Character List


Staff member
In light of the Session 4-10 discussion of the different types of characters, I thought it might be useful to break down what we currently have so far in this project, as far as characters go.

Now, to be fair, in an actual TV show, the director for that episode would read the final script, and make decisions about how the scenes will play out and who needs to be cast for any minor roles. Since we're at the script outline (not final script) level at this point in time, we can't really say what the final character list for a given episode would be. But we can say what we'd intend, based on the script discussion, and then go from there. Whoever wanted to write a script for an episode would be free to interpret and develop a script based on our outlines and the Hosts' discussions.

So, quick overview:

The protagonist is the central character in an episode. Each episode has one (and only one!) protagonist. That is the point-of-view character who faces a challenge and has a story arc in that episode. The audience sees the climax of the episode from their point of view. We always begin our script discussions with the question of who the protagonist will be, because that shapes many decisions that are made in what scenes to include in the episode. Sometimes, we are tempted to have two protagonists or make two storylines equally important, but realistically...we cannot get away with that. Also, sometimes the episode outline does not reflect the choice of protagonist, so someone writing a script would have to add more scenes focused on the protagonist's viewpoint, or change the protagonist of the episode to match whose story is 'actually' being told. Most shows have a consistent protagonist, or draw their protagonists from a very small pool of characters (or have one main protagonist, but the occasional episode with another protagonist [for that episode]). The protagonist of House is Dr. House, the protagonist of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Buffy, the protagonist of Firefly is Captain Malcolm Reynolds, the protagonist of Grey's Anatomy is Meredith Grey, the protagonist of Star Trek: The Original Series is Captain Kirk, the protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist is Edward Elric, etc. It's not that these shows never have an episode focused on another character as the main character (they do), but that the audience is well aware that the overall story is focusing on one main character consistently throughout the show. We will change our protagonist in nearly every episode, to make it truly feel like an ensemble cast. A character such as Fëanor is very important, but not everything about his story will be told from his point of view.

Main characters: These characters also have a storyarc for the episode. They appear in each of the Acts. They may be the 'protagonist' of a subplot, or they may be the main accomplice or antagonist in the central story. Someone summarizing the episode in 3 sentences would likely name them.

Minor characters: These characters interact with the main characters or protagonist. They have a couple of scenes and some lines, but no independent storyline in the episode. They are supporting cast.

Background characters: These characters are present in ensemble scenes. They are part of a group, on the periphery, or play an incidental role in the episode. They may be there just to remind the audience they exist.

Extras: These characters are not mentioned by name in the script outlines, but are indicated by the role they play in a scene. Bystanders and crowds. They are there to give reactions, to fill out scenes, and to demonstrate the culture of a group of people and the feeling of a scene. Scenery isn't going to be 'tense'...but people can be.

The Frame and Villain storylines are almost entirely independent of the rest of the episode. I view the Frame as 'minor characters', but of course each Frame could be viewed as its own episode stretched out over the entire season.

Obviously, lots of room for interpretation. I'm going to take a look at what we've already done, so we're in a good place when we start up with Season 4. I'm skipping over Season 1; it's Valar-centric, so less relevant to the current storylines, though if someone else wants to take a crack at that they're welcome to!
Episode 1:
  • Fingon will be a protagonist as he’s trying to figure out how to rescue Maedhros.
  • Fingolfin will be trying to figure out the Sindar.
Anyone else care to join in?
So, to begin....
When a character first appears on the show, their name will be in blue. Their final episode, it will be in red. Background characters are minor or major characters on the show who are in the background of that particular episode.

Season 1
The overall protagonist for the Season is Manwë, and the antagonist is Melkor. The conflict is over styles of leadership - if you can have harmony with diversity, or if conformity is required. Also, at what point do you switch from inviting someone to do things your way to insisting? The various Valar and Maiar were introduced over the course of the Season.

The Frame protagonist was ostensibly 10-year-old Estel, but the Frame story was really a tug-of-war between Gilraen and Elrond over how best to parent/raise Estel. Elrond represented an elvish perspective, and Gilraen a mortal one. Gilraen is the Frame Protagonist.

Season 2

The overall protagonist of the Season is Finwë. He is introduced in Episode 1 and he dies in Episode 13. This is not, however, just his story.

Frame Protagonist: Arwen (The Frame Protagonist appears in the Frame of every episode; all other frame characters will be main characters in the Frame, and minor characters in each episode. They are listed in italics.)

Episode 1: The Awakening of the Elves
Protagonist: Elwë
Conflict: How do elves deal with fear in an uncertain world full of dangers of mythic proportions, unknown and quite possibly unknowable?
Main Characters: Celeborn, Finwë, Oromë
Minor: Ingwë, Míriel, Celeborn, Celebrían
Background: Indis (child),

Episode 2: Starlight
Protagonist: Varda
Conflict: Do the elves belong in Middle Earth, or in Valinor?
Main Characters: Ingwë, Finwë, Elwë, Manwë, Vairë
Minor Characters: Míriel, Morwë, Tatië, Vana, Yavanna, Melian, Aiwendel, Olorin, Nessa, Tulkas, Irmo, Námo, Oromë, Aulë; Galadriel, Celeborn, [Arwen’s friend]
Varda being the protagonist here is more of an aspiration than an honest evaluation of the script outline. It's probably still Finwë, despite our efforts to make the episode Valar-centric.

Episode 3: The Great Debate
Protagonist: Nurwen
Conflict: Should the elves remain in Middle Earth, or accept the invitation of the Valar?
Main Characters: Míriel, Finwë, Elwë, Tatië, Morwë
Minor Characters: Círdan, Celeborn, Ingwë, Mairon, Gothmog, Thuringwethil, Lenwë, Eöl, Arwen’s friend, Celeborn
Background: Indis (older child), Olwë, Mablung, Beleg
Likewise, here Nurwen is meant to be the protagonist, but it’s probably really Míriel

Episode 4: Migration
Protagonist: Olwë
Conflict: Is unity the most important quality a leader should strive for?
Main Characters: Elwë, Lenwë, Finwë
Minor Characters: Oromë, Treebeard, Fimbrethil, Celeborn, Beleg, Mablung, Círdan, Míriel, Mairon, Tevildo, Ulmo, Ossë, Uinen, Melian, Elladan, Elrohir, Celebrían
Background Characters: Rúmil, Ingwë, Captive Elf

Episode 5: A Touch of Destiny
Protagonist: Círdan
Conflict: How important is it to leave open the passage between Middle Earth and Valinor?
Main Characters: Olwë, Ossë, Uinen, Finwë, Míriel, Indis (adult),
Minor Characters: Ulmo, Beleg, Mablung, Celeborn, Thuringwethil, Ingwë, Mahtan, Arwen’s friend
Background Characters: Balrogs, Iminyë

Episode 6: Elvenhome
Protagonist: Finwë
Conflict: What do you do when someone cannot be saved?
Main Characters: Míriel, Ossë, Olwë, Indis, Estë,
Minor Characters: Elwë, Melian, Fëanor (child), Draugluin, Sauron, Elladan, Elrohir
(Obviously, we wanted Míriel to be the protagonist, but you have to see the climax from the protagonist’s perspective, so...she was not available for questioning at that time....)

Episode 7: The Spirit of Fire
Protagonists: Indis and Fëanor (they are the antagonists of each other's stories)
Conflict: Fëanor disapproves of Indis' involvement in his father's life, and she tries to form a relationship with her best friend's child.
Main Characters: Ingwë, Iminyë, Finwë, Nerdanel,
Minor Characters: Nienna, Olwë, Mahtan, Rúmil, Fingolfin (child), Findis (child), Galadriel, Celeborn
(Well, if we have to pick one, whose viewpoint is this story from? It begins and ends with Indis, so probably hers.)

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Season 2 (continued)

Episode 8: The Trial of Melkor
Protagonist: Melkor
Conflict: Melkor tries to win back the trust of the Valar after his disastrous battle with them last season. Ulmo and Tulkas are having none of this.
Main Characters: Ulmo, Tulkas
Minor Characters: Manwë, Eonwë, Nienna, Mandos, Ingwë, Fëanor, Nerdanel, Fingolfin, Anairë, Fingon (child), Maedhros (child), Maglor (child), Celegorm (child), Irmo, Nessa, Aulë, Elladan, Elrohir, Background Characters: Finarfin, Woodsmen, [Gollum]

Episode 9: The Silmarils
Protagonist: Fëanor
Conflict: The Noldor seek to surpass themselves. Ominous foreshadowing ensues.
Main Characters: Melkor, Finwë, Nerdanel, Celegorm, Fingolfin, Aredhel
Minor Characters: Galadriel, Finarfin, Oromë, Huan, Rúmil, Fingon, Varda, Galadriel
Background Characters: Amrod, Amras, Maglor, Maedhros, Turgon, Elenwë, Curufin, Irimë
Probably more of these should be minor rather than major....

Episode 10: Kinstrife
Protagonist: Fingolfin
Conflict: The pride of Fingolfin and Fëanor brings them into conflict over a variety of topics, including the leadership of the Noldor, the revelation of the coming of Men, the proper use of a sword, and how much stock to set by Melkor's words.
Main Characters: Fëanor, Finarfin, Finwë, Galadriel, Irimë
Minor Characters: Caranthir, Melkor, Fingon, Turgon, Indis, Maedhros
Background Characters: ‘Supporters’ of both princes, Elves telling rumors, Findis, [Rúmil], [Mahtan]

Episode 11: The Closed Doors of Formenos

Protagonist: Nerdanel
Conflict: In the isolated stronghold of Formenos, Fëanor stews in his sense of the injustice committed against him, while Nerdanel struggles to make him see sense as the distance between them grows.
Main Characters: Fëanor, Finwë, Indis, Maedhros, Maglor, Melkor
Minor Characters: Celegorm, Curufin, Caranthir, Amrod, Amras, Celebrimbor, Ilmarë, Fingon
Background Characters: Soldiers and Craftsmen of Formenos (the same people)
Don't really know where to place Melkor - he only appears in the climax, but there are hints of undelivered news throughout that point towards this. He's not a minor character.

Episode 12: Feast of Reuniting
Protagonist: Fingolfin
Dilemma: Fingolfin is acting-king of the Noldor in Tirion, and he has to figure out how to step into his role and protect his people despite the interference of the Valar and the divisions in his own family.
Main Characters: Fëanor, Finwë
Minor Characters: Aredhel, Galadriel, Celebrimbor, Aulë, Fingon, Nerdanel, Curufin, Eonwë, Maedhros, Indis, Elenwë, Finarfin, Ungoliant, Melkor, Manwë, Irimë
Background Characters: Idril (young child), Ingwë, Oromë, Finrod, Amarië, Huan, Caranthir, Amrod, Amras, Celegorm, Maglor

Episode 13: The Darkening of Valinor

Two part Season Finale
Main Characters:
Minor Characters:
Background Characters:
No, not yet. This is the part of the story where he is snatching babies out of cradles; we won't see him clearly (or maybe at all).
Have I mentioned, @MithLuin , that I really admire your ability to do stuff like this?

So, yes, we do want to make certain that we have a focus for each episode, but we should remember that like the latter half of last season, there will have to be a number of parallel storylines going at once. I would say that having a full storyline in more than three is too much, as we discovered last year. And, only one will really be the focus of each episode, as you say. I don't know if anyone has, but I'd certainly recommend reading some script transcripts from Game of Thrones. I'm not a fan of the show due to content, but it is a masterfully put-together work, and mining it for tools has been quite rewarding. Band of Brothers, Battlestar Galactica (from 2003), and Babylon 5 are some other good examples. Heck, you mentioned Firefly which has nine main characters which are in each episode. I'd mention shows like The Waltons or anything done with The Muppets, but none of these came about in the era of serial TV series. In episodic TV, you can just ignore characters for episodes at a time, and the audience just assumes they are going about their business. In serial, TV, however, you can put minor characters on the back burner for an episode or two, but they likely have stories of their own that the audience wants to hear about.

In fact... I have an idea. More on that idea later.
I would say that having a full storyline in more than three is too much, as we discovered last year.
In more than three whats?

Glad to see I'm not the only one who has watched Babylon 5. It's a good example of the cast changing over time as characters come and go, although it only spans 5 years instead of centuries.