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[[quoteright:286:[[Franchise/SpiderMan http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/greatestfailure_5712.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:286:There, there, Peter.]]

Nowadays, an {{antihero}} is usually thought of as a {{badass}}, [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids bitter]], [[HatesEveryoneEqually misanthropic]], [[BloodKnight violent]], {{sociopathic|Hero}} angry person (see NinetiesAntiHero). However, this is actually a recent invention. For much of history, the term ''antihero'' referred to a character type that is in many ways the opposite of this.

In {{classical|Mythology}} and earlier mythology, the hero tended to be a [[IdealHero dashing, confident, stoic, intelligent, highly capable fighter and commander with few, if any, flaws]] [[InvincibleHero and even fewer real weaknesses]]. The classical antihero is the inversion of this. Where the hero is confident, the antihero is plagued by self-doubt. Where the hero is a respected fighter, the antihero is mediocre at best. Where the hero is brave and courageous, the antihero is frightened and cowardly. Where the hero gets all the ladies, the antihero can't even get the time of day.

In short, while the traditional hero is a paragon of awesomeness, the classical antihero suffers from flaws and hindrances. The classical antihero's story tends to be as much about overcoming his own weaknesses as about conquering the enemy.

As time has gone on, this portrayal has become increasingly popular, as readers enjoy the increased depth of story that comes from a flawed and conflicted character. Hence, the classical antihero has to some extent replaced the traditional hero in the minds of readers as the idea of what a hero should be. It is nowadays rare to find a hero who does not have at least a little of the classical antihero in him.

See also PunchClockHero. Compare SuperLoser and TragicHero. Contrast with TheAce and NinetiesAntiHero.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Shinji Ikari from ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', who saves the day several times in spite of all the mental problems.
* Rock (and Benny) from ''Manga/BlackLagoon''. The same can't be said for the other members of the Lagoon Company, though, who are pretty much {{Villain Protagonist}}s, though after CharacterDevelopment Rock becomes an AntiHero.
* Nozomu Itoshiki of ''Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei''. AKA Mr. Despair, he is constantly attempting suicide and angsting about the most ridiculous of things. Interestingly, he isn't an example of ThisLoserIsYou, as he's very good looking, intelligent, and comes from a very wealthy (if bizarre) family. In fact, the irony of his character is that he acts the way he does despite having these advantages.
* Tatsuhiro Satou of ''Anime/WelcomeToTheNHK'' is a highly unstable NEET who places all of the blame for his highly unstable life on a conspiracy organization known to him as the NHK. And yet he is ultimately a good-hearted person who wants to be a productive member of society, most of his angst stems from feeling he is unable to lead a productive life.
* Renton Thurston in ''Anime/EurekaSeven'', who eventually graduated into a proper hero.
* In ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys'', Kenji starts as this.
* Yukiteru Amano of ''Manga/MiraiNikki'' starts out as one. [[VillainProtagonist It gets worse]], later.
* Kei Kurono from ''Manga/{{Gantz}}''. [[TookALevelInBadass He gets better]].
* The protagonist of ''Literature/TheTatamiGalaxy'', who is something of a Zetsubou-sensei {{expy}}, and is described in some promotional materials as a "not-so-lovable loser".
* Saji Crossroads, Shinji Ikari's {{expy}} of sorts, during the second season of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]''. [[TookALevelInBadass He gets better]].
* Usopp from ''Manga/OnePiece'' is pretty much this in the beginning and mostly in the Water 7/Enies Lobby arc.
* Mr. Satan from ''Manga/DragonBall''
* Early on, Vincent Law of ''Anime/ErgoProxy'' is very poor material for a traditional protagonist; he's shy, awkward, holds little social standing, and works doing a very dangerous job. He considerably bulks up his credentials as the series progresses.
* Amuro Ray and Kai Shiden from ''MobileSuitGundam''. Both get better; Amuro in particular develops into a KnightInSourArmor in ''ZetaGundam'' and ''CharsCounterattack''.
* Kou Uraki of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam0083StardustMemory Gundam 0083]]''.
* Akitsu Masanosuke from ''Manga/HouseOfFiveLeaves'' is a classical anti-hero, being an overly humble samurai with no self-esteem.
* Natsume from ''Manga/NatsumeYuujinchou'' is a SociallyAwkwardHero with no self-confidence about people and a tendency to alienate what friends he does make by constantly lying to them to avoid causing a fuss.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'': Akemi Homura used to be a SuperLoser even with her TimeStandsStill ability. Some traumatic cycles later, she's a {{Badass}} DarkMagicalGirl AntiHero with [[SuperheroPackingHeat loads and loads of guns]], and yet she's still losing... against [[HopelessBossFight Walpurgisnacht]]. Even with the universe's biggest literal DeusExMachina, technically she's still losing [[spoiler:Madoka]].
** Madoka spends most of the story struggling to cope with the horrifying things that happen to her friends, while being too scared to actually do much of anything (to the point of being TheScrappy to a lot of people). But she slowly overcomes her fears, and eventually summons the courage to [[spoiler:become a magical girl in order to fix most of the tragedy]].
** Sayaka is probably the "strongest" example, as evidenced by the fact that [[AmericansHateTingle she's hated by U.S. fans almost as much as Shinji]]. She's determined to be a hero, but she's barely decent at fighting, extremely angsty and emotional, and mostly unable to gain the attention of her love interest ([[LesYay well, the male one, anyway]]). She eventually breaks down completely and [[spoiler:becomes a witch]].
* Rei Kiriyama from ''Manga/SangatsuNoLion'' starts the story rife with personal problems, socially detached, and barely able to take care of himself.
* Nobita from ''Anime/{{Doraemon}}''
* Simon from ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' started this way. Overcame this in episode 11.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comedy]]
* Creator/RodneyDangerfield's entire shtick.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* Early ComicBook/SpiderMan, explicitly designed to be the first superhero with personal and internal conflicts besides super-villains and criminals. Spidey's runaway success was a major part of why such depictions came to be the [[TropeCodifier typical depiction of a hero]].
* ComicBook/DylanDog.
* ComicBook/{{Empowered}}.
* Dave from ''Comicbook/KickAss''.
* WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck
* [[ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}} Charlie Brown]].
* ComicBook/GastonLagaffe
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Wikus van de Merwe of the film ''Film/{{District 9}}''.
* Most of the protagonists in Creator/KevinSmith's ViewAskewniverse qualify.
* Sgt. Neil Howie in the original version of ''Film/TheWickerMan''.
* Film/NapoleonDynamite.
* The portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in ''Film/TheSocialNetwork'' teeters between this and VillainProtagonist.
* The eponymous character of ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'', which makes all the funnier the fact that he is repeatedly mistaken for a MessianicArchetype.
* WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}} in the movie of the same name. Yes, he's a [[VillainProtagonist supervillain]], but he's our protagonist and he fits this to a T, especially as his character *ahem* develops through the movie.
* Queen Elsa of ''Disney/{{Frozen}}''.
* Blu from ''{{Rio}}''.
* ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan'' and its [[Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2 sequel]] depict Peter in a far more flawed fashion than [[Film/SpiderManTrilogy the previous films]], with him being ''far'' more temperamental, self-doubting, and with a bad tendency to make rash decisions without thinking about the consequences. However, reception is mixed on if this made him better (as its closer to the comics), or worse (its harder to root for a guy who screws up like he does) than Tobey's [[TheWoobie Peter]] [[NiceGuy Parker]]. The sequel toned this down by making him far more grown up and developed, but its still there.
* In a similar vein, Superman in ''Film/ManOfSteel''. As this is Supes before he's came into his role as a superhero, he's far more self-doubting, angsty, and afraid of his powers than most depictions, and isn't quite as skilled in combat as previous versions, making him struggle to balance saving people and fighting villains, leading to more property damage than people would like.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Creator/EvelynWaugh's first novel, ''Decline and Fall'', has ButtMonkey protagonist Paul Pennyfeather who is one of these in the way he is rather a pushover taken advantage of by the other characters.
* Frodo Baggins in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', who ultimately fails in his mission to destroy the One Ring and is increasingly haunted by the physical and emotional scars of his journey throughout the story and for the rest of his life.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'''s Rincewind as an inept wizard and DirtyCoward[=/=]LovableCoward who is the ButtMonkey of the universe. He's noticed it himself.
** ''Every'' Discworld protagonist is one in one way or another. Even ''Death'' is one.
* The narrator of Creator/FyodorDostoevsky's ''Literature/NotesFromUnderground'' is one of these, as is Creator/FranzKafka's Josef K. (of ''The Trial'').
* Gilbert Norrell of ''Literature/JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell'', while a skilled magician, is a humorless and petty character who is far from evil enough to be an EvilSorcerer, but also far from sympathetic (or interesting) enough to be a traditional hero.
* Creator/JohnLeCarre's spymaster George Smiley is like this as a contrast to Literature/JamesBond, living in the more cynical side of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, and as opposed to Bond being stylish and a ChickMagnet, Smiley dresses poorly and is a cuckold.
* Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's ''House of Mirth''. Let's see: fails at anything and everything she tries her hands at? Check. Only ever succeeds at alienating the few people who genuinely do care about her? Check. Is a whiny, insufferable {{Jerkass}} with an entitlement complex bigger than Brazil? Check. [[spoiler:Dies at the end]]? Check.
* Lola from Kit Whitfield's ''Benighted'' is pathetic, self-loathing and self destructive, turning away from or turning on anyone who might help her.
* Mick "Brew" Axbrewder from Stephen R. Donaldson's ''Man Who'' series, a self-pitying alcoholic who makes Thomas Covenant look like [[WesternAnimation/GarfieldAndFriends Binky the Clown]].
* Linden Avery in the second ''Literature/ChroniclesOfThomasCovenant'' trilogy. Becomes a more standard heroine in the third trilogy. Stephen Donaldson is very fond of taking classical antiheroes and transforming them.
* Flinx of the ''Literature/HumanxCommonwealth'' series. He [[IJustWantToBeNormal just wants the universe to let him be]]. Too bad he's TheChosenOne and TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive, not to mention that he has a hidden romantic streak and a not-so-hidden streak of curiosity that constantly gets him into trouble.
* Amir, the narrator of ''Literature/TheKiteRunner'', starts out as a coward hiding from his past but grows throughout the story and is redeemed to become a 'true' hero.
* [[HeroicWannabe David Levin]] of ''Literature/{{Everworld}}''. He improves as time goes on.
* Mr. Rochester of Literature/JaneEyre.
* Jason of the ''[[Film/JasonAndTheArgonauts Argonautica]]''.
* Peter Keating of ''Literature/TheFountainhead'' is [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation either this, a deconstruction of this or a Type II AntiVillain]]
* Billy Pilgrim of Creator/KurtVonnegut's ''[[Literature/SlaughterhouseFive Slaughterhouse-Five]]''.
* Hank Thompson, the protagonist of ''Caught Stealing'' by Charlie Huston is this at first, a promising high school baseball player who wrecks his leg then , after a car accident where a friend of his is killed slowly spirals down into an alcoholic slacker, Then after inadvertently getting involved with conflicting criminal elements he [[TookALevelInBadass levels up]].
* ''Literature/AMagesPower'': Eric is a ShrinkingViolet who freezes whether confronting monsters or his crush. When things go wrong, he blames himself. [[TricksterArchetype Tasio]] thinks it's tons of fun to guide him into a mercenary guild.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Dave Lister, Cat and Arnold J. Rimmer from ''Series/RedDwarf'' start out like this, although Rimmer is both a neurotic loser and a [[JerkAss smeghead]]. Lister once good-naturedly described himself as a "bum", while Rimmer would call him a lazy slob. Cat was vain, self-centered to the point of callousness, and not very smart... not surprising given that his species had evolved from a single, pregnant female housecat 3 million years ago (imagine the inbreeding), and even other cats considered him a moron. All three [[CharacterDevelopment became more competent]] in the course of the series, but they never quite lost their essential quirks, their [[BigDamnHeroes good qualities]] (such as Lister's selflessness and sense of fairness) merely became more pronounced. Or, in the case of Arnold Rimmer, who had no redeeming qualities, Rimmer had a run-in with his AlternateUniverse counterpart [[TheAce "Ace" Rimmer]].
* Shinji Kido from ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' is a good-natured buffoon who, for the majority of the series, is the only Rider attempting to stop the other Riders from killing one another. He never succeeds and for most of the series is plagued by his inability to save the Riders from destroying each other.
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': Quinn is more this, as opposed to an AntiHero.
* In the context of science-fiction TV history, ''Series/DoctorWho'' was originally one of these. Pre-''Who'', space travel on TV featured handsome, youthful spacemen aligned with heroic, paramilitary forces. But the Doctor, at his core, is Jack Kerouac in space and time--a dropout from his own people who now just travels around like the '60s never ended. Also, in the William Hartnell days, Ian Chesterton was the male lead, and the Doc was a selfish anti-hero.
* Gai in ''Series/ChoujinSentaiJetman''
* Michael Dugdale in ''Series/{{Utopia}}'' is a rather hapless and borderline suicidal civil servant working for the UK's Department of Health and is blackmailed through various means by TheConspiracy into working for them to [[spoiler: bring about a SterilityPlague. By the end of the series, he's broken into a potentially fatal quarantine zone to retrieve biological samples, stormed a SecretGovernmentWarehouse with a shotgun and torched it, saved his wife ''and'' his marriage, brokered a deal with the conspirators to leave him alone and given a home to a little girl whose family was murdered]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* Willy Loman from ''Theatre/DeathOfASalesman''. A little, pathetic man, broken by his chase after a dream that isn't true.
* Woyzeck from the [[Theatre/{{Woyzeck}} eponymous play]] is considered the first true Antihero, as opposed to the classic tragic hero.
* Everyone but Ricky Roma in ''Theatre/GlengarryGlenRoss'' qualifies, but with particular attention paid to Shelly Levene.
* Theatre/{{Hamlet}} was conflicted and emotional before it was cool.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Travis Touchdown, of ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'', a porn-obsessed Otaku without anything resembling a social life. He's also a NominalHero, however, eagerly slaughtering opponents and rarely showing any remorse for his killings.
** VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes2, meanwhile, deconstructs this by giving him more of a moral compass as well as an animal magnetism that puts him back closer to being a classical hero by the end of the game.
* Raiden is largely considered to be this in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', though he becomes more of a JerkAss Antihero in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots''.
* ''VideoGame/LesterTheUnlikely'' from the SNES game of the same name starts out as such a wimp that even turtles scare him. He does become more heroic about halfway through the game, however.
* Almaz from ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|Absence of Justice}}''.
* Cloud Strife of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', although he [[JerkassFacade pretends to be a prick]].
* Captain Martin Walker for most of the beginning of ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'' comes off as one of these his actions only cause disaster for both him and the people of Dubai. [[spoiler: As the game goes on though it becomes more and more clear that he is actually a delusional VillainProtagonist desperately trying to be the hero of a situation far out of his control.]]
* James Sunderland of ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'' easily meets the criteria.
* The eponymous character of ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', especially in the earlier parts of the game.
* Though he more commonly plays the part of {{Sidekick}} than TheHero, [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Luigi]] could fit the bill insofar as being a LovableCoward whose flaws are made more prominent than those of his IdealHero brother, Mario. In particular, [[VideoGame/LuigisMansion the times he has]] [[VideoGame/LuigisMansionDarkMoon to go it alone]] portray him without the series' trademark StockSuperpowers (which in his case are usually better than Mario's).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/MegaTokyo'''s Piro probably fits. He's getting better, though.
* [[spoiler: The post-scratch Kids]] in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' eventually realize that, due to the symbolism of [[spoiler: being in a void session]], they are destined to simply sit around, get distracted by romantic subplots, and wait for the plot to continue without them.
* Cherry from [[CherrysCure Cherry's Cure]] has physical limitations, is slow mentally, and knows all of these things. But is still the hero of the story. She's convinced she can't do what's asked of her, but needs to.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Raimi and Kamimura from ''WebAnimation/BrokenSaints''.
* The "Knights of Good" from ''WebVideo/TheGuild'', except [[TokenEvilTeammate Tinkerballa]].
* Aquerna, of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse. She is one of the [[SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy]] Underdogs, with laughable powers that make her a campus joke. She has self-esteem problems, and is no longer welcome in her own home since she turned into a mutant. Her combat final story and her Christmas story are all about her personal life and her personal problems, even if some action intrudes into the plot.
* Every main character in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' qualifies on a comedic level, but a dramatic example exists in Leonard Church, who is a hilariously bad shot, can't seem to accomplish anything, and, in particular, constantly fails in what seems to be the only driving force in his life: being with his ex-girlfriend, Tex.
* Taylor Hebert, of ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', a bullied teenaged girl with cripplingly low self-esteem, who finds her escape in going out in costume. Her power is relatively weak (the ability to control insects), and her main victories come from working with other parahumans instead of defeating her enemies alone. Worm is as much about her growth as an individual as it is about TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
* Jaune in ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', who is the only main character not good at fighting [[spoiler:and faked his transcripts to get into Beacon Academy]]. Most of his character arc involves resolving his shame over that. Incidentally, much of his interactions with [[KnightInShiningArmor Pyrrha]] exemplify how the two hero archetypes play off each other.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Franchise/ScoobyDoo and Shaggy.
* Philip J. Fry from ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''.
* Cody and Sierra ''[[WesternAnimation/TotalDramaIsland Total Drama World Tour]]''. First season, Cody was a standard hero, but developed less heroic traits in the third season.
* Fenton Crackshell from ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales'' was extremely good at counting, which is how he became Scrooge's accountant. But he often screwed up everything else, and he also was a dork, who had grown up in a trailer park. And when he gets a girlfriend, he becomes painfully hen-pecked. And yet, he was the super hero Gizmoduck, and he also saved the day four times without his Gizmoduck suit!
[[/folder]]

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