Comfort Characters and what they reveal about our desires❤️🔥
Five types of Comfort Characters most commonly found in fiction
When I receive bad news 😞 or have a lousy day ⛈️, all I want to do is climb into bed and watch TV. 📺 I recovered from a bout of COVID recently, and while I wish I could say I’ve racked up pop culture points by marathoning the latest must-see TV, I mostly just reached for familiar favorites. Plus, inexplicably, Ken Burns: Baseball—his narrative style is just perfect for when you want to fall asleep on the couch. 🤒
I emerged from quarantine knowing more about baseball ⚾ than I would ever need and wondering why, in a sea of options, people are so often drawn back to favorites they’ve seen a million times. Then it hit me: when I’m down, I don’t want to process new things. I want to see my familiar, fictional friends, especially my “Comfort Characters.” 💝
A Comfort Character is just what it says on the tin: any fictional character that evokes a sense of comfort and relaxation in the viewer. On a bad day, a Comfort Character can reassure us that we’re capable of overcoming whatever problems we face. If [Insert Character Here] can fix [Insert Wacky Sitcom Problem Here] and win the day, so can we. 🏆
What you value in a Comfort Character can say a lot about you. These are just a few types of Comfort Characters commonly found in fiction:
The Comfort Character you wish was your parent 👪
Some people find parental guidance in the form of a Comfort Character. Maybe your real parents are less than ideal or no longer around. Maybe they’re just fine, and you simply like what you’ve learned from your Comfort Character. Perhaps that character embodies elements missing from your real-life family relationships, even if those relationships are already great. When the fictional kids are nurtured on screen with a little pep talk, shopping trip, or a lovely meal, you just can’t help feeling a little nurtured as well. Like many others, I cite Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls and the mom from The Parent Trap as bonus moms who I love to see on screen. Sometimes we just want our parents to be funnier or more outgoing, and while it’s a little unfair to measure them against fiction, it can be a great starting point for people to analyze and communicate what they’d like to see in their own lives.
The Comfort Character who represents the ideal you 🦸🏽♀️
Maybe you identify with certain elements of your Comfort Character’s life and personality, but they just seem to handle life challenges with more grace and finesse. Again, fiction can be more glamorous and clean-cut than reality, and comparing your own life to a story dreamed up in a writer’s room can lead to peril. Still, the ideal self as a Comfort Character can provide profound opportunities for introspection and personal goal setting. In a tough situation, you might ask yourself, “What would [Insert Comfort Character Here] do?” and find yourself inspired by the answer.
The Comfort Character you’d want as a best friend 👯
Some characters resonate with audiences as the perfect best friend. If they were real, you’d count on them as a shoulder to cry on or drive your getaway car. Whatever the situation, you know they’d be fun to drink with. While the fictional BFF can be admired as a stand-alone player, they’re often found in shows with ensemble casts where friendship is a core component. Shows like Parks and Recreation, The Golden Girls, Sex and the City, and How I Met Your Mother were all wildly successful because so many viewers found joy and inspiration in the on-screen friendship dynamics. And in an era where more and more people are emphasizing friendships and found families, this type of Comfort Character is becoming increasingly significant in popular culture.
The Comfort Character that inspires you to imagine a better world ☮️
Much like the fictional worlds they traverse, our fictional heroes can help us imagine better outcomes in our own lives. They can inspire a “civic imagination” that drives fans to fight for social change in the public sphere. If you think I’m exaggerating, think again; during my college years, I was one of the thousands of fans who participated in a massive, successful Harry Potter-themed campaign to push for ethically-sourced Chocolate Frogs. Anyone considering Hermione Granger a Comfort Character can see how her fictional activism could inspire young readers to take action.
The Comfort Character that you’re crushing on ❤️🔥
Sometimes a Comfort Character is just a hottie. That’s okay, too. Fictional crushes can awaken something in people. Just as the Gilmore Girls love interests, Jess Mariano and Logan Huntzberger, inspired never-before-seen assertive, rebellious behavior in Rory Gilmore, our fictional crushes can inspire us to think, act, and date outside the box. While no real person may measure up to Captain Reynolds on Firefly, Topanga on Boy Meets World, or Idris Elba in literally anything, it can be a useful guide in the dating world to consider what kinds of characters you’re attracted to and what traits they embody.
Who are your Comfort Characters?
You can connect with fans of all stripes to discuss your favorite Comfort Characters on Remarkist, our fandom app and ecosystem built for watch parties, games, casual chats, and other fan events.
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