So you're working on a book, and you like your hero character so far, but he's just too... clean. How can you dirty him up a bit? You need to add some character flaws. Careful, though. The right flaws will make your character more accessible to your audience and bring him to life, but the wrong flaws will make your audience despise him no matter what heroic acts he accomplishes. There are good flaws, and there are bad flaws.

'''A list of currently acceptable "good" flaws includes:'''
* [[TheAlcoholic Alcoholism]] (except when it leads to violence)
* [[DrugsAreBad Drug addiction]] (except when it leads to violence)
* [[SmokingIsCool Tobacco use]] (cigars, cigarettes, and especially pipes)
* [[AnythingThatMoves Sexual]] [[ReallyGetsAround promiscuity]] ([[MyGirlIsNotASlut Especially for males]]. As long as it doesn't involve children, animals or the unwilling, like rape, zoophilia or necrophilia).
* [[SlobsVersusSnobs Reverse snobbery]]
* Being [[CoolLoser too cool to socialize]].
* Being a [[TheKlutz klutz]].
* "Sticking to your guns" even when the odds seem stacked against you (Which some may argue isn't even a flaw at all, except when it results in IdiotBall)
* [[WhatAnIdiot Stupidity]] (as long as it stems from ''genuine'' ignorance, and not apathy or bigotry)
* [[HatesEveryoneEqually Misanthropy or cynicism]]
* [[TheStoic Emotional aloofness]], especially with ''[[TroubledButCute Cute]]'' LoveInterests
* [[ShrinkingViolet Lack of self-confidence]]
* [[ThePerfectionist Holding ridiculously high personal standards]][[note]](Take note: this is the most common and perhaps ''the only'' personal flaw ever written in a resume or job application.)[[/note]], especially with [[TheSnarkKnight snarky comments]].
* Being a {{Noble| Bigot}}, {{Innocent| Bigot}} or TragicBigot (Assuming they're a good guy of course), especially for [[FairForItsDay people who grew up a long time ago]] or [[NobleBigotWithABadge those with Police or Military backgrounds]].
* A {{hot| blooded}} [[HairTriggerTemper temper]] (except when it leads to violence)
* [[TheSlacker Laziness]]
* [[PrecisionFStrike Cussing]] (except in the presence of the [[GoodShepherd clergy]], monarchs, aristocrats, the elderly, [[LittleBrotherIsWatching children]], and sometimes women)
* SelfDeprecation
* [[LovableCoward Cowardice]] (except when failure to act causes someone else's harm)
* [[CloudCuckooLander Weirdness and a lack of social norms]], particularly in [[ManicPixieDreamGirl love interests]]
* [[CuteClumsyGirl Clumsiness]] can be so endearing that it's often the single flaw given in an otherwise [[MarySue perfect character]]

'''While a list of flaws that are currently "bad" includes:'''
* Sexism (misogyny moreso than misandry)
** {{Straw Feminist}}s are ridiculed, but a WomanScorned with no ideological pretense typically gets much more sympathetic treatment.
* [[GayAesop Homophobia]] ([[ValuesDissonance except in some religious literature and pretty much every single piece of media made outside of the USA and Northwestern Europe]])
* ''[[DoubleStandard Genuine]]'' [[UpperClassTwit snobbery]]
* {{Domestic Abuse|r}} ([[DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale especially when male]])
* [[TheGamblingAddict Compulsive Gambling]]
* [[GoodSmokingEvilSmoking "Evil" smoking]] (usually a cigar, or a hoity-toity lighter). Encouraging children under the age of 18 to smoke or blowing smoke in a more sympathetic character's face are two surefire ways of crossing the MoralEventHorizon.
* [[ControlFreak Obsessive meddling]] (no matter how well-intentioned)
* {{Hypocrisy}} (except when PlayedForLaughs as HypocriticalHumor)
* [[MilesGloriosus Self-serving phoniness]]
* Being a DirtyCoward
* {{Pedo|Hunt}}philes and {{rap|eIsASpecialKindOfEvil}}ists (especially when male).
* [[TheFundamentalist Religious Fanaticism]] or on the other end [[StrawNihilist Frantic Nihilism]] and/or [[OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions Militant]] [[BeliefMakesYouStupid Atheism]].
* {{Greed}} and /or [[NouveauRiche Flaunting]] [[RichBitch Money]]
* [[BadSamaritan Two]]-[[BitchInSheepsClothing facedness]]
* Being unforgiving and putting justice and other abstract ideals above people, a la the KnightTemplar.

A character who's addicted to alcohol is a helpless victim of a substance to which he is addicted. A character who chain-smokes is a rube who doesn't understand the dangers of smoking and ought to die of lung cancer for his foolishness (although, occasionally there are [[GoodSmokingEvilSmoking sympathetic smokers]]). The difference between drinking and smoking in this regard is that drinking is not addictive for the majority of people and provides a significant high, while smoking is addictive for everyone and its high, if any, is very weak. Drinking is therefore seen as the more rational action, although of course off limits for those who get addicted.

A character who has sex freely isn't always seen as flawed at all (and provides [[SexSells interesting plot opportunities...]]) while a genuinely racist or homophobic character portrayed in any kind of positive light whatsoever is a rarity these days. (A number of comedians will pretend racist/homophobic viewpoints for laughs, but also insist that they're only kidding. See PoliticallyIncorrectHero.)

Even the words people use will fall under these categories. Most obviously, ''shit'' and ''fuck'' are "good" bad words while ''nigger'' and ''faggot'' are "bad" bad words (whereas the opposite used to be the case). ''Bitch'' is a special case, being unacceptable when used by men to refer to women, but acceptable when [[NWordPrivileges used by women themselves]] or by people of either sex to [[DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale refer to men]], or to describe something nonhuman or abstract in an informal way.

Sixty years ago some of the entries on these lists might have been inverted because this is a cyclical trope. It is constantly changing as artists try to push the envelope and skirt the fine line of transgressive but not reprehensible. Who knows what will be seen as acceptable or not acceptable in another [[SocietyMarchesOn 60 years]].

Bad Flaws can be EasilyForgiven ''if'' the character casts them off and becomes a better person. TheAtoner atones for them. The BigBad may just have worse flaws. Sometimes they can be given the sympathetic point of view - there's good reasons why they have this flaw. LaserGuidedKarma also assists in forgiveness, as long as they learn from their punishment. If your prejudiced hero learns about other ethnic groups over the course of his journey and, at the end of the book, decides that he can now accept people of different ethnic groups as equal to himself; well, he was an egalitarian all along, just waiting for the right experience to let him grow, wasn't he? (Less idealistic works might have the hero retain his bad habits, but [[TroubledSympatheticBigot still strive to do the right thing in spite of himself]].)

Related to OnceAcceptableTargets. A JerkWithAHeartOfJerk will be marked by ''both'' types of flaw, and might use the "good" ones to deliberately mask the "bad" ones. See also: GoodSmokingEvilSmoking for an in-depth discussion of tobacco as a signifier of morality.

Feel free to add more examples to the current list, but try to keep it general and widely applicable. Also, feel free to add lists of examples pertaining to other cultures and time periods. Also feel free to add to the list of examples below, but keep in mind that this sort of thing is often played with and changes over time, so there are going to be very few straight examples.

'''Note:''' Please try to keep FantasticRacism to a minimum unless it is very clearly supposed to be a [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything direct analogue to real-life bigotry]]. The hatred of Orcs and the hatred of human ethnic minorities carry very different connotations in media ([[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman for some reason]]).

* DonaldDuck in the comics suffers from a bad temper, arrogance and vanity, but has his heart in the right place. The same can be said about Uncle Scrooge, who is thrifty and heartless at times, but shows compassion towards others when necessary.

* Creator/ClintEastwood's character in ''Film/GranTorino'' is one of the most sympathetically portrayed racists in modern media, although even he learns his lesson about racism by the end of the film.
* On the "reverse snobbery" thread, you also see this a lot in high school movies. If the popular or cool kids play a prank on the unpopular/uncool kids, it's wrong and malicious. If unpopular/uncool kids play a prank on the popular/cool kids, it's a funny comeuppance.
** Though set in a college ''Film/{{Accepted}}'' is a prime example of this: at their first meeting, before he has any personal reason to dislike them, Bartleby goes out of his way to insult Ambrose and his fraternity. It's portrayed as an underdog sticking it to some rich jerks.
** Of course, the cool kids are often portrayed as doing it out of spontaneous malice, while the uncool kids are often seeking {{Revenge}} for either another prank or some other malicious act, which does introduce a moral difference beside whodunit.
* Film/JamesBond has given up smoking (and even claims it was a "filthy habit" in ''Film/TomorrowNeverDies''[[labelnote:*]]Note that he [[{{Hypocrite}} then went and smoked a cigar]] in ''Film/DieAnotherDay''[[/labelnote]]) over time but has always been a connoisseur of alcohol and [[GirlOfTheWeek other vices]].
* ''Film/AsGoodAsItGets'': Melvin Udall (Creator/JackNicholson) manages to spout all kinds of rude remarks throughout the course of the film and still not drift into VillainProtagonist territory. Of course, the filmmakers do an excellent job of tempering his character. For starters, his character is an older man, even though he occasionally is nastier than the average [[RacistGrandma Racist Grandpa]]. Second, Udall is a New Yorker, and people from New York are stereotypically expected to be rude anyway. Third, the film is to a large extent a comedy, and a CringeComedy at that. Fourth, Udall does fairly often get called out and even publicly humiliated for his politically incorrect behavior. Fifth, his behavior does improve as the film goes along. And sixth, and most importantly, Udall is a misanthropic romance novelist with obsessive-compulsive disorder, for the most part [[HatesEveryoneEqually peevish toward everyone in the world]] (with specific bigoted remarks toward each of them according to their categories-i.e antisemitic toward Jews, racist toward blacks/Latinos, homophobic toward gays, etc.) and really well-meaning deep down if not for being a JerkassWoobie.
* Ray Levoi, the FBI-agent protagonist of ''Film/{{Thunderheart}}'' (1992) manages to be a consistently sympathetic character despite having more than a casual contempt for Native American culture from the outset - something that was rare even in UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfHollywood. [[BeautyEqualsGoodness Being young and good-looking]] helps (Levoi is being played by Creator/ValKilmer in his early thirties, after all), as does his PunchClockVillain status when the FBI sends him to a Sioux reservation to investigate a murder and basically requires him to harass and interrogate suspected political radicals (at one point even pulling a Sioux out of his tepee during a religious ceremony, prompting the arrestee to demand if [[DoubleStandard he'd ever arrest a Christian while that Christian was praying in church]]). Most crucially, however, Levoi is part Sioux himself. While this doesn't grant him NWordPrivileges (though the full-blooded Sioux characters seem to have this, derisively calling Levoi the "Washington Redskin"), it does make him supremely confused about his identity and [[DaddyIssues ambivalent toward the memory of his ne'er-do-well half-Sioux father]]. He's also naturally resentful that he's been assigned to this case [[TokenMinority specifically because of his heritage]], and doesn't want to be on the reservation in the first place. Finally, Levoi does fall in love with a full-blooded Sioux woman, manages to get over his prejudices and reclaim his roots, and ultimately solves what proves to be a ''Film/{{Chinatown}}''-level mystery marked by corruption InherentInTheSystem.
* ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'':
** Wolverine's fondness for cigars and rough exterior (complete with lots of rudeness, drinking, and profanity) are part of his macho image.
** ''Film/XMenFirstClass'':
*** Although the writers wanted to present Xavier as a very different person when he was young man, they can't give him too many negative traits because the character is still the BigGood of the franchise, so some of his "good" flaws include being a womanizer, being vain, and somewhat flaunting his wealth (though he's still very much an UnclePennybags to his friends).
*** Hank [=McCoy=], who we learn in ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'' is one of Charles' closest friends (and therefore his personality can't be changed too drastically), gets lack of self-confidence as one of his primary faults.
** ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'': Past Xavier is no longer a cad like we saw in ''First Class'', but he has developed additional "good" flaws such as alcoholism, drug addiction, cynicism, and cussing. The guy is utterly messed up, but the writer was careful not to make the character too "bad" (Charles has to eventually become an AllLovingHero, after all).
* Some of the comedians interviewed in ''Film/TheAristocrats'' (which is basically a feature-length analysis of the so-called "filthiest joke in the world") argue the inverse of this trope, contending that good flaws are bad and bad flaws are good ''if you're actually trying to be offensive''; being "good-bad" just won't get the desired level of outrage. Since many iterations of the "aristocrats" joke involve defecating, for instance, they point out that if you defecated in public nowadays most people wouldn't really care and react with only an eyeroll; ''but'' if you took the fecal matter into your hands, smeared it all over your face, and did a {{Blackface}} gag, people ''would'' be very angry.
* ''{{Film/Selma}}'': MLK's adultery plays a part in the film, contrasting with his civil rights activities.

* Sam Vimes from the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' books claims to be a racist and a speciesist, but aside from the fact that he would risk his life for any of his citizens, he is a raging misanthrope so any racism/speciesism is just an extension of thinking ''everyone'' is a bastard. Even his outwardly promoted reverse snobbery doesn't prevent him from marrying Lady Sybil, heiress to one of the richest estates in Ankh-Morporkh, and having the title of Duke being bestowed (albeit unhappily) upon him. He's also a very heavy drinker who used to drink to forget, but has since forgotten what he was trying to forget, so he keeps drinking so he won't remember .Interestingly enough he's been moved off Alcohol and onto cigars by his wife.
* William Laurence from the ''Literature/{{Temeraire}}'' books, is a Napoleonic Era Naval Officer, with the ridiculously high standards expected within that service. He moves to the Aerial Corps, which is a much more laid back affair and allows this to be an excellent hook. In some ways it's possible to consider the Aerial Corps as a pocket 'modern' society within the early 19th Century setting.
* Haymitch from ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' is an alcoholic. At the beginning, this is presented as just further proof of his incompetency- until it is revealed that he drinks in order to mask the pain of losing everyone he loves, and failing to protect children in the arena, year after year.
* ''Literature/HoratioHornblower'' is terrified of heights and prone to sea-sickness, a pair of traits one might consider unusual for TheCaptain in a series about WoodenShipsAndIronMen. The sea-sickness is eventually revealed to be something the crew accepts without comment [[note]]the only sign that they know about it is that the Marine sentry outside his door has a mop and bucket[[/note]], and Hornblower deals with the acrophobia by [[{{Determinator}} making a point of climbing the masts to see for himself whenever a sailor in the crow's nest announces that they've spotted something.]]
** Also, he is very emotionally detached and calculating. Played positively, these traits make him a tactical genius and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking very good at cards]], played negatively, and he ends up having a terrible time dealing with other people short of being very manipulative.
* Creator/AnthonyBurgess was inspired to write ''Literature/AClockworkOrange'' because he found it fascinating that Nazis during World War II would relax from a day of killing people by enjoying the beauty of Music/LudwigVanBeethoven 's music. The very idea that vicious criminals could appreciate beautiful innocent art was the reason Alex [=DeLarge=] became a Beethoven admirer.
* Played with in military thriller ''Literature/{{Victoria}}''. The protagonist, former Marine captain John Rumford, smokes like a chimney, is a bit of a loner, a perfectionist and often extremely cynical--all traits that are not only acceptable, but almost expected, from someone with his military background. However, he is also very old-fashioned and politically incorrect by present-day standards, to the point of being a PoliticallyIncorrectHero.

* For sympathetic characters with regular snobbery, you have [[Series/{{Frasier}} Frasier and Niles]], chiefly via CharacterDevelopment. Frasier was originally written as a RomanticFalseLead and eventual EnsembleDarkHorse on ''Series/{{Cheers}}'', where the whole SlobsVersusSnobs angle was very much PlayedStraight.
** Similarly, Charles Emerson Winchester of ''Series/{{Mash}}''. Though he started off as mostly an antagonist, he gradually became an AntiHero and never completely overcame his snobbery. He even had his biggest PetTheDog moment through his snobbery during the GrandFinale when a North Korean military band is taken prisoner and he finds their playing to be horrid. So he teaches them to play classical music well.
* Johnathan Quayle Higgins on ''Series/MagnumPI'' is very snobby.
* Series/{{House}} gets away with all kinds of offensive remarks because it's clear he actually hates everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., and just says whatever he thinks will offend his target the most. As Cameron says in one episode to defend him after he says something sexist, "[He's] a misanthrope, not a misogynist."

[[AC: WebOriginal]]
* Ghost of ''Radio/TrueCapitalist'' won't deny that he has a HairTriggerTemper, but accusing him of being racist, abusive, sexually deviant, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking or a]] [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic brony]] is a sure-fire way of [[BerserkButton triggering his temper]].

[[AC: VideoGames]]
* Jonathan Ingram in ''VisualNovel/{{Policenauts}}'' makes homophobic, transphobic (using the phrase 'so-called women' to describe transwomen who'd undergone a sex change at the genetic level) and sexist (oh, let's not even ''start'') comments throughout the game, as well as exhibiting FantasticRacism towards the Frozeners. It's used to draw attention to how his attitudes are bigoted and old-fashioned by the standards of the era, but he never really gets over them and is yet portrayed consistently sympathetically.

* Eric Cartman from ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' is a horrible bigot, and is portrayed absolutely unsympathetically. He still has his fans, though.
* The entire list in the article description is practically a laundry list for [[{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}} Bender B. Rodriguez's]] entire personality. He gets away with it through RefugeInAudacity and RuleOfFunny, with a good dose of KarmaHoudini to dodge plot-related consequences.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Bart Simpson constantly gets into trouble for playing pranks on teachers, family members and random people in the street. Though some of his behavior ranks from just being an annoying kid to juvenile delinquency, he is generally shown to have guilt or remorse kick in at times.

* Even more intractable is the tendency to attempt to psychologically scan a historical subject to see if he ([[AlwaysMale and it usually is indeed a "he"]]) harbors any sensibilities that are currently abhorrent. This can be tricky for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that individuals who weren't particularly political or weren't social critics probably didn't put forth that many substantial opinions. Also, said person may merely be speaking or writing to others who ''do'' harbor those views, and pandering to them. Finally, despite what many seem to believe, irony and sarcasm were not twentieth-century inventions.
* Most criminals and other people with an "evil" reputation will have a good side to them. For instance, some psychopaths who absolutely feel no remorse towards torturing, raping and killing human beings will feel appalled whenever someone hurts an animal.