An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behaviour. In philosophy, archetypes since Plato refer to ideal forms of the perceived or sensible things or types.

Archetype refers to a generic version of a personality. In this sense a so-called mother figure may be considered an archetype and may be identified in various characters with otherwise distinct or non-generic personalities.

Archetypes are likewise supposed to have been present in folklore and literature for thousands of years, including prehistoric artwork. The use of archetypes to illuminate personality and literature was advanced by psychologist Carl Jung early in the twentieth century, who suggested the existence of universal contentless forms that channel experiences and emotions, resulting in recognizable and typical patterns of behaviour with certain probable outcomes. Archetypes are cited as important to both ancient mythology and modern narratives.