The Unusual Case of the Unchanging Hero

Every tory is about change. In most stories, the hero goes from an unhappy, dead end life to a happier life by the end. In tragedies, the hero goes from a happy situation to an unhappy situation by the end. Whatever happens to your hero, you don’t have a story unless you have change.

Typically the hero changes. The hero is one type of person in the beginning but by the end, that hero has become a much different, often better person in the end. However, in rare cases, the hero largely stays the same. When you have a mostly unchanging hero, that hero must change multiple people around them.

Two examples of unchanging heroes are “Back to the Future” and “WALL-E.” In “Back to the Future,” Marty goes through a minor change. Initially, he thinks he’s not good enough to become a musician. By the end of the story, he learns he is good enough to be a musician when he plays at his parents’ high school dance.

However, Marty doesn’t change as drastically as other heroes. What’s important is that Marty drastically changes the lives of everyone around him. First, he changes his father, who begins as a wishy washy character but emerges in the end as a strong, confident man.

Second, Marty’s actions also change the villain, Biff. Where Biff had been bullying his father, now Biff becomes a docile person who works for Marty’s dad. Indirectly, Marty’s actions change his entire family from his brother and sister to his mother. The lives of so many people change drastically because of Marty’s actions.

WALL-E, in “WALL-E,” is another largely unchanged hero. WALL-E starts out wanting love and by the end, he finds love. Yet he doesn’t really change much as a hero. Instead, his actions drastically change the lives of everyone he touches.

First, he changes the fate of the starship captain who was initially bored of life but now finds a new purpose in leading the human race back to Earth. Second, WALL-E changes the lives of a human couple he helps bring together so they can find each other and fall in love.

Third, WALL-E changes the life of the rebellious robots who can now continue their behavior without being oppressed by the villain. By changing the lives of so many people, WALL-E remains the same but everyone else changes.

Ideally, your hero should be the one who changes he most, but if your story works better with an unchanging hero, make sure your hero changes everyone around him or her. In fact, always make sure your hero changes everyone around them to create a deeper, richer story.

So your hero may change drastically or may stay largely the same. Whatever happens, everyone around the hero must change too, and that’s what’s really important in the end.

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