The Swashbuckler is a man of action. His life is full of excitement, opportunity, and half-cocked plans. He’s fearless, daring, and always chasing the next adventure.
This hero doesn’t just find himself in dangerous situations – he launches into them. Does Ethan Hunt need to climb the Burj Khalifa or hang off a plan during takeoff? Maybe not, but that won’t stop him!
The Swashbuckler is restless. He lives for the thrill. This isn’t the hero you find sitting behind the desk (unless they have an outlet, like Professor Indiana Jones and his treasure-hunting side hustle.)
Swashbucklers are explorers, daredevils, pirates, treasure hunters and semi-honorable guns for hire. They thrive in situations where they need to think on their feet, stay cool under pressure, have a witty comeback, and use their physical skills to overcome obstacles.
By default, this hero may not stick around when the going gets tough. He’s not here for deep and mushy feelings or charity work. But if he finds a risk worth taking, the Swashbuckler will use all his skills and savvy to win the girl and defeat the competition with pizazz.
This archetype may seem old-fashioned (after all, who carries a sword these days?), but they haven’t gone out of style. Check out these Swashbucklers below:
Rick O’Connell (The Mummy)
Okay, I’ve talked a lot about my love for The Mummy on this blog. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Rick and Evie are the Standard for Swashbuckler/Librarian romances.
Rick is an Adventurer™ He’s got the gun holsters, the bandana, the insane amount of ammo, unnecessary arm bracers and a colorful history. American gunslinger, desert guide, mercenary, treasure hunter – Rick lives his life one day at a time and he needs to be out there in the field improvising his way out of near-death situations to be happy. He’s used to the absurd and unusual in life, which means he’s also exactly the kind of person that yells back in the face of an undead pharaoh.
Rick is spontaneous and daring. He seizes opportunities when he sees them (including an impromptu kiss from behind bars before he’s sent to the gallows) and is ready to try just about any plan to get from Point A to Point B. It’s one of the things that draws him to Evie. He may not put any stock in old scrolls and legends, but when the bookish Egyptologist starts finding clues and solving puzzles to keep them alive, he realizes she might be a partner worth having at his side for the next adventure.
Alejandro Murrieta/de la Vega (The Mask of Zorro)
Alejandro started out as a thief with quick hands and a quick-footed approach to life. As a child, he saved the masked swordsman Zorro by distracting the soldiers in a fight. When Zorro (AKA Diego de la Vega) returns twenty years later, he takes the drunken Alejandro on as an apprentice.
Alejandro isn’t convinced he’ll be able to fix all corruption in California, but he agrees to train under de la Vega and get revenge on the captain who killed his brother, Joaquin. He wants to learn how to fight, how to think, and how to be a true swashbuckler.
Zorro may be a vigilante out to avenge the misdeeds of the dons, but he still manages to have fun. He makes fools of the men chasing him down, hams it up in his disguise as a nobleman, and always finds the time to flirt with his enemy’s (but actually his mentor’s) fiery daughter, Elena.
Zorro is a folk hero for the peasants and he gives them a good show, boosting their morale while he serves justice to crooked officials.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Lara Croft is an heiress, a genius, and a survivor. She’s like Indiana Jones, but more of a Batman than a professor. She may be a heroine, but this tomb raider is definitely a Swashbuckler.
Lara can’t sit back in her mansion and wait for answers. She needs to be out there in the action, scrambling through scorpion infested caves in foreign lands while evading booby traps, bullets and mystical cult leaders. She pushes herself to learn any skill that will help her achieve her mission, from bow hunting to parkour and computer programming.
Could she use her fortune to hire someone to do all this for her? Of course! But why would she?
Lara is a woman of action and she loves the thrill of achieving the impossible. She sees adventures and riches where her partners only see a high chance of death. She’s a treasure hunting heroine through and through, and she’s got the franchise to prove it.
*This series is based on The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders.
Want to find more types of characters? Follow my Hero & Heroine Archetype series.