Character Influences

Just left this comment somewhere else when discussing what influences us on what kind of characters we like:

“I do agree how interesting it is what influences us on characters. It wasn’t that long ago when I realised that watching Transformers as a kid heavily influenced me on bad guy henchmen. I pretty much see them as clever but treacherous (Starscream) or ruthless and stoic (Soundwave).

My favourite character types would have to be either rogues/rascals, simply because they are enjoyable to follow with a mixed moral code that makes them intriguing, or the honourable renegade/anti-hero type, who has a sense of honour and shows their mettle when the need arises. I think I like the latter because I grew up watching and reading bad guys who were cowardly idiots. When I watched WatershipDown as a kid and expected General Woundwort to run like the rest, only to see him leap at the dog, I loved it, and still do. Bad guys who join with the good guys but remain dubious are also very interesting. Avon from Blake’s 7 is a great example there. Spike in Buffy too. Again, the 80s were full of goody-goody good guys, so having someone on the right side who isn’t afraid to get dirty is highly appealing.

I cannot for one second pretend I’m anything like any of them though. 😉 ”

I want to add a bit more but didn’t want to ramble on upon someone else’s blog.
To expound on my second type – the honourable renegade/antihero – I wanted to be clear on the types.

One is the bad guy who isn’t a coward or scumbag. An individual who can hold his/her own against the good guys. Who is smart, resourceful, yet ruthless too. This type of character would be typified by Count Rochefort from the Three Musketeers, especially Christopher Lee’s version. He is as good a swordsmen as the Musketeers, not afraid of them, a real killer but a true fighter.

Then we have the bad guy who turns good, kind of. Avon and Spike, plus Dinobot, Piccolo and Vegeta come to mind. I also liked Garak from Deep Space Nine for this reason. They leave you wondering just how good or bad they are. They prove excellent counterfoils to the main heroes as well. Often they outshine them by being more interesting and doing what needs to be done, while the central good character backs off.

Then there is the antihero. Snake Plissken, Napoleon Wilson, Conan possibly – it is debatable what makes an antihero, but I would suggest it is the main character who you watch fighting the right cause but often compelled to and wouldn’t normally, if they clearly have a moral code of their own they stand by at all costs. These complicated characters are usually the badass versions of normal heroes so we like them more, yet are also much more fascinating when written properly.

Going back to rogues and rascals, these could be antiheroes I guess. Sometimes they are the bad guys doing good too. David Gemmell wrote some of my favourites of this type – Beltzer and Bison – plus I enjoyed Ratrap from Beast Wars and Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China. Again, they often play by their own rules but usually come through when they are needed most. Oh, reminds me = Han Solo!

Anyway, to counter all this moral ambiguity I will say that I also really love a good hero and a good villain. Really, an interesting character, well written and given an exciting storyline, is enough for us readers whatever the type. Still, we all have our preferences. 🙂

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