A Man Called Otto / Characters - TV Tropes (2024)

Characters that appear in A Man Called Otto:

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Otto Anderson

Played by: Tom Hanks

  • Adaptational Name Change: His name is Ove Lindahl in the original Swedish novel and film.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Doesn't display the prejudice and bigotry his Swedish counterpart had prior to his Character Development.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: When his wife Sonya was pregnant, the young couple went on a vacation to the Niagara Falls. During the trip, their bus crashes, which makes Sonya lose the baby and leaves Sonya herself wheelchair-bound. Otto loses all will to live but Sonya manages to convince him to stay alive and Otto decides he will live for her, which results in him feeling that his life has no purpose anymore after Sonya's death.
  • Driven to Suicide: Tries to do this many times throughout the film, but he ends up failing every time.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He despises Malcolm's father for being transphobic towards his own son and kicking him out of home.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Forms an unlikely one with Marisol, that is young enough to be his daughter.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The 25 cents coin Sonya told him to keep after she gave him money to pay for the train becomes this for Otto after Sonya's death.


Played by: Mariana Treviño

  • Adaptational Nationality: An Iranian woman called Parvaneh in the original novel and in the Swedish film adaptation, a Mexican woman named Marisol in the American film adaptation.
  • Anger Born of Worry: She gets angry at Otto for leaving her outside of his house after lashing at her, as she became worried that something might have happened to Otto.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Justified due to Marisol being Mexican. She uses a lot of words and sentences in Spanish in her speech.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Forms an unlikely one with Otto, a man that is old enough to be her father.


Played by: Manuel Garcia-Rulfo


Played by: Peter Lawson Jones

  • Adaptational Name Change: His Swedish counterpart is named Rune.
  • Empty Shell: After he suffered from a stroke sometime before the events of the film, he becomes catatonic and dependent on his wife Anita. He's however enough conscious, aware of his surroundings and mobile to try to stop Otto from leaving his house to try to commit suicide at one point.
  • Parental Abandonment: Inverted. His son Chris got a job in Japan and he hasn't visited his parents in the last 10 years, and it's implied that it isn't because Chris can't come visit, but because he has no interest in doing so.
  • Race Lift: He's African American in the American film adaptation.


Played by: Juanita Jennings

  • Intergenerational Friendship: Shares one with Jimmy, that is young enough to be her son. When the Dye & Merica real estate agent prepares to send Reuben to an assisted living facility and Anita to a retirement home, Jimmy comes forward to say that he'll take care of Anita and Reuben until the end when the agent asks who will do so when Anita becomes unable to care for Reuben.
  • Parental Abandonment: Inverted. As explained in Reuben's entry, her son got a job in Japan and he hasn't visited his parents in the last 10 years. It's implied that it isn't because Chris can't come visit, but because he has no interest in doing so.
  • Race Lift: She's African American in the American film adaptation.


Played by: Cameron Britton

  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Anita and Reuben, that are old enough to be his parents. When the Dye & Merica real estate agent prepares to send Reuben to an assisted living facility and Anita to a retirement home, claiming that there's no one to take care of the old couple when Anita becomes unable to take care of her husband due to her Parkinson, Jimmy comes forward to say that he'll do it, because he sees Anita and Reuben as his family.


Played by: Mack Bayda

  • Composite Character: Malcolm is a combination of two different characters from the Swedish version: Adrian (an old student of Ove's wife Sonja that he befriends) and Mirsad (an Iraqi youth disowned by his father for being gay that Ove takes into his home for a while).
  • Trans Tribulations: The fact that he's a transgender man led him to be ostracized at school and to be kicked out of home by his father. In the past he found acceptance in his teacher Sonya, and later in Otto, that lets him spend the night at his place when Malcolm has nowhere else to go.

Shari Kenzie

Played by: Kelly Lamor Wilson

Dye & Merica real estate agent

Played by: Mike Birbiglia

  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Illegally accessed Otto and Anita's medical records so he could use the information in them for his own ends.
  • No Name Given: His name is never stated.

Sonya Anderson

Played by: Rachel Keller

  • The Lost Lenore: For Otto. After her death, Otto loses all his will to live.
  • Nice Girl: She's always kind to Otto, encouraging him to pursue an education, to move on from their unborn child's death, and accepting everyone for who they are, as Malcolm can attest.
  • Posthumous Character: Died of cancer six months before the events of the film.
  • Tragic Stillbirth: Her unborn child with Otto died after a bus crash that also left Sonya paraplegic.
A Man Called Otto / Characters - TV Tropes (2024)


What is the villain to hero trope? ›

The Villain Turned Hero

This trope allows the reader to love the villain without feeling like a villain themselves. Everyone loves a comeback story, and when the villain turns things around and becomes good, it's hard for the reader not to cheer them on.

What is the I am the villain trope? ›

I am the villain of this story!" The Protagonist's Journey to Villain is a plot in which the protagonist, who starts out well-intentioned, turns into a monster. In other words, it's the making of the Villain Protagonist. Sometimes this plot can be backstory, perhaps overlapping with Start of Darkness.

What is the tragic hero trope? ›

A tragic hero is the protagonist of a tragic story or drama, in which, despite their virtuous and sympathetic traits and ambitions, they ultimately meet defeat, suffering, or even an untimely end. They are often imperfect or wounded with some sort of fraught experience, and typically have some sort of fatal flaw.

What is the anti hero character trope? ›

An antihero is a central character who lacks traditional heroic attributes; they may have redeemable qualities or good intentions, but their actions are flawed, often selfish, and occasionally violent. In storytelling, a traditional hero is admired or idealized for their courage, nobility, or moral actions.

What is a heroic villain called? ›

An antihero is kind of like a villain, or a mix of a hero and a villain. Antiheroes are complex characters, which is why they're popular.

What is a heroic antagonist trope? ›

Usually, a Hero Antagonist's main concern is that The Protagonist is going to end up hurting someone or something, or bring about The End of the World as We Know It, which may be completely correct (whether because The Protagonist is a card carrying, moustache-twirling villain or just an Unwitting Instigator of Doom), ...

Can villains turn into heroes? ›

Villains don't always stay villainous, especially when they prove popular with readers. Indeed some of the most well-known heroic characters began their careers on the opposite side of the fence.

What if the villain is the protagonist? ›

If our main character is “evil” and has a goal that doesn't necessarily align with our common sense of good, they can still be a protagonist. Which means yes, we can have villain protagonists. Before we get too deep into writing these types of main characters, though, let's talk about antagonists and anti-heroes.

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