From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Antagonists and Anti-heroes

Welcome to day 1 of the A-Z April challenge everybody!

So my little sisters have a thing with the show Psych. It is their absolute favorite show. So much so that on weekends my mom will come home from a date with Dad and we'll be watching and she'll be like, "Ugh, guys, really, Psych again?" We were talking about the characters we love and I was talking about how much I liked Lassiter and my sister was like, "Sarah, you always like the people you shouldn't like, like Snape and Benjamin Linus and stuff."

They know me so well :)

Anyway. It's true. I know I've talked about this many many times here  on the bloggy blog (and I know I've said I've talked about this many many times) but certain characters are simply so endlessly fascinating that I will never get tired of talking about them. The heroes are attractive and smart and often funny, but there's just something...layered, I guess one could say, about the antagonists and anti-heroes. Yes Carlton Lassiter is obnoxious, domineering, tactless and self-important, but then he writes a note for his girlfriend in prison or gets re-jilted by his ex-wife and you realize what a total sweetheart he is too.

Yes Snape is a rude, conniving, greasy know-it-all, but then you read Chapter 36 and you realize how brave and desperately lonely he is too.

Yes Benjamin Linus is a manipulative, lying, creepy, merciless cuss, but then you see his daughter shot or hear him desperately claim ownership of the pretty girl or see him help Hurley or watch season six and you realize how lonely and intelligent and frightened he is too.

I think that's what it comes down to, the layers. I think its satisfying to see seriously and blatantly flawed characters struggling to understand and become the better person in there somewhere, because that is ALL of us. We're all seriously flawed, and I think frustrated by the disparity between where we are and where we know we could be.

We like watching these characters and waiting for those moments when they reveal how utterly human they are.

Maybe this is just the character trope I personally like the most, but I still think we have a lot to learn from them about flaws in our characters and how that makes them relatable.

What do you think about this type of character? Can you think of other examples?

Sarah Allen


  1. I love villains! They are so much more interesting than the good guys. My favourite at the moment is Dexter Morgan... so misunderstood. ;-)

  2. I was having probs with my wip - then I realised it was because I was in love with my villain, not my hero- oops!

  3. I think these are the most interesting types of characters. Not because they do bad things, but because they struggle with each decision.

    Moody Writing

  4. I like Snape too, and some of my favorite characters in the realm of fiction are actually anti-heroes. Like Lestat from the Vampire Chronicles.

  5. Yep, I love a good antagonist too, especially when they are layered. They are so much fun because they aren't constrained by rules, and can say and do things that the hero just can't.

    I love a good bad guy or girl.

  6. I love the anti-hero, especially if they're well written. They seem to have more character depth than the good guys. That and they usually have guns.

    Love this! Will be back for more.

  7. I always feel for the anti-hero, knowing that being isolated and elbowed out of the way is part of the problem.

    In "Hook", the little girl told Hook that he needed a mommy very, very badly.

  8. My grandson had one of those aha moments watching Les Miserable (the musical) the other night. He said, "That guy, the one who was leading the army (against our heroes), he didn't really want to order his guys to fire, did he? He really hated that they'd killed Gavroche (the little boy).

    A single moment and a bit part, but my grandson picked up on it. The people killing the good guys aren't always bad guys.

  9. I think the important thing here is 'anti-hero' rather than straight villain. You can sympathise with Darth Vader in the original Star Wars series(before you find out what an irritating brat he was as a whining teen) because he redeems himself and doesn't do more than he has to, and doesn't laugh maniacally. The real villain is the Emperor and I bet HE has no fan club. ;-) But the anti-hero is attractive because he has layers and deep down he's just a misunderstood good guy. My own favourite anti-hero in televisual terms is Kerr Avon from Blake's 7, who sneers a lot, is witty and sarcastic, but usually comes through for his fellow rebels, often at the risk of his own life. I suspect I wouldn't like him if I met him in real life, but as a fictional character... Wonderful! And yes, I was always a Snape fan, because I put together the evidence and realised he WAS a good guy. And as a teacher I could work with him - if you read the books, you notice he gets on with the other staff. Not sure I'd want to be in his class.

  10. I like Snape, but I don't know how much of it is because I like Alan Rickman. The Half-Blood Prince is my favorite book in the series though. I suppose we like characters such as Lasseter and Linus because we realize that they were not given the hugs and kisses at the time they needed them as kids. They're really good guys who just need that someone special (maybe us) to help pull them over to the light.

    Doing the Challenge along with you and the 1000+ others. :-) I'm doing the challenge at two blogs, if you're interested in dropping by one or both.

  11. aah yes, Snape. it always amazes me how one action or one small change about a character that totally changes your perspective on that character.

    just like Malcolm Reynolds in the Firefly tv series. he acts tough and sometimes a bit cruel to some of his crew but he's really a sweetheart. that's the only example I can think of for now. although, now that I think about it, it's really Jane that is the anti-hero.

    anyway, thanks for posting this. have a sweet day.

  12. Certain types of villains have me cheering for them - it matters to me why they're villains. If it's a good reason, I tend to like them. Good post! (First time visitor.)

    An A to Z Blogger
    Visions of Other Worlds
    Twitter: @jmarcarelli

  13. I'm finally doing A-Z!

    I think Tate from season 1 of American Horror Story is a pretty good example. I mean the guy is a horrible, and I mean HORRIBLE, human being. However, he's just charming and witty enough to be rather likable :)

  14. I LOVE psych! Lassie is the best. I first thought he looked like a cross between Matthew Perry and Mr. Bean. A recent episode I think he was referred to as looking like Matthew Perry and someone else--I can't remember.

    And the actor who plays Ben Linus will always be Ben Linus to me. I don't care that he's on a new show. He's Ben.

    Hope you're having fun with the A to Z Challenge! Here's mine for today: A Girl and her Diary

  15. I think I write antiheroes more than I write heroes. I definitely prefer flawed heroes vs. perfect heroes.

    I like to think of it this way...

    Hero: A flawed individual who wins us over by somehow redeeming their mistakes.

    Villain: A flawed individual who constantly adds to the rubble, getting deeper and deeper in debt to the audience.

    I think one of the most interesting villains in recent years is the one Tilda Swinton played in 'Michael Clayton'. You get to see her grueling over her horrible decisions, literally sweating it. And on the other hand, George Clooney plays the 'hero' Michael Clayton, who is very flawed in his own right. And you get to see him rise from the ashes. I really can't recommend the movie 'Michael Clayton' enough, because of how they tackled their characters.


I absolutely love hearing from you! Thank you so, so much for your thoughts and comments, they really do make my day. Consider yourself awesome. Also, I do my best to respond to every comment within 24 hours, so I invite you to come back and continue the conversation :)

To have weekly posts delivered to your inbox, just sign up here!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...