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.
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.
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.
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?