An antihero is a character who lacks one or more of the ‘heroic’ qualities – like altruism, nobility, or courage. If a hero is a larger-than-life, and a better person that the reader, the antihero is typically created to be less than their audience in some way – in social conscience, for example.
An antihero may have the appearance of a villain, but it’s more complicated than that. Usually their villainous behaviour comes from pure motivations – think Severus Snape or Dexter.
And we all love a good antihero, perhaps because their characters are more complex. Yesterday I wrote a bit about adding layers of complexity to your villain to make him more believable. Using an antihero as a protagonist builds that complexity right in with the character, and the audience gets to see the internal struggle of a character desperately trying to be good, but falling just short because people just don’t understand why he’s doing all these awful things.
There is a universal appeal to the ‘bad boy with a heart of gold,’ and they are characters with endurance – think Heathcliff, Mr Rochester or the Count of Monte Cristo. They spice up storylines, and leave people craving more long after the book has closed.
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