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TV Tropes Monday: Character Witness


Tweet of the Day: Lilac and NaNoWriMo Prep


The Hero helps a hapless bystander background-character type early in the story. Then when said Hero needs help guess who come up from out of nowhere: the Character Witness. The trope serves three functions:

  • Show the Hero/Protagonist altruism
  • Foreshadows a future event
  • Allows the Hero/Protagonist to escape a sticky situation

Of course subversions abound. The bystander may keep their mouths shut when the time comes to speak up for the protagonist, they may turn in the protagonist or die/suffer for trying to help the protagonist. If the character is a Villain with Good Publicity, they harvest Character Witnesses like wheat and have them ready when ever the heroes cast aspersions upon their character as one is wont to do when castings such things.

The moral of the story, oh gentle writers, is to keep a few character witnesses around. You never know when you might need them.


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