the elements of an antihero

You know the moment when you’re watching a show or reading a book, and a character walks into the story, and everything tylerinside you immediately says, “That one,” and from then on, that character is your main focus? I have this with everything. Every book, every movie, every TV show has the one character who becomes my entire reason for watching or reading. About a month ago, we began watching an 80’s show called ‘V.’ It began as a movie and quickly spawned a television series starring the same characters and actors, and we’ve been making our way through it as fast as we can. My sister and I especially fell in love with it. In the story, aliens land on earth and claim to have cures for cancer, helpful technology, and god-like status – and they will share these things with humanity, if we help them out a little. Most of the world is won over, but the skeptics are proved right – the Visitors don’t want to help humanity, they want to use it as a food source. A resistance, led by Mike Donovan, a war reporter, and Julie Parrish, a scientist, takes up the fight for freedom, along with a band of unlikely friends and allies. In the second half of the movie, a new character walked in – a mercenary named Ham Tyler. Before he opened his mouth, my insides did their funny little, “Him. He’s the one,” and I was sunk.

I always go for the tough guy, the antihero, but Tyler is one of the best examples I’ve seen, and I’m going to break down his character so you know, if you want to write a guy I’ll fall in love with, what you should definitely do.

He’s dangerous

He’s a mercenary. If you want a tough antihero, there is no better occupation. The guy kills people for a living. When he first shows up, he basically takes over the whole operation, blows stuff up, kills lizards (the Visitors), and has fun doing it. (And those are only in his first five minutes.)

tyler gif

He’s cool-headed

Donovan, the hero of the series, is an emotional man. He makes decisions based on feelings rather than practicality, and when Tyler shows up, he becomes the person who tells Donovan, “You’re an idiot. Think before you act.” Granted, occasionally Donovan’s choice is the more moral, but Tyler’s is always the most pragmatic. This gives us a great Spock and McCoy-style relationship; they begin as enemies but end up in a bickering bromance.

He doesn’t think he’s better than anyone else

In one episode, a character, Elias, decides to trust a stranger in spite of Tyler’s warnings. When she turns out to be a traitor and throws them all in a jail cell, Elias is devastated with guilt. Instead of taking advantage of the moment to say ‘I told you so,’ Tyler only says, “You think you have a monopoly on bad decisions?” and proceeds to blow the door off its hinges with an explosive he sneaked in.

He takes no flack

If you’re stupid enough to give it, he throws it back at you. Generally with this expression on his face.


He has a soft side

In one episode, they rescue a bunch of kids from the Visitors, and one small girl decides she wants to be friends with him. Tyler mainly communicates with phrases like, “Get lost,” but she insists, and when he thinks the Visitors have killed her, we see him lose control for the first time. He also befriends an elderly woman at the beginning of the series, and he truly cares about the rest of his teammates. Other characters accuse him of being cold and heartless, but it’s easy to see that his ‘love language,’ if you will, is protecting those he cares about.

tylera nd julie

He has a tragic back story

Tyler’s wife and child were murdered in Vietnam, and he never mentions it. In fact, we don’t even know about it until a war buddy of Tyler’s tells Donovan about it.

He’s loyal

Loyalty is not a quality you would expect from a mercenary, but his loyalty holds up under pressure. If he gives you his word, you can expect him to keep it.

He’s a good man, but he’d never admit it

He’s no knight in shining armor. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, he’s not afraid of danger. He enjoys killing the enemy, but he does not enjoy death. He’s ruthless, but his ruthlessness is tempered with a conscience. He only does what he believes to be the right thing, and he doesn’t allow his personal life to interfere with the bigger picture.


Now, go write your antiheroes, and make them awesome. You know I’ll love them.

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