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In a work of fiction, a narrator is the character who recounts the events being described. In written forms like novels and short stories, a narrator is always present, whether explicitly or implicitly (with a very few exceptions, such as short stories made up entirely of direct speech). Narrators may also appear in television, cinema and theater, either on the screen or stage or as voiceovers.

The most obvious function of a narrator is to keep the reader or audience informed about what is happening. In addition, narrators may serve to pass comment on events, perhaps by pointing out moral lessons to be drawn from the story; or to add ambiguity and complexity through use of an unreliable narrator. The latter is a common device in modern and postmodern fiction.