The Lost Soul is brooding, tormented, secretive and passionate. He’s a loner, a wanderer, an outcast. He loves fiercely and hates just as strongly. Some event in his past isolated or cut him deeply, and he’s carried the pain ever since, unwilling or unable to abandon it.
The Lost Soul is discerning of peoples’ motivations, devoted to what he loves and far more vulnerable than he pretends. This archetype can also be brooding, fatalistic and unforgiving of himself and others.
“A man with a past who yearns for love and acceptance, he never seems to find the key that opens the door to happiness… Never finding solace from his aching torment, he tries to distract himself by creating a sanctuary of peace…The Lost Soul endlessly relives his mistakes, but still dreams of a better life.” *
Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon)
Three years after his wife’s death, Martin Riggs—a great detective, by all other accounts—is still spiraling. He takes his aggression out on suspects, acts out against superiors. He’s straight up suicidal at the start of the movie as his usual creativity and daring on the job turns him reckless. Riggs doesn’t want anything from anybody.
Being partnered up with Roger Murtaugh is the best thing that could happen to him. Despite their initial friction, Murtaugh (a Warrior) gives Riggs something—and someone—to care about, even if it only starts with one case. From there on out, Riggs is ride or die (and Murtaugh strictly rules out dying.)
Riggs devotes himself to the Murtaugh family and begins to see that there is still some love in the world for him even if his wife is gone.
Rick Blaine (Casablanca)
Rick is a cynic. He coolly runs his nightclub and gambling den, hiding out in the middle of Casablanca and controlling everything from the drinks to the bets and the music. Everything is as it should be, until she walks in.
When Ilsa enters his bar and Sam starts playing “As Time Goes By” on the piano, it pierces right through Rick’s protective shell. All his bitterness and heartbreak wells up, and he lashes out. He wants nothing to do with Ilsa (a Waif) or Lazlo or the Letters of Transit or the war. He sticks his neck out for nobody.
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she has to walk into mine,” he says with the Lost Soul’s fatalistic view. But Rick is sentimental—and he hates it. He hates that Ilsa can listen to their song on the piano without breaking while he struggles through and pours another drink.
Rick is greatly defined by his past. He frequently uses the same toast “Here’s looking at you kid”, clings to the memories of Paris and never quite shed the role of freedom fighter. So while it’s the noble Lazlo who starts up “La Marseille” to drown out the German officers singing, it’s actually Rick who gives the band permission to follow. He may claim to be neutral on the war and only in it for himself, but the Lost Soul can’t cut ties with a cause close to his heart.
And, as a sentimental man, he lets go of Ilsa and watches her board the plane with Lazlo and the Letters of Transit Rick was saving for a rainy day. His bitterness is starting to fade, and he agrees to join the Free French Army with Lieutenant Renault to fight in a new acquaintanceship.
Lost Souls often feel cursed or burdened by something that makes them different.
Elsa is most definitely a Lost Soul. She has magical powers and can control ice and snow—but that isn’t what sets her into this archetype. At first her powers are fun, creative and a way to play games with her sister, Anna. It’s only once she accidentally injures Anna with her magic that Elsa starts to turn into a Lost Soul.
She isolates herself in her efforts to control her powers and keep from hurting anyone. But control to her means to hide and stop—“Conceal, don’t feel” is the motto she takes from her parents. So, as a true Ice Queen, she tries to press down her emotions. She shuts the outside world away, wears gloves and fulfills her duties as queen. She does not ask for help, she doesn’t reveal her vulnerabilities and she doesn’t ever open the door when Anna (a Spunky Kid) knocks. She keeps reliving the pain and fear of her uncontrollable powers.
But Elsa is discerning. She immediately suspects Hans’ motive in the whirlwind love affair he sparks with Anna. She runs her kingdom efficiently (or so it seems) and despite the lack of contact, her devotion to her sister never fades. It’s that relationship that starts to heal Elsa.
After all, even though Elsa’s power ballad “Let it Go” doesn’t solve her problems. Yes, she’s finally free from the fear of hurting others and she stops hiding her magic. She creates an ice palace…away from everyone. Once again she isolates herself, and while it gives her space to develop her powers without fear, it’s only once she returns to Arendelle and finally accepts the love her people and sister have for her.
Bonus – Beast from Beauty and the Beast
Everyone knows the story of Beauty and the Beast. Whereas Elsa has magical powers from the start, the Beast was cursed for his judgment and vanity. I chose to include Elsa in the Lost Soul archetype since there’s no direct heroine equivalent in the series.
But the Beast’s story has the same beats, evolving from an isolated, bitter and self-perceived monster to a devoted royal who finally accepts the love they’ve been after.
For a look into truly PEAK Lost Soul qualities, just listen to this song from the 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast. It’s absolutely dripping with the archetypal angst of these heroes and heroines.
That’s it for the Lost Soul! Our next archetype has fallen out of popularity in modern times, but while the Waif won’t fight, she can endure.
(And yes, since there’s no male equivalent for a Waif, I’ll be adding a Hero to the mix!)
*This series is based on TheComplete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders.