Every author has character types that they love more than others. For Victor Hugo it was men who buck the system (and pretty much fail) and the innocent women who inspire them (and end up dead... it was the 1880s). For Mary Shelley, it was the Byronic hero. For me, it breaks down into a total of three hero types, two heroine types, and two villain types.
Hero Type One: The Knight
Examples: Samurai Jack (Show of the same name), Sir Gawain (Arthurian legends), Robin Hood (English legends), Thor (Marvel Comics), Vincent (Beauty and the Beast 1987).
These are the men among men, characters who stand out for their larger than life heroism. The Knight is valiant, fearless, kind, and a gentleman. Most have some kind of flaw, for instance Thor's cockiness, Gawain's temper, and Vincent's rages. These characters, while being flawed, are loyal and summon loyal people around them, for example Samurai Jack's friend the Scotsman, Gawain's brothers and friends, and Thor's friends The Warriors Three-plus-Sif.
Hero Type Two: The Idealist.
Examples: Mork (Mork and Mindy), Simon Tam (Firefly), Daniel Jackson (Stargate), Ralph Hinkley (The Greatest American Hero).
The idealist is the fellow who is perhaps a little naive, bookish, and an explorer. He might be a literal alien, like Mork, or he may just feel like one in the setting he finds himself in, like Simon or Ralph. He is most definitely highly intelligent, but not street smart or knowledgeable about the place he finds himself. The other characters are prone to protect and instruct the idealist in what he needs to know to protect himself, but they value his idealism and do not let him loose it.
Hero Type Three: The Byronic Hero.
Examples: Odo (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), The Doctor (Dr. Who), Ka D'Argo (Farscape), Loki (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Imhotep (The Mummy 1932).
The Byronic hero is a man who rages against the machine, and sometimes wins. He is often cold, aloof, stubborn, intelligent, and acts in defiance of convention. On the good side, he is also loyal, idealistic, and passionate about his friends, loved ones, and ideals, though he often looses those closest to him in tragic ways. In the case of Loki and Imhotep, this leads to outright villainy to get what they most desire. Outright good Byronic Heroes are out of the box thinkers with a strong sense of right and wrong like The Doctor and Odo, and great warriors like Ka D'Argo.
Heroine Type One: The Nurturer.
Examples: Galadriel and Arwen (Lord of the Rings), Kaylee (Firefly), Rose Tyler (Dr. Who) Mindy McConnell (Mork and Mindy).
The Nurturer is a character whose nature is to love. She is often connected with nature in some way, and is often paired with the Byronic hero or the idealist in a romantic couple, though not always. She loves to help and comfort others, but she will not hesitate to arm herself in the defense of those she loves most, as with Galadriel and Arwen. She is also loyal to a fault and won't abandon anyone she loves, as with Kaylee, Mindy, and Rose. Her touch, if not literally, then figuratively, heals the hurts of others and even the hardest hearted love her.
Heroine Type Two: The Fighter
Examples: Eowyn of Rohan (Lord of the Rings), Tauriel of Mirkwood (The Hobbit), Princess Jasmine (Aladdin), Mulan (Mulan), Elisa Maza (Gargoyles), Rose Doyle, Lesley Bennett-Doyle, Tinny Doyle (The Republic of Doyle).
The Fighter is the woman who deals more physically with life's problems. While the Nurturer turns to comfort and care for the bruised and broken, the Fighter says "Who did this to you so I can beat them up?" They stand up for what they believe in with a bit more vigor than the average Nurturer (though these types often overlap) and are willing to take up arms in the defense of the people they love most. These women will also put it to you straight if you goof up royally and are not afraid to face overwhelming odds to deliver what they believe is right. They are often warriors of skill (Tauriel, Eowyn, Mulan), police women (Lesley, Tinny, Elisa), or marry men who are a little rough around the edges (Lesley, Rose, Jasmine). Male characters need the Fighter to tell them when they've done or about to do something stupid, rather than fight their battles for them.
Villain Type One: Pure Evil
Examples: Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Sauron (Lord of the Rings), Chernabog (Fantasia), Red Skull (Captain America), The Master (Dr. Who).
This character is BAD, literal pure evil. This is almost exclusively a male type, with the exception of Maleficent. I mean when you invoke the Devil himself in a Disney movie, you must be bad. Willing to dominate all sentient beings under his or her rule, Pure Evil wants to make reality itself their kingdom. Megalomaniacs with powers such as Maleficent, Sauron, Chernabog, and The Master use their powers and intelligence against the heroes hoping to out think them into submission. Villains like Red Skull seek out powers to set their ambitions into motion only to have it backfire in a major way.
Villain Type Two: The Theatrical Antagonist.
Examples: Trymon (The Color of Magic), Aku (Samurai Jack), The Q (Star Trek), Doctor Doom (Marvel Comics), anyone played by Tim Curry or Vincent Price.
The Theatrical Antagonist is a subset of the Byronic hero. Charming, egotistical, and humorous, these villains (also mainly male) arrive with a swirl of their cape and a smile on their faces. These guys are as bad, or maybe worse than more serious villains, because they seem so harmless. They see themselves as the heroes of their own stories and don't see much harm in what they're doing, they deserve the good things in life, don't they? Some of these, such as the Q, are not outright villains, more like...annoying guys. Others, like Trymon and Aku present this false face to hide their evil intent. They are tricky for the characters they face and even trickier to write!
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Fridays.