In fiction, an antihero[1] (sometimes antiheroine as the feminine) is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character is contrary to that of the archetypal hero, yet typically retains many heroic qualities.[citation needed]

The term dates to 1714,[2] although literary criticism identifies the term in earlier literature.[3] In contrast, an antivillain is considered to be an antagonist who, in contrast to the archetypal villain, elicits considerable sympathy or admiration.[citation needed]


There is no definitive moment when the antihero came into existence as a literary trope. The antihero has evolved over time, changing as society's conceptions of the hero changed, from the Elizabethan times of Faust and William Shakespeare's Falstaff, to the darker-themed Victorian literature of the 19th century, such as John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, written in the mid-18th century, or as a timid, passive, indecisive man that contrasts sharply with other Greek heroes[4] to Philip Meadows Taylor's Confessions of a Thug. The Byronic hero also sets a literary precedent for the modern concept of antiheroism.

Distinction from unlikely heroesEdit

The traditional hero type is classically depicted to possess an image that is larger than life. They are generally expected to be more physically attractive, stronger, braver, more clever or charismatic than the average everyman. Unlikely heroes are simply characters who may not be conspicuously flawed, but simply ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

Unlike traditional heroes, antiheroes are not as fabulous as the traditional ones. They are generally corrupt, oppressive, etc. They are not villains but not necessarily heroes. They may do bad things but are not evil. They usually fight villains, but not for the reason of justice, or if it is for the cause of justice will take an "ends justify the means" stance. Their actions are motivated by their own personal desires, such as revenge. For example, an antihero may steal, vandalize, and perform other "bad" acts but may do so for a good cause.

"O Malandro"Edit

A typical kind of Brazilian stock character who is often portrayed as a trickster who lies, steals, and has little qualms about manipulating even his best friends. Despite this rather negative and villainous attitude, the malandro is often depicted as a hero because, in contrast to his methods, he does not use his cunningness for true harm and malice. Rather, he uses it to prevail against the adversity that surrounds the character, and his actions may actually have positive effects on the others, even if unintended, thus making him a sort of Lovable rogue.

See alsoEdit


  1. Spelled as a single word, without hyphen, per Merriam-Webster Online; Unabridged (v 1.1), based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006; and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000
  2. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, 1994, p. 51, and Merriam-Webster Online
  3. Specifically, Don Quixote in 1605: Carson Newman College Literary Terms and Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. Haggar, Daley (1996). "Review of Infinite Jest". Harvard Advocate. 


External linksEdit

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