As long as I can remember, I have prefered an anti-hero over a hero anyday; and my fictional and screen tastes were fashioned long before the appearances of The Man With No Name or Alfie in the defiant 60's. Never could stand perfection in a human being and that goes for the guy riding in for the rescue as well. Even my classics have the guy with a tarnish getting much more read time that the knight in shining armour. High Noon's Sheriff, Will Kane, is about as heroic as I will allow and still I'd much rather go riding off in the sunset with Shane! I always prefered Rhett Butler over Ashley Wilkes and Mr. Rochester over Mr. St. John. Why is Batman more exciting than Superman to me?

Why do we have this thing about boys with questionable, or strongly personal moral codes that vere from society's boundaries? Which do you prefer? Has the old-fashioned hero bit the dust, especially in our fictional niche? If you think it has, why do you believe this has happened?

Maybe this quirkiness of anti-heros is why I am so drawn to Crime, Mystery and Thrillers. Or maybe I need meds...after all, I find Inspector Brandt sexy in a sick sort of way!

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How about Sand, his only name, a new character I'm am in the process of developing...

The garage had emptied fast. Friday’s were not a day for office workers to dawdle. Sand was not your stereotypical ‘hit man.’ He looked innocuous, neither a garlic-breathed hood or a cold-eyed mechanic from a movie set.

Don’t make it personal, Sand. It never works out. The job needs to be clean...I should put two to the back of his head, keep it simple.

He waited. An hour lapsed. He sunk the garotte’ into the fat tissue of the neck and heard the arteries popping like corn in a hopper. He applied more pressure; felt the stiff, corded resistence, then the hot blood as it boiled over into his gloves.

I’m a mess, I should never get involved.

Inspector Brandt, man I hope she's a chickie-poo, DADa
I've always loved the anti-heroes, like Stark's Parker. Good guys (or gals) who are good in every way are as dull as baddies who are just plain bad. I'm all about shades of grey.
Actually, I perfer shades of "dark!"
Realistically speaking, all good people have some "bad' in them, and vice versa.

However, I'm not a strict fan of the "anti-hero" per se. I remember sci-fi writer Stephen Donaldson's anti-hero Thomas Covenant. By the end of that series, I was ready to poke my eye out because covenant was too anti-hero.

I do like flaws. I do like "iffiness". In my own fiction, there's a bit of moral ambiguity that comes out. One of my recurring short fiction characters, Barnacle, has no problem commiting an act of evil for a good cause. Does that make him an anti-hero or just complicated?
LOL! Yeah, I quit reading the Thomas Covenant series after the fourth (?) book because he just got to be too depressing to finish that journey with.

Does anyone write pure heroes anymore? Characters that are shown with their good and their bad sides are so much more interesting than the cowboy in the white hat.
Anti heroes all the way. I can't stand characters who are too perfect, moral and good or so skilled at fighting that they can take on a bar full of rednecks with their bare hands and walk out unscathed. And Superman is such a prig. Did anyone see the movie where Lois was trying to have a sly durrie (cigarette for the non-Aussies out there) on the roof and clean-cut Superman blew kept blowing the match out with his super-breath? Ugh. I think that's part of the reason I write about a PI who's a stripper. I always loved female crime protagonists but most were just too goody-two shoes for me. I wanted a hero who was also a 'bad girl'. Sort of like a combination of the Detective and the Femme Fatale 'cause whenever I read noir novels I always wanted the Femme Fatale to win.
Love the anti-hero. In fact, I'm developing a series right now where the lead is an anti-hero. He is actually a violence junkie. Where others in his world are addicted to drugs, he is litterally addicted to violence.

And, yet, he is able to do some good -- all in the name of self-redemption.

Al
Anti-Heroes definitely. Maybe it's as simple as the bad boy attraction - who knows.

Rilke in Louise Welsh's The Cutting Room was a perfect example of a magnificent anti-hero, somebody just a tiny bit "off" but with an intrinsic sense of what's right.
Karen....Rilke is a PERFECT example. Who'd have thought you could get so drawn in to a guy who has a penchant for bath-house relationships and alleyway encounters? I keep cringing and wishing he's at least rent a motel room! But I was hooked from the start. A great book.
It's interesting how a book just sticks in your head doesn't it - I've read probably dozens and dozens of books since that one - but The Cutting Room stays with and I think about the elements in it over and over and over again.

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