Fixing the geek archetype chart

The Archetypes
The Archetypes

I love charts and lists! I can’t get enough of them. Charts and lists about some of my favorites stories? Heaven. Although, I do feel the need to argue with them and correct them when they are wrong. This chart is okay, but has a few glaring errors. Of course, I have to correct them.

Here is my version of the archetypes in these books, movies, and television show. I’ll put my changes in bold.

I’ll start with Firefly since it is the one with the most errors (in my opinion).

Hero: Mal. I’d add Simon. Simon is a young man who has to leave his comfortable world and set out on an adventure. His quest is to save his sister and find out what has been done to her. He goes through many trials and hardships, learns about himself through those trials, and gains wisdom.

Sidekick: Zoe. Wash shouldn’t be included as a Sidekick. He was a Sidekick in one episode, but he does not typically fulfill the Sidekick role. Zoe is the one who fought with Mal in the war and always goes out on business dealings with him.

Maiden: Kaylee. Inara is all wrong! The Maiden archetype is all about innocence, purity, and virginity. Inara is a companion, a prostitute…hardly an example of the Maiden! Kaylee may not be virginal, but she always exudes a sense of sweetness and innocence.

Wise Old Man: Shepherd

Nurturing Mother: Serenity. It may seem strange to have a ship be the Nurturing Mother, but it is home to the crew, it is the place where everyone gets cared for and healed, and she (Serenity) is always referred to in loving words. The ship members love Serenity and she cares for them in return.

Eternal Child: River

Villain: Alliance

Shapeshifter: Jayne. Saffron is a Shapeshifter, but only in a couple of episodes. Jayne is the Shapeshifter for the whole series. He is the one we and the ship’s crew are unsure of. We do not know when he will turn and betray the crew; it could happen at any time. In fact, he does betray members of the crew, and even after he has betrayed them and been punished for it, we still do not trust him.

Trickster: Wash. Wash is the Trickster, not Jayne! Wash is the comic relief, the funny crew member who never takes things seriously. Jayne can be funny, but Wash is ALWAYS funny!

Harry Potter
The Hero: Harry, of course!

Sidekick: Ron and Hermione

Maiden: Ginny

Wise Old Man: Dumbledore

Nurturing Mother: Molly Weasley. This is one that I thought the chart got terrible wrong. Professor McGonagall as the Nurturing Mother! Absolutely not. If I were to put McGonagall as an archetype, she’d be the Crone. The Crone is the older wise woman. She’s got the wisdom of many years and experience, and she uses those to help the Hero. Molly Weasely is the ultimate mother figure.

Eternal Child: Hagrid. I’d also add Dobby.

Villain: Voldemort, of course. Really, there could be no other.

Shapeshifter: Snape. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Snape is a brilliant example of the Shapeshifter archetype. There are other Shapeshifters within the different books (like Sirius Black), but Snape is the main one.

Trickster: Fred and George. I’d add Peeves. Peeves is the classic jester. He can get away with saying and doing things that no one else can. He isn’t on anyone’s side; he just likes to cause trouble.

Lord of the Rings
Hero: Frodo and Aragorn. They each represent a different kind of Hero, but both are definitely Hero’s.

Sidekick: Sam (Frodo’s Sidekick) and Legolas and Gimli (Aragorn’s). I wrote a post about how Sam is the ultimate Sidekick.

Maiden: Arwen. I agree that she is the Maiden, but she’s hardly mentioned in the books, except in the Appendix. It works well for the movies though.

Wise Old Man: Gandalf. Of course!

Nurturing Mother: Galadriel works, but I think it works even better to argue that all of the Elves represent the Nurturing Mother archetype. The hobbits and Strider are taken in and cared for in Rivendell, even though there is no “mother” there, only Elrond. The Fellowship is nurtured by Galadriel in Lothlorien, but they are also cared for by all of the Elves.

Eternal Child: Merry and Pippin. The chart above shows all of the hobbits, but that is wrong. Frodo and Sam are not the Eternal Child, which we can understand as the man who never grows up–the man-child. Not only are Sam and Frodo more mature than Merry and Pippin when the story begins (Pippin is by far the youngest, being still a teenager), but they are also more responsible. Frodo, the hobbit who is willing to take on the task of carrying the One Ring to Mordor, is certainly not an Eternal Child. No Eternal Child would take on such a huge burden. Sam takes his responsibilty to look after Frodo seriously from the very beginning of the tale. He is not a “man-child.” My only problem with Merry and Pippin as the Eternal Child is that they do grow up, at least in the books. By the end, they are the leaders of the hobbits who vanquish the bad Men and the evil Saruman in the Battle of Bywater.

Villain: Sauron. Like Voldemort, this is an easy one.

Shapeshifter: Gollum. I’d also add Saruman. When Gandalf realizes that Bilbo’s ring is the One Ring, he believes (as does everyone else) that Saruman is the good and wise White Wizard. Then, even after Gandalf discovers Saruman’s duplicity, he still doesn’t realize the extent to which Saruman has gone bad.

Trickster: Merry and Pippin. They represent the Trickster archetype much more in the movies than in the books. They are not nearly so stupid and bumbling in the books.

Star Wars
Hero: Luke Skywalker. In some respects, I think Han Solo is a Hero too. He has his own, very different character arc; he ends up on an adventure not of his choosing, learns from a Wise Old Man, endures many trials and tribulations, meets the “goddess,” has a Sidekick, and helps save the world.

Sidekick: C3PO and R2D2, but mostly R2D2. The little droid is there for Luke when he is on Dagobah and Cloud City. C3PO is often with Han and Leia. The Sidekick for Han, of course, is Chewbacca.

Maiden: Leia. Princess Leia is the ONLY woman around!

Wise Old Man: Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’d add Yoda. After all, it is Yoda who trains Luke after Obi-Wan dies. He is the Wise Old Man figure in The Empire Strikes Back.

Nurturing Mother: Star Wars doesn’t really have a Nurturing Mother. Yes, Aunt Beru is a mother figure for Luke, but she dies so early on, that I don’t think she counts. Usually the Nurturing Mother is someone the Hero meets along the way. I’m going to go out on a limb, like I did with Firefly, and consider the Millenium Falcon the Nurturing Mother. The Millenium Falcon is the place everyone goes to escape the bad guys, and to heal after they have been injured. It is a place of respite for them all.

Eternal Child: R2D2. I don’t agree with C3PO as an Eternal Child–he is a grumpy old man! He fusses and complains about everything. He is not irresponsible, joking, and looking forward to the future like an Eternal Child. R2D2 is much more of a child. He beeps and chirps and jokes around with Luke.

Villain: Darth Vader. I’d add the Emperor, especially with The Return of the Jedi. He is actually the main Bad Guy who Luke has to defeat in the end.

Shapeshifter: Lando.

Trickster: R2D2. I think Han Solo is wrong! He is not the Trickster. If the Trickster is the archetypeal character who not only provides comic relief, but also plays tricks, neglects following rules, then I’d say R2D2.

What do you think? Do you agree with me or with the chart?

6 thoughts on “Fixing the geek archetype chart”

    1. kimberlysbarton

      I wouldn’t classify Darth Vader as a shapeshifter in those first three movies where Luke is the hero. He’s evil from the beginning, and there is no question about his motives. It’s not until the very end that he is redeemed. As Anakin, he’d be more of a failed hero.

      Snape is one of my favorite characters of any book, followed closely by shapeshifter Gollum!

  1. Kilian Metcalf

    I would choose Eowyn over Arwen as the Maiden in LOTR, especially in the book version.

    How about Luna Lovegood for the Eternal Child in Harry Potter?

    I think Sam can give Frodo a run for the money to be in the hero spot. He changes so much over the course of the books, and he makes it back to Hobbiton to live HEA.

  2. Kilian Metcalf

    Oh, yes. Tom Bombadil as Eternal Child in LOTR. They left him out of the movie, so if you haven’t read the books, you don’t know the character. He’s the only character unaffected by the ring. It has no power over him.

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