Spill the tea: What I like in a protagonist

This idea has been sitting in my drafts for a while now, and I wanted to write something short, so I polished it up a bit.

Good characters can save a terrible plot. But a good plot can never save terribly written characters. As stories revolve around a protagonist or a group of protagonists, how they’re written and their potential development is one of the biggest factors for anyone to continue reading a story or watching a show.

The things I list below aren’t really general elements that make a story like being goal-oriented. It’s a list of traits that I like in a protagonist when I follow their story.


This is character development, and I think it’s the most obvious one. If the character doesn’t grow in some way, I don’t think there would be a point to the story.

Some of my favorite character developments include Nanase Sakura from An Incurable Case of Love and Jang Man Wol from Hotel del Luna.

Sakura’s development saved the show. She goes from a girl chasing her crush to studying abroad to strengthen her knowledge in the medical industry where she works as a nurse.

On the other hand, Jang Man Wol learns to open her heart once more to others.

Both are very different characters, but their development makes the story so much more enticing.


I like following confident characters.

Confidence doesn’t mean they know how to fight or how to make a witty comeback. To me, it means they have a good head on their shoulders to make a decision and take responsibility for those actions.

Some of my favorite confident protagonists include Jang Man Wol, Ga-eun Seong from The Hip Guy, and Misaki from Kaichou wa Maid Sama!

I also find characters growing into their confidence endearing. Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke is a good example.

Hustles hard

They know that nothing is just given to them. They don’t rely on dumb luck or others to get what they want. These characters work hard to achieve their goals.

One character I can think of that fits this trait is Light from Death Note. He may not be one of my favorite protagonists, but I do love how this guy would stop at nothing to get what he wants.


I like following characters who are a little mysterious. The audience doesn’t know everything about them from the beginning, and they reveal their charms or personality little by little throughout the story.

An example of this is Enma Ai from Hell Girl. She’s creepy, chill, and reserved. Not much is known about her, but there’s something about her that makes you want to find out more.


This one’s kind of cliché and depends on the plot. But I generally like protagonists who don’t have any dramatic personality changes for no or trivial reasons.

For example, Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke has always been quiet and reserved. This doesn’t change even after she gains friends and confidence to express herself more.

I like protagonists who have a distinct personality that doesn’t fluctuate like mad just to advance the plot.

In the past, I used to really like headstrong characters. I thought that being headstrong thought that they meant business. But, of course, that changed as I grew older.

Now I really appreciate the quiet ones… maybe it’s because they’re also closer to my own personality.

What kinds of protagonists or characters do you like to follow? Let me know~

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