What Makes a Good Antihero?

As readers, we live for conflict. Unless you're reading non-fiction (and even then, steering clear of biographies and historical texts), chances are you're all about the struggle of the main character. Great stories revolve around conflict. [1/?]

As an author, I firmly believe different authors fall into one of two camps: plot-drivers or character-drivers. I happen to be the latter. My entire series centers around conflict that comes from within. Themes such as what moral concessions must be made for diplomacy and cooperation between uncooperative people, what part of ourselves do we bury deep inside from even ourselves and how much of our true personality do we show others play front and center in my writing. [2/?]

As such, I love the story of an antihero. Moral ambiguity and conflicting interests are compelling to me. Antiheroes are the most interesting characters. In fact, in my story, a lot of my characters, including my main protagonist, fall somewhere on the antihero spectrum. So how should you write one? Again, I believe that the antihero isn't one, formulaic entity, but exists on a spectrum of qualities. Consider these examples: [3/?]


Good Guy, Bad Attitude - This is the one that jumps to mind for most people. This character may be unpleasant, uncooperative and have questionable motives, but ultimately does the right thing. This comes about either by coincidence (the character's interest and the protagonist's interests line up) or because the character is genuinely a "good" person with a bad attitude. [4/?]

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Marriage of Convenience - this character is ultimately at odds with the protagonist. However, what they want is connected to what the protagonist wants, albeit for wildly different reasons. The character does not change or show any "goodness" like GG,BA, but they are willing to make some concessions for the sake of getting what they want. [5/?]

Unstable Morals - this character is a bit more dangerous than the other two; they can be on the side of the protagonist one moment and then directly challenging them or putting them in harm's way the next. While the other two may have a limit to their unpleasantness, this character cannot be trusted to have any sympathy for the protagonist if it doesn't suit them. [6/?]

These are just three examples. There is a lot of versatility when writing these characters, and the possible conflicting emotions and motives makes for an interesting read. I like to throw in multiple antiheroes in my writing. What are some antihero qualities that you enjoy? [7/7]

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