Characters like that really annoy me. Are we really expected to root for a bunch of thieves and cutthroats? There aren’t really ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ anymore; it’s become more of a case of ‘bad guys’ and ‘worse guys.’
I like my good guys to actually be good (gasp!). They aren’t perfect, but neither are they career criminals. They have, strange as it may seem in the midst of today’s so-called good guys, actual moral values. I want a good guy to be the kind of person that other people can look up to. The kind of person I wouldn’t mind my kids turning out to be like.
Of course, good guys don’t always have to start out as good guys. I’ve used characters who start out as not-so-good guys, or even downright bad guys—but they become good guys. I can handle that. It’s the characters who are bad all the way through the story and never mend their ways—but still somehow get away with calling themselves ‘good’—that annoy me.
Characters have to have flaws, of course. It’s kind of mandatory. I think, though, that people take that rule way too far. Flaws, the literature ‘experts’ tell you, make a character ‘deep’ and ‘believable.’ So, naturally, people use that excuse to turn their protagonists into vermin. I guess that ‘flawed’ means they have to be crooks at heart. They have to have sordidly checkered pasts (and presents). They have to hop in bed with whomever is handy at every available opportunity. Instead of a flawed good guy, we end up with a bad guy who happens to possess one or two (sometimes questionably) redeeming qualities.
There are so many characters out there that I would really liked to have been able to admire…but unfortunately I really can’t. So, yes, another heartfelt ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to the literary types who tell you what is and isn’t quality literature, because apparently it is now against the rules for good guys to be good.