to be an important for writers who have to use them as a machine to store the plot moving.

Symbolism and theme

Sometimes, flat characters can personify an idea such together a symbol or a theme. A common example is a rogue or bully being the personification the evil. Yet this is the key if no only defining quality they have.

A great example of this form of flat character is Colonel Quaritch from one of James Cameron’s finest moviesAvatar. Firstly, the Colonel stems from a army stereotype. That is supplied to stand for the person resistance come change, cooperation, and perhaps also peace. Take a look at his very first scene in the movie. What do we learn about him besides that he is army and around his feelings because that Na"vi?

At the finish of the movies, the Colonel is still unchanged and also his aggression towards the Na"vi is unchanged. His function in the film is come personify a threat and the design template of humans taking quite than cooperating.

Comedic effect

Flat characters are regularly used because that comedic effect and comedic relief. While castle may lack dimension, they can serve as the writer"s way to introduce comedy right into a scene. This might mean castle are often the target of a joke or the one who always cracks jokes.

At the finish of the day, understanding what a level character is is important so the you can avoid producing flat personalities in your main characters. However, it’s also important to save in mind the flat personalities can offer a objective when supplied intentionally and to serve the story.


How come Write more powerful Characters

Now that you know what a level character is, you might want to learn exactly how to compose round characters. In our next article, we take a deep dive right into the contents of writing solid characters the are capable of carrying a story and connecting come an audience.

Up Next: exactly how to write Stronger personalities →

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