The Everyman

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A character who is mostly a blank slate stand in for the audience, made to be empathetic to all. They won't be exceptional; in fact, they will be decidedly average. If you try to pin down the character traits of any one of them, you'll probably come up blank. They are usually popular by association, in that they tend to interact and be friends with a large group of more interesting supporting characters.

The Everyman really has no distinct personality, except what is defined by others' interactions with them. They end up being the Designated Hero, despite them having no real abilities that qualify them for the job. On the other hand, they don't have any abilities that mean they shouldn't take the job, either. One gets the distinct feeling that if people weren't trying to kill them / wacky circumstances didn't happen to them / the fate of the world didn't fall into their laps / their wacky neighbors weren't around, The Everyman would be the most boring person in the world.

If a leader, then they're a Standardized Leader. The videogame version of this is a Heroic Mime in terms of plot, Jack of All Stats in terms of ability, and a Featureless Protagonist when taken to its extreme. May 'evolve' into an Extreme Doormat.

In Dom Coms, the father is often an everyman, struggling just to maintain sanity in his family and keep it together through the zany schemes set up by the wife or kids.

Not every character created with the intention of being The Everyman actually stays that way. If the writers think Viewers are Morons, then this character can quickly devolve into a Loser Archetype, with the idea that this is how the average person acts. At this point, the character's message sort of devolves into telling viewers "This Loser Is You".

Despite the name, everymen aren't Always Male. But they usually are, because Most Writers Are Male.

Often an Audience Surrogate. If so, you may expect them to be:

  • A default character for the audience to latch on to, as a sufficient blank slate that the audience will know we are "expected" to identify with said character; and love will come later. This can be useful in an unfamiliar setting; compare The Watson. As the story develops, this type of Everyman may devolve into an inoffensive Foil or Supporting Protagonist. The audience may find them harmlessly uninteresting or worse, and latch onto the action hero, Ensemble Darkhorse, or villain instead.
  • An empty vessel for the audience's hopes, dreams and aspirations. (Not to be confused with an Escapist Character who already possesses what the audience craves.) These are the sort of Everyman characters where each audience member is willing to imagine themselves in the character's shoes, with no apparent contradiction. This may lead to some complication (or crowning moment) when the author forces them to undergo some course of action that the audience, having already invested in the character, would not (at first) imagine themselves taking.

See also Normal People and The Generic Guy. Ridiculously Average Guy is when this is taken to an extreme.

Examples of The Everyman include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Kaname Ougi from Code Geass is the very example of what an Everyman would most likely do when things go horrendously wrong. Believe us, it's not pretty.
    • Diethard even points out how this makes Ougi important to the Black Knights because they can't live on "stars alone" and need an average person for the common people to relate with.
      • Played a bit straighter with Shinichirou Tamaki, though.
      • Nah, Tamaki is there to be a loser, and not at all the lead or intended to identify with. Rivals is his school counterpart, though less pathetic—although that's mostly because he's only trying to be a lazy high school student, not a terrorist, and Tamaki keeps having delusions of grandeur. If it were a different kind of series, Rivals might work as an everyman protagonist.
  • Everyman leads occur more than you'd think in romantic/Ecchi anime and/or arcs, letting the audience project themselves upon him. In Hentai, they're legion.
    • Sasahara from Genshiken is a general Otaku who falls for Ogiue.
    • His (unintentional?) Expy Kosuda in B Gata H Kei is an ordinary schoolboy trying to make sense of Yamada's WANT/DO NOT WANT/WANT/DO NOT WANT behaviour.
  • The Producer in the anime version of THE iDOLM@STER. Even his description is nondescript.


Comic Books[edit | hide]


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Gabe and Tucker from Cliffhanger
  • Joe, the main character of Idiocracy is described as the most average man in existence. The speaker then shows a series of graphs, all of which have Joe at the exact middle of the bell curve, a trend which he describes as "remarkable." It is unclear if he sees the irony.
  • Wikus, the "protagonist" of District 9 is a deconstruction of this trope. Whether he's a Punch Clock Villain, Idiot Hero, or Jerkass Woobie is entirely up to interpretation. Ultimately, he reacts to extreme circumstances (that demand heroism) just as you'd expect an average nerdy professional bureaucrat thrust into a dangerous and unpredictable environment: poorly.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Dante (the character, not the poet) in The Divine Comedy.
  • Nearly all Fairy Tale heroes and heroines (e.g., Cinderella and Aladdin).
  • The hero of A Pilgrims Progress is actually named 'Everyman'; Christian Everyman.
  • Of Mice and Men has George, largely made distinctive by his relation to Lenny.
  • Dr. Watson fills this role in the Sherlock Holmes stories. He does have certain distinct personality traits, such as his eye for attractive women (how unusual), but in many other ways he reflects the typical Victorian citizen who read Arthur Conan Doyle's stories when they were first published, bridging the gap between the readers and the otherwise eccentric Holmes.
  • The titular character of Alice in Wonderland is an "everygirl".
    • Well, she would be, if the books didn't take place in Wonderland where she should be considered exceptional because she is a normal, if curious, human.
  • Ralph from Lord of the Flies
  • Bella Swan in Twilight.
  • Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, whose sympathetic human characterization is said by O'Brien to be "the last man."
  • Harry Potter.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Many of the Doctor's companions from Doctor Who.
    • Mickey Smith and Rory Williams are both very deliberately ordinary people whose girlfriends become the Doctor's companions and end up crushing on him. A great deal is made of the contrast between the ordinary, happy life they could offer, and the adventurous, extraordinary one the Doctor provides. In Mickey's case, he is somewhat unceremoniously dumped in favour of the Doctor, with Rory, the episode "Amy's Choice" makes it clear that, despite her zigzagging feelings for both of them, if it came down to a choice between the two she choose an ordinary life with Rory.
  • Earl Sinclair in Dinosaurs.
  • Kermit the Frog.
  • Lizzie McGuire
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Possibly both the titular Malcolm for teenage viewers, and his father for adult ones. Malcolm even discovers in one episode that he's very average in any way, and could aspire to virtually any career.
    • Malcolm's test actually showed he was equally suited to any career because he was an all-round genius, not because he was "average". YMMV, but it seemed that Malcolm did develop quite a distinct personality as the series progressed - he grew to be notably cynical, sarcastic, neurotic, self-pitying and moody. Whether this was a good or a bad thing is open for debate, but he certainly wasn't bland and unremarkable by the time he reached his teens (except maybe in contrast to his family).
  • Joe Miller of The Lost Room.
  • Leonard Hofstadter is the Hollywood Nerd variation.
    • Penny is more of a straight example, being an ordinary Girl Next Door who's well-rounded in her knowledge and hobbies.
  • Two words: Godai Yuusuke of Kamen Rider Kuuga.
  • Jerry Seinfeld has strikingly average interests such as cereal, sneakers, and Superman comics, but ends up a subversion, becoming one of the most Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists of all time.
  • Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years is supposed to represent the life of an average teenage boy growing up in the 1960's.
  • Cory Matthews.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Dilbert
  • Ernie from Piranha Club started as something of a loser but through reverse Flanderization, he eventually become one.
  • Goat in Pearls Before Swine. He's the only character who reacts to (or even notices) the weirdness that surrounds them in the same way the audience would.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • The Trope Namer is a late 15th century English morality play called Everyman.
  • The usual Cirque Du Soleil protagonist (if the show has a protagonist) is a version of this: see Quidam, "O", La Nouba, Corteo, KOOZA, even the Delirium concert tour. Often they are pulled into the plot by a Trickster. In "O", it's set up that he appears to be an audience member.
    • The headless titular character in Quidam is literally an Everyman (the word 'Quidam' means 'nameless passerby', and the song 'Quidam' explicitly states "I'm everyman"), but the main character Zoe is also a, less literal, Everygirl. With an Everyfamily made up of an Everyman and an Everywoman. It... gets a little bit confusing.
  • The play Everyman is about an Every Man going on an adventure to Death.
  • Mark from Rent. Via Supporting Protagonist and You Have to Have Jews.
  • Older Than Print: These were often the protagonists of medieval everyman plays.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • Claude of Star Ocean the Second Story, who is even easier to identify with because the game's Private Action system allows you to choose many actions that show what kind of a person he is.
  • Main characters of Nintendo games are often this, usually with Heroic Mime for good measure:
  • Jimmy Hopkins of Bully was intended to be this, says the Word of God. Even though he does have incredible strength, he is easily relatable.
    • His personality gets very distinct by the time you finish the game though.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, Basch was originally intended to be the main character, but it was later switched to Idiot Hero Vaan because the creators thought that he would have more of an Everyman appeal.
  • Dave in Maniac Mansion. He's Sandy's boyfriend, but other than that, he's pretty much just an Everyman. And while the other six characters can play an instrument (Syd/Razor), fix radios and/or telephones (Bernard/Jeff, although Jeff can only fix telephones), develop rolls of film (Michael), and proofread manuscripts (Wendy), Dave has no abilities or talents at all. Sadly, since he's the also the lead character, he's also the only one you can't NOT choose.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

You have no NAME, you are the EVERYMAN. Your interests are NONSPECIFIC ENTERTAINMENT and SPORTS. Job: wall paint watcher, amnesiac.

    • As it turns out, he is literally a godlike anthropomorphic personification of humankind as a whole.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Everyman most famous to the average person would probably be Mickey Mouse.
    • Most early animation characters fit into this trope, for that matter - such as Bosko, Felix the Cat, Porky Pig, etc.
      • Oddly enough, at first Mickey did have a personality. He was a total Jerkass.
    • Goofy became this in the Fifties, starring as George Geef, with a son, a wife, and increased intellegence (though not much). He's mostly went back to his more famous personality since.
  • The titular character from Doug.
  • Hank Hill in King of the Hill, although he gradually grew into an uptight Straw Vulcan who served as the stick for everyone else.
    • In later seasons, if the authors were feeling particularly conservative that week, he started giving lengthy Author Fillibusters on the evils of Mc Mansions, gratuitous lawsuits, gentrification, Hipsters, protesters, the porn industry, etc and ended up simply being right without any sort of comedic twist.
  • Arguably, Arnold from Hey Arnold!- or if you're listening to Doug Walker's opinion.
  • Phineas from Phineas and Ferb. He's so friendly, gets along with everyone, and so cheerful you'll likely catch diabetes just from watching. Almost nothing gets him riled up, and barely anything makes him mildly annoyed. He's so one dimensional, even his mute brother has more personality. Not that this is a bad thing.
    • While still staying an extreme case of The Everyman, he gains a noticeable depth to his individuality in the hour-long special episode "Summer Belongs To You". This special highlights that Phineas doesn't actually have a solution to everything and in the critical situation on the island that he ends up in, once he realizes his helplessness, becomes hysterical. For that short scene, it gives a million of new interpretations to his character, but then he gets an idea and snaps back into being The Everyman. It isn't much, but it might open new roads for the creators to follow with his character.
    • Phineas also gets a similar case of character development in "Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!". Special-length episodes bring out his depths.
  • Stan in later episodes of South Park.
  • Arthur.
  • Horace in The Problem Solverz.
  • Nitz in Undergrads. He's lazy and sarcastic, but far less "out there" than any of his friends, and is known for having few extreme interests or opinions.
  • Rufus and Amberley in The Dreamstone for the line of work they had, were portrayed as rather normal acting kids who usually handle their jobs in a rather uneventful and conflictless manner until the Urpneys break the normality of things. Less prominant in earlier episodes where they are slightly wackier and brattier (something that actually cost Rufus at least three everyman jobs beforehand).
  • Tommy Pickles in Seasons 4 and later on in Rugrats