Michael Tabb

SCRIPT NOTES: Can the Protagonist Be the Antagonist?

WGA writer,Michael Tabbhas written for Universal Studios, Disney Feature Animation, comic book icon Stan Lee, and other industry players. Follow Michael on Twitter@MichaelTabb.

Alex may be a vicious, demented character in A Clockwork Orange, but is he both protagonist and antagonist?
Alex is a violent, demented character in A Clockwork Orange, but is he both protagonist and antagonist?

I am flattered when new writers try to pitch me their ideas, and I often hear them say that his or her protagonist is also the antagonist. So let’s address that possibility. Is there a case for man being his own worst enemy in a script? We all know a fatal flaw can do a character in, but does that make him the villain?

There are four ways in which one might consider a protagonist to be his or her own most antagonistic force. They are:

  1.  Something or someone from inside the protagonist is what creates the film’s conflict.
  2.  When the inner journey dominates the visual story (focusing on a character’s personality flaw).
  3.  When nobody else is there to oppose them.
  4.  The protagonist is just plain wrong or evil.

Let’s take them one at a time.

To read Michael’s insights into this important question, please follow this link