When people talk about the attraction of the bad boy, I picture a guy in bomber jacket that breaks the rules, distrusts authority, and behaves with reckless arrogance. Not my thing at all. No, my attraction has always been for the bad guy. Yes, you read that right—the bad guy, the villain, or rather the well motivated guy who is lumped in with the villains by virtue of association or his own nature. This is a problem for me, because I also love happy endings and these guys are doomed to end badly. They typically, by virtue of who they are, cannot be allowed to have a happy ending. They are, at their core, a threat to all good folk.
I ❤ Todd the Wraith
What got me thinking about this was Stargate Atlantis. I posted recently that I’d gone back to watch SA from the beginning. I’m very much enjoying it, even though I have yet to get answers to many of my questions. But what I realized is that I’ve started looking forward to episodes that feature one of my new bad guy infatuations—Todd the Wraith. Todd is a good example of the too-dangerous, but well motivated bad guy. All Wraith feed from humans. There is no getting around it. No matter how many good things Todd does he can never be a good guy because he has to kill humans to survive.
In the episode where his character was introduced (and in most every episode thereafter) he is shown in a positive light—doing at least a little good despite his bad nature. Often, when he is forced to spend time with the Atlantis crew he is shown looking weak and strung out, probably to remind us that if he doesn’t feed he will starve to death. Not a good way to die.
Vampires in Romance Novels
The Wraith are a lot like the traditional vampires, back before romance novels figured out that they could be romantic leads if they didn’t have to kill to live. Many of those early authors did a good job of keeping the heroes dark and scary. The big risk in those books was that the heroes could easily became too angsty and whiney. I used to read vampire urban fantasty and romance a lot, but in this most recent paranormal romance explosion I haven’t found as many vamps to fill my need for loveable bad guys. I think when we take the bad guy out of the vamps we run the risk of turning them into bad boys. The guy that wears leather and takes out the bad guys with style, but would sacrifice his own life to save a kitten. I know this has its appeal, but it sometimes comes up short for me. I’m a fan of Christine Feehan. Her classic Carpathians dance along that edge, but still appeal to me. Of course, my favorite of her heroes is Jacques in Dark Desire (which I reccomended earlier this year in another discussion of vamps). He is the one who is poisoned and buried alive for years and is mostly crazed when the heroine finds him. His dangerous bad side is on full display and I love it.
I’ve got two questions for you today. First, what do you think about bad guys vs bad boy—which do you prefer? And do you have any paranormal or SciFi romance recommendations for me, featuring bad guys that stay true to their natures, but for good reason refrain from doing truly unforgivable things?
18 thoughts on “Love for bad boys run amuck?”
Charlie, you echo my thoughts as well. I’d rather prefer bad guys, my favorite being Roy Batty of Blade Runner fame (next to only Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader). I love the complexity of them as well as the sense of relation where you see their motivation, even though they aren’t noble at what they do! It makes them interesting characters.
I stepped away from the recent paranormal romances featuring vampires because I like a vampire who stays true to himself. My fave recent one being Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties (LOVE that show and character) who is a vampire and makes no excuses for him being what he is, although he tries to live with it (and can be romantic at the same time ;-))
Charlie, have you tried my Ashen Twilight series yet? If not, let me know and I can get you some copies of the first 2 books (I’m currently writing the third and last in the series as we speak). I like vampires who keep their edge and lifestyle even when they settle with a mate and Kyle Schmid’s Henry Fitzroy was a big inspiration for my vampire hero character.
Some others that I’ve enjoyed reading are David L Summers’ Vampires of the Scarlet Order and Raven Dane’s Blood Tears. More on the fantasy/urban fantasy end though. 🙂
I think your right on target on two very important keys – motivation and complexity.
Thanks for the reccomendations! I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned. I’ll have to add them to my TBR list.
I have a confession — I have a huge crush on Todd the Wraith. Which is completely creepy, I know. I love all characters that Christopher Heyerdahl brings to life. Before I had watched any Stargate whatsoever, I caught half an episode with Todd in it. So I really didn’t get at first that they devour humans to survive. I was trying to watch it while very distracted. Beach vacation from hell!
Anyway, while I love the Wraith, I’m not into vampires. I should be, but I’m not. Maybe it’s the creepy alien thing versus the was-human-in-the-past thing? I don’t know.
Maybe we can start a Todd fan club! 😉 With the many versions of vampires out there, it can be a lot of work to hunt out the ones that work for you.
The bad guy in any story is what makes the good guy. Bad guys are just as important as good guy because he’s the reason the good guy needs to fight. So, enjoy those bad guys and cheer for them if you need to. It makes the story all the more interesting.
Very true. About the worst thing you can do to a hero is give him a weak villian.
i LOVE Todd the Wraith! Everytime he turns up you know somwething awesome is going to go down. plus, his voice 😀 😀
I quite like the bad guy working with the good guys trope. Zarek in kenyon’s Dance with the Devil is almost a bad guy int he way he acts but he’s meant to be a good guy which makes him all the more compelling
I love Zarek! Maybe my favorite Dark Hunter.
If it’s bad guy over bad boy, I’ll take the guy any day. I’m middle-aged and therefore less sympathetic to boyish tendencies. LOL
The contrast that comes to mind (once again belying my age) is Angel vs Spike. Angel always struck me as a little emo, whereas Spike was just evil. Sooo much more interesting. LOL Must be why Damon is so popular on Vampire Diaries (and can we admit he’s also simply better looking?). Damon is evil. Poor Stephen almost comes across as boring…
>Sooo much more interesting. <
Love it! And so true.
Interesting. I never really compared bad boy vs. bad guy. I like guys, like “Dean” on Supernatural, that are all “tough guy” on the outside, but all heart on the inside. Cuz when you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the sweet, caring person he tries to hide under his rough exterior, it melts your heart 🙂
Embarrassed to admit I’ve never watched Supernatural. Honestly, I live under a rock.
Don’t feel bad, I actually only started watching it a few months ago! I bought the first two seasons on dvd. I’m about halfway through the 2nd and I’m really into it. It’s hard catching up on a show that’s already six seasons in, though. You have to try your hardest not to read any spoilers! =P
I actually miss the days when vampires were evil. Sexy, but evil. Crazy, huh? I love bad guys – not evil serial killer-types, but bad guys who are conflicted. Don’t know exactly how to describe what I like. I do know that I loved James Dean as a bad boy and Brad Pitt as a bad boy. Never liked Marlon Brando though.
Not crazy – my kindred spirit! 😉
Any guy who’d risk his life to save a kitten is totally worth it in my book! *laugh*
Mmm. Interesting one. I tend to like the bad guys regardless, not as role models, but because well done bad guys are just more interesting than good guy characters.
In Paradise Lost, the best characters are the demons. They’re just more interesting. My wife and I have just been watching every episode of Smallville (which we never saw aired)because we wanted to see Lex Luthor’s hjourney to the dark side, not Clark Kent’s journey to superman.
On the otherhand, I’m a bit sick of the sexxy-femme-noir villainesse. Boring and overdone. Having said that, I’ve yet to see a really good well intentioned female villain in the same mold as Todd (unless their tied to an angsty male counterpart).
My favorite characters are bad guys who think they are doing the right thing, even when its clearly nuts.
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