The Bad Boy is a classic with his devil-may-care attitude, leather jacket (usually) and street smarts. He’s charismatic and rebellious, keeping his passions smoldering just below the surface. He’s been knocked down one too many times to wear his heart on his sleeve.
The Bad Boy can also be bitter, pessimistic and volatile when his guard slips. He may even squander his talents and dreams if he starts believing what the other people say about him.
“All his life, he has been pointed out as a bad example, so he does his best to maintain that reputation. As far as he’s concerned, it is not his fault other people cannot—or will not—see the man beneath the image.”The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines
Johnny is constantly reminded that he’s “lesser than” at the summer resort. He’s not a doctor, Harvard grad or millionaire like the rest of the guests. He’s a dance instructor—and a good one at that, if anyone took a moment to actually see him. Most of the guests treat him like a product.
Johnny isn’t even surprised when people assume the worst of him. He shoulders the blame for lost wallets, misunderstandings and more. What difference would it make to his reputation? Who would vouch for him, anyways?
As it would turn out, Baby. Her faith in him surprises someone who’s come to expect the worst. Johnny’s guard falls fast when he falls in love. Being seen for who he is makes Johnny want to do and be more.
Wolfgang Bogdanow (Sense8)
Wolfgang had to grow up quick. His father was verbally and physically abusive, putting Wolfgang down at every opportunity. The only time Wolfgang fought back was when his father turned his rage onto his mother. From there on out, he becomes a street fighter and safecracker among Berlin’s criminals.
While Wolfgang seems detached and reckless, he is very invested in the safety of the few friends he has. He’s not afraid to go after the city’s crime boss when they hurt his friend Felix. He’s the Sense8 team’s tank in a fight. He’s not much of a talker, but he’ll be there when the chips are down.
Privately, Wolfgang believes that he’s just as bad and monstrous as his father. He’s hurt people, killed people. He refuses to ask for help because he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of receiving it and it takes a while for his teammates to see what lies behind his confident swagger.
Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Kingsman: A Secret Service)
Eggsy is disillusioned with the idea of military heroics. He saw where following orders got his father: blown up. A medal of valor doesn’t fix anything. In fact, it ruined everything.
He drops out of the Royal Marines training, despite his exceptional intelligence and Olympic-qualifying gymnastics skills. Eggsy is running his life into the ground, breaking the rules and stealing cars until his arrest forces him to call the man who gave him the medal of valor.
Eggsy continues to bend the rules as a Kingsman-in-training. At first, he seems determined to get kicked out. He has to decide if he wants to prove his peers right—that he’s just some worthless, low class kid who can’t cut it—or prove them wrong by learning how to play the game, dressing the part and using his skills for good.
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.
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This post was first published June 26, 2019. Last update: June 9, 2022.