Characters inspire self development, self expression, body language and more

 What makes your favourite character your favourite character?


I’m willing to bet that the main reason falls into one of these categories.

Characters Loved for Personal Characteristics / Style: Perhaps you love your favourite character so much because of their style and mannerisms. Characters who often fall into this category include: Neo from The Matrix, James Bond, Marilyn Monroe’s many roles, Connor from Assassin’s Creed 3, Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden, Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy and many more.

If you love this sort of character, you’ll likely love their air or energy or just the way they look and move. But what is it that makes them look so cool? More than anything, it is their body language.

Did you know: Body language doesn’t just give games and movie characters personality, but you and I


Actors, who bring movie characters to life, and artists, who bring games characters to life, are masters at understanding body language gestures, at using the body language of attraction, the body language of confidence and other areas of non-verbal communication to bring characters to life. It’s their skill in using body language which gives your favourite character that irresistible style.

Let’s take a quick look at Connor from Assassin’s Creed to illustrate this point.


The Body Language of Connor in Assassin’s Creed 3


This image of Connor from Assassin’s Creed 3 is the image gamers have seen the most, and its crystal clear even at first sight that the artist has included some powerful body language to give Connor so much expression. All of Connor’s body language in this famous Assassin’s Creed 3 graphic illustrates power and confidence: his legs are far apart, his head is pointing straight forward, his arms are relaxed at his side, he’s leaning forward into the scene and his chest is not covered by an arm or any other object.

These are the body language gestures that bring Connor to life in this image, giving confidence and power. But these gestures don’t just work for characters drawn by a professional artist. They work for all of us, because we humans naturally interpret these body language gestures to mean  confidence, dominance and power.

If you were to walk through the middle of the street right now, with your arms relaxed at your side, your head pointing straight forward and your legs apart (though not ridiculously far apart—a lot of men desperately try to suggest they have large parts tucked away down there but just end up looking stupid), people would presume, without even thinking about it, that you were confident, dominant and powerful (and yes, guys, in your case that will make you more attractive to women).

My point here is this: characters give the impression they do because of the body language they use, and that body language is not exclusive to fictional characters. If you copy the body language of your favourite character, you will give the same impression as that character. .  .just don’t copy Pacman with your mouth flapping open and shut like a fish. .  .gives totally the wrong impression.

By learning to understand how characters use body language gestures to portray their personality, we learn both to be able to read the body language of others, as well as to use good body language ourselves. The result is to give us the upper hand in communication, whether it be in a board meeting, in a date or just with friends in every day life.

If you love this type of character, or want to know more about body language, check out the following guides:
Body Language: Explained     Body Language: Hands        Body Language: Handshakes          Body Language:smiles
    Body language: Genuine Smiles            Body Language: Arms              Body Language Gestures
 Understanding Body language Meanings          Body Language Eyes       


Characters like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings are loved for their manner of thought and speech

Characters Loved for Their Manner of Speech and Way of Thinking: The second reason you might love your favourite character so much is for their way of thinking and speaking—thought and speech can be lumped together here because, essentially, the way we think dictates the way we speak.

Games and movie characters often exemplify different patterns of speech and thought. Notable characters of this type include: Yoda from Star Wars, Amelie Poulain, Yuna from Final Fantasy, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, , Tony Montana from Scarface, John Keating from Dead Poet’s Society, Trevor from Pay it Forward and many more.

All these characters show a very clear and powerful way of thinking. For some (Yoda, Gandalf, Yuna) it’s a spiritual perspective. For others (Tony Montana) it’s their ruthlessness and never say die desire. For others still (Amelie) it’s their oceanic depth of love and compassion.

Their thoughts and words Inspire and motivate our Self Development: The purpose of these characters (indeed, the very reason we like them so much) is to inspire and motivate our self development. Now, I know a few of you readers are not a fan of the term self development, so let me rephrase that: These characters inspire and motivate us to think differently about things, to be a little wiser, or a little more effective in thought. A simple quote like Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try” is more than just a quote. It provides viewers with an inspiration, a new way of looking at a situation, a new way of thinking.  Powerful lines like this lead viewers to challenge how they view the world; the natural result of which is heightened wisdom and perspective.

If stylish characters teach us body language, then these characters teach us how to think in different and more effective or more positive ways, and also to speak with more charisma, more wisdom, more emotion and more influence. To prove this point, let me provide an example from Gandalf.

 Gandalf Quote from Return of the King

Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.

Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one which we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it: white shores, and beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.

Why is this speech so evocative? On the one hand it is simply because Gandalf suggests death is not the end. It’s an inspiring thought, but in different words would be worthless. What brings this most beautiful quote to life is the way in which Gandalf thinks it and speaks. His poetic use of language inspires the imagination. Descriptions such as “The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back” momentarily change the way we think about life and death. In Gandalf’s view, life and death trade roles. Normally, we view death as an end, but Gandalf sees it as a beginning. He makes life itself a limitation, almost a delusion. The “grey rain curtain” rolling up is as the light of morning breaking through the deceptive veil of night to bring day. It’s a use of language which stirs the imagination, challenges us to think differently and conjures O so beautiful feelings as a result.

This, however, you likely already know. But if I were to say that you don’t need to be a master of the pen nor a philosophy major to conjure similar feelings, imaginings and inspirations in those you speak to, you might think I were mad. After all, who could stand in the pub and, straight-faced, say, “The grey rain curtain rolls up”? Surely only the most eccentric among us. Thankfully, however, you don’t need to use such flowery prose to produce powerful speech, you simply need to employ some good power words into your linguistic arsenal. This article will show you how: Power words.


Characters who are loved for Life Choices: The third and last major reason we love characters is that they make noble, brave, inspiring and admirable life choices. Characters in this category include: Jack from Titanic, Aeris from Final Fantasy, Batman and other superheroes, William Wallace in Braveheart, Ryu from the Street Fighter series and John H Miller and co. in Saving Private Ryan. Characters like this direct our moral compass, showing us right from wrong, inspiring us to be brave or to do the right thing.

Where the other two character types described in this article offer clear teachings of self expression and self development, this third type is more illusive, simply because the psychological and emotional complexity of making brave or noble life choices is too deep a subject for any game or movie to cover fully. Where a viewer can directly copy the body language or words of characters, they of course cannot so readily and willingly perform acts of altruism (Amelie) or self sacrifice (Jack). Instead, these characters inspire and motivate us to make, if not angelic, at least moral, compassionate and brave choices.

The most comprehensive insight into these life choices of characters is offered by the study of positive psychology movies, where stories from the full spectrum of movies are broken into twenty four character strengths, where a character like Luke Skywalker from Star Wars illustrates the character strength of bravery, and characters like Amelie Poulain exemplify love.


A list of movies for each of these twenty four character strengths can be found by using these links:

Introduction to Positive Psychology Movies          
 Sense of Humour Movies            Movies about Hope              Movies about Gratitude            Prudence Movies
 Movies inspiring Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence        Self Regulation Movies               Movies about Humility
 Movies about Forgiveness          Movies about Fairness        social Interest Movies              Personal Bravery Movies
  Wisdom Movies           Movies that will make you love to Learn           Movies Inspiring Mindfulness       Movies about Spirituality             Bravery War Movies               Vitality (Energy) Movies             Creative Inspiration Movies       Curiosity       Courage Movies       Movies that develop Persistence                Movies that inspire Integrity             Movies Inspiring Open-Mindedness         Movies about Love    

It’s been proven that we literally, psychologically, step into a character’s shoes when we watch or play as them for a few hours and that the characters we feel closest to genuinely influence the development of our personality. This is a very promising discovery for any games or movie enthusiast. The idea that movie and games characters can literally develop us as individuals completely changes what it is to watch a movie or play a game. As we uncover the secret facts of fiction, we find that fantasy is but a mirror to reality, a character but a reflection of a person in their own eyes.

Thanks for reading. 

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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