One of the best characters on television is Bobby Goren of Law and Order’s Criminal Intent.
I discovered this show a couple years back and have continued to watch it specifically because of this character. He fascinates me. Part of my fascination with him stems from the psychology that surrounds him. He is a brilliant man haunted by demons. His mother, a brilliant woman herself, succumbed to schizophrenia when Bobby was a child. So he watched this brilliant woman, who he both admired and loved, lose herself piece by piece.
Schizophrenia can be inherited, something that Bobby is fully aware of. And he exhibits all the traits associated with it. He’s brilliant, he’s quirky if not outright odd, he has difficulty connecting to people. He’s balanced right there on the cusp of schizophrenia himself, and it terrifies him–although this isn’t something that’s ever addressed. We just know it.
And then if that isn’t enough, the writers pile even more demons on the poor man’s shoulders. During one season finale we find out that Bobby’s mother had been both the victim and the lover of a serial killer, and isn’t sure herself whether her husband, or this serial killer is Bobby’s father.
The writers of Law and Order’s CI should be commended for the depth and detail that has gone into making Bobby Goren come alive, just as Vincent D’Onofrio, the actor who portrays the character should be commended for his perception and understanding of the character. Together, they’ve given us a heroic, compassionate character, who is riddled with loneliness, and character flaws, but manages to rise above himself time and time again when the situation requires it.
When I sit down to create my own characters, I do it with Bobby Goren in mind. I want to create the same kind of complex, intricate characters—living, breathing people who fairly leap off the page.
Are there any fictional characters that inspire you to greater depth and complexity when it comes to creating your own characters?