Tes Hilaire

Imagination is just the beginnning...

The appeal of characters who are both good and bad

Posted By on April 4, 2012 in Blog |

The appeal of characters who are both good and bad

This blog originally appeared at Star-Crossed Romance. Be sure to go check their site out for more discussions on Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romances!

Would you like some bad with that hero?

Why yes, yes I would.  Though, maybe that seems a bit odd since a hero is supposed to be this uber-courageous, uber-honorable, and uber-strong guy, right? Wrong. At least, I don’t believe so. I guess the question really comes down to this: Can you have an interesting hero (or heroine for that matter) without a little bit of “bad” mixed in? That little bit of wickedness, the human quirks and flaws that keep our protagonists from being virtual saints; isn’t it this that allows us to relate to them?

We find the flawed hero almost everywhere: movies, books, comics, heck even historical legends, though we won’t go into that here 😉 They can fall under all kinds of different categories.  Whether you subscribe to the Dungeon and Dragons nine alignments (lawful good, neutral good, lawful neutral, chaotic evil etc…) or another classification system—heroes/heroines have fallen pretty much everywhere on the sliding scale of good vs. bad since the beginning of time. Narrowing this down in terms of the classic superhero, on one end of the scale we have Superman and Wonder Woman, Captain America or, if you like your heroes a little less comic book we could mention The Lone Ranger.  At the other extreme you have characters like The Punisher, Catwoman, Hellboy, and Spawn. And then there is that grey middle ground. This is the place you’ll find people like Batman and Zoro, Ironman and Electra. *note I’m NOT an expert on comic book superheroes so please forgive if I’ve aligned your fav character too far one way or the other on the good/bad scale!

Are all of these characters really heroes? Debatable, I suppose. Guess it depends on your view of their moral compasses. More important to the romance writer’s point of view is the appeal of these heroes. Is there one more than any other that you, the reader, would want to take home at night? 😉  I’m a Batman girl myself. There is something about that dark, sexy, vigilante that makes me want to bring him home and…unmask…him…and… Hey! Mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about getting to know him, i.e., unmasking the shadows of his soul and healing him with the power of my…ah, hmm…Okay. Yeah. Anyway…I guess it’s no wonder that my hero from Deliver Me from Darkness, Roland, has sort of a Batman feel about him. A Paladin at the core with the moral compass of his angel heritage, but his vampire nature slides him pretty far down on that good-bad scale. The only way that he’s been able to check his dark nature is by turning vigilante. Here is a little teaser of what I mean:


…the back door to a nearby club banged open. A man stepped out, half pulling a woman who’d slumped against his side. She was young, college age, obviously toasted, and wore the pink blush of innocence and youth. The man was linebacker broad with graying temples and a beer belly—and his core was dark, edged with violent red. Roland had seen demons with cleaner souls than his.

“I don’ feel s’ good,” the girl slurred, her head rolling on her neck as she tried to cast her gaze around her. “Where are we?”

“Outside. Thought some fresh air might help,” the man answered, throwing her a greasy smile.

“Oh.” The girl hiccupped. “Good…idea.”

“I’m just full of them. In fact…” The man twisted her up against the side of the building, smashing her body between him and the bricks. “I have another good one.”

Her eyes clouded with confusion. “Hey. Le’ go. I never said—ow!”

The man had wrapped a hand in her hair and was dragging her head back at an awkward angle, abrading the back of her skull against the rough surface.

“You didn’t have to say.” The man licked the girl’s exposed neck, from the tip of her collarbone up across her jaw to the base of her ear. Her pulse leapt in the slick wake.

Roland’s own pulse throbbed in response, his tongue swelling with the need to take his own taste. He clenched his fists, averting his gaze until he could tamp the urge back down.

Innocent. She was innocent. Her only mistake was the stupidity of youth.

“You’ve been flaunting that sweet ass at me all night,” the man continued. “And now I’m going to take it.”

Alcohol, or drugs, or whatever, made it take a moment for his words to sink in. Then the girl’s eyes widened, her mouth forming a shocked “Oh” as her body began to tremble.

“No, please!” she pleaded, showing her first signs of life. Her hands came up, pressing against the broad chest in front of her as tears leaked from her eyes.

The man laughed, spinning her around with a face plant into the brick as if she were some sort of rag doll and he the puppeteer. He twisted her right arm up behind her in a locking hold. At the same time his other hand dived under the hem of her short dress.

“My, my.” He smiled. “Thong. Aren’t we a bad girl?”

The heady mix of sweat, fear, and lust filled the alley below. Roland could barely think, so strong was the call of those scents. He hissed, his fangs slicing into his lips. His nails dug into the brick façade of the building. A slick pool of anticipation slid down the back of his throat. The muscles of his legs tightened.

The man would pay, and the girl? Well, a nice scare should put an end to her partying days.

Roland leapt….



Tortured hero? Check. Fallen hero? Check. And if you’re following the D&D alignments most definitely a chaotic good hero 😉 The point is that none of the heroes or heroines I write are all good, but even when the “bad” is calling them, they want to be.  And isn’t that really the point? Isn’t that decision to be good the true appeal of the hero with that little bit—or gaping chasm as Roland’s case may be—of bad in them?  To quote one of my all-time spunky heroines from my childhood, Anne Shirley, “…I think I’d like it if he COULD be wicked and WOULDN’T.”  Now isn’t that a sexy idea.  🙂



*Featured image originally found here at DeviantArt please go and check out more of this artist’s work