Why We Love the Anti-hero

Saturday, October 04, 2014

We've all met that one character who would happily kill anything they feel like killing. Depending on the story, you get to know this character more. And somehow, somewhere, you start sympathizing with this character; their backstory and their purpose. You know they have a good side, although the rational part of you refuses.

I love anti-heroes
I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean I'm a psychopath who kills in order to save the good guys or whatever. Or so I shall continue to hope.  Sure, I want these guys to get the punishment they deserve, but I also wish to give them a hug. It is when I finally stop fussing over what's good and bad, and start adoring these characters for who they are  - who cares if they are bad or not? (well, uh, apart from the many people) - that I become a fan.

Bloodsucking monster? The doer of wrong? The backstabbing vampire? The serial killer? Who cares anymore.

And that is my opinion.

Who is an anti-hero?
Hopefully, this will not turn into a lesson. Pretty sure y'all know your ABCs. Anti-heroes and villains are easy to be mixed up, so this is just to clear things up a bit.

A villain: is evil because he or she wants to be. They enjoy being evil. They have no qualities of a hero.
I'm jealous of you so I'll kill you. You're prettier than me, LOL

On the other hand, an anti-hero:  has some qualities of a hero but lacks the noble ones, making them a mix of both good and bad.

I won't save you. I'll eat you. Rip out your throat. I don't care
for anyone. P.S. don't you dare hurt the people I love.

Take Meda from Cracked, Snape from Harry Potter and  Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries (although I'm not sure where he would be without the good looks). These three characters have one thing in common. They could rip out a thousand throats, be the biggest asshole history has ever come across but still make big sacrifices for their loved ones.

In the words of us, fangirls, an anti-hero is basically a sign that you could start ASDFGHJKL-ing soon.

But why do we love these bloodsucking monsters? Why do we find them thrilling? Is this the universe telling us that we are evil on the inside?  I don't know about that, but my reasons would be that..

An anti-hero is flawed
We've all heard a countless times that no one is perfect and one couldn't agree more. So when we find an imperfect, flawed character who is actually flawed - as opposed to a character who claims they are imperfect but do nothing but perfect, noble deeds - we see how they are flawed. Just like us. And we like them.

If you tell me that you've never had a single evil intention cross your mind, I'm going to go ahead and glare you straight to the moon.

A flawed character, therefore is realistic. Before YOU glare me to the moon, I will fully admit that there's nothing good about having 'evil' or 'psychopathic' under your list of flaws, but that is just not the point here.

So what's so good about a realistic character? Well..

We connect with them 
Realistic characters are more closer to our heart when we take it into consideration in a more general way. We read about them, think and feel that deep down, they are maybe a little like us. Their complexity is reminiscent to that of our own.

This leads to a lot of chemistry between the reader and the anti-hero. From there on, the character is a success and the readers are captivated.

These heroes are unpredictable
The hero is obviously going to run to the rescue, to save the good guys.  But what about the anti-hero? This guy is both bad and good at the same time, a mix of both good and evil. Not as black and white.

Will he choose the villain in him, and leave them all to die? Will he choose the hero in himself, and save the day?

I think it makes for something much more exciting. After all, don't we all love suspense?

Their good qualities are precious
You cannot be happy if you're not sad. This is an example of the basic idea behind which the universe runs. If you have too much of something, you start taking it for granted and forget why it is a good thing.

Like wise, an anti-hero and the good qualities in their character are rare occurrences, and some part of us love it. Love those little moments of kindness.

We love them.

Well, that is all! If you have any more points you'd like to add, or anything to share, the comments will be your friend. 
Anti-heroes: Yay or nay?
Also, who is/are your favorite anti-hero/es?

Main picture background: Harry Potter, movie