1. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    What Makes a Character Heroic?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mikmaxs, Jun 10, 2016.

    So, this is going to be a very personal-opinion question, but I’mma ask it anyways.


    To you, what makes a character a hero? Not just a protagonist or a good guy, but an undeniable, honest-to-goodness hero.


    I ask, at least in part, because I’ve got two protagonists I’m working on and I don’t know if either of them really qualify.


    One is a fifteen-year old girl on a mission to locate her kidnapped family, along with forty-something of her neighbors. The authorities are stretched thin and have no time for tracking down cold cases, so she plans on finding them herself and then calling in the cavalry. Eventually she will find them, but the kidnappers will be numerous and well fortified, prompting the authorities to continue not helping. She will mount an attack herself, (along with two other people,) a feat that isn’t entirely suicidal seeing as she is a Sorceress. She has no combat experience at the start of the book, but acts with very little discretion and more than a little unchecked aggression, which combined with a good tutor and her magical powers makes her a very potent (if imprecise) weapon by the end of the story.

    Her actions are very ‘Good’, but she’s not doing them purely out of altruism. Without her parents and brother, she’s incapable of maintaining the family farm and if she remains on her own she will soon be left destitute. (And also, y’know, they are her family so she wants them back.) Saving the other townsfolk is incidental. Additionally, her methods leave collateral damage, which she isn’t too concerned about avoiding.


    The other character is a bounty hunter whom the girl hired. He is *also* a Wizard, and prior to the events of the story he took part in a major, world-changing war as part of what was essentially the Magic Gestapo. (If the Gestapo also handled major battlefield operations.) He and twelve other Witches and Wizards played a major part in uniting the world under a single ruler, but in order to accomplish that task, they used their power to kill tens of thousands of people on the battlefield and commit several atrocities. (Basically, anytime there was a tough resistance point or tricky seige going on, he and the others would travel there and lay waste to everything.) By the end of the war, he was personally responsible for the deaths of some 8,000 people, some of whom were non-combatants. (He also personally killed 23 monarchs, emperors, and rulers, but that’s not entirely relevant.)

    After the war, he came to realize that the utopia of a unified world wasn’t worth the cost of lives, and he now now feels decieved by those who convinced him to fight and guilty over the deaths he caused.

    He agrees to help the girl for very little compensation because he is attempting to rectify some of his past wrongdoings. He’s sworn not to kill anymore people, even if it appears to be for a good cause, after how that turned out last time he started killing people for ‘The greater good’. His method of choice for saving people involves lots of fighting, but he’s well trained enough to disarm most enemies without harming them. Regardless, though he won’t admit it, he chooses to fight mainly because he really enjoys fighting.

    His actions aren’t necessarily heroic either. He’s chosen a method of ‘Atonement’ that he deeply enjoys anyways, and his goal to rescue people comes mostly from guilt, rather than a desire to rescue people.


    I never know how to end these posts...
     
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  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well in my own writings I have three, but will be focusing on one in particular.

    He is 276 (into the sequel but there was some cryo at play in first installment), and he gets shown evidence that his faction has changed for the worse by an alien counterpart. So he decides to retaliate in most brutal of fashion, by slowly working his way into a full scale war with the old faction. And as an old soldier of high rank, combat ability, and an effective commander, he joins up with his old nemesis. Not taking kindly to what has become of the ideals of the tyrannical ruling class, as well as the horrific things that they do to the people with the might of a massive military and mercenary might behind their will. Not to mention their mistreatment of other alien beings in refuge territories under treaties. He is getting weary of having to constantly thrust into the illusions of a good fight for the sake of the whim of the ruling class. Not to mention gaining an ally in a secondary alien species, giving him the resources to wage such a campaign of such proportions on a planet.

    So basically he wants to restore things back to a time when life for the planet is much better for the people and not the governing elite. They are going to learn that their once prized dog of war will bite the hand that feeds for their vicious betrayal to his beliefs, and for their lies of inhumane conquest for power. He seeks neither fame or glory for his treason to his factions ideals, but fights for the sake of knowing that in the end he fought on the side of good and justice. Armed with an iron will to succeed at all cost, and his trusty .50 caliber pistol, and the aid of his allies in the fight. He will sacrifice everything to free the people from the nightmare of his old faction.
     
  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, this is a dosy. I mean. Hard. In a sense, I really want to say, "the devil is in the details and there really is no wrong answer." but your asking my opinion. And well, sort of same answer. I don't view hero so simple. Like you said, a hero is sort of viewed as "pure" but there are different ways to be pure. Intentions, and profit would be the two I would label.
    Intentions being if they did it for selfless reasons
    Profit being if they themselves profited.

    Obviously if they meet both, it would be easy to call them a hero. But, how about that middle ground of one but not the other? Well, if you want an easy letter of the law rule. It would be, they need both. Because "pure" can't come in parts. Pure by defintion has to be 100% otherwise it isn't pure, but I think that is a boring answer.

    Funny enough, my work in progress has some notable similar aspects to yours(strong magical girl with a small force infultrates a illegal milita with the intentions of saving her family, sound familiar? Granted the details are different.)

    My opinion I think matches one of my girls actually. Basically like this.

    She is a terrorist, she accepts the title. She murders people in cold blood. I would say like Dexter, but she isn't channeling a need to kill in a positive way. She is doing the math. Basically, think Batman, but different line. Actually, very close comparison. She lost her family at a young age, and she was motivated by the pain of there loss to stop others from feeling that pain. But then again, that calls intensions into question. Is her intention really to save others, or to feel better? It makes he feel good to think she saved someone. It feels satifying to murder someone that she thinks is bad. In a sense, the people she saves feel like a surrogate of this never ending desire to save herself.

    As such, I have labeled her a villain and a hero at different timelines. Wanna know the difference?

    Villain: She was arrogant, thought she had everything under control and made mistakes that got people hurt. She was rushing, too motivated by her mental desire.

    Hero: She realized her arrogance and dropped it. She went slower. She still did the same work, and occassionally people still got hurt, but no longer due to her mistakes(she is a murderer, sometimes shit happens.) And she has forced her mental desire to take a backseat to the mission.

    Though, to be fair, she never calls herself a hero. As she doesn't feel she is worthy of the term. Not because she had a bad affect on the world, but because she doesn't think murder should be glorified. As she might express it.

    "I am a broken toy. My hands are already bloody and have been that way since I was seven. I don't like myself. That is why I do what I do. I don't like the idea of people breaking. Don't idolize me. I do what I do so you don't have too. o that no one else or fewer people become like me. The world I fight for, is a world without me."

    Does that help ya at all?
     
  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    If you didn't see it before, this thread may be of interest to you. I was basically just going to repeat what I said in it, so figured I'd link the whole thing.
     
  5. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    I did not see that. Huh. I'll go check it out.
     
  6. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    I would most definately say Hero's are the ones that save people with no thought to their own lives or who they save :)
     
  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Those characters seem kind of heroic enough. Morality is relative, and no-one is perfect. To be honest, a good part of being a hero in reality is whether others admire what you've done. If you do something admired by many, you are a hero in their eyes. But perhaps to others, you are a villain. History is written by the winners. Anyway, again I guess you could call them "heroes" if they do enough good. If they do something particularly admirable, I'd say that makes them heroes. If they overall save lives as the primary result of their efforts, those actions could be called heroic. Particularly if they're brave and/or skillfully achieved.
     
  8. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Heroes wear capes.

    I kid, but only kind of. A hero is a persona, more of an idea than a person.

    Think of it like how Batman is a hero, but Bruce Wayne is just a guy.
     
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  9. JoshuaLuke
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    JoshuaLuke Member

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    I find that you can't find someone truly heroic in everything they do as everyone has qualities which can be associated with evil. No one is pure good and no one is pure evil. Normally a good guy will still have his faults and this makes them more human. Famous authors have different opinions on the subject so it is really just down to opinion.
     
  10. PipR2003
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    PipR2003 New Member

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    The definition of heroic is 'behaviour or talk that is bold or dramatic, especially excessively or unexpectedly so'. So, step one would be to give the hero a problem that requires resolution. For example, a gang of evil mooks they must defeat. Now, standard convention would state that they would just shoot them or something boring.

    Bang bang. Done. But a hero would do so much more...

    Jumping atop a chair and swinging from the chandeliers while dropping bad guys and quips in equal measure. Drop-kicking a thug while balancing plates on sticks on their shoulders. That sort of stuff.

    Also, in more broad terms, son't make them do anything evil.
     
  11. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    A hero is someone who does something even though the odds are so stacked against him or her for success. Giving someone the hero label is something totally different. That depends on which side won in the given situation. Jesse James was considered a hero even though he was a ruthless murderer who liked to rob trains and banks. Mafia members are thought of as heroes today, they are just criminals. It depends on the point of view. Write your story and let your readers give them the label.
     
  12. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I have read a short story (and I am still not sure if this was a true story or not - could easily have been) where a cook was a hero - for making sandwiches.

    This story had a deep impact on me; no heroes with capes for me anymore :)

    edit: to answer the question, the 'hero' bit was about overcoming petrified fear and placing himself in a very dangerous situation because he cared about another person (not in the amorous sense).
     
  13. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Ohhh I like that last pic :D
     
  15. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    They put themselves before others, they're philanthropic at heart, and like the idea of world with justice.
     
  16. Auger
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    Auger Senior Member

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    A hero is a villain to a villain, and the villain is a hero to his/her minions.
    It's all relative.
     
  17. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    See, if we're going by objective definition, though, that's wrong. You're defining a 'Protagonist' and an 'Antagonist'.
    As is so insistently brought up in the film, Deadpool is no hero. The Social Services guy in Lilo and Stitch is no villain.
     
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