What Is a Supporting Character?

The term “supporting character” refers to any character who, as the name implies, helps to carry the story but does not carry it. Many people have a different interpretation of this term, believing that a supporting character must help the main characters. This is true in the sense that acting as a sounding board for the main characters is a form of support, but the true goal of any character of this type is to add depth and interest to the plot and story as a whole. Supporting characters can be found in a variety of media, including television, books, and even video games.

A supporting character, in general, is a character who has a personality and some degree of permanence in the story, but whose choices and actions are not the story’s primary focus. As is the case with many television series, supporting characters may have their own missions or be the focus of episodes. Nonetheless, they are not the characters on whom the audience relies for the completion of a story.

A supporting character can fall into one of several categories. These can be used to help you figure out what role a character plays in a story. Supporting characters don’t have to be positive influences or allies, and they don’t have to be related to the protagonist. Some supporting characters are never introduced to the protagonist and may be associated with a villain. Foils are a term used to describe negative characters.

The role of the supporting character in a story can vary greatly depending on the type of story. This character could give the protagonist something to do or act as a dialogue partner. Supporting characters, despite their disparate roles, are easily distinguishable and have strong, fully realized personalities, which is a hallmark of good storytelling.

Many supporting characters in some types of stories may change frequently because they aren’t necessary to the plot’s continuation. This is true of many television shows, where the need to keep an actor on the show can cause issues. Supporting characters aren’t always critical to a series’ continuation, but their absence can cause problems for storytellers.

Supporting characters in a story can sometimes become more important than the main characters. This is especially true for long-running programs like television shows or comic books. When this happens, a spin-off series can be created to turn a supporting character into a protagonist. Former supporting characters rarely become the main characters in the show in which they first appeared, though this is possible in large ensemble casts.