D'Artagnan is the protagonist of Alexandre Dumas pere's novel LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES/THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1844). The story follows his adventures, where he leaves his town of Gascony to join the King's Musketeers in Paris. Along the way, his hot-headed courage arouses the animosity and friendship of Musketeers Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who become his closest comrades against the machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and his allies. A skilled swordsman, D'Artangan is impulsive, quick to provoke, abusive to his manservant and not above having romances with married women or dangerous ones (or their servants). Nevertheless, he is brave, dashing, and committed to his friends, his King, and his country.
Dumas based the character on a real-life 17th-century Musketeer named Sieur d' Artagnan, whose real name was Charles de Batz-Castlemore (1623-1673). Dumas would continue the Musketeers adventures in VINGT ANS APRES/TWENTY YEARS AFTER and LE VICTOME DE BRAGELONNE, OU DIX ANS PLUS TARD/THE VICTOME DE BRAGELONNE or TEN YEARS AFTER, which is also entitled THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.
Many Hollywood adaptations of THE THREE MUSKETEERS have softened D'Artagnan's character, making him more heroic in character (altering some of his romances into more innocent affairs). Recent films have given D'Artagnan a back story where his father had been slain by Rochefort, leading to a reckoning in the climax. Many adaptations of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK establish D'Artagnan having a close relationship with the title character. D'Artagnan is either portrayed as protector of King Louis XIV (the good or bad twin) or a surrogate father to the hidden good twin brother, always rescuing him from his prison-mask and setting him up as King (sometimes at the cost of his own life).
The historical D'Artagnan made a brief appearance in the BBC TV Serial THE FIRST CHURCHILLS (1969), where he historically dies in the Siege of Maastricht in 1673.