character weaknesses

So, I’ve mentioned before that characters need weaknesses or flaws in order to make them three-dimensional and believable. So, I did a quick search and that got me thinking about what could be on a list of character flaws and I’ll try to give them pretty much as a list form here.

Understand two things about giving characters weaknesses. One is that characters generally only have one major weakness. So don’t give the character hundreds of weaknesses. Two is that a weakness isn’t always a weakness. It’s just a problem that will cause the characters a headache.

The first part of this list comes from a message board with editing and my commentary.

Get extremely angry when they’re provoked, maybe to the point of violence.

Are opinionated when it comes to things they care about, and don’t like to be corrected.

My grandma is like that. If she thinks something is X, it is X, even if you can give ten reasons why it is Y. If you don’t agree with her that Y is X, then she’ll get mad at you.

are too trusting or idealistic.

are overprotective of their loved ones.

care so much about people in general, including their friends, sometimes to the point of hurting themselves.

are hyperactive and/or easily distracted

Flirt a lot without actually being a slut.

Poor health.

This has a whole range of possibilities, including a physical, visible problem (blind, deaf, crippled, paralyzed), an invisible physical problem (diabetes, a clotting problem, any hormone deficiently, any autoimmune disease) or a nonphysical problem (such as a mental illness.)

Are quiet and reserved. Introverts are generally shy, and find it difficult to talk with strangers.

I know for a fact when I worked for my college calling people for donations, it zapped my strength because I had to keep talking with people and I am majorly introverted.

Are scared of anything.

Some of these, taken to an extreme, can be very bad, like

Can’t be alone.

Can’t stop talking (or can but find it very difficult.)

Can’t stand silence. (imagine a spy with that).

Are incredibly practical or logical about anything.

My brother is like this, but he’ll also suddenly crack a joke so he can be rather humorous. But with him is all in the timing. That’s just another thing you wouldn’t expect with people.

Are passive / don’t express much emotion.

An incredible amount of guilt that motivates them to keep going.

Doesn’t want to be hurt, at all.

Doesn’t trust people in general.


This can be something along the lines of always hoarding money and always investing in something to grain more money, like  a workaholic, or it could be  something like where they don’t spend money, like Scrooge in Christmas Carol. A minor form of Scrooge is kinda like me, where I probably should buy something, but I don’t really need it, so I’ll get by with what I have and improvise.

Doesn’t care about people’s emotions or people in general.

General corruption.

Addictions (whether alcohol, gambling, drugs, adrenaline, whatever)

Tires easily.

Very emotional


Too intelligent.

This sounds just plain weird, however, look at it this way. If someone is really smart and keeps talking over your head, then everything they say is as good as gibberish and you either need to struggle through understanding it, all the while this person is getting frustrated at your “stupid” questions for a “simple” concept, or you would need a translator, who understands it but can bring it down to your level.

Doesn’t ask; just does. the foot in mouth kind of person.

Focused on self.


This can be about anything, from not doing a good enough job, to always being wrong.


Doesn’t notice the details.

It does a lot of good to have a complicated plan but forgot all the details about how many guards there are or whatnot.

Doesn’t explain what he/she is thinking or doesn’t do it well. (And then of course gets frustrated when other parson doesn’t understand.)

Allergic to… something. Take your pick. This could be interesting though.

So, there’s the beginning of my list. I probably should arrange it better although I’m not fully sure how. Anyone else know of anything really good to add so we can get a master reference list going here?

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

12 responses to “character weaknesses”

  1. Abigail says :

    Pride is another one. Not even complete, obvious pride but the kind of quiet pride that is like, “Why can’t i find anyone who is as good as me out there? I know there has to be someone, but where?”

  2. Favoured Girl says :

    I like this list. Very real.

  3. Tboy says :

    Great! This is just what i needed.

  4. Candie says :

    Great information…exactly what i needed =] loads to choose from

  5. Moonlance says :

    Nice list.

    I googled ‘character weaknesses’ and found it after I was writing my own list of plausible problems for my protagonist.

    I’d add for your list (hoping there are no direct repetitions):

    – fear(s)
    – is a crybaby when it comes to a particular situation
    – depression
    – has mood duality, or is bipolar (can be very energetic, optimistic and confident at a moment or period, and by some unexplained reason switches mood, becoming pessimistic, anxious, depressive, self-destructive (going for addiction), life whiner; or vice-versa.
    – deep intern conflict: lack of hope, lack of courage… (Like main characters in Oz Magician)

  6. Katie Morrisroe says :

    Another could be that they can’t say no to others. (gets stuck doing a bunch of stuff for others and not self; taken advantage of by others; can get into conflicts or sticky situations because of the people they are helping [such as helping someone else’s girl/boyfriend])

  7. Amy Petty says :

    I love how “flirt a lot without actually being a slut” was listed as a flaw. Says a LOT about the mindset of the person who listed that, none of which is good.

  8. danceaskittlez says :

    hi. I am a writer too and your page really helped me. I’m working on a book right now, and I found some weaknesses for my girl in my book. I like how these weaknesses are very real and specific, not just things like “mean”, “nice”, “trustworthy” and “crazy.” This was great!! I love writer blogs and I’m glad I found one. ;P

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