The Magician Archetype [In-Depth Guide For Storytellers!]

magician archetype

Key Takeaways:

The Magician Archetype: The Magician character in a story seeks enlightenment and likes to be in control.

Character Traits: Magicians are very knowledgeable and good at planning, often showing their skills in a unique way. However, they can be overly proud and stubborn, which can lead them to make unnecessary mistakes.

Emotional Bond & Growth: Magicians’ stories reveal the value of knowledge and the dangers of seeking too much control. Through their experiences, we learn the importance of maintaining balance and humility in our actions.

Ready to create a convincing magician character for a short story, novel, or movie script?

This guide covers everything from their strengths and weaknesses to their motivations, along with great examples of magician archetypes from popular books and movies. Let’s begin!

What Is The Magician Archetype?

The search for enlightenment can take a lifetime, and the Magician is living proof. The difference between this archetype and the Sage is that the Magician has an agenda they want everyone to follow. So whereas the Sage exemplifies wisdom, the Magician is all about knowledge unchecked.

Their strength is their vast knowledge, along with strategic thinking and a historical understanding. They have a natural curiosity about the world and tend to offer innovative solutions to problems. Along those same lines, though, their weaknesses are hubris and pride, being quick to anger if they don’t get their way, along with aggressive or war-like tendencies to force through their truth when met with opposition.

The Magician is driven by a desire to discover the secrets of the universe and to control the chaos around them. They believe they know the best way to fix things, often thinking it’s either:

This journey teaches us about the strength of knowledge and the risks of wanting too much control.

Love learning about character archetypes for your stories?

Learn more about the classic Jungian archetypes, including tons of great examples from movies and books: the sage, the hero, the caregiver, the magician, the lover, the jester, the explorer, the ruler, the creator, the innocent, the outlaw and the everyman (everyperson).

There are also tons of more niche archetypes for your story characters, such as these: the monster archetype, the villain archetype and the friendly beast archetype.

Strengths of the Magician Archetype

Knowledge

Magicians are often the smartest characters in stories. They know a lot about magic, science, or even secret truths that others do not. This knowledge makes them powerful and respected among their peers.

They use their secret knowledge to solve problems that seem impossible and to teach other characters important lessons.

Example: Merlin, in the legends of King Arthur, uses his knowledge of magic and ancient wisdom to guide and protect the young king on his hero’s journey.

Strategy

Magicians excel in strategy. They can envision long-term plans and anticipate future challenges, which helps them guide the story’s protagonists or influence key events.

Their strategic thinking helps them navigate difficult situations.

Gandalf magician archetype character

Example: Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings thinks strategically when he plans out the Fellowship’s journey. His plans help them navigate the complex politics of Middle-earth and combat the rising threat of Sauron.

Historical Understanding

Magicians usually have a deep understanding of history. They remember old tales and lessons from the past that others have forgotten.

This wisdom allows them to recognize patterns and predict what might happen next. It also makes them valuable advisors to heroes, providing insights that help in current struggles.

Yoda

Example: Yoda in Star Wars shows his knowledge of history by using lessons from the past to guide young Jedi like Luke Skywalker.

Weaknesses of the Magician Archetype

Hubris

Magicians often believe too strongly in their own knowledge and power. This overconfidence can lead them to make mistakes.

Their hubris might cause them to overlook important details or underestimate their opponents, which can lead to their downfall or create problems for themselves and others.

Saruman

Example: Saruman in The Lord of the Rings displays hubris by overestimating his own power and knowledge. His arrogance blinds him to the true strength of his enemies and the loyalty of his allies, all of which leads to his defeat and downfall.

Pride

Pride is a common weakness for magicians. They can be very proud of their intellectual abilities and achievements.

This pride sometimes makes them stubborn or unwilling to listen to others, even when it’s clear they could be wrong. Their reluctance to accept help or advice can isolate them and complicate matters further.

dr. strange

Example: Dr. Strange in Doctor Strange is proud of his intelligence and skills as a surgeon. This pride makes him ignore advice from others and open his mind to new possibilities, which makes his path to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme harder.

Aggression

Sometimes, when their plans are put to the test or their expertise is doubted, magicians can become aggressive. This aggressive response can push away friends and make small disagreements bigger than they need to be.

Instead of using their wisdom to calmly sort things out, they tend to confront issues head-on. This approach can damage their relationships and prevent them from achieving their goals.

Scarlet Witch

Example: Scarlet Witch in the Avengers movies often reacts aggressively when her abilities are questioned or her plans face obstacles. She tries to reshape reality itself despite the potential pitfalls of doing so.

Motivation of the Magician Archetype

Legacy

Magicians are driven by the desire to leave something meaningful behind. They aim to be remembered for their deep knowledge, wise insights, or the significant impact they’ve made. This motivation pushes them to achieve remarkable feats and share their wisdom. It also leads them to guard their secrets fiercely.

Dumbledore

Example: Dumbledore in Harry Potter seeks to leave a legacy at Hogwarts through his wisdom and leadership, even in the face of impossible odds.

Lasting Impression

Magicians want to leave a mark on the world. They work to become figures of influence whose actions and guidance shape the lives of others.

By shaping events and guiding the story’s protagonists, they make sure that their actions won’t be easily forgotten. This drive to be remembered inspires them to push boundaries and occasionally make difficult choices.

Nikola Tesla

Example: Nikola Tesla in The Prestige aims to change the world through his extraordinary inventions. This motivation prompts him to aid Robert Angier at a crucial moment in the stage magician’s life.

Examples of the Magician Archetype

Now, let’s take a look at some famous Magician archetype examples from books and movies.

Sherlock Holmes
  1. Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes Series: Sherlock Holmes uses his intellect and observational skills to solve complex mysteries.

  2. Merlin in Arthurian Legends: Merlin, the wizard, uses his magical powers and wisdom to guide King Arthur and shape the course of the kingdom.

  3. Nikola Tesla in The Prestige: Tesla, a brilliant inventor, creates astonishing machines and gadgets that seem almost magical.

  4. Saruman in The Lord of the Rings: Saruman, the once-wise wizard, uses his deep knowledge and power to try and dominate Middle-Earth.

  5. Thanos in The Avengers Films: Thanos wields the Infinity Gauntlet, making him nearly omnipotent, as he seeks to alter the universe’s balance.

  6. Calvin Candie in Django Unchained: Though villainous, Calvin Candie exhibits cunning and manipulative intelligence. He uses his status and wit to maintain his power.

  7. Scar in The Lion King: Scar uses his cleverness and strategic thinking to seize control of the Pride Lands.

  8. Dumbledore in Harry Potter Series: Dumbledore, the wise and powerful wizard, uses his deep knowledge and magical skills to protect and guide Harry.

  9. Voldemort in the Harry Potter Series: Driven by his quest for power and immortality, Voldemort uses dark magic and strategic manipulation to achieve his goals.

  10. Yoda in Star Wars: Yoda, the Jedi Master, imparts wisdom and guidance using his profound knowledge of the Force.

  11. The Witch in Into the Woods: This crafty and powerful witch manipulates other characters to achieve her own objectives.

  12. Prospero in The Tempest: Prospero uses his magical abilities and deep knowledge to control spirits and influence human behavior.

  13. Dr. Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Dr. Strange manipulates time and space with his mastery of the mystic arts.

  14. Rasputin in Anastasia: Rasputin, the mystical and dark magician, uses his powers to curse the Romanov family.

  15. Morgana in Arthurian Legends: Morgana le Fay, a powerful enchantress, often uses her magical abilities for her own secretive schemes.

  16. Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf uses his deep wisdom and magical abilities to guide the Fellowship and combat the forces of evil.

  17. Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty: Maleficent, a mysterious fairy with dark intentions, casts spells and manipulates events to suit her vengeful desires.

  18. Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz: Glinda uses her magic for good, guiding Dorothy and helping to maintain peace and order.

  19. Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: Sauron, the dark lord, uses his vast knowledge and magical powers to create the One Ring and seek dominion over Middle-Earth.

  20. The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The White Witch uses her magical powers to cast a perpetual winter over Narnia, manipulating and deceiving to maintain her rule.

magician archetype character

Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing a Magician

Character’s Motivation and Goals

  • What drives your magician character? What are their ultimate goals?

  • How does their magical ability influence their desires and aspirations?

Background and Origins

  • Where does your magician come from, and how did they acquire their extraordinary knowledge or powers?

  • What historical or personal events shaped their approach to magic?

Powers and Limitations

  • What specific magical or technical abilities does your character possess?

  • What limitations or costs come with using their magic?

Relationships and Interactions

  • How does your magician relate to other characters?

  • Do they have allies, mentors, or enemies because of their powers?

Moral and Ethical Considerations

  • What ethical lines will your magician not cross?

  • How do they decide what is right or wrong in the use of their powers?

Conflict and Challenges

  • What personal or external challenges does your magician face?

  • How do their powers complicate or help resolve these challenges?

Development and Arc

  • How will your magician character grow or change throughout the story?

  • What lessons are they meant to learn, and how does this affect their use of magic?

Legacy and Impact

  • What kind of legacy does your magician wish to leave behind?

  • How do they want to be remembered in the context of your story’s world?

Magician Archetype Pin

Final Thoughts

I hope you have fun using these ideas and questions to help you write your own magician archetype character! Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to think out-of-the box for these types of characters!

To help you write other types of archetype characters, check out my articles on the innocent archetype, the hero archetype, the jester archetype, and the outlaw archetype!

If you’re looking for help with creating your characters or plotlines, check out my story development coaching services! I can assist you in fleshing out your characters and building engaging, complex plots. If you’re stuck on the basics or just want to add more depth to your manuscript, I offer personalized guidance to elevate your story.

Reach out today, and let’s bring your creative vision to life!

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