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Forums » RP Discussion » The Antihero Archetype

Hello everyone, I am thinking about creating a new character for a thread I am posting on here and could use some insight from you all.

I want to build the typical antihero, the bad guy with good intentions. If any of you have played and written for these type of characters what advice would you give me on playing them? For those that haven't (or have) what are some of your favorite antiheroes and what do you think makes them so appealing?
The best way to create an antihero is to establish the goal of the antihero, and why they take the methods they do to achieve it. For example, a good way to create an antihero is to take a look at both heroes and villains. Why does a hero have a compulsion to save others? What's in it for them? Do they have a tragic backstory that pushes them to be enforcers of good? Why do they refuse to kill?

On the contrary, you have villains. What has caused this villain to break? Why are they so set on their own version of personal justice (might makes right, personal gain, vengeance, etc). Why have they chosen their set of enemies with such intent? What do they stand for that disgusts your villain?

My personal favorite antihero is the Punisher. He's a mesh of good and villainy. He lost his family to a bunch of paramilitary thugs. Because of his military background, he's incredibly good at killing, and that's what he does: he re-enacts that version of eye-for-an-eye justice on those individuals who are morally bankrupt and corrupt that harm innocent people, like Jigsaw's massive crime syndicate (depending on the incarnation.) Killing is all he knows because he struggles with PTSD from watching his own family brutally murdered and the acts he did overseas.

I think antiheroes do what they know best to achieve the goals they believe in. An antihero has a moral belief that stands against the status quo in some way, shape or form: what is it about society that makes them tick? What in their background influences their identity as an antihero? Sometimes you have an antihero who has a certain way of life before a big event and is stuck in that way of life, and will do anything to preserve that life and the ideals that bolster it. The best thing you can do for your antihero is define what he used to be and what he has become, and why. The anti-hero thrives in chaos, but it his noble goal that does not make him a villain. He bends the status quo and its laws, thus why he is viewed as the antihero and not the hero, because often his goal may be so extreme as to violate any preordained societal value to achieve his goals.
Thank you so much for your reply. There are alot of insightful bits of info that I will be sure to refer back to while I create my antihero, especially that last part. That the antihero does what he thinks he must do even though the way he does it goes against society’s morals. I really appreciate your help!
My take on antihero's are that they're characters who are often perceived as rebels. While heroic characters are viewed as idealists, are extraordinary, and protectors, they're seen as virtuous and pure of heart, and villains are viewed as evil, corrupt and twisted, antiheroes sit somewhere in the middle, and for good reason. They toe the line between right and wrong, because they tend to understand the world is more than just 'black and white', that it's shades of grey.

And sometimes to do good things, you have to do bad things first. Sometimes to save a life, you have to hurt a few people. Antiheroes are rebels, they're seen as criminals and villains because they have fewer inhibitions. To some, their motivations might be seen as selfish and self serving. To get from point A to point C, you have you go through point B, and screw anything that gets in your way, that is the mission and that is all that matters.

It's hard to relate to an antihero because their personalities are perhaps more flawed than a heroic characters is. We see an antihero as doomed to failure because of these traits. We think they are incapable of overcoming them, when in reality, these flaws are perhaps what makes us relate to these characters the most. It's what makes it so easy to see ourselves in these kinds of characters than in any other. Because of any other, the antihero is probably the most... human. They are the most flawed, the most real.

That's probably what makes the journey of an antihero really compelling. They walk one of the most morally ambiguous line between hero and villain. These are the characters that are more likely than any other to swap sides during the progression of a story. They can be tempted by either side if that temptation aligns with their end goal. In a lot of literature, the antihero of the story is the one that has the thought of 'I will use the Villain the same way he thinks he will use me'. Whether that comes true or not, however, depends on where the story and characters lead. They might find success. Or they might become the Villain themselves.

Antiheroes, vigilantes, rebels with and without a cause. They're the people we don't want to run into in dark alleys. They're the folks we don't want to get on the bad side of. Because if we hit the wrong button? Then these are the people who are more likely to destroy the establishment than do something to fix it.

A hero? They won't cross the line.

An antihero will see the line and decide if they want to ignore it or not.

And a villain? Well. A villain never saw the line in the first place.

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