A protagonist is the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text or story. The protagonist is at the center of the story, makes the key decisions, and experiences the consequences of those decisions. The protagonist is the primary agent propelling the story forward, and is often the character that faces the most significant obstacles.
Most often the protagonist is the “good guy.” The protagonist is the character whose fate the reader or audience most closely follows, and who is opposed by the antagonist. The antagonist will provide obstacles and complications and create conflicts that test the protagonist, thus revealing the strengths and weaknesses of the protagonist’s character.
The protagonist drives the story and will be the lens through which the audience sees everything, so the protagonist must be interesting enough to sustain an entire storyline.
The protagonist most often has a goal he/she wants to accomplish and the entire story will focus on how that will happen. That strong desire or need is essential and the whole story will focus on achieving the outcome. The protagonist is responsible for handling the main problem and the one most in need of emotional change. Sometimes the long-term overall story goal is something the protagonist dreams of having. Dreams are things we wish for, things we enjoy thinking about, but not necessarily things attained by ourselves.
Although protagonists don’t always have to be likeable, they do have to be relatable so the audience can root for them. A protagonist has to be multidimensional and have great depth. This doesn’t mean they have to be perfect, as a matter of fact; they must have wounds that drive all of their actions.
The protagonist will be going on a journey, which includes obstacles with bittersweet endings. For a story to have the bittersweet ending there needs to be juxtaposition between a main character’s emotional state at the end of the film and the outcome of the headline, or main story line. The end of the story demands the protagonist reaching some sort of decision. The protagonist might not resolve his/her deep emotional issues at the end, but due to the obstacles, still make a great storyline.