The Future of Storytelling MOOC #2

This fantastic course is continuing!

My second task


Please pick any existing serial protagonist that you know very well, and use the attached PDF/the form below to create a character profile. This profile should include his or her most important traits. Please post the ANSWER below this question post.

This is helpful because…
a) …you can compare this profile to that of other protagonists.
b) …you can learn how serial characters are built and why some characters work better than others.


1) Whether it is desires, enemies, professions, hobbies, religions, behaviorisms or else: Please copy and fill out the form with all the info you got from watching the show. (the list is also downloadable via pdf) Maybe it helps to rewatch one of the episodes first.

2) Think about what makes this protagonist worth following through a whole series of episodes. What is it that HOOKed you?

My answers to Task 2:

1) Gender: M
Age: 30ish
Physical Description (Size, Weight, Defining Attributes…): 6’1” average weight, piercing blue/grey eyes, good looking in a cold way
Personality/Nature: Devious, scheming, hides his kind side too well
Ambitions/Desires: Power. To be loved
Is mostly seen as: Evil
Sees her/himself as: Superior
Loves: Men. His employer’s dead daughter and her baby
Believes in: Getting his own way
Trusts: No one
Fears most: Nothing. His worst fear has already happened in the last series
Fights for: His own rights
Hates: People who have it easy
Most important event in life up to date: World War I and/or being outed in the last series.
Most influenced by: Social status
Best Friends: No-one. His best friend turned on him last series

Worst Enemies: His social superiors
Relationship/Family status: No-one. He is alone
Social/Ethnic Background: White British
Occupation: Under butler
Education: Basic, probably learned most during his employment
Hobbies: Smoking, plotting
Special Skills/Talents: Looking gorgeous, pretending to be trustworthy
Flaws: Bitterness. Being gay in a time when it was illegal. Stealing
Disabilities: Bullet hole in in left hand from the war
Special behaviourism(s), quirks,…: Can be witty and funny, observant
Style (Dress/Life Style): Neat, tidy, precise, likes looking good. Doesn’t have a personal life

Name: Thomas Barrow
Nickname: Barrow
TV Series this character is in: Downton Abbey

2) What hooked me is his complexity and unpredictability.

He isn’t by any means a hero, although he does heroic things sometimes e.g. saving his friend Jimmy from a beating, caring for Edward, a blind, wounded soldier.

He isn’t completely bad, although he does very bad things sometimes e.g. bullying William the junior footman, making fun of Lady Cora miscarrying her baby.

He has very clear reasons for acting the way he does—he is gay in a time when he could be put in jail just for being himself, so trapped in acting a way that’s unnatural to him. He is also trapped in his role as a servant—he has no chance to become a free man and live how he wants, he just has to fit in with everyone else and do the best he can. He can’t settle down, get married, have children and live happily ever after—for gay people there was no way of doing that in the 1920s.

I am constantly wondering what he will do next. Sometimes his bad intentions end up causing a good result e.g. when he kidnapped Lord Grantham’s dog, intending to appear as a hero when he rescued it, a misunderstanding led to him actually being seen as a hero. And when he felt disrespected by Nanny West, his complaints to Lady Cora led to the nanny actually being unmasked as a horrible woman mistreating baby Sybil.

The character of Thomas Barrow is never obvious—what’s he going to do this episode? Why is he doing that? What will the result be? He falls in between ‘the goodies’ and ‘the baddies’ and is the most multifaceted character in a series which contains seventeen major characters. Therefore to me, the most interesting.


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