Character Development

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From Damsel in Distress to Action Girl. A lot can change in twenty years.


"You have the opportunity, here and now, to choose. To become something greater and nobler, and more difficult than what you were before. The universe does not offer such chances often, G'kar."
Nameless Narn, Babylon 5 -- "Dust to Dust"

Character development is, by definition, the change in characterization of a Dynamic Character, who changes over the course of a narrative. At its core, it shows a character changing. Most narrative fiction in any media will feature some display of this.

While the definition of "good" and "bad" character development is subjective, it's generally agreed upon that good character development is believable and rounds out a well-written character. Bad character development leads to the feeling that someone is manipulating the events to their own whims, or even reduces the character's believability.

There are many sub-tropes that take place due to this trope, some of which include

These are hardly the only examples. The Evil Twin of Character Development is Character Derailment. Beware this trope. To see the opposite of this trope, see Static Character. See also Flat Character and Rounded Character. Compare Hidden Depths, where something is revealed that was true all along, but would not have been visible before.

The oldest form of this is the moral decay of the Anti-Hero, as in Shakespeare's Macbeth or Coriolanus. In each case the protagonist's growing vices are timidly concealed at first but then openly displayed. A fascinating reversal of this occurs in Schindler's List - at first Schindler claims he is only saving people because he needs them for his business. By the end he is openly losing millions. His inversion of moral decay goes from an intention to get rich by exploiting slave labour, to crying over not saving one more person.