"Unlikeable" Main Characters


#1

I personally like when the character in an Episode story is somewhat unlikeable, but only when they actually get to grow and change as a character. Sometimes, it just isn’t realistic or done well. Keeping a character unlikeable and not changed at all isn’t usually interesting. Is this just me?


#2

Yeah, like, I think authors should give flashbacks of WHY that character acts the way they do…


#3

I completely agree.


#4

Yeah I read a story where the MC was a complete bitch & cussed in every sentence to the point where it didn’t make sense & im just like “WHY IS SHE ACTING LIKE THAT?!” like if there’s no backstory I have to stop reading.


#5

I don’t remember who told me this or when but I remember thinking it was amazing advice at the time: characters being likeable isn’t important, they need to be interesting.

So yeah! I’d love an unlikeable MC, but only if it’s done well and there’s an explanation for it.


#6

I can’t stand Bella in tangled love she drives me absolutely nuts very vapid charcter.
Use your illusion can’t stand the main charcters at all yet I’ll loved chain reaction actually stopped reading after a painful chapter 2.
And I can’t remember the story but MC is quite disgusting and a bitch forces herself on LI quite badly.

But in all serious these are the few I can’t stand of the MC some stories I don’t like the MC but it’s still a good read these I just can’t honestly read that far as the MC are really that bad.


#7

I dont like the MC i dont read simple. U should have ur character be somewhat likeable/relatable having her be a raging bitch or whore and using her past as an example of why shes like tht is no better than ppl on forums complaining about “bad boys” excuses being valid because of their past. Ur past does define you in a way but u can make choices to not b a crap human(MCs in this case) I need the MC to be relatable and preferably likeable(to me). Most are not most gotta b “strong” and rude fiesty watever. Same wth overly unrealistic passive(not just shy or “doormat” ill explain if ppl want) MCs


#8

I HATE IT when they make perfect characters! I’m not talking about the school’s golden boy, I’m talking about MCs who are angels! Stop it! We are HUMANS, we have FLAWS! FGS!


#9

If the MC is obviously going to learn a lesson and grow out of it, like in The Curse is Charlie, then yeah, unlikeable MCs are valid and great.
It’s all about character development.


#10

Unlikable main characters or anti-heroes can be great in stories and sometimes even unique. However, I think that the author should give these kinds of characters redeemable characteristics or traits (at least one or two of them) to balance out what’s ‘unlikable’ about them.

Simultaneously, I don’t think that these characters have to necessarily ‘redeem’ themselves in the plot as well so to speak, but they should have something that the reader can connect to; something that the readers can get behind for this character or understand about this character - liked or not, for example. Having the character develop and grow (which is important for any type of character) will be icing on the cake.


#11

I agree with this. The characters having at least some relatable/other qualities is good enough to make them a character with depth.


#12

That reminds me of, say, Deadpool, haha. An anti-hero, yet, he’s pretty god damn likable.


#13

I like complex characters, so if a character is portrayed as “unlikeable”, I’d like to know their backstory and see some growth in having them change through life experiences.


#14

Unlikeable main characters are, like, my thing, lol. I love me a good anti-hero, or a character that actually exemplifies a lack of growth/arrest of maturity.

Still, I find it more compelling when a character is the way they are due to an injustice as the first tipping point. Injustice as a tool for empathy is always a lot easier to sympathize with than, say, someone just being a forever-victim right off the bat. A lot more congruent with real life too.

It’s gotta be portion-controlled like everything else of course, but still very fun to write.


#15

A good example of an unlikable character and my opinion a complex character, in a tv show, is Regina aka the Evil Queen. She starts off as very unlikable and we find out why she became like this and we see growth in future episodes of the show how she overcomes her dark personality and grows into a hero and beloved character. There are other examples in tv shows and books too and these are my favorite characters because they are just not black or white (pure evil or good) and they can be sometimes evil or good and change as they grow.


#16

Reading all these replies, it seems like we all have very different ideas of the meaning “unlikeable” characters😂
I was assuming it meant characters that are hard for the reader to like, not characters that are unlikeable within the story world.

Characters that are hard for the reader to like absolutely must be redeemed - and it needs to be obvious from the start that it’s going to happen, or people are going to stop reading pretty fast. No one wants to go through a story with a character they hate.

Anti-heroes and characters that everyone in the story world hates don’t necessarily have to be redeemed as long as they’re likeable as a character or at least as long as the reader can easily identify with them.


#17

“Unlikeable” to a reader seems more poor writing than anything else.


#18

Yeah, it is. Unless it’s done intentionally with the intention of developing the character during the story, but it takes a clever writer to make that work.


#19

When I read the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about characters that the reader doesn’t like. If I don’t like the main character or can’t relate to them, it usually makes me not want to continue the story---- unless there are other characters in it that I really like.


#20

That is what I meant in some respect-- A lot of stories seem to do that in an attempt to make the character clearly unlikable.