A note on concept history:
Per this conversation
, we decided to split the Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes
into its component tropes. However, when we got to the YKTTW
for the Type III "Dangerous Anti-Hero
", which can be found here
it proved troblesome, so per this crowner
, it was split. :P
See also Pragmatic Hero
Most great fictional heroes fall into one of two broad categories: the Ideal Hero
, such as The Cape
or a Knight in Shining Armor
who is pretty much exactly what one would hope for in a hero - skilled, courageous, morally pure, etc., and the Anti-Hero
, who lacks one or more qualities normally considered necessary for an Ideal Hero
. For example, a Classical Anti-Hero
lacks ability or self - confidence, a Knight in Sour Armor
lacks a positive attitude, and a Nominal Hero
lacks morally pure intentions.
An Unfettered Hero
differs from an Ideal Hero
in that they are The Unfettered
. However, unlike many other such characters, their intentions are entirely heroic. It's just that unlike most less dark heroes, fighting for a good cause is simply a case of "the ends justify the means", and they will literally stop at nothing to defeat evil. Any innocent lives that might be lost along the way are little more than an unimportant distraction.
This character is often paired with an exceptionally vile or powerful villain. After all, a "hero" who would literally commit Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
to stop a Harmless Villain
will generally come off as a Knight Templar
of the worst sort, but a character who would do so to save or free millions is more believable as a protagonist who, faced with a Sadistic Choice
, simply makes a dispassionate utilitarian calculation.
This character often does not work well with others. After all, standing next to a hero who may decide at any moment that his allies are expendable pawns in the war against evil is not always the wisest place to be.
[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
- In Code Geass, Lelouch murders his own family and orders many to their deaths in his campaign to "destroy the world" to make way for a better future. But ultimately, while his actions are anything but, his goals are entirely honorable.
[[folder: Comic Books]]
- The Punisher places little value in the lives of other characters with checkered pasts. But his main fight is always with the baddest Big Bad he can find.
- Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/Zero clearly has a noble goal, achieving a peaceful world without war, but his modus operandi is to kill everybody who stands in its way, including his allies and his father if he deems them to be a threat.
- Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer is an ultra-violent, no-holds-barred, Knight Templar detective who was extremely controversial (and popular) in his day. Today, he's seen as an almost-parody of the Hardboiled Detective genre.
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality;
- Subverted as Dumbledore started off as The Fettered Big Good and The Hero, but Voldemort exploited his tendency never to abandon an ally or sacrifice a pawn to completely paralyse the good guys. It's when Dumbledore started treating his pawns as disposable and making calculated sacrifices, that being one became safer.
- Defied as, while Rational!Harry doesn't get why, knowing full well who the Death Eaters were, Dumbledore's side didn't just owl them hand grenades, has to be instructed as to the hidden costs of being Too Clever by Half.
- In Harry Potter, while Harry and his friends are presented as Ideal Heroes by the narrative, they indulge into some rather questionable actions in order to achieve their goals, including theft, mind control, blackmail, Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, and so on. There's a reason Harry Potter is the poster boy for Neutral Good. Dumbledore's rampant abuse of the Omniscient Morality License for Gambit Roulettes could count as this as well.
- The Acts of Caine by Matthew Stover demonstrate how the Unfettered make setting right and wrong in your story very difficult. Caine, the protagonist, is a prime example of an Unfettered character (but not his alter ego Hari, interestingly enough). He manages to be both a genocidal murderer and the world's saviour, an amoral cutthroat and a loving father. Stover successfully pulls it off because the morality in his novels is more about how much control you are willing to exercise over events to bring around the right outcome and less about whether death is right or wrong. Other Unfettered characters include Talaan, T'Passe, and Tommy to a degree. Ma'elKoth is Unfettered until the Blind God owns him. Berne comes close but loves infamy and pleasure (read: rape) too much. Raithe manages to be Unfettered for about all of two chapters in Blade of Tyshalle.
- John Galt in Atlas Shrugged brings about the collapse of an entire society/economic system almost through sheer force of will, as well as breaking his torturer the same way!
[[folder:Live Action TV]]
- Burn Notice Michael is this early on in the show and is commited to clearing his name and going back as late as Season 3. It's clear that he didn't allow relationships or morality to hold him back from doing what he saw as his duty.
- Shane Walsh of The Walking Dead has the admirable objective of keeping the group alive, but is utterly ruthless in his attempts to do so. Later, he acquires the additional, not so admirable goal of taking Lori and Carl from Rick.