1. Kessie says:

    Good article! I love anti heroes, like Han Solo and Shadow the Hedgehog. There’s just something fun about the amoral character who nonetheless has a moral code of some kind that they adhere to and will not violate, sometimes at the cost of everyone around them. Like Jason Bourne refusing to kill in front of kids, even though it ruins his whole mission and sends him on the run. Sure, antiheroes may be the ones who kill and steal and whatever, but usually they do it to help others, even if it’s kind of twisted. Kind of like Robin Hood.

  2. Randy says:

    I think antiheroes are actually very important for Christian authors right now.

    Not a week goes by in which I don’t hear the ol’ “you don’t need religion to have morals” trope — and it’s, of course, true.

    In fact, you don’t even have to BE a “good” person to DO good. You needn’t even be moral.

    But the antihero raises the important question: does DOING good MAKE you a good person? Is it enough to have some sense of “morality” — whatever that is? Or is there something more.

    What about someone who does bad things for the “right” reasons? (For the record, Walter White and the whole Breaking Bad series are a GREAT examination of this concept, precisely because, as we follow Walter’s journey, we see that while his impetus may have been somewhat noble, his actions were ultimately inspired, not by need, but by his own inner darkness.)

    Christians NEED to be exploring the antihero — and flawed hero — concepts, because they get to the meat of secular morality and the need for a Savior.

    • I was actually just thinking before logging on to check comments that Walter White’s journey changes. He starts off as an anti-hero, motivated by wanting to help his family–or at least believing that is his motivation. And then when he achieves the goal of having enough money to take care of them, his true motive surfaces (that of wanting an “empire”) and he switches from antihero to villain.

      Jessie Pinkman, however, stays a true antihero throughout. (And I like to think that after the show becomes a real hero at some point.)

      Anyway, your points are so good! The idea that actions can *make* a good person regardless of motivation has become so ingrained in thinking these days.

  3. Ian Koratsky says:

    Suppose that a blind, deaf, mute paraplegic desired nothing but the worst evils for his fellow creatures. Were he in the middle of Auschwitz, he wouldn’t know that his desire was satisfied. Were he next to Billy Graham or Mother Theresa, he would be none the wiser. Would such a man, impotent of the ability to cause harm yet desiring of it, be called evil?

    • I think the more important thing is intent. Someone can kill a person accidentally, but never have a hurtful thought toward another person. Yet, someone stuffing anger, hate, jealously, murderous thoughts down inside is what causes rot in the heart.

  4. Autumn Grayson says:

    I like a lot of antihero characters, and I think most character types are only ‘wrong’ to read about depending on what purpose they are used for in the story and how the individual reader might react to the story. Though of course that last one is the individual reader’s responsibility from the standpoint of choosing their reading material. But, an antihero character can be very important to a story and its message, and even be more relateable than the stereotypical main character, as stereotypical chars can feel a bit flat or boring sometimes.

    To be honest, the first times I heard the term ‘anti-hero’ pointed out to me, it was used to describe chars like Han Solo or Sesshomaru from Inuyasha. Basically, characters that reject bonds, goodness, righteousness, etc. or at least try to, yet end up doing good things in spite of themselves or eventually desiring such good things anyway, so that is usually the way I think of antiheroes, so that kinda shapes any response I have on the subject.

    • Yes, that is a great point about the reader having responsibility. Writers do need to show care in how they present certain things–such devices as antiheroes can be used by writers to glorify bad behavior. But readers need to not only choose their own reading material wisely, they need to use discernment when reading what they do choose.

      And I agree that the antihero can be more relateable at times. I’ve had several readers tell me how much they connected with Wraith in my novel Relent. I didn’t start out writing that book with the intent of making him the star of the show, but he kinda took over, and the message I was sending with Simone actually comes through more loud and clear with Wraith. (Which makes me happy, because I love his character.)

What do you think?