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    21 TV Characters Who Had The Most Beautiful Story Arcs

    "I'm not the freaking savior of the universe! I'm just a girl from Arizona."

    There's nothing like a good character arc. Honestly, they're half the reason I watch any show. But which characters had the best character arcs of all time? See some of my favorites below!



    1. Buffy From Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    The WB

    Buffy started out as extremely unwilling to be the Slayer. She just wanted to live a normal life — instead, she had to give up popularity, stable relationships, and a career in order to become the Slayer. However, she quickly grew into someone who was worthy of that power. She was continually kind, protective, and extremely strong, and she never gave up on people. And in the end, she truly saw being the Slayer as an opportunity and gift that deserved to be shared.

    2. Zuko From Avatar: the Last Airbender


    NAME A CHARACTER WITH BETTER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. I'LL WAIT. Zuko starts as an angry teenager hell-bent on catching the Avatar and "regaining his honor," only to learn that honor is something that's been inside him all along (this is a kids show, after all). He works with Aang and the others to atone for his actions and do the right thing after actively working against them for seasons. If that's not character development, I don't know what is.

    3. Chidi From The Good Place


    Chidi was always a good person. But his indecisiveness brought pain to those around him and, most of all, to himself. By the end of the show, not only was he sure that he wanted to be with Eleanor, but he was also able to work under a super-tight deadline to come up with a new afterlife while, you know, THE FATE OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE WAS ON THE LINE. His decision to leave the Good Place was the ultimate moment that proved he'd truly found peace and overcome his own indecisiveness.

    4. Mona From Pretty Little Liars


    Mona was a straight-up criminal mastermind. She tortured the Liars for years and then worked with the new A-team to continue the game. But over time, her care for Hannah, Mike, and her mom helped her grow, and she turned toward becoming one of the Liars' biggest allies, even apologizing for her past actions. She also stopped hiding how smart she was and truly let it define her.

    5. Alexis From Schitt's Creek


    Alexis starts out extremely vapid and materialistic. She goes along with whatever fun situation comes her way, and she doesn't seem to prioritize herself or her future. In Schitt's Creek, she truly starts to apply herself, finishing high school and then college and starting her own business. She also learns how to be a true friend and a good sister and daughter over the course of the series — I've loved watching her relationship with Moira grow in particular.

    6. Justin From 13 Reasons Why


    JUSTICE FOR JUSTIN. He had a super-rough life, and he made some really terrible, irreversible mistakes in Season 1. But he truly tried (and succeeded in) becoming a better person after that. It was amazing watching him stand up to Bryce, and his friendship (bromance?? brotherhood??) with Clay was so sweet to see. I'm still mad about how his storyline ended.

    7. Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries

    The CW

    Bonnie starts out as a classic "best friend" character — loyal, kind, and protective. She's always willing to sacrifice herself for Elena or Jeremy or any other greater purpose, and she dies multiple times to save people. But by the end of the series, Bonnie finally knows her own strength and worth. She fights for what she cares about but also herself, and isn't so quick to give up her own needs. She challenges everyone around her, but especially Damon, to be better. She's by far the strongest character on the show, magically and otherwise.

    8. Jin From Lost


    I really hated Jin at first. He was so controlling and stuck in his ways, and it was amazing to watch him transform into someone who was worthy of Sun. He became a hero who truly wanted her to be happy, even if it was without him. Their love story absolutely broke my heart, and I'm still upset about how it ended.

    9. April From Parks and Recreation


    April starts out as someone who really doesn't want to try at anything. She's extremely cynical, and though her worldview doesn't change, she really comes into her own and finds her place in the world as the series goes on. She becomes a better friend and pushes herself to find what she really wants to do, and though her personality remains the same, she's much better at letting people in.

    10. Sansa Stark From Game of Thrones


    Sansa went from being a little girl who wanted nothing more than to marry a prince to being an incredibly intelligent queen and certified badass. She figured out that Lord Baelish was manipulating her and had him killed, had Ramsay eaten alive by his dogs, and negotiated her brother's freedom. She fought for the North and we love her for it.

    11. Michael From The Good Place


    OK, so I could really put every character from The Good Place (Janet!!!) here. That's kind of the point of the show. But come on — Michael went from being a literal demon taking joy in torturing the four humans to being their best friend and the biggest advocate for saving humanity. There's no contest here.

    12. Walter White From Breaking Bad


    I didn't say that all character development had to be good! Walt went from jaded high school teacher to drug kingpin — but the real development for me came when he finally admitted that he didn't do it all to help his family, but because he liked the power. WE BEEN KNEW, SIS.

    13. Brooke Davis From One Tree Hill

    The CW

    Brooke went from being an immature, insecure party girl to being a wonderful friend, CEO, and mother. She owned up to her past mistakes and was always there for those who needed her. Honestly, Peyton didn't deserve her as a BFF.

    14. Steve From Stranger Things


    OK, IMO, Steve was always great. But he definitely came into his own as Dad™️ of the gang at the end of Season 1, and it only progressed from there. Protective, silly, and understanding, Steve became the dad friend we all need.

    15. Lydia Martin From Teen Wolf


    She started off as a prissy, powerless, selfish teenager who hid her intelligence and dated the bad boys. By the end of the series, she was a powerful banshee with a self-professed IQ above 170 who only wanted to help save her friends. We love to see it!!

    16. Nick Miller From New Girl


    Nick was a (relatable) mess when the show started. There was always chemistry between him and Jess, but their first relationship ended in a mess because Nick was never going to be as responsible as Jess was pushing him to be, and he didn't think he deserved her. But in the end, Nick stepped up and actually followed his passion (writing) and became the man Jess always knew he could be. IF NICK CAN DO IT, WE ALL CAN!

    17. Nathan Scott From One Tree Hill

    Haley says she doesn't want Nathan to lose his dream, but he says his dream is her
    The CW

    Nathan was straight-up THE WORST in the beginning. He was mean, petty, and cared only about basketball. But loving Haley turned Nathan into a strong, sensitive man who wanted to change. Losing her caused him to spiral downward again — but he picked himself up and learned to stand on his own two feet before they got back together. In the end, he cared about his family and friends above all else, even sacrificing basketball. Am I still in love with Nathan, you ask??? Absolutely.

    18. Caroline Forbes From The Vampire Diaries

    The CW

    I mean, even from Season 1 to 2, she had amazing development. She went from being an insecure, catty fake friend to being the best friend in the series. She showed so much kindness and love to everyone, but she wasn't afraid to call people out when they were doing things wrong. She never gave up on her friends, and she became an amazing mother of two children who weren't even hers. She always kept life fun and positive. We all need a Caroline Forbes in our lives.

    19. Emma Swan From Once Upon a Time


    Emma went from not believing in fairy tales and wanting to run away from Henry and Regina to fully embracing her role as savior and fighting for her son. She went from not even being able to give herself hope to giving everyone hope. Honestly, I need a little bit of an Emma Swan arc in my life right now.

    20. Eleanor Shellstrop From The Good Place

    Eleanor tells Michael "I’m not meant for this! I’m not the freaking savior of the universe. I’m just a girl from Arizona. That’s it. I’m just a normal girl from Arizona"

    So Eleanor was a pretty trash person at the start. In her own words, she "sometimes left H&M wearing more underwear than she was wearing when she came in." But during the series, she fought again and again to find the truth — and when she passed the test to get into the Good Place, she decided to stay with her friends rather than go. In the last season, we've seen her become a stronger leader fighting to save humanity, even though she doesn't feel prepared for the role.

    21. And Finally, Arya Stark From Game of Thrones


    I mean, do I even have to say it? Arya was just a spunky little kid when the show started. By the end, she was the WARRIOR WHO KILLED THE NIGHT KING. Just wow. What have you accomplished in your life?

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