There’s something about an anti-hero, isn’t there? The protagonist with the dark past and the cynical attitude who hides a good heart underneath a tough exterior. The person who doesn’t always do the right thing, but does what he does for the right reasons. In my novel Burn, firefighter Ryan Monroe struggles with guilt over some bad choices, even though he’s a bona fide good guy who saves lives on the regular. Thankfully, Chloe Addison sees him for more than the mistakes he’s made, and together they overcome the events of their pasts. But not every tortured anti-hero is quite so lucky. Here are a few of my favorite good guy characters in a bad boy (or girl!) disguise.
1. Jax Teller – Sons of Anarchy
Over the course of seven seasons, Jax Teller evolved from a cocky cutie full of righteous indignation to a stone-cold killer, all while trying (and epically failing) to lead his motorcycle club down the path of the straight and narrow. One bad decision after another led him to spiral out of control until he lost all the things he was fighting for in the first place. I’ll admit, I still shed a tear (okay, many, MANY tears!) when his story came to it’s heartbreaking end.
2. Sergeant Damien Scott – Strikeback
After being dishonorably discharged from the US Army’s Delta Force when he questioned a mission, then pulling a stint as a CIA contract killer in which he accidentally murdered a target’s school-aged son, Damien Scott was recruited by the U.K.’s SIS Section 20. Scott is the class clown of soldiers, with a hearty laugh, a quick comeback, and a snarky remark always ready even in the midst of the most gut-wrenching gunfight. He’s a military man, so we know he’s tasked with taking out the bad guys, but sometimes we’re shocked at how much fun he has doing it. He doesn’t shy away from going the extra mile when it comes to capturing his target, and he pretty much screws his way around the globe. I’m not sure why that makes him so swoon-worthy, but there you have it.
3. Sheriff Lucas Hood – Banshee
To me, Lucas may be the most endearing anti-hero because nearly every bad thing he does, he does with the intention of winning back the love of his life. After taking the fall for a crime both he and Ana committed, he survives a fifteen year prison stint only to find out Ana is now “Carrie” with a brand new, crime-free life. And kids. And a husband. Lucas accidentally (well, somewhat accidentally) falls into the job of the local sheriff and proceeds on a mission to drive the evil out of the town of Banshee, committing all sorts of heinous acts along the way. And (spoiler alert) it’s STILL not enough for him to win her back!
4. Walter White – Breaking Bad
While Walter may not be the sexiest of anti-heroes on this list, who among us can’t appreciate his motives (at least initially)? Faced with the imminent financial ruin of his family, our self-proclaimed Heisenberg takes on a life of crime and ends up nearly destroying everything he set out to protect. So much for the Happily Ever After.
5. Madeline Martha Mackenzie – Big Little Lies
Women make compelling anti-heroes, too! In the first episode of Big Little Lies, I wasn’t sure whether I liked or hated Madeline. Soon, I realized I didn’t just like her, I loved her. Her no-nonsense attitude, her tell-it-like-it-is personality, her fearless determination to say what’s on her mind and let you know exactly what she thinks of you? Sure, she’s about as flawed as they come, but she protects the people she loves and fights for what she believes in, and that’s the kind of anti-hero(ine) I can get behind.
Be sure to check out Dawn’s newest release,
BURN, out now!
Chloe Addison is on the verge of a promising career in real estate development until an explosion destroys her first major project and casts suspicion on her in an arson investigation. Her career is suddenly at risk—and possibly her life.
Firefighter Ryan Monroe wants a spot on the arson team, and getting close to Chloe might be the best way to solve his first investigation. Despite a painful past of his own, Ryan has dedicated himself to saving people, and when he realizes Chloe is in danger, she’s no exception. He just might be the perfect guy to rescue her, but their attraction could bring them both down in flames.
With an overactive imagination and a slightly twisted mind, Dawn Altieri has been scribbling stories practically since birth. When she’s not curled up on the sofa with her laptop, her latest story, a box of chocolates and a cup of tea (or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day), she can be found volunteering in the world of animal rescue. She shares her home with her husband and daughter, and a menagerie of rescued fur-babies.