Allure of the Literary Bad Boy

3

March 28, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

Now I have to buy this t-shirt, dammit.

I love literary bad boys.

It’s not like I’m the only one. I mean, come on, admit it. What’s not to like? Fictional scoundrels are like triple hot fudge sundaes with zero calories: all the fun with none of the guilt.

Or risk.

There’s just something about scoundrels; guys we know we probably shouldn’t like, but can’t seem to help enjoying in all their rule-breaking, smirking, and even deadly glory. I’ll leave it as a given that part of the interest is in holding out for their redemption. I mean, if they can find absolution for their nefarious deeds, surely we’ve got much more hope, right?

What I really enjoy about bad boys is that they get to do all the things that we normal, law-abiding, and reputation conscious folks can’t. It’s like living vicariously watching them make the decisions we might not be brave enough (or immoral enough) to go through with. Plus, we can watch the consequences without having to experience them ourselves.

I especially love anti-heroes. They make such fantastic vehicles for working situational ethics into stories. I love when the author can make me ask myself: is this character really a bad guy? I especially like when I know he’s a bad guy and the author still manages to make me side with him. It always leads to exhausting, but fun, debates with my husband on what defines evil and what determines whether or not someone is ‘bad.’

So, who are these literary characters that spur so much debate and fan-girl adoration? Below is a list of some of my favorites, but I’d love to see your dishonorable mentions- tell us in the Comments!

  • Trent Kalamack- from the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison- businessman, philanthropist, and ruthless drug lord. How many guys would free a psychotic, bloodthirsty, and nearly unstoppable demon just to prove to the world that the protagonist is not the most dangerous thing out there?

That’s why I want you there, he said. You’re unpredictable, and that can be the difference between success and failure. Most people make decisions in anger, fear, love, or obligation. You make decisions to irritate people.

I don’t give chances. I take opportunities.

You’re going to run now, aren’t you. You know I can’t let you.

  • Algaliarept- from the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison- Wise-cracking, goat-eyed demon with an unusual sense of fashion, the Ever After’s most disreputable body snatcher, and demonic magic mentor extraordinaire.

“Rachel, my itchy witch,” Al said as he tugged the lace at his cuffs. “We’ve talked about this. You simply must stop collecting nasty little men. How many do you really need, love?”

I won’t snatch, harm, or scare to death people with you or use checking up on you as an excuse to cause trouble. You’re worse than my mother, Rachel.

You cannot thrash the person who makes you coffee. It’s a rule somewhere.

  • Jericho Barrons- from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning- Mysterious and domineering bookstore owner with a penchant for expensive automobiles and powerful magical artifacts and the ultimate alpha male.

There are two kinds of people in the world Ms. Lane: those who survive no matter the cost and those who are walking victims.

I’m not the hero, Mac. Never have been. Never will be. Let us be perfectly clear: I’m not the antihero, either, so quit waiting to discover my hidden potential. There’s nothing to redeem me.

Donovan Creed-from the Donovan Creed series by John Locke- Former CIA assassin who works for a clandestine branch of Homeland Security, a mob boss, and a megalomaniac with plans of world domination. Also tests military weapons for fun. On himself.

She was smarter than me, and I hate when that happens. There was but one thing to do: seize the initiative. I played the trump card God provided: I stared directly into her cleavage.

I didn’t want to ask too many questions. Questions lead to answers, and answers lead to doubt, and doubt will ruin a good contract killer.

  • Jean-Claude- from the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton- Sexy vampire businessman, master manipulator, and Master of all of St. Louis’s vampires.

I knew from the moment I heard you, the moment I saw the gun and realized that this lovely, petit woman was the executioner, that you would never die waiting for me to save you – that you would save yourself.

  • Sterling Packard- from the Disillusionists Trilogy by Carolyn Crane- Charismatic mastermind for a group of vigilantes battling criminals with the power or their neuroses.

Think of it as a mechanism of nature. Karma catches up with people one way or another. We just speed it up.

I’m the biggest manipulator you’ll ever meet. But not at this moment.

  • Ari Levin- from the Sustainable Earth series by Jack J. Lee– former black ops assassin turned private contractor turned prophet and head of a religious cult. Oh, like your plan to survive the zombie apocalypse is so much better?

The best way to mimic a religious fanatic is to ask yourself, “WWAAD; what would an asshole do?”

Hold on. Please do NOT make me use my garden tools.

It appears to be a universal flaw of the human mind; if something is commonplace, it can’t be dangerous.

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3 thoughts on “Allure of the Literary Bad Boy

  1. cptam1947 says:

    Nice, but what is WWAAD? I know what the two ‘Ws’ stand for, as well as the ‘D’. It is the ‘AA’ that has me stumped.

  2. Ned's Blog says:

    Really enjoying your stuff, Kira. This piece, and the one on secondary characters; fun and insightful. Oh, and I need that t-shirt too 🙂

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