Ladies and Gentlemen…
I present to you, the MORPHAGONIST.
I’m not sure if anyone’s come up with this concept before and I’m too lazy to research it beyond google, SO I’ll claim it as my own until I know different.
I’ve been having trouble with classifying my characters… and, running a studio, one must be able to classify characters to keep track of them as not all belong to you.
We began with the classic dual categories, Hero and Villain… but that didn’t fit our needs. The characters who were villains weren’t always villains and how exactly do you quantify evil? Should there be a level of evil that, if a character has fulfilled enough of the deeds necessary, they shall be considered a villain? At that point, most of our ‘villain’s’ wouldn’t be seen as such because some of our REALLY bad guys just fuck up the averages.
Then we went into protagonist and antagonist. This alleviated some problems because ‘antagonist’ doesn’t mean BAD… it simply means ‘opponent’. BUT, it raised another issue, which turned out to be an issue with all static labeling of fictional characters… They contradict dynamism.
A fictional character needs to be dynamic to be interesting beyond a sophomoric sense of heroism and adoration… Good guys lose faith, bad guys find peace, anger is resolved, old emotional scars burst open in a torrent of scarlet fury, etc.
So how can we label characters? It’s necessary to keep our ideas intact. I’ve had multiple scenarios when I read over a character design and ask myself what their purpose had been.
Therefore, I created the term MORPHAGONIST to describe a character who is a main contestant, a main character, who switches sides at least once. In conjunction with the term, you can use a modifier at the beginning to designate if the character has an overall good or bad affect on the others in your story… like so:
Character A is a positive morphagonist, due to his penchant for honor and attempts to help others even though he’s technically a villain, while character B is a negative morphagonist as he is our hero’s friend, but enjoys butt-raping their guinea pigs.
Of course, you could go all out with the greek prefixes and make a character who changes from bad to good a Eumorphagonist and its opposite would be a Dysmorphagonist…
Or I could be completely insane.