In many thrillers there is a development of the main character or her protégé. I would like to illustrate this with a few examples.

In the film “The Island” (2005), people live in an isolated ward and don’t know that they will one day serve as organ donors for super-rich people. Lincoln Six Echo lives at first as a naive person, but gets behind the secret and can soon escape with a friend he initiates. In the further process he forges a plan, how he can free the inhabitants of the station with his girlfriend. Lincoln Six Echo develops from a good, system-believing person to a critical and defensive hero, who fights against grievances.

In the film “The Fugitive” (1993), the doctor Dr. Kimble is framed for murder. He can escape from captivity and sets out to prove his innocence. He realizes that he can trust almost no one and must be suspicious in order to survive. Kimble develops from a normal doctor, who serves the system thoughtlessly, to a critical, combative person. In the end Kimble can prove his innocence. The murder of his wife was a planned intrigue against him.

Forming a character with pairs of opposites

In thrillers, the central character is almost always gullible and thoughtless at first. She soon faces a massive threat, which she can only escape by learning to fight tricky and being suspicious of everyone. The development of a thriller character from a naive human being to a fearless hero can easily be understood by looking at the following pairs of contrasts. The first characteristic is always the dominant one.

The naive protagonist

inexperienced – experienced

careful – combative

arrogant – disciplined

thoughtless – concentrated

dreamy – alert

haphazard – purposeful

When the naive person wakes up and begins to turn the tables, he becomes a fearless protagonist with the following characteristics …

The fearless protagonist

distrustful – trusting

combative – careful

planning – chaotic

fearless – anxious

avenging – warmhearted

Thrillers show on a meta-level that there is a world dominated by conspiracies and intrigues. As long as a person does not get in touch with this world, he lives thoughtlessly, dreamily and peacefully. However, once this person looks behind the curtain, he will be hunted, he will have to fear for his life, but he also grows in this task. 

The dilemma in the thriller

Gullible and naive figures believe everything and everyone. They trust all their friends and especially the government authorities, which turns out to be a fatal error in the thriller. The central figure of a thriller may be able to escape an initial threat, but he soon realizes that he can only survive in this world through healthy mistrust. The dilemma in the thriller is: Can I trust the human being towards me or not?  

There are always people who betray the central figure, and with superficial friendliness. These are the accomplices of the system. In addition, there are people who are at first rather distant and cautious and later turn out to be real helpers of the main character. The former tries to convince the protagonist to believe him and help him. However, the accomplices of the system don’t believe the hero with his story of persecution. The later helper characters, however, the hero does not have to try to convince. For they have known about the intrigue and conspiracy of the system for a long time.

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