Pathetic Heroes and Why it Works

Pathetic Heroes and Why it Works: why we love main charactes who aren't traditionally heroic.

Everyone seems to love a pathetic hero. They’re unlucky, unworthy, and usually go unnoticed in their fictional universe. However, as readers, we can’t help but fall for their awkward charm.

Today I’m highlighting a few reasons why the Pathetic Hero keeps showing up in our favorite books.

1.  They’re Relatable

Pathetic Heroes are well-acquainted with their flaws and quickly highlight the ways they don’t measure up in their world. This vulnerability allows us to feel closer to these characters. Pathetic Heroes will feel especially poignant when voicing insecurities we ourselves harbor.

2. They’ve Got Room to Grow

A story is far more interesting when characters grow and change along the journey. A Pathetic Hero is guaranteed to undergo a transformational arc. By fighting through the fears and failures that seem to make up their identity, they come into their heroism in ways readers naturally connect with.

3. They’re Perfectly Imperfect

We want to see admirable and likable traits in our protagonists, but too much greatness starts to feel fake. Because the Pathetic Hero’s strengths and talents are usually linked to a perceived shortcoming, they read more human. Their victories carry more impact and importance when it’s won through ingenuity as opposed to inherent talent. And when wins don’t always come–easily or otherwise–we want to cheer our Pathetic Hero on all the moreso.


Share your favorite Pathetic Heroes in the comments, and why they’re important to you!

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