Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Loveable Rogue

Since it is February with Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I’d thought I’d talk about the first fictional character I ever fell in love with.

I don’t remember when I first saw Star Wars. I’m guessing I was pretty young, but I do remember watching it again at somewhere between ages ten and thirteen, and just loving Han Solo. Can you blame me?

What a scoundrel
Han Solo epitomizes the loveable rogue. The charming, funny, handsome, only in it for the money scoundrel type that still makes your heart beat faster against your better judgment.

“Look, I ain't in this for your revolution, and I'm not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money.” Han Solo, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Some of my other favorites in this trope are Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Flynn Rider (Tangled), Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Serenity), and Sawyer (Lost). All pretty awesome characters.

They always start out morally grey as pirates, thieves, or smugglers, but with some sense of a moral code (although sometimes not much of one). But we forgive them for their unseemly behavior because we understand their motives. They are not cruel or malicious, but just in it for the money (and who doesn’t want more money) or (in Captain Jack Sparrow’s case) they are trying to get something back that was lost or stolen. And they are usually sticking it to a greater evil like, in Han’s case, the evil Empire. We don’t see them conning a little old woman out of her savings or a single mom with a couple of kids she can’t feed (okay maybe we do in Sawyer’s case; he was a little darker than most loveable rogues).

But really it is their humor and charm that wins our hearts. Oh and their rugged good looks. :)

In the end, they usually either become a full-fledged hero or end up at least doing something noble, like for Captain Jack Sparrow giving up immortality or control over the ocean to save Will’s life, or in Han’s case blowing up Darth Vader’s ship to save Luke.

I honestly think it is that transition that is so appealing. To see the guy go from self-centered to self-sacrificing. To go from scoundrel to something noble. I don’t know why, but I love seeing a guy change even though I never expect it in real life. Come on guys, it’s fantasy.

But really I think this trope may go deeper than that. I think we like to believe that there is something noble in everyone, and given the right circumstances, even the most questionable of us will rise up to the challenge when it really matters.

Every scoundrel needs a princess

“Wonderful girl. Either I'm going to kill her or I'm beginning to like her.” Han Solo, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Every great guy needs an awesome girl, and you don’t get more awesome than Princess Leia. Honestly, would Han Solo be so attractive if he hadn’t been paired with a strong, confident woman that challenges him in every way?

How can you not love a girl who takes control of her own rescue?

Han Solo: [after Leia blasts a vent] What the hell are you doing?
Princess Leia: Well somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage, fly-boy!
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Princess Leia is the opposite of Han. She is rebel leader, who is willing to sacrifice everything including her life for her cause. While he only looks out for himself (and Chewie), she is dedicated to a higher purpose.

They clash from the second they meet, and I’m sold. I really want to see these crazy kids get together.

Princess Leia: Looks like you've managed to cut off our only escape route.
Han Solo: [sarcastically] Maybe you'd like it back in your cell, your highness.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

No matter how awesome the romantic hero is, he needs to be paired with the right girl, or the whole thing will fall flat. And Princess Leia is the perfect girl for Han Solo.

Reality Bites

I have to say that in real life I don’t want a Han Solo. In real life, you can’t count on a guy changing for you. Change is hard and slow and people really only change for themselves. In other words, what you see is what you get, and I don’t really want a scoundrel, even a charming, intelligent, kick-butt one that looks like a young Harrison Ford.

In real life Han Solo would be racking up Leia’s credit cards and doling out the charm to sweet talk her when the bills come in. Good thing she’s rich. :)

But in fiction, I love, love, love those scoundrels. So if you got a story with a good one, send it my way. Seriously, I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this trope.



  1. The loveable rogue is my favorite character hands-down, too, although closely followed by the troubled soul. Both types would be far too high maintenance in real life, but on paper they're fascinating because they're unpredictable, and maybe even a little dangerous.

    Also, they're fun to write since they can do so many unexpected things that really mess things up.

  2. Han shot first! Ok. It's out of my system. Anyway,I think couples like Han and Leia work because they complement each other. One person's strength is the other's weakness and vice versa. Sometimes the martyr types like Leia need to kickback once in a while, indulge a little in a bit of selfishness and have that spa day. While Han needs a woman like Leia to help him see the bigger picture and not just think of his own neck.

  3. Susan, my thoughts exactly.

    Redux, great point. They do compliment each other, and Han did shoot first. Somehow it doesn't bother me. :)

  4. I always loved Captain Jack Sparrow. I might've been a little young for Star Wars....but I can definitely see the appeal ;).

  5. I like this trope as well. I have one such character in my current WIP. He's an airship captain, but once you learn about his childhood, it all makes sense.

    My rogue character is a foil for my main character, who is just as arrogant, but is much more straight-and-narrow.

  6. I've never written a rogue...


  7. @Kate, I love Captain Jack Sparrow too. Johnny Depp has always been one of my favorite actors, and he was just amazing.

    @Jay, Awesome. Let me know when your story is out. Like I said. I just love this trope.

    @Sheena and Sabrina-Excellent, my work here is done. :)

  8. I was always more of an Indiana Jones kind of gal myself. But I'd settle for Han Solo. Happy Valentine's Day!

  9. I was head-over-heels in love with Buck Rogers. And I'm not proud of it.

    I love the rogue, too, even though I know in real life I would just want to kick him in the shins :)


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