When the Hero Doesn’t Change

In most movies, the hero changes. In “Back to the Future,” Marty (the hero) starts out unsure of himself and living in a dead end life, but by the end, he’s more sure of himself and living a far better life with a much happier family that he helped create by changing the past. However, in some cases, the hero doesn’t change at all. Normally this would create a flat, dull movie like a bad James Bond film (“A View to a Kill”) but if the hero doesn’t change, he or she often dramatically changes everyone around and that’s what creates a compelling story.

“WALL-E” is an example where the hero basically remains the same from start to finish. WALL-E starts out as a goofy but lovable robot with no real character flaws that he needs to overcome. In comparison, look at the hero in “School of Rock” who thinks he’s a great musician only to finally admit that he’s not that good after all. In most stories, the hero finally realizes some character flaw right before Act III begins.

In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the hero believes he’s worth more dead than alive. That’s his lowest point and that’s when he feels like the biggest failure in the world. By the end, he changes and realizes he’s not a failure after all because his life affected others.

In “WALL-E,” WALL-E doesn’t change, but look at all the ways he changes the characters around him:

  • WALL-E teaches Eve to fall in love with him
  • WALL-E helps a man and woman find each other and fall in love with each other
  • WALL-E helps rogue robots rebel against the villain
  • WALL-E helps the spaceship captain literally stand on his own two feet

By changing everyone around him, WALL-E is one of those rare heroes who remains the same from start to finish. The key to any tory is change. Usually the hero must change, but if for some reason it works out better for your hero to remain static, then your hero must change everyone around him or her instead. The more change, the stronger the overall story.

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