Why The Side Character Trope Prevails
This year the script has been flipped. That main-character energy - hair flowing in the wind and walking in slow motion while the world revolves around them - is over. Thanks to
The Cut – and of course, Tik Tok’s guiding hand – we are now celebrating the side character.
The beloved supporting protagonist who has funny one-liner quips and no real character development. The one who's not really expected to do much but maybe comes in to save the day in the end. You only see them in little doses, but their presence is memorable nonetheless.
History has proven time and time again that it’s the side character that reels us in. Frozone and his super suit in
The Incredibles. Klaus in The Vampire Diaries. For my friends and me, Larry Saperstein’s Big Red character in High School Musical The Musical: The Series. Fez and Ashtray in Euphoria stole our hearts and Mushuu from Mulan can do no wrong.
Look no further for proof of side character love than Stranger Things and the outrage surrounding justice for Barb. We always root for the side characters. So much so that I have trouble classifying them as “side characters” because they’re the main characters in my eyes.
What’s amazing about the side character lifestyle is that there isn’t much expectation, but there is a ton of attainability.
The main character is hard to achieve because, let’s face it, everyone wants to be them – but not all can be chosen. Therefore, you’ve got to get creative and always be on your toes.
Main characters also stay struggling. They’re changing, overcoming obstacles, facing challenges — all while looking polished and cool? Show me the side character sleeping in past their alarm, offering sound advice, and honestly just having fun.
The side character is there to help the main character through coping with humor and high fashion moments. It doesn’t even have to be the epitome of high fashion (cut out exclusively for the main character) - but more outrageous than anything.
The point is to do absolutely nothing but be your cute, quirky self.
No development. No work. No adversity.
Just straight up, funny old you.
This is exactly the side character energy you need. Always looking like you have somewhere else to be, but all you have to do is be right there. Side characters are floaters, contributing to the plot a little here and there.
It’s The Summer Of Nothing.
This summer, be okay with the bare minimum. Lean into the fact that you contribute to the plot just by showing up.
Give almost nothing to the situation and let the world give you everything in return.
Let people wonder what your next move is. It’s up to them to figure out, after all. Maybe you’ll stay if they can hold your attention long enough.
I am all for the side character summer because it means all I have to do is show up and look cute. It’s all I’ve ever asked for. You don’t have to work extra hard and do a lot of soul-searching. You really don’t have to worry about your hair or spend three hours getting ready merely to sweat off the makeup.
The side character is just here for a good time, certainly not a long time. Your time is precious but valuable. Everyone wants you there, but they don’t know when you’re arriving. You leave everyone wanting more.
It’s the summer of the side character and I’m starting now.