Stories are told in a very specific way. They’re told with a quasi-omniscient observer in mind. Someone who—taking into account the bounded nature of fictional universes—sees all. Someone who understands narrative convention and need, and who has a perspective that lets them ignore or gloss over things that an in-universe participant just could not. When you are looking from the outside in, aware that you are watching a story unfold, very often the ends easily justify the means, especially if that involves that all-important crux of the story, the protagonist. This cheeky bastard can get away with anything, so long as the story keeps on chugging thanks to her or him and the greater evil can be overcome in the end. I’ve often wondered what the experience must be like for the other characters in a story. What it must be like, seeing this person or people play completely by their own rules, dementedly fixated on some distant goal, completely blind to the destruction they wreak around them. There’s a class analogy here somewhere, but you know what—today, I’m gonna leave it alone! Instead, I’m gonna remember that Community episode where, in typical Community meta fashion, the study group are confronted by all the peripheral characters, and all their narcissistic, ‘main character’ bullshit gets wheeled out and pored over. Reddit was pondering this the other day, asking the question: ‘What Protagonist Would the Characters In a Story Hate If S/he Wasn’t the Protagonist?’ You can check out the full thread here, but below are some highlights.
Header Image Source: Warner Bros