What is an Archetype?

Have you ever noticed how similar characters can be to other characters you've read or watched in other stories? Sometimes, we watch a movie or read a book and we barely come into contact with a character before we already know exactly what that character is all about. Why is that? In human nature, there are certain emotions and other commonalities that span through all societies that are instantly recognizable. When storytellers present us with certain triggers, such as the existence of a hunky small town bad boy love interest for our Hallmark big city girl who doesn't realize just what she's missing in life yet, we respond by not questioning who these people are because we're already well-conditioned to the type of people they are.