Character Archetypes: The Innocent

The Innocent is an archetype that can be used for a number of different types of characters, though if the Innocent is included in the main part of a story, they rarely remain such. Innocent characters can also fall into Hero, Sidekick, and Damsel in Distress archetypes. Often, they may be children.

Common Aspects of the Innocent Archetype:

  • Generally happy, optimistic people
  • Usually naive or inexperienced in some manner
  • Playful
  • May be too dependent on other characters
  • May ignore reality in order to hold onto ideals

The Innocent Archetype may also be called the Child or the Initiate, depending on who you’re talking to. In general, the Innocent is someone who craves love and happiness, and who hasn’t been beaten down enough by the world to give up on those ideals. These tend to be sympathetic characters and, if not the main character, a Hero often feels duty-bound to protect them from the evils of life.

There are also downfalls to Innocent characters. They may purposefully skew reality to maintain their vision of the world, or they may be dangerously childish, ignoring rules and potential risks. They may also unknowingly endanger people around them with their carelessness or naivety.

Some examples of Innocent characters include Kaylee from Firefly, Forest Gump, Pippin (the hobbit), Dory (from Finding Nemo), and quite a few Disney princesses.

Who are your favorite Innocent characters, Squiders? With your favorites, do they also fall into another archetype?

Next: The Sidekick Archetype

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9 responses to this post.

  1. This is such a fun series. I pick Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Smalls from a movie called The Sandlot.

    Reply

    • I am unfamiliar with The Sandlot (probably sacrilege, I know), but it’s interesting that you mention Scout, because To Kill a Mockingbird is told from an older Scout’s point of view remembering a more innocent time in her life, so there’s an adult slant on the character, even though she’s a child during the action.

      Reply

      • That’s true. The Sandlot has almost a cult like following these days. The original cast got together with fans last year and watched it in a baseball stadium. It’s worth finding.

      • I think this series is wonderful and deserves more action. When you finish, would you be interested in guesting at my place and writing an overall post with links? It might get some of my readers to take a gander.

      • Sure! We’ve got one more archetype on Thursday, and then a wrap-up next Tuesday, and then I’d totally be up for doing an overall post for you. Why don’t you drop me an email and we can plan? My email is kitmcampbell at gmail dot com.

  2. I find it really interesting that you picked out Kaylee. She wouldn’t have occurred to me (and perhaps I still don’t entirely agree) but I can see why.

    My first thought of the Innocent is a not so perfect fit in Princess Buttercup. She definitely overlaps with the damsel in distress, though.

    Reply

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t classify Kaylee as a pure Innocent Archetype, but I feel like very few modern characters–especially ones that really resonate with audiences–can be archetypal. Most characters exhibit aspects of different archetypes, or move from one archetype to another across the story.

      Reply

  3. Orihime (from the anime series Bleach), in addition to being a rare example of a character like this with a not-so-happy past, also puts an interesting twist on the “ignores reality to maintain ideals part”. The ways in which she sees reality differently from others isn’t focused specifically on idealism (it shows up in things ranging from from cooking to picturing her future self), and she actually has the ability to heal people by “rejecting” their injuries.

    Reply

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