I have a theory on entertainment: strong characters are what make something last.
Sure, the setting is important, especially for defining the atmosphere, and the plot is what keeps one going, but I think strong characters are what keep people enthralled with a piece of entertainment.
I think people most relate to other people because they see a little bit of themselves or someone they know in that person. When someone relates to a character in books, films, TV shows, etc., I think that's when people get hooked. Fan art is almost always of characters in the work. When I think about fanfiction and shipping, it's all centered around the characters and their personalities.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
In Manchester by the Sea, the plot isn't overly dramatic or present. It's a slice of the characters' lives, and it was my interest in those characters and how they interacted that made me really enjoy that film. Sure, the setting is special, and there is a plot, but the characters really stuck with me.
In A Wizard of Earthsea, I was most interested in Ged. I'd follow him across any number of adventures through Earthsea because I like how he approaches and handles situations. I like the dragons and the magic, but the characters really shine through and are what I find myself thinking about.
There are, potentially, some exceptions to my theory. I'd argue that in Blade Runner the strongest part of the film is the setting and atmosphere, although Deckard, Roy Batty, and Rachael are interesting characters.
My theory is not to say that setting and plot don't matter as much as the characters. Only that the characters are what create the mental lasting power of a work. That's why I have been trying as best I can to create amazing and memorable characters. I love scenes where characters are themselves and I get a little bit more a glimpse into who they are.
Am I overthinking this? What do you think?