We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Anti-Hero?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Throughout history, storytellers, playwrights and writers of all kinds have woven tales of terrible deeds, tragedies, courage, and conquering. In each case, the story has a main character, sometimes called a protagonist. The main character is also often referred to as the hero or heroine of the story, particularly if the character possesses a nature that is idealized or super-human in positive attributes. When the main character is deeply flawed, however, lacking in the attributes that people most often associate with heroism, he or she becomes an anti-hero.

Heroes face danger for the sake of protecting or saving others with little thought to themselves. Action movies often feature a classic hero or heroine who must risk all to beat the odds and achieve an objective that serves others as much or more than it serves the hero. In many cases, the hero volunteers through sense of duty, while at other times, he or she rises to the occasion when put in a situation that calls for action.

The anti-hero is often a reluctant hero who does not consider himself capable of accomplishing the goal. He might be selfish, addicted, corrupt, sullen, or disaffected. By the end of the journey, he typically transforms into a fuller, happier, or more complete person due to the struggles he endures. In many cases, the anti-hero dies at the end of the story, even while overcoming his faults.

Examples of classic heroes are seen all through early Westerns, embodied in actors like the late John Wayne, and include the he-man with manners and a predictable moral code. Keanu Reeves played a more modernized classic hero in Speed, a hotshot cop (Officer Jack Traven) who went after bad guy Dennis Hopper (Howard Payne) unflinchingly.

Anti-heroes are many, from Thelma and Louise, to Lt. Ellen Ripley of Alien, to Rocky Balboa of Rocky. Television also has its share, including the acerbic Dr. Gregory House from House, and the emotionally fractured Meredith of Grey’s Anatomy. Perhaps the best example is Dexter, the likeable blood-spatter expert for the Miami PD who also happens to be a serial killer ... but kills bad guys only. Here we have hero and villain rolled into one package.

The moral complexity of the anti-hero causes the audience to question the limits of its own moral integrity. This character often challenges people's willingness to extend themselves beyond comfortable boundaries to see life from a point of view that is perhaps more similar to their own in many ways than the classic hero who is beyond reproach. By delving into character, people delve into their own insecurities and hopes that, with all of their personal flaws and shortcomings, they too will be able to rise above any challenges and end victoriously.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon993817 — On Dec 16, 2015

Don't forget about the punisher. He's probably the very definition of an anti hero.

By anon356529 — On Nov 26, 2013

Sherlock is a good example.

By anon296175 — On Oct 10, 2012

Let's not forget Batman from The Dark Knight trilogy.

He's not afraid to beat people down for interrogation like he did with The Joker in The Dark Knight.

By anon174679 — On May 11, 2011

The God Loki from Norse mythology, and the movie Thor.

By anon165137 — On Apr 03, 2011

Came from Drakengard is an Anti-Hero, I believe.

By anon164729 — On Apr 02, 2011

Shadow the Hedgehog, Venom from Spider Man, even Homer Simpson are all antiheroes.

By anon162992 — On Mar 25, 2011

Deadpool from the Marvel World is also portrayed as an anti-hero.

By anon122855 — On Oct 29, 2010

There are some real basic mistakes in this article and since the hero myth is the foundation for much of human culture you should probably try to understand the real story if you hope to understand life.

To begin with, the hero takes the hit for the sake of others. He doesn't "win". He doesn't get rich and he doesn't end up happy.

I would suggest studying the work of Joseph Campbell. In particular i recommend his ground breaking book "The Hero With A thousand Faces".

By anon113849 — On Sep 26, 2010

bender from futurama is probably the best antihero!

By anon84252 — On May 14, 2010

yeah hancock is an anti-hero, totally.

By anon70201 — On Mar 12, 2010

andrew pirrung is a major anti- hero

By anon68316 — On Mar 02, 2010

Are there any more anti heroes?i need some for school and most of them i don't know

please help!

By Rosabeth — On Jun 04, 2009

Except Gregory House would never volunteer out of a sense of 'duty'; maybe out of guilt.

By anon33313 — On Jun 04, 2009

Anti-hero has another meaning. It could refer to someone with no redeeming virtue. I always tried to find something good about every patient that I treated. I thought that I could do a better job for them (although I tried to do the very best that I could for everyone) if I could find something about them that I could relate to positively. I can only recall two men from the fifty-one years that I was an active doctor about whom I could not find a single redeeming feature. One of them was faithful even after death-his family would not permit an autopsy. I was hoping to learn something from his case. So I got absolutely no reward for the three months of care I gave him in the hospital except for the knowledge that I had done my duty.

Donald W. Bales, M.D. retired internist

By anon33304 — On Jun 04, 2009

Excellent summary of Anti hero's characteristics and role. I've never seen a better one.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.