Saturday, March 19, 2011

Character Creation 101: The Bad Boy

The bad boy is one of the most frequently used stock characters in YA literature. One of his earliest incarnations is in 'Rebel Without A Cause' . Throughout the decades, he remains virtually unchanged. Many YA authors insert him into their story as the love interest for various types of females, but one thing they all seem to have in common is that they fall for him hard and never want to let go, even if they are already in love with someone else. Lust, rather than love is the main motivation of these relationships. The bad boy rarely commits to the relationship, sometimes having more than one girlfriend. As the main love interest, part of a love triangle, or a standalone character, the bad boy is able to stand his own through the test of time.

Let's explore the different types of bad boys that exist.

The Anti-Hero

This guy has a me against the world attitude. He works alone and fights for personal reasons, rather than selfless ones. He broods and doesn't talk much unless bothered, in which case violence and a gruff voice will get his point across. He is usually well built and tall. He doesn't dress to impress and will stand out like a sore thumb at a dinner party. Not only is he unable to hold a decent conversation, but he is also bad at dealing with women—although, for some unknown reason, they're attracted to him.

Often, his motivation is revenge, but like everyone he has a soft side, whether it be for his mom, his kid, or that special girl. More often than not he will sacrifice himself in times of danger. One thing he hates is saving people, but he'll do it even if it gets on his nerves, otherwise he wouldn't be able to live with himself. He might have a bad past that he wants to forget, or he could have been a good guy who got tired of the hero system. Although he might appear to be slow thinking, this guy is usually two steps ahead of the program. The anti-hero is sometimes confused with the Byronic hero and the unlikely hero. The one big difference between the anti hero and the Byronic hero is that the Byronic hero struggles with good and evil; the anti-hero simply doesn't care.

Some examples of the anti hero are: Batman, Riddick, Blade, Wolverine, Venom, The Punisher, Spike Speagal, and The Man With No Name.

The Brooding Boy

This guy sits in the back of the classroom and sulks. Often confused with the rebel and the Byronic hero, this guy has problems but he chooses to sulk alone instead of solving them. He avoid people and doesn't have any friends. He is the classic loner. Most girls are attracted to his silent nature while others are put off by his aloof attitude. A girl is usually unable to fix his problems. He can be tall and his hair is usually dark black or platinum blond. He may have problems at home and he might have a tendency for violence. He could also have alcohol problems, but he doesn't smoke. He is often intelligent, but he has behavioral problems. This guy would be voted most likely to become an abusive boyfriend. He has the potential to become a Byronic hero.

Some examples of the brooding boy are: Edward Cullen, Rogerson Biscoe, Christian Ozeras, and Sasuke Uchiha.

The Byronic Hero

Here's a guy that has some serious issues. Whether he was enslaved, abused, or tortured, the Byronic hero is not to be underestimated. It is not necessary to have a history of abuse but one thing that sets this bad boy apart from the others is that he struggles between the forces of good and evil. He's definitely one of the more likable bad boys among this bunch. He's the one you want to get the girl, but because of emotional problems they never do. They'll most likely have a dry sense of humor and they are somewhat arrogant, which can make them hard to tell apart from the Don Juan. But this guy has a true love and he doesn't flirt around--much.

Unfortunately, he usually dies in the end while his love ends up with the hero. But the good news is he picked the right side in the end. He can be good looking, but has some sort of disfigurement as a mark of his past. One of his flaws is that he is easily mislead, but in order to become redeemed he must learn to think for himself. But there is a lot of temptation for him to resist on his quest. This is the bad boy that will make people cry, but remember too much drama and you'll just have a Mary Sue.

Some examples of the Byronic hero are: Harry Osbourne, Smeagal, Boromir, Murtagh, Louis, Prince Zuko, Anakin Skywalker, The Phantom of the Opera, Severus Snape, and Viktor Frankenstein.

The Broke Boy

Easily confused with the Byronic hero or the anti hero, the broke boy is in a league of his own. While temptation is a vice, struggling with good and evil is not. He has his mind made up about the world and he doesn't care about saving anything except for his own skin. That skin is tough and he's got an attitude that intimidates most. He can be a jerk and he doesn't have friends, he has followers. He grew up poor and he holds a grudge against those who have money. But he holds his mother close to his heart. And there might be a girl that has a special place in there as well.

Sometimes, this guy is a thief or he's very aggressive, but he has a cynical sense of humor and an ego that could outshine the sun. He'll never admit that he's wrong unless it's to someone that he care about. He's also good looking and usually has black hair. His most note-worth trait, is that he will argue with anyone over anything. He doesn't smoke or drink, mostly because he can't afford to. His father was most likely absent or abusive, which caused this bad boy to hate him.

Some examples of the broke boy are: Perry Dellophane, Morgead, The Colonel and Jason Todd.

The Don Juan

This is the boy that parents tell their daughters to stay away from. He'll charm her, buy her gifts, and in the morning he'll be gone. He's a playboy and will flirt with anyone while keeping his heart safe for his true love. Unfortunately, she's not interested because she knows how he works. But that doesn't keep her from playing with him. This guy is rich, charming, and knows how to dress to impress. But inside there are problems that fuel his self destructing behavior. He will have a vice, such as smoking or drinking. Charisma and humor are big parts of his personality and he rarely gets upset.

Unless he is pushed to the limit, the Don Juan will absorb anything thrown at him. A smirk is the most notable thing about him along with his refusal to take no for an answer. While seen as a jerk, he is very social. Yet, has few close friends. He will probably be from an affluent family. But don't be fooled, this guy is perceptive. While he might not be academic, he's got wit on his side.

Some examples of the Don Juan are: Bruce Wayne, Adrian Ivashkov, Christian Collinsworth, and Damon Augustus.

The Rebel

This rebel is, by far, the baddest of the bad. He might be anti-social or sociopathic, but that doesn't mean that he lacks charm. Some believe that they're doing the right thing but others know that they're bad to the core. This guys isn't afraid of killing people, after all, it's the end that justifies the means. Whether he's saving his people by killing them or burning down a building, the rebel has a fierce temper and isn't afraid of anyone. He might have been abandoned by his parents at an early age. A born leader, this guy will have a gang to help carry out his crazy schemes. In most cases, he will be attractive and many a girl will think that he can be saved, only to be proven wrong later on. The rebel can make your audience cry and cringe, making him a powerful character. He's best with a motorcycle or an old convertible.

Some examples of the rebel are: James Dean, The Greasers, Jet, Billy Nolan, Patch, and Kevin Levin.

Now that we've had a run down on some of the basic bad boy prototypes, I hope you have a better understanding of him as a character. After all, he might be a jerk, but he's a lovable jerk. He shows us what happens when we give into temptation.


  1. Yay I love that you mentioned James Dean because ya know, I am big on the dude = LOVE :D Okay so this post was so insightful. It was pretty great how you broke everything down for every type of bad boy.

  2. How could I forget James Dean? He's the original bad boy.

    Note: I am not counting Marlon Brando's so-called bad boy character in The Wild One because he was more like the Mild One.

  3. Frankestein, huh? I really gotta read that book.

  4. It's definitely a read. Kind of dull, but deep in a psuedo-intellectual teenage girl sort of way. But don't expect to be scared.

  5. I love that movie, and LOL at the Mild one :D

  6. Just thinking about bad boys makes my heart thump. I would add that I think females like them so much is because they're a mystery they want to solve - in mysteries and with heroines who are Nancy Drew-like, I think they like to solve their guy's problem and end up getting reigned in along the way.
    Amazing post. As usual. :)

  7. Have you ever looked at

    If not, let me start you off with:

  8. I read TVTropes all the time. But this was written before I knew they existed, like two years ago.

  9. Awesome! Your list is, of course, more detailed.

  10. Dallas Winston all the way!