In literature and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances. The name derives from a 15th century English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 morality play
Morality play
The morality play is a genre of Medieval and early Tudor theatrical entertainment. In their own time, these plays were known as "interludes", a broader term given to dramas with or without a moral theme. Morality plays are a type of allegory in which the protagonist is met by personifications of...

 called Everyman
Everyman (play)
The Somonyng of Everyman , usually referred to simply as Everyman, is a late 15th-century English morality play. Like John Bunyan's novel Pilgrim's Progress, Everyman examines the question of Christian salvation by use of allegorical characters, and what Man must do to attain it...


The contemporary everyman differs greatly from his (or her) medieval counterpart in many respects. While the medieval everyman was devoid of definite marks of individuality to create a universality in the moral message of the play, the contemporary storyteller may use an everyman for amoral, immoral, or demonstrative purposes.


The everyman character is constructed so that the audience can imagine itself in the same situation without having to possess knowledge, skills, or abilities outside everyday experience. Such characters react realistically in situations that are often taken for granted with traditional heroes.

Alternatively, an Everyman occupies the role of protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 without being a 'hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

' and without necessarily being a round character or a dynamic character. In this scenario, the Everyman is developed like a secondary character, but the character's near omnipresence within the narrative shifts the focus from character development to events and story lines surrounding the character. Some audiences or readers may project themselves into this character, if no dominant characteristic of the Everyman prevents them from doing so. Others may ignore the character and concentrate on the story arc, the visual imagery, the irony or satire, and any other aspect of the story which the orchestrator(s) of the story have focused upon or, indeed, whatever personally interests the reader.


  • Christian in Pilgrims Progress
  • Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest
    North by Northwest
    North by Northwest is a 1959 American thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason, and featuring Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau...

  • Arthur Dent
    Arthur Dent
    Arthur Philip Dent is a fictional character, the hapless protagonist and anti-hero in the comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams....

     in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon...

  • Ted Mosby
    Ted Mosby
    Theodore Evelyn "Ted" Mosby is the titular fictional character of the U.S. television sitcom How I Met Your Mother, portrayed by Josh Radnor...

     in the comedy series How I Met Your Mother
    How I Met Your Mother
    How I Met Your Mother is an American sitcom that premiered on CBS on September 19, 2005, created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays.As a framing device, the main character, Ted Mosby with narration by Bob Saget, in the year 2030 recounts to his son and daughter the events that led to his meeting...

  • Jim Halpert
    Jim Halpert
    James Duncan "Jim" Halpert is a fictional character in the United States version of the television sitcom The Office, played by John Krasinski. The character is based on Tim Canterbury from the original version of The Office...

    /Tim Canterbury
    Tim Canterbury
    Tim Canterbury is a main character in the BBC sitcom The Office, played by Martin Freeman. He is a 30-year-old sales representative for paper merchants Wernham Hogg and lives with his parents. He spent one year at a university before dropping out, and one day hopes to return to get a psychology...

      in the TV series The Office
    The Office
    The Office is a popular mockumentary/situation comedy TV show that was first made in the UK and has now been re-made in many other countries, with overall viewership in the hundreds of millions worldwide. The original version of The Office was created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. It...

  • The narrator of the novel Fight Club
    Fight Club (novel)
    Fight Club is a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It follows the experiences of an unnamed protagonist struggling with insomnia. Inspired by his doctor's exasperated remark that insomnia is not suffering, he finds relief by impersonating a seriously ill person in several support groups...

    and the film adaptation
    Fight Club (film)
    Fight Club is a 1999 American film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton plays the unnamed protagonist, an "everyman" who is discontented with his white-collar job...

  • Mick Travis
    Mick Travis trilogy
    The Mick Travis films are three films directed by British film director Lindsay Anderson and written by David Sherwin, featuring English actor Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, in which Travis features not so much as a single character with a character arc, but as an everyman character whose role...

     in O Lucky Man!
    O Lucky Man!
    O Lucky Man! is a 1973 British comedy-drama fantasy film, intended as an allegory on life in a capitalist society. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, it stars Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, whom McDowell had first played as a disaffected public schoolboy in his first film performance in Anderson's...

  • Rhys Williams
    Rhys Williams (Torchwood)
    Rhys Alun Williams, portrayed by Kai Owen, is a fictional character in the BBC television programme Torchwood, a spin-off from the long-running series Doctor Who. The character is introduced in the premiere episode as the co-habiting boyfriend of principal character Gwen Cooper...

     in Torchwood
    Torchwood is a British science fiction television programme created by Russell T Davies. The series is a spin-off from Davies's 2005 revival of the long-running science fiction programme Doctor Who. The show has shifted its broadcast channel each series to reflect its growing audience, moving from...

  • Winston Smith
    Winston Smith
    Winston Smith is a fictional character and the protagonist of George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The character was employed by Orwell as an everyman in the setting of the novel, a "central eye ... [the reader] can readily identify with"...

     in Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

  • Winston Zeddemore
    Winston Zeddemore
    Winston Zeddemore is a fictional character appearing in the Ghostbusters films, TV series, and video games. He was played by Ernie Hudson in both movies and was voiced by Arsenio Hall in the first two seasons of The Real Ghostbusters. Buster Jones provided Winston's voice in the remaining seasons,...

     in Ghostbusters
    Ghostbusters is a 1984 American science fiction comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis and follows three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City, who start a...

  • Stan Marsh
    Stan Marsh
    Stanley Randall "Stan" Marsh is a fictional character in the animated television series South Park. He is voiced by and loosely based on series co-creator Trey Parker. Stan is one of the show's four central characters, along with his friends Kyle Broflovski, Kenny McCormick, and Eric Cartman...

     in South Park
    South Park
    South Park is an American animated television series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central television network. Intended for mature audiences, the show has become famous for its crude language, surreal, satirical, and dark humor that lampoons a wide range of topics...

  • Xander Harris
    Xander Harris
    Alexander LaVelle "Xander" Harris is a fictional character in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as in numerous items in the series Expanded Universe, such as comic books, tie-in novels and video games...

     in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Homer Simpson
    Homer Simpson
    Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons and the patriarch of the eponymous family. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987...

     in The Simpsons
    The Simpsons
    The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

  • Theo Faron in "Children of Men
    Children of Men
    Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction film loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel The Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In 2027, two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in England, where the last...


See also

  • Average Joe
    Average Joe
    Average Joe is an American reality television show broadcast on the NBC beginning in 2003. There were a total of four seasons, the first two following the original show premise, and the last two bringing back contestants from prior seasons.-Show Premise:...

  • Everyman's right
  • The man on the Clapham omnibus
    The man on the Clapham omnibus
    The man on the Clapham omnibus is a reasonably educated and intelligent but non-specialist person — a reasonable person, a hypothetical person against whom a defendant's conduct might be judged in an English law civil action for negligence. This is the standard of care comparable to that which...

  • Reasonable person
    Reasonable person
    The reasonable person is a legal fiction of the common law that represents an objective standard against which any individual's conduct can be measured...

  • Common man
    Common man
    Common man may refer to:*Common people*Champion of the Common Man*"Common Man progrum" on sport hosted by Dan Cole*The cartoon character by R K Laxman, The Common Man*The Common Man , the 1975 French film...

  • John Q. Public
    John Q. Public
    John Q. Public is a generic name in the United States to denote a hypothetical member of society deemed a "common man." He is presumed to represent the randomly selected "man on the street."...

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