Does the main character of the book have to be likable?
So… I’m curious. As someone who isn’t a very likable person IRL, (Nope, nope, you nice people. Don’t try to correct me. I know how many friends I have and I know more people than those few dislike me. :p It’s cools. I am who I am and I ain’t changin’ for nobody), but anyway, as a not-likable person, I’m curious about why the main character in a book always has to be likable.
I mean, do we really all have to like the hero? What if the hero is a total jerk? What if the prophecy picked the biggest jackass or bitchiest woman on the planet/solar system/universe/etc/etc? Who says you have to be a nice, loyal, compassionate, wonderful person to be the hero? Or to even be the main character?
What about all the anti-heroes out there?
But even anti-heroes are still likable. I mean, who doesn’t like Deadpool? (Come on! Be honest with yourselves. You know you all love Deadpool!) Even the anti-heroes are still likable characters. And why is that? They literally don’t care who they kill along the way, but they just appear to be doing the right thing because it aligns with their personal goals. Still, we like them. What if… we didn’t like them?
What if the main character was a snarky, sarcastic, rude, blunt, obnoxious person? (NO! I didn’t just picked adjectives people use to describe me!!! … *cough* ) What if their goals and their motivations weren’t so squeaky clean? What if they weren’t the most gosh-darn compassionate person on Earth? What if they didn’t love every single animal and tried to sing to them? *side glances at Disney stereotypes* What if they were selfish?
“Melanie, why are you asking all of these questions?”
I am so glad you asked, random reader who didn’t actually ask any questions what-so-ever, but I love to pretend like I have to explain myself (because I’m going to explain myself whether you want me to or not.) … >.> Ahem. I’m picking these questions for a couple reasons:
- I’m not your perfect, precious, adorable, nice, compassionate, blah, blah, blah person. I’m… kind of a bitch IRL. (I’m just really good at faking being a nice person. 😉 ) But I don’t find a lot of characters like myself in fiction, especially YA fiction. What’s more, I honestly want to vomit some days because of the excessively copious amounts of perfect, do-gooder, save-the-world-because-it’s-the-right-thing-to-do characters. I want a character who says, “Meh. Someone else can save it. I don’t really want to sacrifice myself for a world I’ll never see [because the prophecy says I’ll die or the odds are very high.]” Like… what is so wrong about that? That’s a story, too! The end of the world is a story, people. Come on!
- I… have written some selfish, bitchy characters in my novels. We often write about things we know and I know what it’s like to be a selfish person (some days. ) As such, I wrote a character like that. And you know what my betareaders said about them?
“I don’t like your character.”
“I wish she would’ve redeemed herself.”
Uh-huh… Well… I don’t think she needs to redeem herself. I don’t believe every character needs to have a heart of Gold or magically become a better person. Frankly, that’s not realistic. Not everyone becomes a hero. Not everyone becomes good. And while it’s important for society [and the law] to be a good person and care about others, I don’t think you have to be so good that you sacrifice yourself for people you don’t even know just because someone tells you to. (Not to mention it would add a lot more variety of characters if they weren’t all good. You know what I mean?)
Of course, now everyone is sitting there going: “Well, Melanie is insane.” I mean… yeah, but I’m serious. Why can’t characters be selfish? Why can’t characters be rude? Why can’t characters say ‘no, thanks. Someone else can save the day.’? I just don’t understand why all the main characters have become… well… the same. I’m not seeing nearly enough variety in these main characters and it’s getting rather boring. But maybe I am crazy. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. I guess you’ll just have to leave your comments below to let me know if I’m still the Queen of Unpopular Opinions. 😂
But what do you think?
Do you think MCs have to be likable?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week: