Who’s the Good Guys?

Who are the good guys?  Sometimes in books, or tales, I have trouble figuring that out.

“Wait, what, Avon?” you say. “Isn’t that usually obvious?”

Yes, it usually is actually. But at the same time it isn’t. The good guys are often fighting for a good cause, or are just the good guys because one of them happens to be the main character. But they often kill, and hurt too. Most of the times the main character doesn’t do that(or if they do, they have a hard time with what they did.) But the side characters usually do.

Often(which makes it less obvious perhaps) it is random-groups of fighting men that the good characters hurt. But the good guys still have killed and injured a great deal of people, even if we don’t really ‘know’ them. That’s the thing. They could have had redeeming qualities, who knows?

The bad guys are almost always called simply ‘bad’. But there is usually a grey morality in some part of them. I find this confusing sometimes, but at the same time, impressive. Though I often wish the heroes were more black and white. This a funny thing for me to say, considering I adore Artemis Fowl(eh, well. Not in a crush way. But…anyway) and I love anti-heroes.They seem more realistic…it’s just, the ones where the author pretends they are good that I have trouble with.

They never have angst. Or when they do something really bad, but it’s excused because it is done to the villain. Artemis never did anything terrible, though he was wonderfully flawed. He changed. It is pointed out that he wasn’t ‘good’.

It’s also ones that do really bad things, but are on the slightly better side(they have a cause, or it’s their moral stance).  I support them more then the other side(which I don’t at all, usually. Even if their are some characters I feel sorry for) but I still have trouble fully liking them. This is often a good and interesting way of creating a character though.

I’m going to take some examples now, and fish through them. Before I do so– these aren’t necessarily bad things. A well done character is flawed. We all know  that. But…I think this will be interesting.

Twilight: I must first start saying I have never read or watched this, so feel free to yell at me about inaccuracies.  The obvious choice for this study is Edward. Edward is sparkly, possessive, and creepy. His author(unless she has been playing a grand joke on us, or the fan girls completely missed what she intended) portrays him as the “bestest boyfriend evar! Yeah!” He really isn’t. He isn’t flawed in a good way, unless this book was about a girl who realized how possessive her boyfriend was and ends up splitting from him. Or she stays with him, but it’s treated like a tragedy. Bronte-ish.

Lord of The Rings:  First of all, I like Lord of the Rings. Especially The Hobbit. And the hobbits themselves.

But let’s take a look at them. Most of the villains are, well, villains. No doubt about it. Gollum/Smeagal is one you can feel sympathy for.  He was once a Hobbit, and who doesn’t feel a touch of sympathy for him when he starts crying for ‘precious’? Even if he is really creepy.

Now we come to the heroes. Bilbo is a good hobbit. He kills the spiders, but that’s about all…still…

Gandalf does kill some goblins, and like I said, I have trouble accepting characters like that as a completely good character. But Gandalf is mostly good, but he is dangerous when he wants to be. He is not someone I’d want to be like, or even be a follower of, but I would trust him. I’m the kind of person who would just stay happily in the Shire, with my family and in my hobbit hole.

Harry Potter:

Obviously Voldemort is bad. Like, evil, evil, evil kind of bad. As are most of his followers. Draco, as well as other younger ones are the exceptions. I’d say there are probably a few other ones, ones that fear for their family and friends unless they obey him.

Harry is mainly good. But we all know he has the capability to be a Slytherin.

English: Alternate coat of arms of Hogwarts sc...

English: Alternate coat of arms of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry from Harry Potter book series, by J.K Rowling, with added shading effects. For a reference i used a drawing found on the internet, probably an illustration from one of the books. The motto translates to “never tickle a sleeping dragon” vector drawing,.SVG format. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But he choose Gryffindor. One issue I have is the sorting hat and the houses(okay, that’s two issues) as that if you didn’t put anyone in Slytherin, but just made a note that they had the potential to be evil, wouldn’t they turn out better? You could try to make them show their smarts, or something instead. Say they are bad? They’re more likely to be evil

I guess Dumbledore is our main one to focus on. The man manipulated Harry throughout the series, almost went into dark arts, and certainly is dangerous. Luckily, this isn’t passed off as ‘okay’. Harry was hardly pleased.Though, no matter how un-pleased he was, he shouldn’t just go abandoning his quest. On the other hand, I can hardly blame him for wanting to.

Now, that’s all for now. What books or stories have you noticed this in? Do you like things grey? Do you prefer a clearer black and white? Do you have problems with some heroes?

Tell me! Tell me…precious.

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8 thoughts on “Who’s the Good Guys?

  1. I agree with everything but Twilight. Edward left in the second book and Bella went and saved him, alsmot getting herself killed.

    I never thought of Dumbledore that way, but I guess your right. He was very dark. I always thought of him as a mentor. You have really opened my eyes.

    -Jordan

    • That’s interesting to know. I’ve never actually read Twilight, just snippets and going by what I’ve read about it. So,yeah.

      I always did too, until the last book. He’s not evil or anything, but dark at the same time
      Thanks!

  2. YES. When the good guys say things like, “The villain wouldn’t hesitate to do (insert evil thing here) to us!” it’s just … just because the side you’re fighting against is evil doesn’t mean you’re automatically good. It’s a slippery slope if you start that rationalization, because there is nothing preventing an all-out evil vs. evil battle.

    • Exactly! I think that can be good, because it can be interesting(like say, Gandalf and Dumbledore). Or just plain interesting. But it irritates me if the author acts like they’re badgood characters are completely good.

      But there is definitely a slippery slope there. In a RP I’m in, there are two sides. The pirates and military. The military is corrupt, and the pirate rebellion throws them over. A good thing, but the pirates kill most of the military and government. They probably could have overthrown it by not killing anyone–they were clever enough. /rambleover/

      • Oh, yeah. It’s a nice touch to have your characters walk the slippery slope if it’s for story depth and/or character development. It’s just when the characters walk it without even acknowledging that it’s there that it gets annoying.
        And as a side note, something that just caught my attention: the comment about not putting people in Slytherin. The Sorting Hat doesn’t necessarily class these people as “evil”: it classifies them as ambitious. Slytherin’s stigma isn’t an ingrained part of Slytherin, and a lot of it might have arisen Salazar, who started the cruel overtones, and Voldemort, who compounded them. (My Gollum, can I ramble…)

  3. Definitely. It irriates me when characters do that…I mean, sometimes it gets to the point where I start sympthizing with the villians.
    Characters: Aren’t we awesome? *does bad stuff*
    Me: Erh. No.

    Ah, okay. Thanks for pointing that out– it’s been a bit since I last read the books. I should re-read them soon.

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