First Draft: 11 Anti-Heroes, and Ways to Develop Them In Your Screenplay

Anti-hero Characteristics

Anti-heroes aren’t stereotypical role models. They show little to no remorse for their bad behavior and negative outlooks. They often handle situations with their own interests in mind and they do so without any attention paid to law and order, morals, and ethics.

They can often embody negative characteristics and traits—racism, sexism, a call to violence—many of which are inexcusable if not for the good deeds they manage to accomplish within the story. Look no further than the character of Gran Torino‘s Walt Kowalski for a perfect example.

The anti-hero: sponsored by PBR. Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino courtesy Warner Bros.

The personality traits we as a society collectively deem inadmissable are justified (attempted, at least) within the film for three reasons:

  • Because they are justified given the background of the character.
  • Because they are atoned after learning the error of their ways.
  • Because they are set within criminal or sociopathic context, thus their actions and reactions are merely a reflection of the world they live in.

Beyond the negatives, the true key to offering the audience an anti-hero to root for is to pepper those characters with good qualities as well. They can surely have their “save the cat” moments, but it has to go beyond that. We have to see them struggle between choosing the good route and the bad route. That struggle is enough to give us hope that there is good within them, even if they don’t do the right thing in the end.

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1 Comment

  1. David A. Williams

    February 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Awesome. Very good story.

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