Discussion: Toxic and Abusive MCs

Can a MC be a bad person and still well written? Does a MC need to be morally good?
So over the past few months in quarantine I’ve started watching and reading lots of media (mostly anime/manga lol). And it seems that in these shows/movies, the most popular and fan favourite characters aren’t always the most morally correct? I realized that in lots of popular series, there’s lots of MCs who do very morally grey/downright even things, yet these shows are often very highly acclaimed.

Example
  • Attack on Titan - In season 4 the protagonist brutally murders billions of innocent people
  • Death Note - MC kills thousands of people including his friends/girlfriend/family and basically treats his girlfriend the same way all these toxic episode LIs do
  • Breaking Bad- MC is a drug dealer and mass murderer and the show is one of best rated tv series of all time
  • The Godfather - The story revolves around a group of mafia members and the movie was the highest grossing of it’s time
  • You - MC is an obsessive stalker and murderer
  • Hunter x Hunter - One of the most popular characters is a literal pedophile and is attracted to 12 year old boys and flashes them naked
  • Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile - The LI is a serial killer
  • The Wolf of Wall Street - The MC scams millions of dollars out of people and is a fckboy who is addicted to sex and money
  • Hannibal - As you can tell from the title, the MC is a cannibal
  • Game of Thrones - Most of the main characters do messed up stuff, including but not limited to murder, incest, rape, torture etc…

This inspired me to start writing a story where the main character wasn’t necessarily a good person, but I realize that it may be considered problematic. For example, lots of mafia and bad boy stories have come under fire for romanticizing illegal activity and toxic relationships. I was wondering if there was an episode story similar to the ones listed above, would that story be considered problematic? I want to hear your opinions on this.

Does the MC have to be a good person? Are they allowed to do immoral things as long as it isn’t romanticized?

What is the difference between romanticizing and depicting?

If a MC were to commit murder/deal drugs/do generally messup up stuff, what could the writer do to not romanticize these things?

Are well written characters and morally good characters mutually exclusive?

Are there any good episodes stories with evil MCs?

At what point does a corrupt character become totally irredeemable?

What’s the difference between an anti-hero and an asshole?

Let’s just say that the episode equivalent of The Godfather was written and got really popular. Would it be considered controversial the way Chain Reaction is?

Would you prefer a story with a complex, well written evil MC, or a story with a good, but boring MC (assuming that both stories are the same in quality)?

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Does the MC have to be a good person? Are they allowed to do immoral things as long as it isn’t romanticized?: Of course. I have a story where the MC is a drug addict, and mad at his dead sister because, in his mind, she was being selfish.

What is the difference between romanticizing and depicting?: Showing it positively, or showing it, and explaining the issues associated.

If a MC were to commit murder/deal drugs/do generally mess up up stuff, what could the writer do to not romanticize these things?: Again, my character does drugs. To not romanticize it, I show the effects it has on people. How they may make you happy for a little bit, but it does cause damage.

Are well written characters and morally good characters mutually exclusive?: I hope not… My character is (hopefully) well-written after I worked on him for over a year, Once again, not a great person right now.

Are there any good episodes stories with evil MCs?: Not that I can think of…

At what point does a corrupt character become totally irredeemable?: Pulling others down with them, saying it’s fun, acting like anything they do is zero (no consequences) or one hundred (jail).

What’s the difference between an anti-hero and an asshole?: So, Joe (YOU/Hidden Bodies) is an anti-hero. He’s done horrible, irredeemable things, but you se what he’s thinking while he’s going through it, and when you finish HB, the first thing you do is look up when the next book is coming out because JOE CAN’T STAY IN JAIL. Then, let’s go SUPER extreme, Ted Bundy. He did it for pleasure. In Joe’s sense, he almost had a reason. Ted never did.

How is a story like The Godfather different from a story like Loco Amor or Chain Reaction?: Dunno. Haven’t seen/read any of them.

Would you prefer a story with a complex, well written evil MC, or a story with a good, but boring MC (assuming that both stories are the same in quality)?: Well written evil MC.

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Ah, shit.

Didn’t see that you’d used Joe in the examples…

My point still stands.

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Does the MC have to be a good person? Are they allowed to do immoral things as long as it isn’t romanticized?
Being a good person is very subjective. A lot of the times the MC isn’t seen as a bad person because they manage to justify their actions so sometimes people won’t even see it as bad until they’re in someone else’s perspective. But no, of course they don’t have to be a good person, it’s all perception.

What is the difference between romanticizing and depicting?
Romanticizing toxicity includes the glorification of these traits, such as saying threatening someone or breaking something is a “turn on” or “attractive”, depicting is just showing these flaws without justification for bad behavior

If a MC were to commit murder/deal drugs/do generally messup up stuff, what could the writer do to not romanticize these things?
Don’t say it’s attractive, or admirable of them to commit such heinous acts.

Are well written characters and morally good characters mutually exclusive?
Absolutely not. When a writer can portray a flawed character with lack of morals or disoriented morals it’s incredible. It shows what it’s like to be in the head of someone who thinks so differently from whats considered normal.

Are there any good episodes stories with evil MCs?
Honestly, not that I know of. I would say my own story Greed Queen simply because the MC has a very subjective/corrupt sense of good and bad, as well as how far to take “for the greater good.” acts, not knowing where to draw the line at sacrifices and selfishness.,( I mean I’d like to think it’s pretty good but I may be a bit bias lol)

At what point does a corrupt character become totally irredeemable?
It all depends. Again good and bad is very subjective. A lot of characters realistically don’t do something if they see something wrong with it or if it bothers them.

What’s the difference between an anti-hero and an asshole?
A protagonist usually has a vital role in a story in order to create conflict to the plot and given evil character traits, whereas an asshole is usually not seen as a villain, more so as just “misunderstood” and “interesting” without giving a whole lot of plot conflict as much as abusive problems to the MC

How is a story like The Godfather different from a story like Loco Amor or Chain Reaction?
Never seen these :grimacing:

Would you prefer a story with a complex, well written evil MC, or a story with a good, but boring MC (assuming that both stories are the same in quality)?
Oh easily a villain complex. That’s the thing with MC’s: essentially they are the most important person to the story. If you have a boring MC why would anyone want to follow them around the whole story?

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Well, in Dirty Sassy Teenagers, the MC is Bella Ellingston (Who is queen by the way) and she’s one of the rudest most selfish people ever. I mean at the end she gets a lot nicer, so theres character progression, but all Mc’s don’t need to be angels.

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Does the MC have to be a good person? Are they allowed to do immoral things as long as it isn’t romanticized? I find morally grey characters interesting if they are well developed.

What is the difference between romanticizing and depicting?
Read: https://justawritingaid.tumblr.com/post/171144162833/hey-i-am-currently-writing-a-book-that-focuses-on
Before this : https://heywriters.tumblr.com/post/182110755293/whats-the-difference-between-depicting-something
If a MC were to commit murder/deal drugs/do generally messup up stuff, what could the writer do to not romanticize these things?
The links above will help with this question.
Are well written characters and morally good characters mutually exclusive?
No, imo, I think a morally good character and a well-written character can be the same thing in regards to a character who does ‘immoral’ things.
Are there any good episodes stories with evil MCs?
Secrets from Hell by @Nessya is a good example of this - The MC is an assassin but she does it to protect the things (people) she loves.
At what point does a corrupt character become totally irredeemable?
I think this line is different for everyone. I think that if they act out of maliciousness for the sake of being the ‘bad guy’- it makes them irredeemable. The key is to write the character so well that people sympathize with the character and understand the motives behind what they’re doing.
What’s the difference between an anti-hero and an asshole?
Asshole characters have 0 reason for being douchey and obnoxious except for bs superficial reasons like “that person doesn’t like my shirt”.
How is a story like The Godfather different from a story like Loco Amor or Chain Reaction?
Haven’t read them.
Would you prefer a story with a complex, well written evil MC, or a story with a good, but boring MC (assuming that both stories are the same in quality)?
I think it would be really interesting to see a well written ‘evil’ character as long as there’s a reason behind their villainy.

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Nope. There are no rules to creating fictional characters. They can be whatever you want them to be. In terms of Episode, there are a lot of MCs who are hitmen/assassins/mafia and barely anybody says anything about it :joy: The idea of ‘assassins’ on Episode has been romanticized all too much and for far too long already, but most readers on the apps don’t care because they can’t relate or see themselves in that position. With toxic and abusive relationships, however, they can. That’s why interpersonal abuse usually garners a stronger reaction than a character running around killing people.

Romanticizing is when you basically say ‘this guy is a hitman, therefore it makes him hot’ or ‘this guy is mentally ill, therefore it makes him attractive’ and make it a key point of your story. Depicting is portraying characters or scenarios as they are, without uhh hidden connotations I guess? The lines can be easily be blurred between these two because a lot of times character voice and author voice are confused to be the same.

Simply don’t make those actions appear desirable or sexy. Write the story with realism in mind.

No. A character’s morals don’t correlate to the author’s skills.

Nothing came to mind, TBH.

This is subjective. To me, it’s when their actions are rationally unjustifiable by all means and have been repeated way too many times.

An asshole would just treat you badly because they felt like it. Anti-heroes do the same thing but with calculated motives.

Haven’t read/watched any of these. Whoops.

I personally prefer the first one, just because it’s more interesting to read :woman_shrugging:t2:

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My MC are humans. Some of them make horrible mistakes because it’s part of making a story interesting. They shouldn’t be perfect or a role model. But… it’s important to have other characters who scold them for their actions, idk if it makes sense. Sorry for my bad english.

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Don’t make it sexy or anything like that, show it like it is, immoral. My MC has murdered a lot of people but I don’t make it sexy or sensual because she know that it’s wrong to do that and I feel like most people know that too, so what’s the point in making it something “sexual” or “hot” when it’s sick

But that’s just my opinion lol this probably didn’t make any sense :kissing:

YEES!! I agree. I’m trying to not spoil anything, but my MC has done the same things and certain characters scold her for that (because it’s not okay!)

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I think that phenomenon stems from authors (in all media, not just episode) that are too scared to actually give their Main Character a personality at all; not because the MC’s are “good people” so therefor boring. Authors want their MC’s to be likable and relatable, unfortunately they try to make these traits appeal to a MASS audience when really that just diffuses it. You need character flaws that aren’t just “oops I’m a little clumsy sometimes tee-hee >_<” . Trying to appeal to everyone with the MC’s personality actually ends up with them having little to no depth. Unfortunately, making them more fleshed out and deeper, can mean that they won’t satisfy everyone. Some people will hate them, some people will love them. My best example of an enriched relatable MC along these lines is Korra from LoK. She’s headstrong, fiery, has a bad attitude, is incredibly cocky (at the start) and this can annoy some people. Basically though, they need to be wrong sometimes, things don’t work out for them sometimes because of their choices or maybe just bad luck, they need to make the wrong decisions sometimes, they need to struggle with something. They need some kind of growth by the end. They shouldn’t be the same person from start to finish. That’s what makes characters interesting. Authors tend to be too afraid of letting their protagonist BE something other than a purely good saint of a hero. They tend to be less afraid of letting side characters BE something, however, and this is why many of them become more popular than the actual main character.

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Does the MC have to be a good person? Are they allowed to do immoral things as long as it isn’t romanticised?
I personally hate perfect MCs who do nothing wrong. And an MC can be totally evil as long they’re entertaining and well written. Just as long as the writer is self aware that this behaviour is wrong and doesn’t try to convince the audience that it isnt
What is the difference between romanticising and depicting?
Romanticising is blatant depiction of a character in a sexual way and hinting at the audience that they should find this attractive. Depicting is just including something in a story, not necessarily encouraging it
If a MC were to commit murder/deal drugs/do generally messup up stuff, what could the writer do to not romanticize these things?
Alot of things, i feel like a character is not romanticised in a story unless the writer wants them to be. At some point in the story it must be acknowledged that this person is a bad person and that their actions are wrong

Are well written characters and morally good characters mutually exclusive?
Yes
Are there any good episodes stories with evil MCs?
I havent found any…except mine :eyes: all my MCs are horrible people in their own way. Sorry for the plug lmao
At what point does a corrupt character become totally irredeemable?
I really can’t say. I’d say when they dont do self reflection or feel guilt
What’s the difference between an anti-hero and an asshole?
An asshole doesn’t have a way of justifying his actions or a goal. An anti-hero does
How is a story like The Godfather different from a story like Loco Amor or Chain Reaction?
What the hell is even that?
Would you prefer a story with a complex, well written evil MC, or a story with a good, but boring MC (assuming that both stories are the same in quality)?
Of course, I’d love to see more stories told from a villain or just crappy person’s perspective. for example ‘You’ is one of my favourite netflix series for example and the MC is literally serial killer but it’s still a damn good show. I actually prefer movies where we’re looking from a bad guy’s point of view because the author has to find a way to make it justifiable from the MCs perspective.

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Does the MC have to be a good person? Are they allowed to do immoral things as long as it isn’t romanticized?

I guess it depends on the story. There are some really good antihero books and movies out there. Your MC does not need to be a “good” person. I think that term is honestly stupid and super subjective.

You can create MCs that do bad things and explain their actions without romanticizing or justifying them. You can show a character’s perspective on why they did what they did, show their reasoning, give enough depth to the story that creates a human-like presence without making it seem like you’re saying “this is okay”. A good example of this is Thanos. By the end of the movies, you’re almost wondering if he really is the bad guy or if he’s just a guy who had the wrong idea. He had Utilitarian beliefs, and he genuinely believed he was doing the right thing.


What is the difference between romanticizing and depicting?

ro·man·ti·cize /rōˈman(t)əˌsīz/
verb
deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is.

^^ Just listen to that. Romanticizing implies that there is some sort of bias behind it. If you are depicting, you’re simply just stating. Avoid emotional connections with your writing and if there are, avoid exhibiting that.


If a MC were to commit murder/deal drugs/do generally messup up stuff, what could the writer do to not romanticize these things?

This one is a really thin line to cross, especially because you don’t want to make your writing inauthentic.

You can place a warning in front of the episode that warns readers of these sort of things and say you don’t agree with them.

Another way is just to avoid emotionally-charged words. It is sometimes better to just show readers rather than tell them what just happened so they can decide for themselves if their opinion of the MC has changed. That way there isn’t a line to cross and you aren’t responsible for any misperceptions.


Are well written characters and morally good characters mutually exclusive?

Definitely not. :joy: They’re completely separate, however I think writing morally good characters is a lot easier.


Are there any good episodes stories with evil MCs?

I honestly haven’t seen one. :thinking:


At what point does a corrupt character become totally irredeemable?

As soon as there refuses to be a motivation to change.


What’s the difference between an anti-hero and an asshole?

I think it’s the severity of their actions. Assholes typically don’t have much filter and have consistent personality traits: excessively blunt, tantrum-prone, emotionally reactive, etc. Anti-heroes follow a less similar route and commit deeper sins. Some even deal with certain mental illnesses.

I don’t think there’s a good way to answer this since it’s more of a vibe.


Let’s just say that the episode equivalent of The Godfather was written and got really popular. Would it be considered controversial the way Chain Reaction is?

:thinking: This is another really good question I don’t think I can answer.


Would you prefer a story with a complex, well written evil MC, or a story with a good, but boring MC (assuming that both stories are the same in quality)?

While it may be challenging to read, I’d prefer a more realistic MC than a light-hearted one with no depth.


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