Making Characters likeable is not (just) making the others ugly and unlikeable

I’m not sure whether this thread is in the right topic Nor someone already made a similar thread topic, but in light of recent stories I read, I realised this kinda needs to be discussed. Excuse me if I become rambly in the end

This is especially coming from Episode featured stories lately, but could be applied to a couple several community stories too. Usually this is making one-dimensional bad guys (especially mean girls), typically less attractive than the MC or anyone we should like - while their bitchy/assholey behaviour is dialled up to 11.

Pairing the dichotomies of good/bad with hot/ugly can be a pretty, well, ugly thing on its own, for example setting up double standards for creep characters and LIs being sexually aggressive and possessive.

In the case of featured stories, I kinda see why this is the case, since Episode has fewer chapters to get the main plot covered how this means Episode should definitely increase the number of chapters in featured stories in general is another story . But this makes me wonder sometimes: why not use the effort to develop MC or LI or any other important character better, the ones we would be mostly rooting for anyways, beyond ‘crazy for food’ or ‘not like other girls’?

The story which mostly inspired this thread has its own issues. However, speaking more generally - to me, I think sometimes authors conflate an antagonist with a villain. There is nothing wrong to making MCs the good girls and Mean Girls or whatever the bad guys. However, only making the antagonists dictatorial doesn’t make the protagonists Messiah; it only makes the latter really bland, both being very one-note.

So yeah, I doubt I made much of a coherent argument, but I need to get this off my chest. What do you forumers think yourselves?


I completely agree! I don’t mind it if they make the “mean girl” less interesting and pretty, but I feel like almost every *cough episode story cough cough (sorry something nasty was stuck in my throat there) does this. I personally don’t like it when stories create characters with absolutely no personality just to make the MC look better. Like, as much as I wish that was reality, it isn’t. I think it is important to create a realistic personality and backstory for every character you use.
So yes, I 100% agree with you.


I think this ties into your point somewhere on here about how stories will dial up the abuse with MC’s non-LI boyfriend or husband to make the actual LI (who is honestly controlling and possessive too, just to a lesser degree) look better. It’s almost like the dead end significant other is written as a distraction from the LI’s creepier qualities.


I find this annoying too.

I think authors create MCs like this for the sole-purpose of self-inserts.

When the mean girl has the crazy eyes and bloated lips customization, we automatically see her as a tacky bimbo.

However, when the default MC is conventionally attractive, you get to live this romantic fairytale vicariously through her. When you CC her, you get to be her.

Give these MCs some vaguely relatable traits (sassy, likes to eat, introverted but stands up for herself) and basically everyone feels like this could actually be them. Ironic, considering that a lot of people can fall into these categories, and yet, she’s somehow “not like other girls.” I wouldn’t mind if an MC is some kind of pizza connoisseur, but she needs more to her than just that. Liking food isn’t a personality trait :skull:

I feel like this is kind of lazy, and it creates little room for character development later down the road. When these characters are blank slates, the reader can project whatever they want. But honestly, it leaves me feeling kind of empty. The character hasn’t shown much growth at all.


That is certainly the case. Sometimes the logic of it is pretty funny to me tbh. It is like ‘yeah, the ex/current partner you have is pretty crappy to the point it’s a miracle you two are together by the start of the story, but hey, at least the LI is less of that’ :sweat_smile:


The last line pretty much sum up my grievances too. As interactive media, I get the idea of inserts to project oneself onto, but narratively there isn’t anything to root for beyond quirky or relatable traits and jokes.

It’s pretty weird too on what codes and MC from a rival (other than playing as one of them). For instance, usually the Full Flat Too Pouty for Mean Girls or antagonists as opposed to the ‘prettier‘ looking fuller lips for MCs.


I have talked about a thing a bit like it some time ago,

in most stories where MC dates a criminal(mostly mafia boss) she have had a abusive life, sometimes family other times the boyfriend/husband, but then she meets him a criminal, someone most people wouldnt go near, we need her to have so horrible a life she wont think twice about dating a murder. which dosent make sense so much, people who have been hurt will think twice before going into it again, sure some cases they think just a little bit better is an improvement


I tend to find this problem often with the MC and their best friend, too. The bestie is usually quite a dislikable character in some (by no means all) stories I’ve read, almost like the author feels the need to make the friend less relatable & “desirable” because they don’t want any reader to like a character more than the MC. If your MC was really that great, people will see that and love them anyway.


I hate this so much.

It honesty makes me think the characters have “pick me” energy.

“She has to have work done for her lips and she still looks whack. Date meeeee :crazy_face:


That is a good point too.


There’s this one author I see where the romantic rival is always a woman of color, usually with a specific look. Like… to the point where it’s a pattern and I’m just like damn what woman in your actual past are you still mad over?





Man. In general, this makes me wonder on why the lot of the time that BFF characters are WOC, is because they become ‘less relatable’.
Or in the case of featured stories, they are race bent because they are a blank state from the get go.


This is exactly why I don’t read featured stories…lol.





Tell me about it.


In terms of user stories, in my experience, it’s their claim to fake diversity (“see, I don’t have an all-white cast!” ignoring how hey if all your significant POC in a story are bad guys or just devoid of any character depth… reconsider) or the author simply has issues. :woman_shrugging:




Okay, I wrote my previous comment with the context of you talking about these enemy or rival characters who are people of color because my brain filtered it through the thread prompt. Whoops.

I think I’m terms of BFF characters, it comes down to the fake diversity issue. “I don’t have issues with being racist/homophobic! The MC’s best friend is black/gay!” But all their MCs are white or racially ambiguous with Eurocentric features.


Lol, no it’s okay. Pretty much now, I Guess it’s just now how characters other than MC and LI in general get the short end of the stick.

But 110% agree with the fake diversity thing.