So, I have been writing a book for a while and I finally finished the first one in a long time when I decided to add a sequel to it which led me to the struggle of finding good ways of writing villains and antiheroes since a sole antagonist would be boring.

Here's a summary of what I found while doing my research on the subject of antiheroes.

Who are they?

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The first definition that I found was:

n (1) - a character that lacks hero features.

Not the most descriptive definition - I know -, so I read some more when I finally found:

n (2) - a character that stands for an end regardless of the means used to achieve it.

This makes it clear to me that an anti-hero is not someone necessarily "evil" but that his motives might also be heroic or good.

In other words, they are someone that falls into the 'grey' of what is commonly seen as black and white in the scale of morality (something not completely good nor completely bad).

Common characteristics

  • Morally grey - someone that's neither good nor bad.
  • Their motives are similar to the hero's but their means no.
  • Frequently thorn with their ideals and what's convenient.
  • Sincere and honest - has no filters when it deals with speaking for what is right or not and will do so without restraints.
  • Complex characters - can embody unattractive traits and behaviours but can be good occasionally.
  • Walking contradictions.
  • Realist

Types of Anti-heroes

The Classical

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Literally, the complete opposite of heroes and normally their character arcs deals with them overcoming their fears and insecurities to face the threat they are dealing with.

Though they are typically not in the "greyscale" themselves, they do challenge the notions of heroism.

The Knight in Sour Armour

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They know how to distinguish right from wrong but they are still highly cynical and can often feel as if they are unable to make a difference, basically a highly reluctant hero.

The Pragmatic

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A darker version of the 'knight in sour armour' what distinguishes them from the latest is that they will not hesitate to delve into a battle but this also means that there will not be any hesitation from their behalf if they need to do something not-so-morally-good to achieve their means.

The Unscrupulous

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Basically the last line before you lose the good motives behind their actions.

They are the type of anti-heroes whose actions are fueled by their dark -or even gruesome- past but instead of trying to meet their goals in the less bloody way, they would instead choose to try and inflict something similar as the pain they felt in their traumas.

The “Hero” in Name Only

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This is basically a character that is only called a hero because the story is narrated from their point of view, but their acts and attitudes are not the ones that heroes would possess ideally.

Summary

It's easier if you think of the black and white scale of morality where black is 'evil' and white is 'good', taking that into consideration, an anti-hero would be then the middle point of them ('grey') though the side they lean on the most will depend highly on their motivations, past and goals.

Common examples:

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Tyrion and Jamie Lannister
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Severus Snape
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Han Solo
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Jack Sparrow
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Gatsby
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Deadpool
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Harley Quinn

and many more.