281 Character Flaws to Add Depth to Your Characters [Ultimate List to Download]

281 Character Flaws to Add Depth to Your Characters [Ultimate List to Download]

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Isn’t it nice to finally be able to write about something we all have plenty of experience with?

Hurraaaay, this is going to be fantastic: This post will be one big celebration of character flaws!

Yes, in this post you can download all of the most perfect and most desirable character flaws you have ever dreamed about. Don’t hold back – train to one day be able to incorporate ALL of them into your winning character!

And yes, you are flawed all around:

When somebody cuts you in line at the supermarket, you say “Excuse me,” instead of throwing that 99 cents cleaning lye into their face.

➙ You are tame. (But if you did throw it, you would be hotheaded.)

Also, you would never in a million years have come up with that glorious “I was going to tell a time-traveling joke, but you didn’t like it” gag your tablemate has had so much success with.

 You are charmless.

And yes, stop sporting this goofy collared shirt with potato patterns you received for Christmas!

➙ You are weird.

There are so many fantastic and exquisite character flaws you would have never thought about, and this post will give you a MASSIVE and exhaustive list of 281 flaws. You now officially have an unfair advantage.

Remember: Everything you ever hated about your parents or your siblings – it’s in here, I promise!

In this post, you will find:

  • An exhaustive list of 179 very diverse character flaws
  • Examples of character flaws (one per flaw), to give you an idea of how to display these traits in your stories organically (“show, don’t tell” principle)
  • A free download with an additional 102 character flaws, so you will hold a clean, fanciful list of 281 personality flaws to fall back on as your everlasting index and reserve

Or maybe you are just looking for that complete download?

No problem, here we go:

Character Weaknesses List Download

This is your complementary list of a whopping 281 character flaws to download. This list features 102 additional flaws which are not included in the list below, plus all of the 179 flaws and examples below, neatly listed in one PDF.

Get this list and never again feel left stranded when trying to create a well-rounded, interesting character.

Download your Ultimate Character Flaw Resource here:

No spam, ever.

And before we start, here are two quick tips about how to use this list for best results in your stories:

Character Defects List Tips

1. See It from Their Point of View

We are all flawed.

Yes, even me! Compiling this list, I at some point felt like 70% of these flaws applied to me (but then I decided this wasn’t true, because of, you know, my hubris).

We all have our shortcomings, but remember that nobody likes an author who is labeling and judging her characters. It makes for a terrible story!

If you, the author, tell your audience too clearly who has your approval and who doesn’t, you will get more of a moral compendium – something like the code of conduct of a boarding school, camouflaged as prose.

Your readers would hate for you to tell them how they have to think – so focus on laying out a three-dimensional character, and leave the conclusions up to them (and maybe to the other characters).

Instead of judging your character, put yourself in their shoes and see the world from THEIR point of view:

  • Is there a reason for their shortcomings, for example in their history?
  • What’s, in turn, pleasant and good about their personalities?
  • Are they aware of their flaws?
  • Do they try to compensate for them or hide them?

Remember that many weaknesses also equip us with their counterpart strengths: Shallow could also mean more easygoing and fun; impatient could also mean efficient and fast; overprotecting could also mean loving.

These are just two sides of the same coin.

That way, let your character’s weaknesses lead you to your character’s strengths, so you will produce a well-rounded and carefully chiseled figure.

The trick is to see the world from their point of view. When you write them, you are them for a moment!

Explore your characters, and show them the love and understanding they deserve.

2. Use This List as Inspiration, Not As a Clutch

You will be tempted.

That little red writer on your left shoulder, the one with the red horns and the demonic grin, will tell you: “Come on, just feast on this plentiful list! Pick two or three shiny flaws and run! Slap them onto your character like a jam jar label, to bridge your pathetic lack of imagination!”

But I know that you would never do that.

Oh no, not you! What you will do is listen to the studious writer on your right shoulder, the white one with the halo and the annoyingly soft, purring voice: “Do not take the easy route! Take this list as an inspiration, but then dig deep into your characters and story ideas; create, and your story will be so much richer and so much more rewarding!”

The thing is: The more work you put into your story, the more it will give you back. Do not substitute working on your story with this list. Instead, use this list as a springboard!

While you are going through the Ultimate Character Flaws List, with your character in mind, consider questions like:

  • How could your character’s flaw be connected to other (positive or negative) traits of his, or spawn them?
  • How does the flaw fit into your plotline? Does it serve it, does it create certain hurdles to its flow, or does it even trigger new plotlines or subplots?
  • How does her flaw fit together with the other characters and their traits, and also with single scenes and dialogue situations? Do you see any exciting new paths opening up?

Turning over the puzzle pieces that make your character and examining them will be fertile ground for new ideas.

Be open to these ideas, so you can make your story the best tale possible.

Listen to the guy with the halo.

179 Personality Flaws List

This Ultimate Character Flaws List comes in 5 categories:

  1. Traits Mainly Concerning the Character Themselves
  2. Mildly Inconvenient Traits
  3. Unpleasant Traits
  4. Seriously Concerning Traits
  5. Negative Dialogue Traits
  • The categories can help you to choose whether to give your character just a light touch of a flaw or whether you want to make him a sick asshole (just saying). Anyways, you could decide to give him a serious dark side that will impact your entire story.
  • The examples show you how you can get from a theoretical adjective to showing an acting character in flash and blood. You can also practice this by first creating an example for any of these flaws yourself, and then looking up how I resolved it.
  • Remember that the boundaries between these categories are fluid. Whether a trait is an adorable tick or makes your life hell depends on how heavily the character is equipped with it – and some might find one flaw more annoying than another. These categories are just a basic compass.

And now, in order to make your otherwise impeccable heroes more approachable, here you got your more-than-once-announced list:

Character Flaws List

1. Traits Mainly Concerning the Character Themselves

Powerless

  • The character needs to ask people for change all the time and mostly gets rejected.

Clumsy

  • The character is bumping against a shelf, which makes an antique figure drop and shatter.

Fragile

  • The character is verbally attacked, doesn’t defend herself and almost starts crying.

Gullible

  • The character buys a love potion from a shaman who guarantees it can make anybody fall in love with the character.

Insecure

  • The character doesn’t want to go out with her friend because she thinks her hair doesn’t look good enough.

Unstable

  • The character screams at somebody because they forgot to bring her notebook, as she had requested.

Anxious

  • The character fumbles around and scratches a scab open.

Ordinary

  • The character finishes work at the office at 18:00, drives home and proceeds with the exact same routine every day.

Pitiful

  • The character gets paid for sex in public toilets, so she can buy drugs.

Shabby

  • The character is wearing long, matted braids of hair and worn-out clothes from the charity collection bin.

Simple

  • “Wow, look at all of these huge buildings! Where do you think they get all that power from to light them all up!?”

Unimaginative

  • “I have no idea what to write on that wedding card. I’m so bad with greeting cards – can you help me?”

Humorless

  • The character takes a funny joke for face value and responds with a stern remark.

Thin-skinned

  • The character receives constructive criticism for his short movie, and reacts angrily and hurt.

Directionless

  • The character throws his application letter into the trash instead of into the post box and stumbles off to smoke weed.

Numb

  • The character is at her own birthday party and is just enduring it without any signs of emotion.

Jaded

  • The character’s toddler wants to show him her drawing, but he just shoves her aside and plods to the TV with a tired walk.

Bitter

  • Somebody, in tears, asks the character for forgiveness for letting him down, but the character enjoys denying him and sending him away.

Weak-willed

  • The character is on a strict diet and eats 4 sausages with extra cheese on top in a row.

Masochistic

  • The character keeps on touching an electrified fence again and again to feel the pain.

Broken

  • The character calls a suicide hotline and tells them how useless his life is and that he has no friends.

Tame

  • Somebody cuts the character in line and she just sighs and does nothing.

Timid

  • A girl looks at the character, and he quickly breaks eye contact and leaves.

Unmotivated

  • The character is supposed to get her homework done, but instead is playing videogames until 4 am.

Spiritless

  • The character stands motionless in the middle of a busy dancefloor, presses his drink against his chest and asks his friends how their day was.

Withdrawn

  • Often, the character can’t be reached for days.

Hopeless

  • The character fails for the fifth time with her resolution to stick to a gym plan.

Charmless

  • The character is wearing a sweater full of food stains, making conversation with generic, inappropriate jokes.

Prissy

  • A stranger is filling out a customs form, and the character bends sideways to tell them that they should write their name in capital letters, as that would make the spelling much clearer.

Procrastinative

  • It takes the character half an hour to decide which jacket to wear.

Tense

  • Somebody shuts the door too forcefully and the character screams at them.

Reserved

  • The character, when asked where he comes from, just replies “from far,” smiles and walks away.

Restless

  • The character is walking up and down the corridor, over and over again

 

2. Mildly Inconvenient Traits

Absentminded

  • The character forgets his hat at one shop, and his scarf at the next one.

Boring

  • The character keeps on ranting about the successes of his favorite sports team.

Chaotic

  • The character has no idea where she put her cell phone, and while she is looking for it misses an appointment.

Foolish

  • The character puts a finger through the fence of the zoo’s cheetah enclosure.

Primitive

  • The character is devouring his food with both elbows on the table and head deeply buried in his drumstick, getting chicken all over his face.

Annoying

  • The character keeps on asking a woman why she is not married yet and makes suggestions about what to do about it.

Capricious

  • On her way to the airport, the character decides she won’t go to Paris and will take a sunbath at the pool instead.

Over-thinking

  • The character reads two books about lawn mowing before he finally follows through with it (“Master Your Lawn” and “Cutting-Edge Grass Cutting Advice”).

Clingy

  • When the character’s boyfriend is out in town, she needs a romantic text message from him every two hours.

Cocky

  • The character parks his Porsche across two disabled parking spaces, then walks away without feeding the meter.

Lazy

  • The character is too lazy to learn a couple of simple foreign phrases, and has to resort to pantomime.

Ungroomed

  • The character has long dirty fingernails and hair sticking out of their ears and nose.

Asocial

  • At the party, the character picks a book from the shelf and sits down to read it.

Erratic

  • The character asks the attendant to fill up their gas tank, only to complain five minutes later that they did so.

Fidgety

  • The character unconsciously rips their movie ticket to pieces while immersed in conversation.

Tasteless

  • The character is wearing a pink feather boa with a leopard-print top.

Forgetful

  • The character forgets about his best friend’s birthday.

Groveling

  • The character apologizes to his wife in a low voice, and asks if she wants to watch her favorite TV show together and what she would like for dinner.

Hyperactive

  • The character is on the phone while composing a piano piece on his keyboard and making coffee.

Impatient

  • The character, in quick succession, rings the doorbell twice, then gives it a long, forceful third ring.

Impractical

  • The character dusts off old costumes from the attic in her sparkling clean living room.

Irritable

  • The character insults a co-worker who is making an innocent remark about her handbag.

Rebellious

  • The character plasters stickers of rotten cow corpses all over the windows of fast food restaurants because she is a vegetarian.

Oblivious

  • The character crosses the street without noticing the red light.

Nosy

  • The character listens in on the closed meeting with her ear pressed to the door.

Overprotective

  • The character only allows her kid to attend the children’s party if he is wearing knee and elbow protectors.

Picky

  • The character orders “Spaghetti Bolognese, without meat, and with some fresh garlic and extra butter, plus a soda with mint leaf and a thin slice of orange.”

Quirky

  • The character keeps his treasured collection of animal bones in a basket.

Self-pitying

  • The character sits down next to a stranger on a park bench, and says “Don’t mind me, I’m just being sad.”

Stingy

  • His brother asks the character for help for a medical treatment, but the character says he lost all of his money, and the Rolex on his wrist is just a gift.

Unpunctual

  • The character almost misses her plane.

Stiff

  • Somebody is drinking white wine with her veal instead of red wine, and the character shoots them a contemptuous look.

Uneducated

  • The character asks somebody what the capital of Russia is.

Standoffish

  • Somebody asks the character if they may use their cell phone for a moment, and the character doesn’t even look at them.

Biased

  • The character says “I don’t do business with Jews.”

Eccentric

  • The character brings a golden cage with his pet grasshopper with him wherever he goes.

Over-motivated

  • The character runs 100 rounds around her house to warm up for the marathon.

Prude

  • The character puts black stickers into an art book, to cover the genitals of the acts and nude sculptures.

Close-minded

  • The character thinks that the internet is useless.

Immature

  • The character tells her friend she will never talk to her again, because she went out without asking her to join.

Irrational

  • The character buys 100 rolls of toilet paper to get one for free.

Superficial

  • The character drives around the block a couple of times in his new sports car, just so the neighbors can see him.

Superstitious

  • The character doesn’t cross below ladders.

Uptight

  • The character is asked how his week is going, and he only replies with an artificial smile and a “Thanks!”

Somber

  • The character tells everybody with a grim face that time is running out to prepare for World War III and the nuclear apocalypse.

Unmanly/Unfeminine

  • The character bursts into convulsive laughter, pounding her table.

Whiny

  • The character keeps on lamenting about his wounded toe and how it will never feel the same again.

Distrustful

  • The character checks after the cleaning lady for dust behind every cupboard and below every couch.

Weird

  • The character constantly interrupts others to talk about his passion for antique post boxes.

Demanding

  • The character insists that everybody hike with her for two hours instead of taking the cars, “because it gets the blood flowing.”

Hectic

  • The character is directing technical workers at the TV studio so rapidly that she doesn’t notice her headset is turned off.

Jealous

  • The character orders his wife not to talk to any of her ex-boyfriends.

Impulsive

  • The character calls a policeman a “piece of shit,” because he gave him a ticket.

Inactive

  • The character watches TV eating donuts all day long.

Misanthropic

  • “Dogs are much more valuable creatures than humans – my dog never betrayed me once!”

Sloppy

  • The character is cutting out keys in his workshop, but half of them don’t fit their locks.

 

No spam, ever.

3. Unpleasant Traits

Bitchy

  • “I love your hair color, darling – it looks almost real!”

Stubborn

  • The character insists on skiing down the most dangerous slope, despite everybody around him warning him.

Arrogant

  • The character draws his platinum American Express and tells the waiter that he too, one day, can hold one if he makes something better out of his life.

Ignorant

  • The character tells the astronomy professor that he is a Pisces and asks him what that means for his love life.

Careless

  • The character slams the door behind her without looking, into the face of another character.

Resentful

  • The character refuses to accept an invitation because the host offended her four years ago.

Petty

  • The character insists his colleague return the 1€ he lent him last week for a pack of chewing gum.

Coldhearted

  • A hungry stray dog comes up to the ledge on which the character eats his Schnitzel burger, and the character kicks him away.

Demented

  • The character gets lost in the neighborhood and is found in his pajamas in a stranger’s backyard.

Envious

  • “Wow, life must be so easy for you with all of that money. If I got that lucky, I would definitely share it with all of my friends.”

Sulky

  • “Well, you didn’t have time to talk to me yesterday, so I better don’t bother you for the rest of the week either.”

Unfair

  • The character denies somebody a building permit because she doesn’t like their appearance.

Messy

  • The character has a pile of ordered food boxes on top of dirty dishes spread out all over their kitchen.

Unruly

  • The toddler character runs around playing Indian, screaming and trampling all over his parents’ expensive furniture with his dirty shoes.

Pompous

  • The character demands special treatment for his caddy and cart at the golf club.

Rigid

  • The character orders all of her employees to come in on weekends, until the project is finished.

Self-righteous

  • The character asks “Are you still going to eat that?”, and reaches out to the other’s plate without waiting for a reply.

Hotheaded

  • The character bursts into a therapy session, fiercely accusing her sister, who she believes did her wrong.

Hysteric

  • The character sees a big spider in her bed and is waking up the entire hotel screaming for the manager.

Rude

  • The character is laughing loudly about an overweight girl, who is climbing the stairs out of breath.

Egoistic

  • The character is using the tennis court for 15 minutes longer than she booked, while the players next in line have to wait.

Incompetent

  • The dentist removes the wrong tooth.

Obscene

  • The character asks a girl with big breasts “Can I suck your udders, baby?”

Strenuous

  • The character keeps on lamenting that she is still hungry, the weather sucks, and the picnic was a terrible idea.

Dumb

  • The character asks a pale guy in a red cape with long pointed canines what he is dressed up as.

Sneaky

  • The character pretends to sleep to not be bothered.

Spoiled

  • Dining at a posh restaurant, the character pulls the fresh figs and the prosciutto out of his stuffed quail and only eats its fillings.

Ungrateful

  • A friend helps the character with her taxes, and she complains that he didn’t do it fast enough.

Gleeful

  • The character can’t disguise a big grin when somebody hits their finger with a hammer.

Dodgy

  • The character is wearing a thick gold chain and dark sunglasses, and asks somebody if they would like to purchase a passport.

Greedy

  • The character just tripled his money in stocks, but now he is expecting another three hundred percent next year.

Crazy

  • The character gives every single plant in their garden a name, plus presents them with a gift for their name day.

Pedantic

  • The character has to position all of the chess figures precisely in the middle of their squares.

Possessive

  • The character checks his wife’s phone daily.

Shameless

  • The character pees in a hotel lobby.

Squeamish

  • The character needs to move the dinner indoors because there is a wasp outside.

Coward

  • The character sees a kid being beaten by two other kids, but is too afraid to step in.

Fearful

  • The character sees an earthquake in a far-away country on TV and moves his bed closer to his front door.

 

4. Seriously Concerning Traits

Aggressive

  • The character tells the barkeeper he will “punch his fucking face” if he doesn’t attend him immediately.

Disloyal

  • The character signs a contract with the biggest competitor of her mentor.

Phony

  • The character tells everybody how much she loved her colleague, when in reality she made sure she got fired.

Megalomaniac

  • The character lets his portrait be carved into a mountainside.

Manipulative

  • The character tells his girlfriend nobody else could ever love her because she is just not that attractive.

Parasitic

  • The character receives free food from the bakery next door, while also tapping their wires for free power.

Ruthless

  • The character kidnaps the child of a politician to enforce his demands.

Toxic

  • The character keeps on making remarks to his son about how inept and useless he is.

Abusive

  • The character stops by his ex-wife, shows her his new gun, and makes vague threats as to “being forced to do something extraordinary,” if she doesn’t surrender custody.

Addicted

  • The character constantly produces scandals for the media, just to stay in the limelight.

Obsessive

  • The character has to arrange the books on any shelf he sees alphabetically, “just to keep things organized.”

Self-sabotaging

  • The character lands a big contract and his company suddenly becomes very unreliable.

Corrupt

  • The character takes money in order to break his confidentiality about the medical details of an influential person.

Unfaithful

  • The character exchanges hot text messages with his mistress.

Violent

  • The character beats somebody up because they look at him the wrong way.

Infamous

  • The character is rejected by a married man and brings up wrongful accusations of rape against him.

Vicious

  • The character robs somebody and scars their face just for fun.

Kleptomaniac

  • The character can’t walk out of a shop without something “extra” under his hoodie.

Cruel

  • The character orders somebody to be buried alive.

Destructive

  • The character breaks into a toy shop out of boredom and trashes everything in sight.

Obnoxious

  • The character stuffs his wide-open mouth with a pizza, smacking loudly, while he lets out a thunderous fart.

Paranoid

  • The character constantly looks across his shoulders and exits shops through the back door.

Power-Hungry

  • The character fabricates dirt about her political rivals in order to stay in power.

Unscrupulous

  • The character stabs his own father to inherit his fortune.

Scornful

  • The character laughs at a homeless person who is digging through the trash for food.

Depraved

  • The character is setting fire to an orphanage in order to collect insurance to pay off his gambling debts.

Spineless

  • The character denies her convictions about climate change, in order for people to like her better.

5. Negative Dialogue Traits

Argumentative

  • The character counters whatever her opposite states with “but…”.

Blunt

  • “You are not very handsome, young man! But I guess a guy doesn’t care about being handsome.”

Boastful

  • “Which one of the villas should I sell? The one next to the lake has this huge garage, but the other one… I just love the indoor pool and the cinema!”

Brute

  • “If you don’t want your face to turn into potato mash, you have five seconds to get lost.

Chatty

  • “She didn’t mean it like that, even though George claimed that she did, but you know her, and this is the third time she is moving out of his apartment, oh my gosh!”

Contradictory

  • “I don’t mind at all! Even though people who are late are usually unpleasant characters.”

Cynical

  • “If you gave this performance with your guitar in the fields, it would be a tremendous success – it would scare all the crows away for sure!”

Hair-splitting

  • “Thanks so much for your postcard, but you forgot a comma there!”

Pushy

  • “Say yes already and come with us! Why do you always have to be such a bore? Do you really want to spoil our evening?”

Suggestive

  • “We should be in the pool together instead now; imagine what we could do underwater!”

Lecturing

  • “When I was your age, I never did that. You ought to learn a little more about how to behave, boy!”

Lisping

  • “Sat asparaguss iss very tassty!”

Mean

  • “Ha ha, you are so short you can go in the handluggage!”

Nagging

  • “It seems too difficult for you to keep your apartment in order, I see. If there was a messy world championship – you would make me proud!”

Opinionless

  • “Whatever, dude. Hey, let’s get some ice cream, ok?”

Loud-mouthed

  • “You tell me that’s no goal one more time, and I will shove the ball up your ass and kick you over the moon with it, pencil-neck!”

Passive-aggressive

  • “Well, that’s great! This year, so far you have only asked me twice to lend you money, and one of these times you even paid me back!”

Patronizing

  • “This time, this is actually a good idea! For somebody who has not even graduated, you are surprising all of us!”

Slow-witted

  • “Why are they all staring at my collar? … Oh, maybe it’s the stain from the chocolate ice cream that fell out of my mouth earlier.”

Repetitive

  • “The man bought this house. So he bought it, and then, just as he was moving in, problems came up. And he was just moving in!”

Provocative

  • “You are probably just too old to get it, or too dumb, or too ignorant.”

Slimy

  • “What a tasteful choice, Sir! Its fabric complements your skin exceptionally well, and it is flattering your physique perfectly, accentuating your broad shoulders!”

Snarky

  • “Maybe return this go-cart already, wouldn’t that be a fantastic idea?”

Empty-worded

  • “In spite of the fact that every single person of you, who is currently present, understands this, I still want to emphasize it one more time: …”

Dismissive

  • “I don’t need your advice – yours out of all people!”

 

Character Weaknesses List PDF (Negative Traits)

Once again, download the free list of 281 character flaws here, and never again struggle when it comes to filling out the white canvas that is your character!

This download features the full list of all 281 flaws. 102 of them you can only find in this download (they are not included in the article above):

No spam, ever.

And where is the writing prompt…?

Character Flaws Writing Prompt (Use the Ultimate List for practice!)

As is tradition on this blog, here is a writing prompt for you: Pick a flaw from the list, and tell me one more example of how you would display it in your story.

If you are brave (great virtue!!), post your prompt in the comments! Or even post several traits; this is a really good writing exercise to prepare yourself for your next novel. I can confirm that because I just created this list.

Character Flaws (Summary)

In conclusion, don’t judge your character, but rather put yourself in her shoes.

Use this list as an inspiration to explore the endless possibilities of your character, and of your story, and of your plot.

Download the list, and employ it to exercise your character-creation-muscle, your creative sphincter, if, with your permission, I may call it so.

Oh, and keep on enjoying your own unique set of flaws and shortcomings, as well as those of all the lovely people around you.

 

Image Credits: Burglar Cover Image: studiostoks/123rf.com; Gullible: kencor/123rf.com; Charmless: antonlunkov/123rf.com; Primitive: antonbrand/123rf.com; Quirky: yupiramos/123rf.com; Weird: jazzia/123rf.com; Stubborn: starserfer/123rf.com; Greedy: refluo/123rf.com; Spineless: ylivdesign/123rf.com; Slimy: axsimen/123rf.com

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