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Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: May 6, 2024


A key character in literature, film, or drama who serves as the secondary focus, ranking just below the protagonist. The deuteragonist often interacts closely with the protagonist, influencing the story’s progression and themes.

What is a Deuteragonist?

A deuteragonist is the second most important character in a story, right after the protagonist. Typically, the deuteragonist is closely involved in the plot and has significant interactions with the protagonist, affecting the course of the narrative. This character often complements or contrasts the protagonist, highlighting key themes and helping to develop the storyline.

How to define Deuteragonist

To define a deuteragonist, consider the following points:

1.Role in the Story: The deuteragonist is the second most important character in a narrative, after the protagonist. This character plays a crucial role in supporting and enriching the main storyline.

2.Relationship with the Protagonist: Typically, the deuteragonist has a close relationship with the protagonist, whether as a friend, family member, rival, or even a foe. This relationship is central to their role and often pivotal to the development of the plot.

3.Impact on the Narrative: The deuteragonist influences the story’s progression and its outcomes. Their decisions, actions, and growth are integral to the narrative, providing depth and complexity.

4.Character Development: While the protagonist generally undergoes the most significant transformation, the deuteragonist also experiences substantial character development. Their journey is essential to the narrative’s emotional and thematic depth.

What is a Deuteragonist’s purpose?

A deuteragonist’s purpose in a story is multifaceted, serving to enrich the narrative in several ways:

Supporting the Protagonist:

The deuteragonist often helps or challenges the protagonist, influencing their journey and decisions. This interaction is crucial for the protagonist’s character development and the advancement of the plot.

Introducing Conflict:

By presenting alternative viewpoints or obstacles, the deuteragonist can introduce conflict that propels the story forward. This conflict can be internal, stemming from differing goals or personalities, or external, arising from the circumstances in which both characters find themselves.

Enhancing Themes:

The deuteragonist’s personal story and evolution often mirror or contrast with the protagonist’s, highlighting the central themes of the narrative. This comparison can deepen the audience’s understanding of the story’s moral and thematic questions.

Expanding the Story’s Scope:

Through the deuteragonist, writers can explore subplots and additional aspects of the story’s world, providing a richer, more immersive experience for the audience. This character adds layers to the narrative, offering different perspectives and insights.

Emotional Connection:

The deuteragonist can serve as an emotional bridge for the audience, offering additional points of identification or sympathy. This helps to engage the audience more deeply with the story as a whole.

Examples of Deuteragonist

Here are ten examples of deuteragonists from various narratives across literature and film:

  1. Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes series – Serves as a foil to Sherlock’s brilliant but emotionally detached personality, providing a more relatable perspective to the audience.
  2. Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings – Supports Frodo Baggins on his quest to destroy the One Ring, providing emotional and physical support that is crucial to the success of the mission.
  3. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series – Both serve as close friends and aides to Harry, each bringing their unique strengths to help him in his battles against dark forces.
  4. Iago in Othello – Acts as a catalyst for much of the action in the play, manipulating other characters and driving the plot towards its tragic end.
  5. Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy – While Luke Skywalker is the primary protagonist, Leia is crucial in the fight against the Empire and her actions directly influence the plot and other characters.
  6. Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby – His narration provides the audience with a window into the complex world of Jay Gatsby and the 1920s New York society.
  7. Kaz Brekker in Six of Crows – As a lead character who is closely intertwined with the ensemble cast, particularly Inej Ghafa, who plays significant roles in driving the group’s heists.
  8. Hassan in The Kite Runner – His deep bond with Amir and the consequences of their childhood actions profoundly affect Amir’s journey throughout the novel.
  9. Chewbacca in Star Wars – Serves alongside Han Solo, impacting key events in the series and providing physical and emotional support.
  10. Nakia in Black Panther – Plays a crucial role as T’Challa’s ally and former lover, influencing his decisions and actions as King of Wakanda.

Deuteragonist in naruto

In the anime and manga series Naruto, the role of the deuteragonist shifts as the storyline progresses, reflecting the evolving relationships and narrative focus. However, a few key characters consistently serve in roles closely aligned with that of a deuteragonist:

  1. Sasuke Uchiha – Throughout much of the series, Sasuke is the most prominent deuteragonist. His complex relationship with Naruto Uzumaki, the protagonist, drives much of the narrative. Sasuke’s journey from friend to foe and back to ally, fueled by his quest for power and revenge, deeply influences Naruto’s own path and the series’ major conflicts.
  2. Sakura Haruno – Although often seen as part of the main trio alongside Naruto and Sasuke, Sakura steps into a deuteragonist role particularly in story arcs where her medical skills, emotional growth, and personal battles are highlighted. Her development from a lovesick girl into a strong, independent kunoichi mirrors and supports the themes of growth and self-discovery prevalent in Naruto’s journey.

These characters enhance the narrative of Naruto by providing depth, contrast, and complexity to the protagonist’s story, each in their unique ways affecting the overarching plot and the protagonist’s development.

Deuteragonist in anime

In the world of anime, the deuteragonist plays a pivotal role in enriching the narrative by providing depth to the protagonist’s journey and enhancing the thematic elements of the story. These characters often possess their own detailed backstories and motivations, which intersect with and impact the main storyline in meaningful ways. They help to explore complex themes such as loyalty, sacrifice, or rivalry, providing a broader perspective on the anime’s moral and philosophical questions.

For example, Killua Zoldyck from Hunter x Hunter serves as the deuteragonist to Gon Freecss. Killua’s intricate family background and personal struggles with his assassin identity deeply influence his interactions with Gon, contributing significantly to both characters’ development. Similarly, Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z starts as an antagonist but evolves into a deuteragonist, offering a stark contrast to Goku’s personality and values. His journey from a prideful warrior prince to a dedicated family man and protector of Earth mirrors and challenges Goku’s more straightforward heroic narrative, adding layers of complexity to the overarching story.

Difference between Protagonist, Deuteragonist, Tritagonist

Difference between Protagonist, Deuteragonist, Tritagonist
RoleDescriptionExample Function in a Story
ProtagonistThe central character around whom the main narrative revolves. This character is typically the hero or main focus of the story.Faces the main conflict and drives the plot forward.
DeuteragonistThe second most important character, providing a secondary focus. This character supports or contrasts the protagonist, adding depth and perspective to the narrative.Supports or challenges the protagonist, influencing key themes and plot developments.
TritagonistThe third key character, who adds another layer of complexity. Though not as central as the first two, the tritagonist significantly supports the narrative structure.Facilitates key plot developments, often acting as a critical ally or opponent.
  1. Protagonist: The protagonist is the central character of a story, around whom the main narrative revolves. This character is often the hero or the primary focus of the audience’s attention and emotional investment. The protagonist is usually the one who faces the main conflict and must undergo significant growth or change by the story’s conclusion. Their actions drive the plot forward and are critical to the resolution of the conflict.
  2. Deuteragonist: The deuteragonist is the second most important character in the story, serving as a secondary focus. This character often supports or contrasts the protagonist, providing a supplementary perspective or additional layer to the narrative. The deuteragonist can be a close ally, a rival, a foil, or even a secondary antagonist, but their role is essential in highlighting and developing the protagonist’s character and themes of the story.
  3. Tritagonist: The tritagonist is the third most important character, adding yet another layer of complexity to the narrative. While not as central as the protagonist or deuteragonist, the tritagonist often plays a pivotal role in supporting the narrative structure, often influencing key plot developments or serving as a critical ally or opponent. In some stories, this character provides a necessary secondary perspective or acts as a bridge between other characters, facilitating interactions and conflicts that enrich the plot.


Does every story have a deuteragonist?

Not every story explicitly features a deuteragonist. Some narratives may focus solely on the protagonist, while others might have multiple characters sharing the secondary focus without one clear deuteragonist.

Can a deuteragonist become a protagonist?

In some stories, especially those with multiple arcs or sequels, a deuteragonist can evolve into a protagonist, particularly if the narrative shifts to focus more on their perspective and journey.

Can a villain be a deuteragonist?

Yes, a villain can be a deuteragonist if they are the second most important character in the story and their actions significantly impact the protagonist and the plot, enriching the narrative’s depth.

What are the 4 types of protagonist?

Heroic Protagonist: Classic hero with moral integrity and bravery.
Antihero Protagonist: Flawed hero with questionable morals and unconventional methods.
Tragic Protagonist: Doomed by fatal flaws or circumstances, leading to downfall.
Everyman Protagonist: Ordinary individual in extraordinary situations, relatable to the audience.

How do you write a good deuteragonist?

To write a good deuteragonist, develop their character as fully as you would the protagonist. Give them clear motivations, a compelling backstory, and a dynamic relationship with the protagonist that impacts both their developments throughout the story.

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