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Clap for the killers.

6 June 2011

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I got to thinking about working with an unlikeable main character today. You know, following the exploits of someone you loathe, but end up rooting for at the end of the novel.

Hollywood has tried this a couple of times: the Mel Gibson character in Payback (or perhaps, lately, Mel Gibson himself), Dexter in Dexter. On the surface, these are guys who are not good people, but you end up being on their side by the end of the story.

Of course, Porter in Payback was acting out of a sense of Honor Among Thieves, and Dexter is killing only felons who got away with their crimes, so they’re not exactly reprehensible characters — more flawed main characters than unlikeable ones.

So, I send the question out to you, my friends. Can you think of any completely unlikeable main characters in any medium (books, comics, films, video games, TV, what have you) that you end up rooting for? Any horrible people that are the hero of their stories?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 June 2011 0659

    Uh, Dexter did kill that innocent photographer when it was really his assistant that was murdering girls. Also the guy he killed with the collapsible boat anchor after Rita’s death may not have been a bad guy.

    Everyone seems to have forgotten that. It’s completely glossed over, I had expected it to bother Dexter a bit more.

  2. Nate permalink
    6 June 2011 0721

    Ben Linus was one of my favorite characters on Lost. Ruthless, cunning, tenacious. And he never seemed to stop the pursuit of his goals no matter how many times someone beat the hell out of him (which was often).

  3. 6 June 2011 1015


  4. Nate permalink
    6 June 2011 1234

    As an old FF7 geek, I also have to throw Sephiroth out there. His popularity has held up since ’97, which is pretty good for a video game character. A G4TV poll I saw a week or two ago held him up as the best character of the franchise.

  5. 6 June 2011 1807

    All good characters, but none of them (save Dexter, who just made mistakes like any human), are the main ones. I couldn’t come up with one, either. 😉

    • Nate permalink
      7 June 2011 1306

      How about Beatrix Kiddo? I mean, you’re supposed to sympathize with her from the get-go in a Lone Wolf sort of way, but she is, after all, an assassin lacking mercy, compassion, or forgiveness (by her own admission).

      • 7 June 2011 1528

        Ooh. That’s a good one.

        Battle Without Honor or Humanity, indeed.

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