Romance Genre Heroines

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

This is a summary of the Heroine archetypes from The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes (see the footnote on the index page, Heroes and Heroines). You can also find the Hero archetypes on Romance Genre Heroes. Most of the Heroines are female versions of the Heroes.

Also listed are the villainous versions of the Hero archetypes; these come from the website of one of the authors (again, see the footnote on the index page).

Quick Overview

The eight Heroine archetypes presented are as follows:

Their villainous versions are as follows:

  • The Bitch
    • Self-centered version of The Boss who "lies, cheats, and steals her way to the top."
  • The Black Widow
    • Evil version of The Seductress, The Vamp who can charm her way into anything.
  • The Backstabber
    • Evil version of The Spunky Kid who uses your secrets to get her way.
  • The Lunatic
    • Insane version of The Free Spirit who is less eccentric and more "unbalanced madwoman."
  • The Parasite
    • Self-serving version of The Waif who could free herself but chooses to participate in atrocities rather than give up comfort and security.
  • The Schemer
    • Evil version of The Librarian who uses "elaborate plans, intricate schemes" to ruin reputations and end lives.
  • The Fanatic
    • Self-deluded version of The Crusader who "justifies her actions by her intent, and merely shrugs her shoulders at collateral damage."
  • The Matriarch
    • Deluded version of The Nurturer, a "motherly oppressor" who controls the lives of her loved ones.

Character Examples

  • The Bitch: History has a few queens who fall under this role. The Queen in "Snow White" might count, even though her fight is more about being on the top of the beauty ladder.
  • The Black Widow: The female lead of Double Indemnity.
  • The Backstabber: There is one who fits this, and yet fits the Bitch, the Schemer, and towards the end, the Fanatic as well. She is one of many faces. Her name is Azula.
  • The Lunatic: "Ophelia! Ophelia! Don't go picking those flowers, dear, you'll hurt yourself!"
  • The Parasite: Crops up occasionally in crime dramas.
    • One episode of Criminal Minds had a girl who appeared to be an abuse victim of her serial-killing boyfriend, but was later revealed to be the serial killer in charge of the whole mess. This kind of villain doesn't count, since she wants to do the crime and isn't just going along with the perps.
  • The Schemer: Lucrezia from Girl Genius. Probably Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
  • The Fanatic: Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick.
    • Down to the complete lack of a Heel Face Turn - and her firm belief, to the end, that she was a Face all along.
  • The Matriarch: Akito from Fruits Basket probably falls under this role. The mother from Psycho too, in a fashion.

Comparing the Gender Roles

Let's consider the Hero/Heroine pairs. These subdivide as follows:

  • A. Roughly the same thing regardless of gender:
    • The Chief and The Boss are both goal-oriented leaders who don't usually back down.
      • The Boss usually gets a layer of equal rights propaganda thrown in.
    • The Professor and The Librarian are both data-oriented introverts who don't know how to connect with other people (and often don't care).
      • The Librarian gets a layer of Beautiful All Along, which is something The Professor usually does not get. (Please list exceptions under the Examples section!)
    • The Warrior and The Crusader are both tenacious protectors who can easily snap into Determinator mode.
      • The Warrior gets nuanced by whether he's willing to accept The Call, whereas The Crusader gets nuanced by whether she's trying to save the world or just her little group.
  • B. Rough counterparts who still amount to the same general idea:
    • The Bad Boy and The Seductress are both scarred by childhood and have troubled connecting with other people.
    • The Spunky Kid and The Best Friend are both dependable allies who are always ready to help when the chips are down.

And then there are those who don't seem to pair off as well. The Charmer, The Lost Soul, and The Swashbuckler don't seem to have female counterparts, while The Free Spirit, The Waif, and The Nurturer don't seem to have male counterparts.

In other words, according to the book, when working in the Romance genre:

  1. A guy can be an irrepressible rogue who shows you a good time but doesn't stick around when it's over, but a girl is never like this.
  2. A girl can be a quirky eccentric who lives life to the fullest and doesn't care what the neighbors think, but a guy is never like this.
  3. A guy can be a brooding loner, a sensitive and vulnerable artist with a Gothic outlook on life, but a girl is never like this.
  4. A girl can be a Damsel in Distress, a child-like innocent who needs to be protected but yet has great strength of will, but a guy is never like this. (But we knew this one already, right?)
  5. A guy can be a gung-ho action hero with an eye for adventure and a blindness to possible risk, but a girl is never like this.
  6. A girl can be a selfless caregiver who listens to your problems and warms your spirit with her genuine optimism, but a guy is never like this.

So, of course, if you're going to try for gender subversions, those six are a great place to start.

Greater Detail


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