The loveable rogue is a character archetype used far and wide: in literature, film, TV, video games ... and any other media where characters are involved. As the name would suggest, people like them. They’re usually witty, handsome, daring, and have a tendency to bend the rules.
For the purposes of this article, I will focus on three specific interpretations of this type of character. Those of you who know me or those of you who are far too astute for your own good, should be able to guess which three they will be.
Yes, they’re are Malcolm Reynolds, Peter Quill and Han Solo.
This triplet have slowly but surely become my favourite sort of character (minus the bearded, unstoppable dwarf from which I am probably descended from). They embody a relatively neutral moral compass stemming from the mixture of their own personal gain and their sense of duty to ‘do the right thing’. The leads to one of the most attractive things about these characters - their ability to fail. Over and over again do they fail or make incorrect, off-the-cuff decisions, usually ending up in a sense of danger or capture.
But that just makes the journey of their self-discovery even more fun.
All three of the aforementioned are fine examples of humour. They are not shy to a display of wit or pointing out another’s faults and mishaps. The sarcastic and satirical nature of these people make them easy to relate to. We all have that side to us that enjoys poking fun and mocking others when they fudge up. Having a character do it for us allows for an even easier ride - we get to enjoy someone's misfortune without getting the scathing look afterwards.
Of course, the protagonists themselves are not immune to ridicule. Being able to take a verbal bashing is as important as being able to give one out. Now, of the three captains I’ve mentioned, it is only really Quill that will admit that he’s ballsed the situation up. The other two have the unfortunate trait of arrogance - something that seems to go with the roguish territory, I guess. I suppose it’s obvious when you think about it. You can’t be an independant likeable pirate without being a little cocksure about yourself...
So what we have are a group of good-guys, that essentially rob, steal, smuggle and deal with many underworld happenings. They see themselves as above the law. Too small an operation to warrant tracking and too sly to be caught in the first place. Of course, the fantasy is lovely but when it goes wrong, it’s the clever-dick attitude and scheming minds of these people that see their release. A quick tongue and charming smile will do nothing for you if you haven’t got the stones and firepower to back them up. All of which are (usually) a dab hand with a pistol of some description (or have a general affinity with all firearms) and are no stranger to basic engineering and robotics.
If you’re going to fly around the universe with a small amount of friends or crew to aid you, then you’d better know how everything you need to keep you alive works.
This then brings us onto what it is these people want and what they fight for. For the most part, they’re introduced to us with nothing more than a want for riches and a comfortable life away from the authorities and anyone who might get in their way. What usually happens is a transformation - their hard, outer shell falls away after some form of enlightenment. For me Quill summed it up perfectly when he said, ‘I’m one of the idiots who lives in it’. What this little group of independent mercenaries realise is that there will be no riches to steal and no fortune to be had if the world they inhabit is suddenly taken from them, occupied by enemies or literally blown to bits.
The sum of all these parts make for an interesting and endearing character. They’re ‘bad-boys’ but with good hearts (in the end) and with all the attractive qualities you would want in a man… I imagine…
I know I wouldn’t mind being adept in all things cool and awesome in a sci-fi universe with femme fatales and heroic mates on a permanent adventure…
I hope you’ve enjoyed the small insight into my thoughts on a popular character type. I guess you could say I think of them as role-models, of a sort… Like a cool uncle? But that’s just me, let me know what you think on Twitter @MugwumpBlog.