Tears of a Battered Hero

Sakura from Naruto

Symbol of courage
Expected to bend
Yet never break
Ignoring the human side
That all heroes should possess
A limit has been reached
Tears flow
Down cheeks marred with dirt
And blood friend and foe
A heroic spirit crumbles
Pushing on ahead
The adventure must continue
Death is considered
Both a relief and a fear
How much more to sacrifice?
Many can connect
To a hero that carries on
Wounded on the inside
Yet unable to stop
Because life refuses to slow down

I was originally going to do a long post about writing a ‘sad’ character, but it wasn’t coming out well.  Instead, this poem came to mind.  It’s a challenge to write a hero who isn’t full of positive energy and optimism.  You don’t want to bring the reader down, but you need to retain a level of depression even with the character moving forward.  The funny thing is that while we don’t like seeing characters like this, it’s a very common mentality in reality.  How often have we or someone we known continued pushing forward after a great loss instead of letting it drag us down completely?  It’s never an immediate leap back to being positive, so our fictional heroes shouldn’t be able to recover that quickly either.  With Kira Grasdon, she might even be one of the people who never gets back to her original level of happiness.  Hate to say it, but there are those out there who simply can’t emotionally stand fully erect any more.  (Yeah, I’m probably talking about myself there.)

What do you think about heroes who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or have become negative due to life events?

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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25 Responses to Tears of a Battered Hero

  1. paigeaddams says:

    Honestly, I really love these kinds of heroes and heroines. It makes them more real to me, and much more relatable too. It can be fun to lose yourself in a story about cheery, bubbly characters too, don’t get me wrong, but my heart is with the “flawed”/”darker” ones. The ones who have skeletons in the closet, and maybe past life experiences have made them cold or untrusting or maybe even made them into what they hated to begin with. I love them because their struggles with pain, depression, and anxiety can give them so much room to grow and overcome. Maybe it leads them to acceptance of themselves, learning to love themselves or others, or forgiveness. I feel like this makes anything else going on in the story around them richer too.

    Lol, I also have a serious soft spot for sympathetic bad guys, which generally gets my heart broken at some point. Like Loki or Jaime Lannister. Lol, Kylo Ren has already broken my heart, twice now, damn him.


    • I think I’m one of the few who isn’t big on Loki. It is interesting how people gravitate more to the darker and broken characters when adults. We tend to see the happy ones more in children stories. That or they get brutalized and transformed into the dark ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paigeaddams says:

        You know, I never thought about it like that, but it’s true! I think I did gravitate more towards the cheery characters when I was younger, lol.

        And whaaaaat?! You don’t like Loki?! O.O Lol, he was super annoying at first, but he really grew on me in the last couple films. I haven’t read the comics though, so there may be a lot I don’t know that would change my mind if I did.


      • I should probably point out that I haven’t seen a Marvel movie since Ant-Man. I guess I always figured Loki had a villain angle. That and he felt less interesting to me when he was being a good guy. The comics were closer to the original mythological version.

        Maybe we’ll go back to cheerier characters one day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paigeaddams says:

        Lol, maybe! Does it count if I say I like super cheery sidekicks who annoy the broody main characters? XD


      • Those can be fun. Although, they can get annoying after a while. Seems to be real bad in some anime.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s a good way to make characters relatable. Sometimes things get better, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes people heal completely, and sometimes they don’t. That’s how it works in real life, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen in fiction too. In fact, it’s nice if it happens that way in fiction sometimes, because it potentially shows readers that they aren’t alone in having those feelings and struggles.


  3. I think heroes with problems can be comforting to readers with the same problems. To be able to overcome the problem and be heroic is the stuff of inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. L. Marie says:

    The poem is perfect! I’m glad you went with you, Charles.

    Like others, I can relate to heroes who don’t have it all together, but go on despite the blows life has dealt them. I think of a damaged hero like Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. I won’t say exactly what he did, because that would be a major spoiler. But he was in a very dark place. Yet he’s one of the best characters in literature.

    I think that’s why I find Lord of the Rings so inspiring. I can think of scenes like Aragorn riding out, despite being totally outnumbered at Helm’s Deep. I think of the battle at the black gate of Mordor, where the heroes were fairly certain they were all going to die. But they charged anyway.


    • Tolkien seemed to set a standard for fantasy underdogs. The emotional journey of Frodo is definitely a good example. He starts off with hope and ends up falling into darkness. It gets to the point where he can’t finish the job. Yet, he does manage to come out of it after the adventure is done. Makes me think about teamwork that includes someone who is ‘dark’.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the broken heroes. I may actually prefer them, but there is room for some that are more upbeat. It’s all in the delivery I suppose.


  6. Although certainly a “down” hero would be realistic, I think you’re right that the readers would want this to be either the starting point, from which the character heals and grow stronger, or the ending point, where the character succeeds but is forever marked by the experience. In one of my games, there was a very down ex-paladin NPC who recovered some of his faith after mentoring a player’s character. That was very rewarding to play. It would have been frustrating if the NPC had never changed from his starting point.

    I love that you’re following some of your survivors in a way that isn’t a direct sequel.


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