the Little Red Reviewer

Love for the Anti Hero

Posted on: September 25, 2010

Thinking about the books and TV shows and and literary characters that top my list of favorites, I quickly realized an unsettling pattern. I have a major weakness for antiheroes. You know, the folks who do the right thing when they happen to feel like it? Be them tragic, scarred, bitter, jaded, orphaned and left to their own devices, or led by questionable morals, that is what gets my attention and that is what I gravitate towards.You hurt them, they’ll hurt ya back, you hurt someone they care about, they’ll kill you slowly. Broken noses are good, broken hearts and souls are better. I’m talking the likes of Elric of Melnibone, Vlad Taltos, Mal Reynolds, Locke Lamora, Hellboy, Han Solo, Donnie Darko, most Noir protagonists, and just about any character Joe Abercrombie or Neal Stephenson saw fit to put to paper along with just about any character Bruce Willis has ever played.

Yikes, what does that say about me?

I’m not tragic, I’m not scarred, bitter or orphaned, I lead a very happy life. You’d probably barf in your mouth a little if I told you how wonderful my life was. Seriously, it’s happened.

Why do I want to read about people who are so flawed? So deeply flawed that they walk headfirst into danger, will steal from you as likely as help you, act without thinking, generally act like an asshole most of the time, and defend what they care about with their last dying breath, and will usually run away from a fight if given the opportunity. Antiheroes don’t get mad, they get even. They might be redeemed, they might not. Well, except for the danger, stealing and some of melodrama, it sounds a little like the darker parts of myself that I’d rather not face. I act with out thinking, and can be an utter asshole some of the time. Ok, make that most of the time.

Antiheroes are not perfect. They don’t always know the right thing to do, but they give it everything they’ve got. They rally to their friends, and don’t let their fear show. when it matters, they do the right thing.

I am not perfect. I rarely know the right thing to do, but whatever I choose to do, I passionately I give it everything I’ve got. You hurt me, I’ll probably cry and get angry. Your hurt my friends, I’ll skip the getting mad part and go right to the revenge part. I rally to my friends, and they are the only ones who see my fears.

And that, my friends, is why I love an antihero. Or at least part of why I love antiheroes.

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10 Responses to "Love for the Anti Hero"

Yes. Very yes. I am new to your blog but I understand. Antiheroes are quite possibly the most fascinating, addictive characterizations I have ever read. I think that it is just easier to relate to the anti-hero who does have flaws and who doesn’t always make the right decisions than the true hero who can do no wrong and always wins. The only thing better than an anti-hero is a tragic hero.

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Anti heroes are cooler than straight out heroes. That’s all there is to it. One of my favourite literary creations is Harry Flashman, if there’s a bigger anti hero out there I’m yet to meet him. Heroes are so boring.

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Heroes are just too perfect, you know?

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Spot on! I find Jon Snow one of the least interesting characters in Ice and Fire largely because he is the stereoptypical hero with very few shades of grey the way the more interesting characters in most fiction tend to have.

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Sometimes very young heroes can be interesting because they are floundering around not knowing how to do the right thing, but now that I think about it, antiheroes are more interesting. They are unpredictable, you don’t know if they might steal a couple of those packs of money before they turn the bank robbers in, they may have ulterior motives for getting the bad guys out of the way. They are an unknown factor. The only unknown anti-hero I can think of that I’ve read is Artemis Fowl in his first novel. Though his motives are to save his father, you don’t know if he’s going to kill his friends and how he’s going to get out of his predicaments and he’s stealing. I don’t know if he counts, but I read YA and was reading to a fourth grader and a first grader at the time. I’ll have to find some more anti-heroes in my readings. OH- Ash in the Iron King series by Julie Kagawa series. Definitely anti-hero. He turns his girlfriend over to the Winter Queen who wants to kill her. Then does something totally hero like at the end of the second book. (Don’t want to spoil it if anyone is reading the series).

I’ll keep an eye out for more anti-heroes. If any of you have read the HIVE series they are all anti-heroes yet save the day in every book. Been so long since I read them, can’t even remember the characters names. Hazards of reading children’s series with your kids and then reading more and more on top of them.

Heather

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Elric. Love him. My fave anti hero of all time. I don’t mind Lamora he’s quite entertaining as well. Elric is the king of em though. :)

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I’d argue antiheroism comes in two strains. One is what’s on the surface: Han Solo’s swagger or any of the Lannisters’ wisecracks. Two is what’s underneath: ruthlessness, nastiness, or sheer pragmatism.

Sometimes these go together (Tyrion, Jaime). Sometimes you get the attitude by itself (Han Solo, apart from shooting first, has a heart of gold) and sometimes you get just the darkness (Inquisitor Glokta).

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and i am loving Glokta. how messed up is that?

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I alternated between thinking Glokta was the coolest thing since sliced bread and being utterly horrified by what he did. :D

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