Character Analysis through the Alignment System

Character Alignment is a shorthand for a given character's (or religion's, society's, organization's, etc.) moral/ethical outlook on life, the universe and everything. Many roleplaying games use some sort of alignment system as a Karma Meter, an "ideal" for a character to live up to, or just a descriptive shorthand for characters, though some gamers deride them as crutches to "real roleplaying," and some systems accordingly have none at all.

Always remember that the vast majority of characters in fiction are not tabletop game characters, and therefore lack a canonical interpretation of alignment by the standards below. Characters should only be categorized under them when their alignments are clearly and explicitly stated. Both the standards and character personalities are vague, complicated to interpret, and subject to change through character development.

First, some basic definitions of the nine alignments:

Some exmples from popular culture you might recognize:


Star Wars

Harry Potter

Avatar, The Last Airbender

The Big Lebowski

Game of Thrones

In one of the most revelatory comments I've ever heard, a student described me as "a neutral good person disguised as a lawful evil person." That gave me great pause, but now I hope I can live up to that description.