Hollywood, Can You Pass Me the New Stories and New Characters?

A recent theme has been appearing in TV shows and movies
that is getting old very fast.  The theme
in short is that mankind is nearly wiped from the face and the earth and now a
few survivors must band together in an attempt to ensure the survival of the
human species. 

The over arching story is as
follows:  humanity is wiped near to
destruction by disease, zombies, aliens, machines/robots, vampires, nuclear war/Government.  A show can even make combinations of two or
more; The Walking Dead hinges on the disease that causes zombies.

For instance:
Day Breakers (movie):
vampires/disease

Independence Day (movie): aliens

Battlestar Galactica (TV):
Machines/Robots that act like aliens.

I Am Legend (Movie/novella):
disease/vampires

12 monkeys (Movie): disease

28 Days Later (movie):
disease/zombielike creatures

Falling Skies (TV): Aliens

The Terminator (Movie):
Machines/robots
Dawn of the Dead (Movie): Zombies
Revolution (TV): Coming to NBC Fall
of 2012.  Electricity stops running,
don’t know why, don’t know who, how, or what.

Most of these stories are a rehashing and repackaging of the
same story.  Even so much so that you
have nearly the same stock characters.  For example:

The Leader:  The morally sound leader is fair and always
tries to do what is right and best for the community.  He keeps the foolhardy warrior in check and
encourages the weak coward to excel.  Commonly
comes from a military background. 
Incredibly optimistic and he has much hope for the survival of humanity.  The Leader is loyal and tries to keep the group of
survivors together by serving as the voice of reason.  In modern film, he is constantly
second-guessing himself.  The
second-guessing is understandable when the writers of the character come from
a society that despises truth and loves relativism and members of that society have never had to think about making a difficult choice.  The most difficult decision most of the
writers is often limited to what toppings they want on their pizza and what
flavor frapachino they want.

 

The Mechanic:  Can be a master DIYer or an actually handy
man and mechanic.  Whatever his background, he can make
anything, fix anything, and is handier with a Swiss army knife than MacGyver.  Your only mode of transportation break
down?  Give the Mechanic an episode or
two and he will fide a way to build a forge, smelt metal, and construct for you
an entirely new and incredibly bad-ass, post-apocalyptic, beast of a vehicle
with mounted machine guns, GPS, and spikes.

 

The Warrior:  Former hunter or military grunt.  This is the weapons expert in the group and
can kill anyone and anything, and he can turn anything into a weapon of carnage
destruction.  Turn to this guy if you
need bombs made or need to learn how to fight with a sword, gun, knife, hand-to-hand,
or a bouquet of daises.  The warrior
wants to solve all problems with force. 
You want him leading a military assault, but he always wants to be the
hero, which commonly endangers the community. 
He falls prey to the vice of foolhardiness.  Often this character thinks or appears to be
invincible.  Big dumb men often like this
character.

 

If the Warrior happens to be a girl, she will likely be
pencil thin and exceptionally hot.  Her
real skill resides in her hotness, as in reality an average man would be able
to snap her in two because she has no muscle and weighs a buck-oh-two.  Then again, she will conveniently know kung
fu – which is the writers’ attempt to make her 102 lb frame seem dangerous.  She is basically a man, but is really there
to satisfy the feminists and give guys some other hot tart to stare at when The
Hot Chick isn’t on screen.  Big dumb men often like this version as well.

 

The Hot chick:  Pure eye candy.  She is completely clueless to her
surroundings and too often forgets she is living in a post-apocalyptic
culture and should not wander from the larger group.  The enemy is able to sneak up
on her with a complete marching band playing Stars and Stripes Forever and still
take her by surprise, and she will be shocked because she didn’t know someone
was sneaking up on her.  She is mainly there
because the other characters need someone to rescue.  If it is a TV series, she will need rescuing
multiple times.  If the characters were
really interested in restoring the human race, a better use for her would be
making babies – that way she won’t be running off getting into trouble and forcing other to rick their life to save her.

 

The Coward:  Always wants to run away and hide in moments
of heated action.  He never pulls his
weight in a combat situation and as a result gets others injured and
killed.  He is the character the audience
likes to cheer against.  Always throwing
The Leader’s decisions into question.  He
is the quintessential pessimistic.

 

The Tech Savvy
Computer Nerd
:  Usually Asian and
usually is dressed more trendy than the average nerd — no pocket protectors for this guy.  He can hack his way into any system at any moment.  If it is a programing language he doesn’t
know, he’ll some how learn it in the 30 seconds he spends successfully hacking
into the computer database.  His survival
is based more on brain over brawn.  He
could likely survive on his own, but lends his support to the community because
all those years playing WoW has made him altruistic.

There have always been stock characters for writers to use in crafting a story.  However, in the case of some of these more modern rendition, the stock characters become more of a parody of themselves than an actual well developed character.  Also, with the stock characters being sentenced to a certain slot, the TV show or movie looks like it is modeled more on Role-Playing games (think-Final Fantasy) where the player assembles a cast of characters that have one speciality: fighter, mage, rogue, ninja. If The Warrior falls than the group must survive long enough to find a replacement — which they will do with no doubt.  
Did I miss any characters?