Cast of an obscure 1970's science fiction flick. Current whereabouts unknown
One of the challenges…and maybe one of the greatest pleasures…of creating a series is populating it with a cast of heroes. I know I spend many weeks or months tinkering with characters and deciding who they're going to be. And how many heroes will be needed.
The Power of ONE
A single protagonist is likely needs to be created with his or her plot solidly in mind. With their own wants and needs, wounds and flaws in the forefront, they probably need to be designed to fit a given story perfectly. Of course, ‘fitting the plot perfectly’ might entail making them the LAST person who would want to experience that story. The perfect fish out of water.
Examples: Dexter, Superman, Kung Fu, Kill Bill, and of course, that legendary sword-wielding Barbarian from a fantastical medieval land…
Conan? Conan who?
Comics on the Duck: The Godstrain, Barbarian Adventure, Inappropriate Irving, Putrid Meat, Pinky TA
Two to Tango
A two protagonist series actually seems a more natural starting point for a creator than one. At least to me. It's a handy way to get writing, to have two contrasting types of people talking to each other. More than that, it's very useful as a tool to deliver exposition, express character, and have conflict.
Of course, other characters can serve those functions without being co-protagonists, but a “two hander” can have its own built in drama, before the plot even takes shape!
Examples: Hart to Hart, Simon & Simon, Bosom Buddies (Oh yeah, I'm kickin' it old school, now!), Sherlock, The X-Files, Supernatural, Bones, The Odd Couple, Clerks, Back to the Future, Breaking Bad, and on and on and on…
Comics on the Duck: Greg, Death P0rn, Minion.
And Baby Makes Three
In terms of that “built in drama and conflict” thing, the trio can be even better. There can be two extremes…the Id and Superego, with a negotiator “Ego” in between, and an increasing flexibility in storytelling, whether it's the three bumping heads with one another, or having the characters spreading out into separate adventures that can be edited to their most exciting and cliff-hangery.
The classic trio is probably Kirk, Spock and Bones from Star Trek, where one is all logic, one is all emotion, and the Captain is somewhere in between. The director Ivan Reitman talked about his template of “The Brain, the Heart, and the Mouth” in comedic groupings:
Examples: Star Trek, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, The Three Amigos, Dr. Katz, Two and a Half Men.
Comics on the Duck: Leon, Bottomless Waitress
Next Week we'll talk Quartets, Quintets, and beyond!
all the best,
Banes at 12:00AM, Dec. 10, 2015
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