Character flaws are what make stories tick.
It’s the flaws that reveal themselves in each character in the beginning of a story that gives you a means to arc their transformation.
Unless of course you’re working on a tragedy that compounds the flaws so the character either doesn’t change or changes for the worse.
Below is a stack of them from annoying to dreadful to absolutely terrible. (Even good characters have bad flaws because, well, we’re all flawed, right. Shading a character with a flaw or two makes them human. Same goes for bad characters who need a sliver of good or a kind gesture to make them a little more real and keep audiences guessing.)
A minor flaw for one character can be a fatal flaw for another. (Amy’s vanity in “Little Women” is a small, amusing aspect of her character she matures out of. While for Narcissus, vanity proves deadly.)
Even a seemingly innocuous flaw can turn fatal if not recognized and kept in check. Subvert audiences’ expectations to keep them guessing.
Awkward – socially uneasy, uncomfortable.
Boring – dull, tedious, uninteresting.
Capricious – given to flights of fancy, impulsive behaviors
Childish – silly, immature, innocent.
Clumsy – uncoordinated, fumbling, often accident-prone.
Foolish – lacking good judgment, common sense.
Gossipy – inclined to spread rumors, talk about others behind their backs.
Gullible – easily fooled, persuaded to believe something.
Humorless – having no sense of humor, solemn.
Lazy – unwilling to work, slothful.
Meek – overly gentle, submissive.
Mischievous – playfully troublesome, rascally, roguish.
Naïve – childlike, trusting, unworldly.
Obnoxious – highly irritating, unpleasant.
Prideful – having a lofty opinion of themselves, rarely admitting to being wrong.
Shallow – having few profound thoughts, caring only for insignificant things.
Skeptical – doubtful, disbelieving.
Spacey – having one’s head in the clouds, absent-minded.
Spoiled – bratty, self-centered as a result of overindulgence.
Stubborn – willful, headstrong, refusing to give up.
Tactless – not very nuanced, insensitive in dealings with others.
Vain – preoccupied with their physical appearance.
Adulterous – cheating on their partner or spouse.
Anxious – experiencing frequent nerves, apprehensions.
Apathetic – having little interest in life, lacking enthusiasm.
Arrogant – haughty, conceited, exaggeratedly self-important.
Belligerent – hostile and aggressive, even when unprovoked.
Bitter – resentful, unpleasant because of a past experience.
Cowardly – lacking the courage to stand up for what’s right.
Dishonest – lying, behaving in a deceitful manner, usually to take advantage of others.
Envious – wanting to possess what another has whether it’s a physical object or a character trait.
Greedy – always desiring more whether it’s food, wealth, attention, anything to their own detriment.
Hedonistic – indulging completely in the pursuit of pleasure.
Hubristic – excessively self-confident in one’s ideas, abilities.
Hypocritical – acting in opposition to their beliefs or proclamations about others, typically because they believe they’re above them.
Ignorant – possessing little practical knowledge, awareness of the world.
Incompetent – unable to perform basic tasks.
Inconsiderate – caring little for the feelings of others.
Judgmental – critical, disapproving, often in an outspoken way.
Lustful – overwhelmed with sexual desire.
Morally gray – neither good nor evil in a conventional sense, moral ambiguity.
Obsequious – so deferential and flattering as to be unsettling.
Possessive – overprotective, controlling.
Quixotic – overly idealistic, hindered by their own expectations.
Rigid – utterly inflexible in one’s principles, even when presented with reason to change.
Selfish – being solely concerned with their own needs and desires.
Short-tempered – quick to anger.
Spiteful – bitter, malicious.
Stingy – mean, ungenerous.
Stupid – showing little intelligence in their decisions or actions.
Vengeful – seeking ramifications for others as a form of revenge.
Weak-willed – timid, spineless.
Abusive – engaging in habitual, extreme cruelty or violence.
Bigoted – harboring fierce, immovable prejudices about a certain group.
Cruel – willfully causing pain and suffering to others.
Disloyal – failing to remain true to the person or entity they pledged their allegiance to.
Fanatical – extremely zealous to the point of delusion.
Intolerant – narrow-minded, unaccepting of others, sometimes to the point of violence.
Machiavellian – cunning, manipulative, unscrupulous in their schemes.
Manipulative – conniving, controlling others to get what they want.
Murderous – desiring to kill, homicidal.
Neglectful – failing to give proper care or attention to someone or something.
Obsessive – so consumed by a single subject that they cannot function normally.
Oppressive – brutally authoritarian toward a group of people considered lesser.
Paranoid – unusually suspicious, mistrustful, nervous that something bad will happen to them.
Remorseless – feeling no shame, regret, or sympathy when they’ve done something wrong.
Sadistic – taking pleasure in inflicting pain or humiliation upon others.
Self-destructive – acting in such a way as to destroy their own health and happiness.
Treacherous – deeply disloyal, traitorous, usually for personal gain.
Violent – viciously, physically harmful to others.
It’s the flaws that shapes our characters, however petty or brutal.