Why do we love the tragic characters? Not the nice ones, not the perfect ones, not the pure ones, we love the mean ones, the sinners, the hopeless ones. Those are the characters we yell at, cry with, secretly root for, and laugh with. Those are our favorite characters. Why though?
Is it because they are gorgeous, because they are brilliant, because they scare us, because they impress us, because they intrigue us? Why? Why do we love these crazy, sometimes psychotic, frustrating, demising characters? Why? We see ourselves and the ones we love in them. We relate to them. We aren’t giving up on ourselves or that annoying older sister or lazy, troubled little brother, so why should we give up on them?
Friday Night Lights had plenty of dynamic, troubled characters. They had underdogs like Tyra and Mindy, perfects like Julie and Landry, beauties like Lyla, fighters like Tami and Becky, and many more who we adored and rooted for. But who was that one character we loved despite every time he ran away, every time he screwed someone over, or how many times an episode he got plastered? Tim Riggins. That boy could never do anything to make us hate him. Maybe it was his shirtless scenes, or his protectiveness of Julie and Becky, or his friendship with Jason that made us keep him around, we don’t know. But we do know we always saw how hard he fought for a better life for himself and his friends, how much and deeply he really did care for everyone, and his selflessness when he went to prisoner for his brother. He was a drunk, a cheater, and an escapee, but he was Tim Riggins, the heart and soul and embodiment of a Southern boy who just loved his football, his women, his country, his family, and his land. He was a Southern boy with heart, that’s why we loved him.
LOST had the kindest millionaire you could ever meet, the hottest and kindest doctor imaginable, the most lovable and little boyish rock star, and a beautiful sweet mother-to-be. But who did we always come back to see? Sawyer. He was the mean, rude, difficult, cheating, gun-slinging, dirty mouth con-artist. Did we love him for his shirtless scenes, his fabulous nicknames, and unforgettable one-liners? Probably. But we rooted for him because we saw the hurt little boy inside of him that just wanted justice for his mom and dad. We saw a little, hurt boy who wanted closure and love. We saw a man still struggling for those things. And we saw that boy try to show and receive love a little with Kate, but she was just another little girl looking for love and justice in a criminal’s grown-up body. We saw him changing and we kept hoping and praying it would stick, and then, then he got left behind on the island while his friends when off to happy, happy land. The good people got off, and we were upset our favorite criminal was left behind. There is something so poetic about all that. And we thought he was lost forever. But Juliette happened. She became the beauty, and stability, and happiness he needed in his life. This hardened hot criminal became this gorgeous, loyal, kind, responsible, amazing sheriff we all knew he could be, and we loved him. We loved him because he showed us a person could really change, all they needed was just someone to love and believe in them the right way.
The Vampire Diaries has compassionate victims, lost teenagers, bubbly cheerleaders, and concerned best friends, and stone-cold killers. And we love the killers, case in point, Damon and Klaus. We watch in horror as they kill anyone and everyone, pray they don’t kill off our favorite people, cry and yell when they do, and swear to hate them forever. Then, when the girls they love, Elena and Caroline, walk in the room we pray and plead that the girls will forgive them and love them. Why? They don’t deserve love. They are brutally honest, hurt those closest to them, and kill off anyone who gets on their nerves. But then you realize why. Damon does it because he loves Elena, and kills to protect her from anyone who tries to or he thinks will hurt her. And Klaus, well Klaus was rejected and doesn’t think anyone could ever love him, so he lives in bitterness and tries as hard as he can, not to feel. They are both hurt and alone and struggling, that’s why we love them. We just want someone to love us too. We don’t kill people to achieve that though, we just starve ourselves, pay way too much for new clothes, and fake nice.
We love these tragic characters because we are all tragic in our own way. Whether you are lonely, or broken, or a screw-up, or whatever you are, there is definitely a character out there for you to relate to and root for.
Find your villain and cheer away!