Hero Archetype #2: The Anti-hero

Okay so who knows what an Antihero is?  I know what you’re thinking, but no, it’s not a villain.  Much like the Byronic Hero, I always found the Antihero to be a much more interesting version of the hero.

According to Wikipedia the Anti-hero is:

An anti-hero or anti-heroine is a protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality.  These individuals often possess dark personality traits such as disagreeableness, dishonesty, and aggressiveness. These characters are usually considered “conspicuously contrary to an archetypal hero”.

So now at this point I’m guessing you’re wondering what the different between this and a Byronic Hero?  Well, the devil is in the details, which is why I love these different archetypes.  They can really get the creative juices flowing.

While the Byronic Hero was more of the pariah of the hero world, the Antihero is clearly the bad guy of the heroes.

He is what I like to call, the worst of the best and better yet, he usually does it with style.

I used Dexter Morgan from the now defunct Showtime series Dexter to illustrate this as clear as possible.

He’s the hero of the story who punishes the bad guys who escape punishment under the law.  He’s your typically vigilante type, just like Dirty Harry Callahan or Batman from the The Dark Knight Trilogy.

But there’s one twist:  Dexter’s a serial killer himself, and often times, he commits worse crimes than the people he kills.

Yeah that’s right, a show when on for 8 Seasons because they found a way to make you root for the serial killer!

How amazing is that!  Now, to stop this from becoming a great character post (which he’ll probably get sooner than later) I’m going to land my plane on this one.

The key thing to take away from this is that the antihero is usually not much different from the villain, except in some way he’s usually doing the bad things that he does, for a good reason.

Do you not see the possibilities in that?

I’ve said it time and time again, “villains are the heroes of their own story.”  Do you see how easy that is to write when you think about it in the right way?

Anti-heroes are a lot of fun to write, and to watch/read/whatever because like the Byronic Hero, they’re not only that much easier to relate to but at the same time there’s this sense of horror.

That sense of, “Oh my God I can’t believe he just did that!”

That’s what makes them oh so intriguing.

This is always something anyone can use in their story.  Whether it’s the main character or not, as interesting and intriguing as you can make your characters the better your story will be.  Also, these archetypes are good to think about when you’re writing a piece with an ensemble cast and everyone has to be as equally fleshed out as your protagonist (protip right there everyone)

Final conclusion on the anti-hero is that I love them and, in my opinion, we need them in our stories and novels.

Everyone likes a bad boy, why wouldn’t our readers?

So what do you think?  Agree, disagree, think I’m nuts?Whatever you think, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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Featured image courtesy of: Showtime

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