Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What is an Antihero?

Last week, Victoria J. suggested that I discuss antiheroes. I hate to admit it, but I had to look this one up, which makes it perfect for a post!

We've all heard of heroes. Superman, Luke Skywalker, Aragorn...pretty much every story has one or multiple heroes. They're courageous, honorable, and, well, just plain heroic. 

We're also familiar with the concept of villains: Sauron, Darth Vader, IT, The Joker, King Galbatorix, The Borg...they make us shudder, cringe, and desperately hope our hero either never encounters them or else defeats them easily (and neither of those options makes for a good story).

So, what is an antihero? They're not truly villainous and out to kill the hero (usually), but neither are they heroic, honorable, and courageous. They're more out for their own gain in some way or another.

From here

Take Han Solo, for example. He's not really the most honorable person (why else would he be found in a wretched hive of scum and villainy?). He's after money and girls and to save his own hide. He does heroic things, not because he's actually heroic, but because it's convenient. And we still manage to like him. He also does turn out to be a good guy in the end--but then he sorta migrates over to hero status. 

From here

 Another good example would be Captain Jack Sparrow, from Pirates of the Caribbean. He's a drunken pirate after girls, gold, and more rum (which always seems to be in short supply). Good gracious, his own crew committed mutiny against him. He's got an ego the size of the seven seas. He'll betray his friends for his own advantage. But he's not villainous like Davey Jones. We still root for him. 

From here

Last example, Captain Kirk from Star Trek (I apologize to all the real Trekkies out there; I can't get into the old movies/show. But the new ones are really good!). Again, astounding ego. He's a little closer to a hero (he's got some guts for sure). But he's not really out to be heroic for heroism's sake, at least at the beginning.

I apologize that these were pretty similar.  If you're into literary nerd-dom stuff, I'd recommend Hero, Second Class. It pretty much pokes fun at the whole idea of Heroes and Villains.

Thanks again for the suggestion, Victoria! I'm always open to article suggestions from any readers!

Who are your favorite antiheroes? 


  1. Thanks for a great post! I'm a huge fan of antiheroes but can't write one for the life of me. I adore these characters; they seem more human to me and much more relatable. In life and death situations I'm not sure how heroic I would be. I think we would all like to think we're the hero but I think so many people are antiheros in real life. But you forgot one of my favourites! Sherlock Holmes :) (I adore the British TV series) and my newest favourite is Hook from the new Peter Pan movie. I'm glad you had to look it up, learning new stuff is always awesome. Great post! :)

    1. I have the darndest time writing them, too. I would have to agree that antiheroes are some of my favorite characters. But somehow I forget that when I'm writing and I end up trying to make all of my characters shiny.

      I can't say that I've ever been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, but he's another good example.

      Thanks for the comment!


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