Static Character

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Change isn't always a good thing, nor necessary. Likewise some characters, be they Round or Flat, will end a story with much the same personality and traits they began with. These Static Characters can go entire seasons or books without changing or experiencing the Character Development that a more Dynamic Character does.

This is NOT necessarily a bad thing, as some characters don't need Character Development. A Badass does not have to decay into The Woobie to stay an interesting character—while some consumers may embrace the evolution, others will cry out, "We Want Our Jerk Back!" Such characters are useful in secondary roles, serving as yardsticks against which your central (and Dynamic) character's growth can be contrasted. If you want your Static Character in the central role, just enforce it internally, using a Pygmalion Snapback or a painful collision with Status Quo Is God. Some comedies built around characters whose personalities are set in stone and will not change, whatever happens. For that matter, every Tragedy—no, every tragedy—is built around characters whose personalities are set in stone and will not change, whatever happens.

Also note that a Static Character is not by definition boring. Obviously, it helps if you've got a Round Character, as exploring all their pre-existing facets can entertain without requiring character evolution. Furthermore, the introduction of Hidden Depths or an exploration of a Dark and Troubled Past accomplishes similar things; while the character is technically not evolving, the audience's perception of the character very much does. And these characters are ripe for internal conflict, since we already know a fair bit about them.

Having said that, Flat Characters who are also Static may get dull unless the author takes care to make them entertaining somehow, be they the Butt Monkey or perpetual Fish Out of Water.

Despite their unchanging nature, Early Installment Weirdness is still a distinct a possibility; Static Characters are frequently the result of Flanderization.

Examples of Static Character include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ogami Itto from Lone Wolf and Cub.
  • Shu from Now and Then, Here and There is a rare example of a static protagonist. He faces torture, the deaths of several beloved characters at the hands of his friends, and somehow manages to stick to his principles. That he managed to both survive and avoid compromising his core self shows just how Badass he is. Oh, and surviving oodles of torture.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is adamant about not giving any of its characters any Character Development whatsoever beyond their one "unique" trait.
    • Sort of. Nozomu underwent a sort of reverse Flanderization as he tries to commit suicide less as time went by and has his heart of gold emphasized more. In contrast, Chiri retained her OCD, but had it dialed past eleven and straight into Ax Crazy levels.
  • Cowboy Bebop has Ed and Ein, contrasting the more dynamic main trio. Jet is also arguably rather static as he goes through several instances of cleaning up his own past without it affecting his current outlook and lifestyle.
  • Bleach has a tendency to do this to anyone who isn't important, making them into this, Flat Characters, or monsters. However, it's subverted with some of the Arrancar except the fact that they never get to do anything with their character development.
  • Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane from Naruto do not change a bit in the series. While nearly every major character in Konohagakure has the Will of Fire, the two are more militant and only concern themselves with protecting the actual village itself, and often lean in favor of Danzo's view points. Their static status is possibly due to their little interaction with other characters (aside from Hiruzen, Danzo, Tsunade, Shizune, and Itachi) and the fact that Naruto has yet to influence them like everyone else he has come in contact yet.
  • Suzy Mizuno from Zatch Bell is a prime example, seeing as how she remains a ditz throughout the whole series, while receiving no character development or any involvement in the Mamodo battles.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • A subversion of a subversion is played beautifully by Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust. By the end, when the heroes have killed her two sisters, she breaks down and laments that the only people in the world who she loved are dead, and immortality without them (by stealing Ivayne's heart) would be intolerable, and so she says she'll let the heroes go. Then she telekinetically locks the doors, cackles, and starts exploding glass all around the heroes, thanking them for killing her sisters so that she doesn't have to share immortality.
  • James Bond. Although 007 is portrayed differently by each actor (Connery and Brosnan are more suave, Lazenby is subdued, Moore is comical, Dalton and Craig are brutish), but not in a way it changes the character too much.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The titular character of Monk went through almost the entire show without much of a change, despite a dizzying array of both traumatic and hopeful events. It was only at the end that he overcame many of his difficulties.
  • From his first episode to his last, Major Frank Burns was a whiny, self-absorbed, power-mongering hypocrite who could barely perform surgery.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Ensign Harry Kim starts off as Ensign Newbie and seven years later is still portrayed the same way, despite being one of the main characters and thus subject to all the traumatic events that befall a Star Trek character (including dying enough times it became a fan joke).
  • Joey from Friends is a prime example of this. When he was one out of six characters in an ensemble, and had little (to no) development, he was great. And when he received a Spin-Off, Joey, it didn't work at all.
  • All the main (and most of the supporting) characters from Seinfeld, being the Sadist Show that it was. While the status quo did change, it mostly had to do with how much the characters could get away with rather than any actual Character Development. Kramer, being The Fool, usually managed to avoid the consequences of his actions and, therefore, develop the least.
  • Pretty much all the members of ~The A-Team~ were fairly rounded, but they never really developed, except for Face, possibly, who started out as a fairly generic Con Man and ended up a Handsome Lech who was in touch with his inner math/finance geek (and reveled in that).
  • Aisha Campbell is this during her stint in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. She is also considered the least-developed Ranger in the entire franchise!
  • Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. He suffers from some episodic out of character behavior, but he always reverts to his "normal" self.
    • Well, it is worth noting that he did somewhat evolve over time. From being a very stiff spock with No Sense of Humor, to being slightly more prone to joking (even though he still fails at the sarcasm department sometimes). By season 5 he's even upgraded his She Is Not My Girlfriend status with Amy!
  • Many of the mains on the revised Battlestar Galactica Reimagined remained unchanged from beginning to end; Starbuck, for instance, gets new traits but doesn't really overcome her original flaws. (This was a show that lived on the gloomy end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.)

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • Lydia is, from beginning to end, a spoiled brat who cares for nothing except flirting and officers. Interestingly, her mother, Mrs. Bennet, is also a Static Character. While she does change opinion rapidly about a suitor based on how likely they are to want to marry one of her daughters, this never varies through the whole novel.
    • Mr. Collins is a static character too. Frankly, he wouldn't be nearly as entertaining if he wasn't.
  • Sherlock Holmes is basically the same in every single book.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that in heroic sagas like those of the Vikings or the Ancient Greeks, characters do not develop; instead, different aspects of their fixed, essential nature are revealed by new circumstances.
    • He put this theory into practice in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: the modern, anti-heroic characters (the hobbits) are dynamic and get Character Development, while the archaic, heroic characters like Thorin and Aragorn are static.
    • For example, at the end of The Lord of the Rings we know a lot more about Aragorn (and he knows more about himself) than when we met him in Bree, but who he is hasn't changed. Ditto for Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, on the other hand, have changed a lot. Note that Peter Jackson changed this in his films, making Aragorn a dynamic character, and even Legolas and Gimli have a few shades of further development now.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Final Fantasy VI has Edgar Figaro, why does he never change? Because he already has his act together by the time we first meet him.
  • Asch in Tales of the Abyss. This is in sharp contrast to Luke (significant because Luke is a clone of Asch), who goes through many stages of Character Development.
  • Keyblade Master Aqua of Kingdom Hearts fame. She stays the same kind, strong-willed, Badass invidual that made her presence known in the very beginning and doesn't change, whereas her two male friends Terra and Ven end up different (and much less happy) people.
  • Jacob Taylor fits this in Mass Effect 2. Unlike his teammates, Jacob doesn't carry any emotional baggage, so most of his dialog tends to be focused on the present mission. It's even lampshaded in his Shadow Broker file, which notes that he was put on Shepard's team as much for the stabilising elements of his personality as his combat skills.
  • Iori Yagami. Not only he actually was one of the many characters to keep the same outfit till XII came out, but his vendetta with Kyo became a literal running line for the entire series.
    • Members of Ikari and Art of Fighting teams are also these, except you couldn't expect Robert and Leona changing outfits all of a sudden.
  • Franziska Von Karma from Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney:Justice for All is pretty much the same through the series as of Ace Attorney Investigations, the most development she gets are the revelations of some Hidden Depths regarding her rivalry with Edgeworth.
  • Although Mao of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice goes through several character revelations, by the following scene he returns to acting to his old stuck-up friendship-hating violent ill-tempered rude demon self.
  • While most character in Tales of Rebirth end up developing their characters in one way or another, Eugene Gallardo remains the sensible Team Dad and Cool Old Guy. This is even lampshaded in a skit.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The cast of Sheldon is fairly static. As one webcomic critic pointed out, this is not a bad thing, as they're well-rounded, interesting, and funny, which is pretty much all a simple gag-a-day strip of this sort needs.
  • Portrayed on the second example of this comic strip.
  • Durkon from the Order of the Stick has largely stayed the same as when we first saw him, although a flashback from a prequel book showed he was surly and irritable when he met Roy, due to the way he had been treated in human lands.

Western Animation[edit | hide]