Chara

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Character
Name: Chara
Occupation:
Title/Rank:
Location:
Status: Debated
Relationships: Asriel Dreemurr (best friend)
Fandom: Undertale, Deltarune
Other:
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Chara is the other main character of Undertale. They also appear in Deltarune... we think.

Canon Overview

In Undertale

Chara is the human who is depicted falling into the Underground at the beginning of the game in the year 201X, and is then named by the player. Their name is displayed on the game's interface rather than Frisk's, and other narrative tricks are employed to encourage the player to think that they are Frisk. However, they are revealed to be separate people either at the beginning of a Genocide/No Mercy route or at the end of the True Pacifist route. It is heavily implied that Chara is the game's narrator, and is in some way attached to Frisk, although the specifics of how and why this happened are never revealed.

When they originally fell, they were found by Asriel Dreemurr and accepted into the Dreemurr household as a foster child by Toriel and Asgore Dreemurr. One day they suddenly fell ill, and despite the monsters' best efforts, they died soon thereafter. Asriel absorbed their soul and carried their body outside the Barrier to a human village, but was fatally wounded by the villagers and retreated back inside the Barrier, where he then died. Toriel took Chara's corpse with her when she left Asgore, and buried them in the Ruins where they first fell. Both monsters who knew them in life, such as Asgore, and those who have only heard of their legend look back on them with fondness and regret for their passing.

Chara's death is revealed to have been a suicide in the True Pacifist route; they poisoned themself by eating buttercups and meant for Asriel to take their soul and use it to cross the Barrier, where he was supposed to kill six humans and take their souls in order to free the monsters. The Game Over screen is also revealed to be Chara flashing back to the death of their original body. If found and conversed with at the end of the game, Asriel explains that bringing Chara's body outside was Chara's idea, and that they were the one who tried to kill the villagers; Asriel was the one who refused to attack which made the villagers kill him. Asriel describes Chara as "maybe (...) [not] the greatest person" and explains that he knows why they climbed Mt. Ebott (where any travelers who climb are never seen again), and that it "wasn't for a very happy reason". He also says that Chara hated humanity and that their feelings were very strong, though they never explained why to him.

If the game is reloaded after the end credits of this route, Flowey appears and speaks directly to Chara and the player, reassuring them as to everyone's safety and acknowledging their love for the rest of the cast. He points out that Chara's power to SAVE and RESET is now the only thing that endangers the happy ending, remarking on the irony, as Chara's goal throughout the game was to prevent him from treating the Underground as a toy. He entreats Chara and the player to "Let Frisk live their life" and says that if they wish to reset the game, they must erase his memories as well as everyone else's.

Chara appears directly at the end of a Genocide/No Mercy route, and explains that when they first woke up at the beginning of the game, they were confused and did not understand why they were revived after the failure of their and Asriel's plan, and that therefore they looked to the player to show them what their purpose is. They go on to say that in this route, they have learned that their purpose is to become strong and destroy the enemy, and asks the player to "erase this pointless world and move on to the next". They will do so whether the player agrees or not, rendering Undertale unplayable. If the player waits for 10 minutes Chara offers to restore the game in exchange for the player's soul, the price for returning to the world the player themself destroyed. This route also contains a great deal of unique flavor text that is in first person, serving as the direct reveal that Chara is the game's narrator.

Replaying the No Mercy route after completing it once will result in Chara expressing an inability to understand the player's "perverted sentimentality" and advising them to play a different path if they wish to play again; playing the Pacifist route again will result in an altered ending where Chara appears to replace Frisk. It is still debated amongst fans whether Chara does this to punish the player, or because they are obeying the lessons the player taught them.

In Deltarune

In Deltarune, Chara is strongly suggested[1] to be the one who interrupts W.D. Gaster's vessel creation and hands Kris off to the player instead. They're also suggested to be the narrator of the game, similar to their role in Undertale.

Is this the same instance of Chara we knew in Undertale, or a new version of them unique to Deltarune's world, same as the other shared characters? Why and how are they here? What's their angle? Do they have anything to do with the demo's stinger, or nah? That's for Toby to know and us to suss out when the full game is released. Shhhh, only mysteries now.

Fandom

Fan Theories

Early after Undertale was released, Chara was most commonly characterized as the villain of the game, and considered to be pure evil by many fans; viewing them in any other light was highly unpopular and often the subject of wank. (See "General Portrayal" below.) However, as dissenting fans' analysis of the game's narration spread, public opinion towards Chara began to shift to be more neutral.

One of the other major pieces of evidence used to argue Chara as morally gray or good instead of evil in 2015 was their choice of suicide method being to poison themself by eating buttercups. Early Chara fans such as Feral Phoenix and spottoydog drew attention to the symptoms of ranunculus poisoning (including severe blistering of the mouth and digestive tract, nausea, bloody diarrhea, seizures, paralysis, and more[2]) and what an unpleasant way to die buttercup poisoning would actually be. Because Chara got the idea from an incident where they and Asriel fed Asgore a pie that they had put buttercups in by mistake, some fans theorized that Chara might have chosen this slow and painful suicide method not just to disguise the nature of their death from adults who might have stopped them, but as a form of penance for endangering their foster father.

The specific theory of Chara as the game's narrator was commonly referred to as "NarraChara" or "Passive Chara" (the latter term coined by tumblr user spottoydog, mod of the theory blog passivechara); fan content that interpreted Chara as morally neutral or good was said to feature "Soft Chara", a term coined by Feral Phoenix, derived from the "follow for more soft grunge" meme[3]. Later, vocal BNF Draikinator made several posts colorfully belittling this term under the misunderstanding that it referred to "some sort of AU where Chara is good, as if they're not good in canon already" (paraphrased).

Chara's hatred of humanity is theorized by many fans to stem from sort of trauma related to the cause of their first suicide attempt depicted in the game's opening stills. Common headcanons include child abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), bullying, transphobia, mental illness-related ableism, or a combination of these things.

This line of theorizing/headcanons are contested by fans who headcanon Chara as evil and have difficulty understanding or empathizing with misanthropy and therefore see it as a stock villain trait. These fans, such as theory bloggers nochocolate (the longform comic artists behind caretaker-au), prefer to cast Chara as a manipulative and abusive sociopath whose arrival at Mt. Ebott was a plot to eradicate humanity all along out of a stock-villainous belief that humans are inferior creatures.

Some fans believe that Chara might have had some sort of magic powers like the ancient magicians who sealed the monsters away, and therefore faced some sort of fantasy persecution based on that; this headcanon has been lifted for use in some popular AUs.

Common Pairings

Wank

Gender

As with Frisk, Monster Kid, and Napstablook, there is a great deal of wank about Chara's gender, as a number of fans (particularly those who are less familiar with gender politics) assume Chara's gender to be portrayed as neutral so that the player can pretend that they are male or female as the player chooses. Many such fans point to tweets by Toby suggesting that if a player cannot think of something else to name Chara that they could use their own name as proof that Chara is meant to be a player insert and should therefore have the same gender as the player; other fans argue that if this were Toby's intention, then there would be an option included to choose Chara's pronouns, which there is not.

This issue is further complicated in overseas parts of fandom by the fact that Korean has no gendered pronouns at all, and that in Japanese third-person pronouns can be completely omitted, meaning that the English script's prominent use of they/them pronouns for Chara does not translate into these languages. Coincidentally, in both Korea and Japan Chara is generally perceived as having an "ambiguous" gender and that it is left up to the player to decide; upon the release of 8-4's official translation, many Japanese fans decided that Chara must be canonically female because they are depicted as calling themself "watashi" (私), which is gender-neutral language when used by adults but has a feminine connotation when used by children. This localization choice faced criticism from bilingual fans.

General Portrayal

Throughout the end of 2015 (before the narrator-Chara theory became widely accepted), any fans who perceived or portrayed Chara as not pure evil were common targets of harassment, accused of abuse apologism by fans who perceived their relationship with Asriel as unhealthy. Chara cosplayers especially reported being stalked, verbally harassed, and physically assaulted at cons; artists, essayists, and fic writers were commonly sent hate mail, defamed, and suicide baited.

As fans who already had large audiences from other fandoms and already-prominent BNFs began to believe and spread the narrator Chara theory over the course of 2016, however, the overall fandom atmosphere changed, and depictions of Chara as a pure evil villain became less popular. However, this then led to proponents of the narrator Chara theory harassing any content producers who portrayed Chara as anything other than pure good.

Two topics that remain hot-button within fandom are portraying Chara's reactions to the conversation with Asriel taking place during the True Pacifist walkaround, which tends to spark backlash from Asriel fans who argue that Asriel's feelings of hurt should take narrative precedence over Chara's; and the nature of the relationship between Frisk, Chara, and the player, and accordingly who should take the blame for the Genocide/No Mercy route.

Shipping

As with other child characters, Chara is the subject of vitriolic ship wank; common anti-shipper arguments include that Chara is too young to be shipped, that shipping them with Asriel is abuse apologism, and that as they are commonly interpreted as adopted siblings with Frisk and Asriel, that shipping them with either of those characters is promoting incest.

Fans who headcanon Chara and Asriel as siblings argue their case with the evidence that the monsters' fairy tale describes Chara and Asriel has having become "like siblings" to explain their closeness, and that while relating stories of Asgore and Toriel's past, Gerson the shopkeeper mentions them embarrassing their "children" plural,including Chara as their child. Fans who ship Chara/Asriel and do not headcanon them as siblings argue that Asgore and Toriel never refer to Chara as their child,and that Asriel especially only ever calls them his "best friend".

Ship wank surrounding Chara was especially violent from the end of 2015 through early 2016, as in the early days of Undertale fandom Chara fans who did not perceive them as evil were in the minority and so interacted with each other often. However, the anti-shippers in this group eventually turned on those who shipped Chara with Asriel or Frisk; this mostly took the form of posting libel about them, though prominent fanartist and vocal anti-shipper cherribombart posted death threats targeting Chara/Asriel and Chara/Frisk shippers on twitter.

In present-day Undertale fandom, BNFs who ship Chara and Frisk tend to strongly push the portrayal of Chara and Asriel as siblings in order to undermine the perceived validity of the rival ship.

Fanworks

Chara was the subject of the first Undertale fanfiction posted to Archive of Our Own, green beneath the rime by Feral Phoenix (originally posted 19 September 2015, four days after Undertale's release). Much fanwork involving them either depicts their relationships with Asriel or Frisk, lays out the writer's headcanons for their backstory, or depicts them having enmity with Sans based on Sans' role as the last boss of the Genocide/No Mercy route.

Before "Chara" was commonly accepted as their name, they were most often tagged as "The First Child" on AO3, and some fanfiction written or begun in 2015 (such as Evaunit02mark1's On the Edge of a Knife) uses a different name for them chosen by the author, often whatever the author first named Chara when playing the game.

There has been a general uptick in the amount of villainous Chara content since the release of the Deltarune demo, which has also started a trend of their being portrayed as attached to Kris in the same way that they were attached to Frisk in Undertale.

Fanfic

Fanart

Meta

Archives and Fannish Links

References

  1. Who discards the Wonderful Creation - suzyundertale on tumblr (retrieved 9 December 2018)
  2. Ranunculus Poisoning - Symptoma, retrieved 1 April 2019
  3. #protect frisk 2k16, Retrieved 30 November 2017