Wanderer Archetype

Learn all about the wanderer archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Explorer archetype.

What is the Wanderer Archetype?

The wanderer archetype is an individual who lives by their own rules, refusing the conform to society’s norms.

Indeed, they fear conformity and will only give up some of their own freedoms for the purpose of integrating into society if they chose to do so.

If they do not choose to do so, then they set off on a journey into the unknown seeking a place where they feel they can fit better or find some tranquility.

Wanderer Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • The wandered possesses a courageous and adventurous spirit, not being afraid travel to new places and try new experiences in their wanderings to find their comfort zone.
  • They can appear to others as sad, lonely individuals who prefer their own company and are antisocial.
  • However, just because this is their outward appearance does not mean that underneath they themselves are not comfortable with their solitude.
  • They can also suffer from a tendency not to complete things once started, succumbing to the temptation lose interest and wander off to begin something new.
  • They can be chronically disappointed in life if their wanderings never bring them to find what they need.

Wanderer Archetype Examples

The earliest examples of the archetypal wandered are Biblical. Cain, for example, was cursed by God for killing his brother and lying about the act. He then wandered the Earth for much of the rest of his life before finally finding peace, marrying and founding the city of Enoch.

In literature and film the wanderer is often presented as a character who begins the story in some form of captivity, be it literally imprisoned, or restrained by relationships, family, employment, school and so on. The wanderer character then goes on a literal physical journey until, when their journey ends, they come to find themselves and a place where they belong.

An example of a modern wanderer on TV is the Doctor in BBC TV series Dr Who, a character who wanders the Universe for hundreds of years with a seemingly endless stream of short term companions, never quiet belonging in any one place or time.

Further Reading

Further reading on the wanderer archetype includes:

  • The Wanderer Archetype in Donna Tartt’s Novel “The Goldfinch” – by Oliver Tumbo
  • The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By – Innocent, Orphan, Magician, Wanderer, Martyr, Warrior – by Carol Pearson
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