Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Antihero

I know what you're thinking...Emily loved talking about villains so much, she thought she could get away with it for her heroes post too. ;P

Tempting as that is, I really did have every intention of having a nice down-home discussion about heroes today. Except then I got thinking about the main character in my book and I had to ask myself...is Camden Pike really a hero? If a character can barely save himself, let alone anyone else, can he still be a hero? When does he become an antihero?

The jury is still out for Cam (hey, I'm not done editing--anything could happen). But I love the idea of a boy (or girl) balancing on the edge of good and evil. They're dastardly, selfish, and immoral (Scarlett O'Hara from GONE WITH THE WIND), but somehow you find yourself rooting for them because there's just enough honest love, ambition, or sympathy to their characters, you often can't help yourself (Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, or *swoon* Alex Krycek from The X-Files).

Of course, antiheroes don't have to be awful people. Sometimes they simply exist in a world where they have very little control over what happens to them. They may feel helpless, and doing little or nothing to help themselves or others seems like the path of least resistance. Just as with villains, heroes and antiheroes are often best when they're most complicated.

So who are your favorite antiheroes and why?


Emily Hainsworth is the author of THROUGH TO YOU, (Fall 2012 Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins), a sci-fi novel about a boy grieving for his dead girlfriend until he discovers she's still alive in a parallel reality--one where he's the one who died. For more information, visit her website.


  1. I don't think he's my favourite (I don't really like him at all and feel sorry for him at the same time), but when most people think of antiheroes, I think Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights comes to mind.

  2. I was totally going to mention Heathcliff instead of Scarlett, but I wanted to cite a girl! :) Agreed, he's a perfect antihero!

  3. Professor Snape from Harry Potter -- he holds a mean grudge, he's so terribly nasty, but in the end, he's a man who loved so hard and risked so much that even Harry recognizes his heroism.

    I LOVE a good anti-hero.

  4. Ah yes, Snape--my favorite character from the Harry Potter books. So complex! I love a good anti-hero.

  5. Man! You guys keep stealing all the good examples...
    Artemis Fowl is another one -- he keeps accomplishing good things, often despite his best efforts to be wicked.

  6. Dexter Morgan! I haven't read the books, but I love the TV show. Who'd ever thought you could root for a serial killer?