In literature and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances. The name derives from a 15th century English morality play called Everyman.
The contemporary everyman differs greatly from his (or her) medieval counterpart in many respects. While the medieval everyman was devoid of definite marks of individuality to create a universality in the moral message of the play, the contemporary storyteller may use an everyman for amoral, immoral, or demonstrative purposes.
The everyman character is constructed so that the audience can imagine itself in the same situation without having to possess knowledge, skills, or abilities outside everyday experience. Such characters react realistically in situations that are often taken for granted with traditional heroes.
Alternatively, an Everyman occupies the role of protagonist without being a 'hero' and without necessarily being a round character or a dynamic character. In this scenario, the Everyman is developed like a secondary character, but the character's near omnipresence within the narrative shifts the focus from character development to events and story lines surrounding the character. Some audiences or readers may project themselves into this character, if no dominant characteristic of the Everyman prevents them from doing so. Others may ignore the character and concentrate on the story arc, the visual imagery, the irony or satire, and any other aspect of the story which the orchestrator(s) of the story have focused upon or, indeed, whatever personally interests the reader.
- Christian in Pilgrims Progress
- Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest
- Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Ted Mosby in the comedy series How I Met Your Mother
- Jim Halpert/Tim Canterbury in the TV series The Office
- The narrator of the novel Fight Club and the film adaptation
- Mick Travis in O Lucky Man!
- Rhys Williams in Torchwood 
- Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four
- Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters
- Stan Marsh in South Park
- Xander Harris in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Homer Simpson in The Simpsons
- Theo Faron in "Children of Men"
- Average Joe
- Everyman's right
- The man on the Clapham omnibus
- Reasonable person
- Common man
- John Q. Public
- ^ "WordNet Search - 3.0". Princeton University. http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=everyman. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- ^ "Everyman - Definition and More From the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/everyman. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- ^ Cohan, Steven (1997). Masked men: masculinity and the movies in the fifties. Indiana University Press. p. 20.
- ^ Ball, Chris. "New on DVD: 'Shrink,' 'Management,' 'The Patty Duke Show' and more". 26 September 2009.
- ^ Adkins, Leslie. "AS SEEN ON: My new addiction: 'How I Met Your Mother'". 13 May 2009.
- ^ "Rhys Williams". BBC Torchwood: Children of Earth official site. http://www.bbc.co.uk/torchwood/characters/rhys_williams.shtml. |accessdate=20 January 2011
Stock characters and character archetypes Heroes Antiheroes Villains Miscellaneous
- Absent-minded professor
- Bible thumper
- Black knight
- Blonde stereotype
- Cannon fodder
- Damsel in distress
- Dark Lady
- Elderly martial arts master
- Fairy godmother
- Farmer's daughter
- Girl next door
- Grande dame
- Hawksian woman
- Hooker with a heart of gold
- Jewish lawyer
- Jewish mother
- Jewish-American princess
- Jungle Girl
- Legacy Hero
- Loathly lady
- Magical girlfriend
- Magical Negro
- Mammy archetype
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl
- Mary Sue
- Miles Gloriosus
- Nice guy
- Nice Jewish boy
- Noble savage
- Princess and dragon
- Princesse lointaine
- Romantic interest
- Stage Irish
- Superfluous man
- Town drunk
- Unseen character
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