The point is--stories without unique characters are boring. Cardboard characters just don't cut it--even if they are gorgeous and marvelous in superficial ways. They need depth and a few flaws that are uniquely their own to drive a story.
Some writers believe in character possession. When they are intensely involved in writing, the character seems to take over and redirect the story. I tend to believe there is some truth to this. I have had the experience of creating a character and then finding myself in a situation where I encounter the embodiment of that character in real life. It's almost as if there is a fleeting recognition of one another. Very chilling and eery, I might add. (Be careful what you create.)
Whether reader or writer, what's your take on characters? Who are your favorites and what about them fascinates you?