Why So Angry, Hero?

Red from Angry Birds

Red from Angry Birds

I like writing angry characters.  Something about having a hero unleash their rage makes me put a lot more into a scene.  Yeah, I’m probably angry a lot myself, which is why I connect to this emotion more than others.  Then again, a lot can happen when somebody loses their temper.  They can make a mistake or defeat an obstacle.  Anger isn’t always a bad thing as long as you use it correctly.  I mean, it isn’t too far off from stubborn defiance and determination.

An angry hero isn’t very unusual because this tends to be the mode that most anti-heroes fall into.  Hulk, Punisher, Wolverine, Guy Gardner, Red (above), and so many others take their strength from losing their cool.  This makes it difficult for them to work within groups unless they’re the leaders or the dynamic is designed to accommodate them.  It really is hard to depend on a hero that might snap and go charging into a fight without thinking.  This action tends to force the others into a situation that they might have been trying to avoid.  For example, the plan is to sneak into the enemy base and make off with the new doomsday device.  Instead, the angry hero overhears two guards making fun of his mother and now you’re battling through an army of goons.  Worst part is that the berserker is rarely apologetic about their outbursts.

Most times this type of character is used to create friction among the other heroes.  They get along with others to a point, but they maintain a standoffish aura to make sure people know that they’re ticking time bombs.  It makes for entertaining tension, but I will admit that it gets old.  Most characters can’t maintain the rage-a-holic role for a full adventure and this gets even trickier if you’re doing comics, which is where they tend to be more common.  Sure, it’s fun to have them snap at others or create problems because their fists were feeling twitchy.  It really helps to bring a blossoming group together and force them to mature.  We’ve all had to figure out a way to deal with someone that works off one of the more troublesome emotions.  Heck, I’m sure most of us have been that someone at some point in our lives.  The thing is that, much like in real life, tension caused by a single person can get old and frustrating after a while.

Well, that’s another purpose for the angry hero.  I think being temperamental and overreacting to situations is fairly common.  Many people get angry about what is happening in their lives, so a hero that functions off this emotion can draw them into the story.  That person is reacting like I want to or have reacted.  More importantly, we get to see if they can overcome their rage, which can be self-destructive if allowed to go on for too long.  For example, I’ve met people who were always angry, but read a Wolverine comic where he was meditating, so they tried it for themselves.  This might be putting a lot on the shoulders of the character, but fictional heroes can be looked up to by the readers.  Them developing beyond their anger can give hope to readers that feel like they’re in the same situation.  On the other end of the spectrum, you can demonstrate what happens if you stay angry for too long.

In my own stories, the poster girl for anger is Nyx.  She began with a really short fuse that made her a danger to others.  She would even dive into fights without thinking and get herself injured.  Over time, she’s mellowed to a point where she gets angry for good reason and controls it.  Honestly, I think Nyx has spent so much time around Timoran that she’s inadvertently learned the barbarian way of using a primal rage as a weapon.  Although the truth is that she found a reason to be happy and naturally settled down into a more reasonable hero.  An evolution can be subtle like this where even the author wakes up one day to realize their berserker isn’t going wild at the drop of a hat any more.  It’s probably better this way, but that’s just me.  An intervention or severe beating can get the job done too.

Have you ever written an angry hero?  Do you have one that you remember or is a favorite?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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52 Responses to Why So Angry, Hero?

  1. Karen says:

    Great post, Charles! I really cannot remember having ever written an angry hero. My bad. 😦
    There will definitely be one in an upcoming story. Thank you for this reminder!

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  2. This is a good character arc for the angry hero. They change for better or worse. Either way it serves as an example. Good post.

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  3. Sue Vincent says:

    Thomas Covenant… the angry anti-hero… a perfect characterisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great Blog! My hero does get frustrated at times but I like the angry idea.

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  5. twixie13 says:

    Of any that already exist, I tend to gravitate toward Wolverine. It may be the berserker rage, it might be the healing factor…but I’ve always found him to be awesome. With my own writing, the first to come to mind is Travis. He’s not usually outwardly angry, but it’s pretty much always there under the surface. He had started out in an abusive home. Then for the next decade or so, things seemed to turn around…and then various situations have cropped up to piss him off and he can definitely hold a grudge. I’m not sure if I’d characterize him as being an angry hero (or anti-hero), but he does have that streak to him.

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    • Wolverine may have been the first one I was exposed to. Either him or Punisher. I think I got a little bored with Wolverine when it started looking like his healing factor was as strong or weak as it needed to be. Took a spear through the gut and kept on walking without a care. Bopped on the head with a brick and he’s out? Didn’t really add up too well.

      Internal anger is an interesting twist on the theme. The character is angry, but it never comes out like a rage. It can still be a driving factor in some fashion. Makes sense since everybody has their own way to handle anger. Some lash out and others bottle it.

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  6. Thanks Charles.. I think having been brought up that anger tantrums were not allowed It was a while before I recognised the force of real anger.. I do get angry sometimes but I think my characters tend to have a controlled approach to it and then murder the person instead! Might have to work on that.. I have put in the blogger daily coming out later…Sally

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  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 6th February 2017 – Welsh chapels, Interviews, Celebrating books and Angry Bird. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  8. Tina Frisco says:

    Like Nyx, the protagonist in my new novel readily expresses anger (actually, all emotions!) and swears with abandon. One of the lessons she had to learn was how to channel the anger so it worked for and not against her when in battle. However, she’s also a black-belt martial artist and does know how to exercise self-control. Throughout the novel, she slowly evolved into a formidable hero. I love writing the occasional effusive scene; it not only ignites the plot and allows for some unexpected twists, but also gives me the freedom to express just about anything. Great post, Charles. Really enjoyed 🙂

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    • Thanks. I used to have cursing in my Windemere books, but figured it was better to get rid of the heavy ones. So Nyx says idiot and moron among the other mild ones. It’s funny how a long series can defuse an angry hero even without the author noticing. At some point, Nyx wasn’t getting upset as easily. She still unleashed the rage in situations that one could understand like being threatening or friends getting hurt. Did you find adding the martial arts background helped with the tempering?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Good post. I have not written an angry hero but understand how surprising it must be for an author to see the hero get mellow over time.

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  10. Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Charles Yallowitz talks to us about angry heroes – the challenges and the benefits. An interesting read!

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  11. This is an interesting post, Charles – I can identify!

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  12. I sure did for a spell and still do once in a while. Those characters are great for working off steam. 😛 😀 Great post, Charles.

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  13. Rachel says:

    Anger is a strong emotion and a great motivation. I don’t think I’ve ever really written an angry character before, but I have had ideas for it.

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  14. Conflict is essential in a good story, and that’s bound to evoke a certain amount of anger in the characters. Anger can be fun, too – I come out with some of my best one-liners when I’m angry, and this goes for my characters, too!

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  15. Back in the day, I remember complaints when X-men writers started to mellow Wolverine a bit. He was fond of Kitty, back when she was 13, and once called her Punkin. Oh, the letters Marvel got!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not surprised. He was one of the earlier anti-heroes of comic books, so a mellowing was probably unexpected and feared. I remember one of the earlier writers for the X-Men saying the fun of Wolverine was that you never knew when he’d go berserk.

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