This week, let’s look at what many might consider the opposite of the moral center: the anti-hero. I’m a villain lover as many of you know from all my fangirling during the villain series I did a little while back. Which means I’m also a fan of a complex hero who walks the line between the dark side and the light. Simply put, an anti-hero is a hero in a story that lacks the typical heroic attributes. However, they are still considered a hero and not a villain because of a few key redeeming features.
It follows then that the anti-hero’s main obstacle would be the moral line between good and evil. This line can affect them on an external or internal level. On an external level they might work outside of the normal moral bounds of society. They could be a thief or a cold blooded assassin. Or they could just be a general asshole. Mugen from Samurai Champloo is a good example of this.
So is Cat Woman from the batman universe, who finds herself on the hero side of things as much as the villain side.
But that moral line also is present on an internal level. The hero might struggle with becoming a monster or, depending on what side of the line they tend to, going soft. Hei, the hero of Darker than Black, struggles with being a contractor, which are said to be monsters by nature. He works for a shady organization dealing with difficult contractors, but he often doesn’t follow orders directly, being softer than he lets on.
This moral line provides a lot of interesting conflicts, both internally and externally, but a key part of the antihero’s journey is that they ultimately do the heroic thing in the end. That’s what makes them an anti-hero rather than a tragic villain. Its this ultimate move toward the lighter side of thing that gives them their arc.
Even if they’re still kind of an asshole, it’s the results of their actions that ultimately make a difference.