When it comes to telling a story, whether it be in a book, video game, or a movie, are the best characters extraordinary or just ordinary? I've been thinking of some of my favourite characters and a lot of them are varied.

When distinguishing the characters, think of ordinary like Atticus Finch who was just a lawyer who was looking after his children. The extraordinary being someone like Sherlock Holmes who is able to solve any crime with cunning and intelligence. The reason I ask is because I'm having an argument with a friend who says books (and fiction in general) should be extraordinary, because people live ordinary every day. I disagree with that opinion, as I myself have always been more drawn to characters who were down to earth and not "special" so to speak. A lot of well known and praised books also seem to have ordinary characters, albeit sometimes put in extraordinary circumstances.

What do you think, Pit?
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Wtf? This is stupid man.
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Characters with few/no flaws are boring. I'd say ordinary.

Just because they are extraordinary doesn't mean that they can't have flaws.
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I've always connected with the ordinary "could be any one of us" characters who become extraordinary, I think it's character development that I enjoy most
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Just because they are extraordinary doesn't mean that they can't have flaws.

That's true. I just thought of Sherlock and similar examples where the characters have like no flaws or personal trouble or growth. But I still prefer ordinary characters usually.
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Characters with few/no flaws are boring. I'd say ordinary.

i just noticed your name n i have to agree w/ this 100% cuz i instantly thought of the drizzt books n how he is such a boring character compared to the more troubled ones like entreri and wulfgar.
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extraordinary. if circumstance comes into the debate, then you're just talking about the story.
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Well, I'm more into extraordinary characters, but I guess both can be good if there's a good plot around them. But anyway... pic related.


My thoughts, exactly.
It would depend on how the character went about doing things.

While I do like Sherlock Holmes, his explanations of how he solves things requires a great leap of faith at times.
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As I always say:

Why not both?

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I think it is far more impressive for an ordinary person to overcome difficulties than it is to a character that has a lot qualities that detach him (or her) from the rest of us.
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Ordinary. RP McMurphy, Winston Smith etc. My favourite characters ever aren't fictional at all (from the books The Corner and Homicide). Kind of shows how ordinary I like them.
I'll say extraordinary on account of Behemoth from Bulgakov's Master & Margarita is the greatest character ever.
I think extraordinary characters have more to offer. For example, the colorful roster of Hogwarts Professors. How many of those do you get in real life?
It's really down to the writing ability and insight into human character an author possesses that will make a book work no matter whether the protagonist is extraordinary or just an average sort of person.
Historically, I think that narratives have always strongly incarnated desirable truths in society. For instance, if we look back to XVIIth century French or English literature, Protagonists tended to be virtuous, modest and honest, as was the prevailing mindset at the time. Playwrights like Racine or novelists like LaFayette wrote this societal construct into the very narrative structure of their stories.

As others have mentioned, Sherlock Holmes embodies cunning, wit and cold intelligence. But, I don't think the question is whether the characters are extraordinary or ordinary.

Just as Sherlock Holmes strongly embodies cunning, or Phedre's character strongly decries passion, so would a so called 'ordinary' character strongly embody the XXth century ideals of humanism, where everyone, no matter what their talents, extraordinary or otherwise, is considered a suitable subject for a story. In this, I believe they are also extraordinary.
If I'm reading a book, watching a movie or what not that is intended to stimulate me intellectually I'd say ordinary.

The only way I can connect to a story is if I make a connection to the actual characters in it. They don't have to be like me in any way but if they don't feel real it won't make any sense. I think extraordinary characters are boring. I mean, they just have an unfair advantage from the get go and that tends to make them very predictable.
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What about extraordinary but flawed? I kinda liked the flawed hero thing the recent Batman movies have going on. Ordinary can either be really awesome or just boring - sometimes I think authors/writers go overboard on the flaws/emotional aspect of ordinary people and it just becomes a drag. Ordinary characters in fiction are a no brainer if you're going for a message, but sometimes I just want to watch Jason Statham beat the living shit out of mobs of people after falling 2 miles out of an airplane while suffering lethal poisoning without flinching. Err... yeah
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