When constructing a narrative, you will need to include a wide assortment of characters. These characters will impact the plot in different ways. Aside from the protagonist and antagonist, the supporting characters will have the largest impact on the plot.

This guide will help you to foster a better understanding of the role of the supporting character, as well as some top writing tips.

What Are Supporting Characters?

A supporting character is not the main antagonist or protagonist of the narrative. Yet, they still play an important role in the story.

These characters can still have memorable personalities and detailed backstories, though they will not be the primary focus of the narrative.

These supporting characters can have different roles and can fit into different molds. Essentially, they can have different relationships with the protagonist.

For instance, they can be sidekicks, friends, lovers, allies, or mentors. They may slot into common character archetypes like comedic relief. 

Examples of famous supporting characters include Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series, Anne Perkins in Parks and Recreation, and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars films. 

What Are The Different Types Of Supporting Characters?

Many of the most iconic supporting characters from literature, film, and television fit into character archetypes. Essentially, this means that the characters fit into different patterns based on their traits. 

Of course, you should not feel as though you have to stick entirely to these archetypes when writing supporting characters. Yet, some of the most common supporting character archetypes include:

Romantic Interest

The romantic interest archetype has a romantic bond or relationship with the protagonist. They may be in an active relationship or these characters could merely flirt.

Often, the romantic interest is a supporting character that symbolizes the future of the protagonist. Megara from Hercules can be used as a sample for this archetype.


The friend archetype is one of the most common forms of supporting character. The friend does exactly as a regular friend would do, in that they have a close bond with the protagonist and support them.

Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films acts as a friend to the titular character. Another excellent example is Dr. John Watson. 

Comedic Relief

As the name suggests, the role of a comedic relief character is to provide a brief element of comedy. This type of supporting character is a great way of adding levity to a serious story.

It’s important to consider the mood of your story before adding comedic relief, as you don’t want this supporting character to undermine the tone. Timon and Pumbaa are used in The Lion King as comedic relief characters.


The sidekick is a close friend or ally of the protagonist who helps them during their quest. However, the sidekick is often in a subordinate position to the protagonist, who acts as the main hero. Robin is perhaps the most obvious example, who acts as a sidekick to Batman. 


Up next, a supporting character can also act as a mentor for the main character. This mentor will give the protagonist essential wisdom and guidance.

Examples of this supporting character archetype include Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books and Yoda in the Star Wars films.


Lastly, a henchperson is a loyal supporter of another character, typically an antagonist. Typically, henchpeople are male, hence the term “henchperson” has become popular. 

As supporting characters, a henchperson is often portrayed with disdain or comedy. The Death Eaters in Harry Potter is a great example of this archetype.

What Are Supporting Characters?

How Can You Write Good Supporting Characters?

1. Ensure That They Impact The Story

If the supporting characters have no real impact on the plot, then you may need to question whether or not they are worth adding. Do they have a narrative purpose? You don’t want your characters to feel like pointless filler.

2. Give A Supporting Character Personality Traits

It’s easy to gloss over the supporting characters and spend more time developing the personality traits of the protagonist. However, you should still ensure that your side characters have strong personalities, as this will make readers more engaged.

The best-supporting characters have strong character traits, resulting in them becoming as equally popular as the protagonist. 

3. Write Three-Dimensional Supporting Characters

Though the supporting characters will not receive the same special attention as the main characters, they should nonetheless feel three-dimensional and developed.

Without some form of goal or character motivation, your supporting characters can feel flat. Additionally, they can end up merely becoming a plot device that will push the narrative in a certain direction. 

To avoid this fate, give the character a clear personality and backstory. Give them a goal that they want to achieve in the story, as well as character motivation for this goal. 

4. Give Them Distinctive Dialogue

One of the easiest methods you can use to create distinctive characters is through dialogue. Different characters will speak in different ways. They will have different sets of vocabulary.

While some characters may speak in slang, others will have an eloquent and formal way of speaking. 

It’s important to think about the traits of a character before writing their dialogue. Supporting characters may become instantly recognizable if you give them distinctive dialectical styles. 

5. Use Memorable Names

When creating characters, it is always a good idea to use unique names. This is because this will make the characters stand out. When writing supporting characters, you should pick names that are noticeably different from one another. 

Otherwise, the readers can begin to lose track of these characters. For instance, if you have a supporting character called Kevin and another called Keith, readers may get them mixed up.

Final Thoughts

When plotting a script or story, your most important priority will be the main character. However, it is also important to consider the role of the supporting characters. 

These supporting characters can add to the narrative in different ways, such as by adding to the emotional steaks or by providing moments of comedy. With these tips, you can craft the perfect supporting character.



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