7 Standard Characters in Almost Every Horror Movie ...


7 Standard Characters in Almost Every Horror Movie ...
7 Standard Characters in Almost Every Horror Movie ...

If you’re a scare aficionado like me, you may have noticed a distinct pattern when it comes to the assortment of characters in a horror movie. Your average horror flick involves any combination of guts and gore, masked murderers moving at a snail’s pace and ghosts wreaking havoc within inconveniently located houses in the middle of nowhere. And in my years of consuming slasher films, ghost stories, monsters and more, I’ve noticed a trend. When it comes to the characters in a horror movie, 7 cinematic standards seem to get the starring roles.

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The Villain

Technically speaking, every plot should have an antagonist. But since I’m referring specifically to the characters in a horror movie, it’s important to note that the villain is impervious to conventional means of self-defense by the protagonists. Bullets, blunt objects, electrocution: Nothing is going to keep this guy down. Expect the horror movie villain to have inexplicable superhuman strength if he’s alive, an insatiable craving for brains if he’s undead or a relentless need to possess your soul if he’s an apparition in the spirit world. The villain can come in many forms and he’s planning to stick around for a sequel.


The horror movie villain is a classic character that often appears in horror films. They are usually the source of fear and terror in the movie, and often have supernatural powers or strength. Villains can take on many forms, such as a living person with superhuman strength, an undead creature with an insatiable appetite for brains, or a spirit that seeks to possess the soul of its victims. They are often difficult to defeat and may even return for a sequel. In order to survive the horror movie villain, it is important to use unconventional means of self-defense, such as outsmarting them or using supernatural means to defeat them.


The Wise Elder

Maybe it’s old Farmer Joe who remembers the time that the axe wielding maniac first took to slaying youth in the small town. Or it’s Irma, the little old lady across the street who doesn’t bother with the rest of the neighbors, but warms up to the protagonist who moves into the haunted house. Always trust the wise old ladies and gents of the horror genre. They’ve been around long enough to know every secret back story. And they’re going to tell a trepidatious young person all about it.


The wise elder is a character who is usually an elderly person and appears in horror movies to provide guidance and advice to the protagonist. Often, they have lived in the area a long time, and have knowledge of the history of the town and its dark secrets. They can be helpful in providing clues to help the protagonist solve the mystery or survive the horror. They may also offer insight into the motivations of the villain. In some cases, they may even be the one who has to sacrifice themselves in order to save the protagonist.

Frequently asked questions

A standard character is a type of role that appears regularly in horror movies, like the brave hero, the final girl, or the wise old person who knows about the monster.

Yes, the 'final girl' is a common character who is usually the last person left alive to face the monster or killer.

Characters might make silly decisions to move the story along and create scary situations, like going into a dark basement alone or hiding in a place that's easy to find.

Most horror movies have a villain or monster that scares the characters and audience, like a ghost, a serial killer, or a creature.

Not always, but many horror movies have at least one survivor, often called the 'final girl' or 'sole survivor,' who overcomes the horror in the end.


The Ditzy Friend Who Won’t Make It

Sorry to say, not everyone survives the hauntings, possessions, murderous rampages and monster attacks of the average horror film. However, there always seems to be one character that I can’t seem to muster much sympathy for in their passing. You know the one. The loudmouthed girly-girl who won’t stop whining long enough to check the backseat before getting in the car. Or there’s the stereotypically misogynist male who is so preoccupied with making brainless comments about the girls, that he’s the first victim of the zombie apocalypse.


The Ditzy Friend Who Won't Make It is a common character trope in horror movies. This character is usually female, and is portrayed as being overly girly and not taking the threat of danger seriously. She is often the first victim of whatever horror is happening, as her lack of awareness and refusal to take the situation seriously leads to her demise. This character trope is often seen as a way to reinforce gender stereotypes, and can be seen as an example of misogyny in horror films. In recent years, the character has become more complex and nuanced, with some films exploring the motivations behind her actions.


The Convincing Red Herring

When the villain is a giant mutant squid or a foul-mouthed killer doll, the protagonists know what they’re dealing with. But when it comes to stalkers or masked murderers within the horror genre, sometimes the villain’s identity is not revealed right away. I mean, how many would-be killers donned the ghost face costume in the Scream franchise? The obvious red herring of the horror genre could be the angry mumbling guy who lives with his mother and their 10 cats, the mentally disturbed teenager pumping gas at the rundown station on the edge of town or the woman who the lead characters snubbed in high school. Any one of those people could be the killer. But they’re not. They’re just the creepy and convenient distraction from the truth.


In horror flicks, the charm is often in the misdirection. Who's lurking behind the curtain? The audience is led on a merry, frightful chase, clinging to the edge of their seats as the presumed perpetrator skips red herrings across our minds like pebbles across a pond. Yet, it's seldom the oddball recluse or the scorned classmate. Instead, the real culprit lingers in plain sight, shrouded in normalcy, making everyone question their judgements. It’s this twist of expectations that keeps fans coming back, eager for that spine-tingling moment of revelation where the true villain stands unveiled.


The Diehard Survivalist

The diehard survivalist character is fit, fast and prepared for whatever evil lurks around the corner. There’s only one problem. They are often so driven to survive the horror movie massacre, that they are willing to do whatever it takes to be the last man (or woman) standing. The diehard survivalist character will leave the wounded behind without a shred of guilt. Friends, family or significant other... they’re expendable if it means the diehard survivalist is getting away unscathed. But it’s all for nothing. In the end, comeuppance usually comes calling.


This go-it-alone attitude might seem cold-hearted, but the survivalist often becomes a fan favorite. Their badassery earns them respect, albeit grudgingly. Training montages, a copious knowledge of traps, and an unwavering stare into the abyss, this character seems invincible until the twist of fate. It's that moment of hubris, perhaps a split second of humanity, that seals their fate. In the harrowing final act, their survival skills are ultimately outmatched not by brawn, but by the heart they forgot they had.


The Crowd Favorite

He might be the unconventionally cute, wisecracking friend with the heart of gold or the adorable nerdy girl who keeps calm amidst the terror despite her asthma attacks. Like I said earlier, not everyone will survive a horror film. But as the viewer, I’m really rooting for their survival. There’s something about the crowd favorite character, an endearing quality that sneaks into the heart. They’re well loved by the other characters in the movie, despite some odd quirks. The crowd favorite character may not have the lead role, but I’m hoping they stick it out to the end nonetheless.


They often provide comic relief with their quick wit or unexpected bravery, sometimes even stealing the spotlight with their strategic thinking or self-sacrificing moves. It’s their blend of vulnerability and spunky spirit that has audiences silently chanting for their safety. Picture the theater collectively holding its breath when they're cornered, or the shared sighs of relief when they narrowly escape. Their death, should it come, hits harder than most—it's like losing the soul of the group. So we keep our fingers crossed, hoping they'll outsmart, outlast, and outlive the embodiment of our nightmares.


The Resourceful Heroine

Surviving a horror movie is no small feat. It takes strength, skill, intelligence and the ability to lose pints of blood without slowing down. The woman who survives the 90 or so odd minutes of cinematic terror is quick to improvise with the weaponry, and even quicker with the one-liners. The survivor is stoic, despite all of her friends and family members being dispatched by a maniac. And though she is battered, bruised and likely in pretty bad shape, her hair is still perfectly coiffed.

Don’t get me wrong. I love horror movies. There’s nothing like those brief moments of terror, that unknown danger in the dark waiting to pop up at any moment. But in seeing hundreds of horror movies over the years, I have to say that it’s hard to miss a sometimes formulaic trend in character traits that seem to be featured in nearly every flick. What types of horror movie characters do you think get the most screen time?

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Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

What is so true

So true lol

You cannot have a murder mystery without any red herrings. That's the point, that you suspect someone else until the end!

Haha, this is so true! Great article (:

Of course! You can never have a murder mystery without red herrings! That's the point, the audience must suspect someone until the end plot twist!

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