In the other thread (Story Embroidery II) @Jassnip and I were discussing the OS roles of Protagonist, Antagonist, Guardian vs. their roles as MC & IC.
I went on a tangent about how characters can seem to contradict themselves and decided to post it as a separate thread here. You can read the original post for context.
All that said, there certainly can be a way that a Protagonist MC can seem to oppose the Goal because of their MC worldview, sort of contradicting themselves between the OS and MC throughline. It sounds tricky but:
- I haven't watched the E.T. user group analysis yet but if Elliot is Protagonist, you can see how he is the one leading the charge to help E.T. escape and get home. Yet in his personal throughline as a lonely boy he doesn't want E.T. to leave.
- I'm not sure if Neo is the Protagonist in The Matrix; maybe it's Morpheus. But you could imagine that if Neo was Protagonist, his disbelief in his personal throughline might look like wanting to give up on the Goal sometimes.
- Or as a different example, if you think of Collateral, Vincent (Tom Cruise) was both Antagonist and IC and definitely contradicted himself between those two throughlines. His influence on Max (Jamie Foxx) was what allowed Max to Change and defeat him!
I actually think there might be something in the human story-mind that allows extra "suspension of disbelief" for throughline contradictions like this. Because we intuitively grasp the different roles between throughlines. Instead of thinking "Vincent is an idiot for pushing Max to stand up for himself" or "why is Elliott whining so much?" we think instead "wow, what a great story, what complex characters".