Friday, September 12, 2014


Recently, I started rewriting a novel I wrote 4 years ago, and I decided to shake things up by adding a few new characters. This got me thinking about character types and how they interact with each other. I also realized how drastically my tastes have changed in the last few years, specifically with regard to what I prefer to read/watch. When I was younger, I loved alpha heroes/heroines. They are decisive, go after what they want, and they kick serious butt along the way. Since my own views were often black and white and I had less tolerance for negotiation, I could relate well to these characters.

When I sat down to make a list of 10 alpha heroes and heroines, I filled both lists fairly quickly, although I did notice the number of alpha heroes to choose from easily outweighed the alpha heroines.

These were a few of my favs (I was a little shocked by my obvious love of comic book characters):

Alpha Hero
Superman/Clark Kent – DC Comics
Spider-man/Peter Parker – Marvel Comics
Luke Skywalker – Star Wars
James Bond – James Bond
King Leonidas – 300
Ethan Hunt – Mission Impossible
James T. Kirk – Star Trek
Maximus Decimus Meridius – Gladiator         
Frank Martin – The Transporter          
Cha Tae-sik – The Man from Nowhere

Alpha Heroine
Ellen Ripley – Alien series
Sarah Connor – Terminator
Michonne – The Walking Dead/Image Comics
Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Olivia Dunham – Fringe
Wonder Woman/Diana Prince – DC Comics
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider
Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games
Tris Prior – Divergent
Xena – Xena: Warrior Princess

With age I became a little more open-minded and my tastes turned a little more cerebral. In short, beta heroes/heroines are my thing now (although I can still appreciate pecs and tatts with the best of 'em). The beta hero/heroine out-wit, out-maneuver, and often out-manipulate their way to victory. They keep me guessing. What's more, without pecs, abs and hulking biceps for backup, I worry about them!

Listing 10 of my favorite beta heroes/heroines was a much more difficult task. Just seemed like I had less to choose from, and again, I came up short for protagonist beta heroines. Most often, the beta heroine is a supporting character. Hm.

Beta Hero
Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic (Marvel Comics)
Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock
Spock – Star Trek         
Jack Ryan – The Hunt for Red October
Edmund J. Exley – L.A. Confidential
Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird
Alex Cross – Kiss the Girls, etc. (James Patterson’s Alex Cross series)
The Doctor – Doctor Who
Connor Temple – Primeval
Jean-Luc Picard – Star Trek the Next Generation

Beta Heroine
Felicity Smoak – Arrow
Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan – Bones
Hermione Granger – Harry Potter
Nancy Thompson – Nightmare on Elm Street
Willow Rosenburg – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Jessica Fletcher – Murder She Wrote
Dana Scully – The X Files
Fanny Price – Mansfield Park
Anne Sullivan – The Miracle Worker
Erica Barry – Something’s Gotta Give

I know so many people who LOVE anti-heroes, but I think the anti-heroine is less appreciated for those same qualities/faults. I personally have less interest in the anti-heroine, but I think that's due to perplexing writing or acting which confuses the anti-heroine with the villain. Still, it can easily be argued that the anti-hero/heroine is more interesting than the alpha/beta hero/heroine, only because they ride that fence of right/wrong. They’re unpredictable, so we stay glued to the page/TV, wondering what they’ll do next.

Finding 10 anti-heroes was easy. Finding 10 anti-heroines ... not so much. Why is that? Is there a pattern here?

Dexter Morgan – Dexter
Damon Salvatore – The Vampire Diaries
Michael Corleone – The Godfather
Jason Bourne –Bourne Trilogy
V – V for Vendetta
Jack T Colton – Romancing the Stone
Spike – Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
Zuko – Avatar the Last Airbender
Frank Castle – The Punisher/Marvel Comics
Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean

The Huntress – Arrow/DC Comics
Cat Woman – Batman/DC Comics
Faith – Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
Irene Adler – Sherlock
Ai Enma – Hell Girl
Carrie White – Carrie
Thelma/Louise – Thelma and Louise
Julianne Potter – My Best Friend’s Wedding
Harley Quinn – DC Comics
Black Widow/Natasha Romanova – Marvel Comics

Some characters I found fit every mold, and wow, they truly are amazing characters I wish I’d created: 

  • Batman  - DC Comics
  • Indiana Jones - Indiana Jones series
  • Han Solo - Star Wars
  • The Bride (Uma Thurman) – Kill Bill vol. 1/Kill Bill vol. 2 
Of course, this entire list is only my opinion. Some may feel the characters I've listed reside in other columns, perhaps two or more. I did notice, though, that my recent list of characters for this new trilogy encompasses all of these—alpha, beta, and anti-hero/heroine. I can’t wait to see how they interact! 

I’d be fascinated to hear what you think. Have your tastes changed in heroes/heroines over time, too? Or perhaps you crave a certain type of hero/heroine for specific categories, such as romance, action, thriller, or mystery. Do you long to see more beta and anti-heroines as main characters? Did I miss a few good ones? What are a few of your favorite alpha, beta, anti-hero(ines)? Naima, jump in here any time with your favorite Vin Diesel roles. Is he always alpha? :)

I’m giving away a Kindle version of my YA romances—STUDENT BODYGUARD FOR HIRE or INNOCENT to two commenters. Please leave your email and book preference with comment. This giveaway will run through September 30th. Thanks for visiting!

For the month of September, Southern Magic celebrates their Readers Luncheon being held November 1 in Birmingham, AL. NYT bestselling author Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker.  Come back and visit every day. Each post will be giving away a book or gift card! At the end of the blogfest, a grand prize winner of a Kindle Fire HD will be picked from everyone who comment during the month and be announced September 30. 

To register for the luncheon, go to Each attendee will receive a bag of books and author swag, sit at a table with one or two published authors, and opportunities to win baskets full of goodies.


Carla Swafford said...

What a great post, Callie! Thanks!

Susan Reynolds said...

Great post! My tastes have absolutely changed as I got older. I love the idea of the anti-heroine, and you are right...they are hard to find and like at the same time. Anti-heroes are always great, but you are right...readers seem to accept them better than the anti-heroine. I find this frustrating and fascinating! Thanks for the great and thought-provoking post!

Callie James said...

Thanks for stopping by, Carla! Appreciate it! :)

Callie James said...

Hi, Susan! So it isn't just me on the getting older thing. It's difficult to watch those alphas and not think ... wow, that's REALLY going to hurt later. They just dive right in, consequences be damned.

I'm in love with the BBC. Some great writing there. I think they are less about the alpha and the "kick-ass" characters, and more about mystery and suspense.

It's so interesting to watch these trends. As you said, frustrating and fascinating! :)

Naima Simone said...

I'm just doing jazz kicks over this post! I LOVE it! Those lists had me going, Yeah...oh heck yeah!! They were awe-SOOOME!! :-)

Now that I think about it, my taste in heroes and heroines have changed over the years. I didn't enjoy the anti-hero years ago and did like a good beta hero, but not now. I'm not really fond of beta heroes, even though your picks are wonderful, but luvs me some alpha, ALPHA men. And anti-heroes are absolutely delish! Yuuuummm. Two of my fave anti-heroes are Vin Diesel's Riddick (you saw that comming! LOL!!) and Denzil Washington's John Creasy in Man on Fire. And yeeeesss, Damon from Vampire Diaries! Where does Oliver Queen from Arrow fits in? He is a bit of an anti-hero, and he's definitely an alpha hero. And he's HAWT!! :-)

I loved this post, Callie!

Callie James said...

Oooh, Denzil's John Creasy. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I get that. He's much better than the original, too And of course Vin Diesel's Riddick. :) I knew you had some, Naima!

Oliver Queen. I would say he is one of the combos. All of the above. Now that everything is so cross-genre, I think you can say that about quite a few of these that I tried to categorize as only one. It really took me a long time to put these lists together, longer than you would think, because of that.

LOL! There were quite a few I ran across and said, "Oh yeah, I have to watch that one again. Oh, and read that one. And that..."

I would have to say one of my all-time favs is V. What a great character. And you never get to see his face. THAT is great writing.

Charlotte said...

Hi Callie, I really enjoyed your post. I'm rather old school when it comes to heroes and heroines. I haven't really thought about types of characters before you brought my attention to them in your post. I always love knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. I do like the damsel to have an edgy side and the knight to be honorable,yet aggressive while taking out the villain.On the flip side, I love the heroine to take action to protect the hero,of course putting herself in danger in the process. I've been reading a lot of contemporary romantic suspense recently and I get caught up in the mystery so don't really think about the types of characters I'm reading about.I love either of your books. I'm putting them on my to read list. My email is
Best Wishes.

Callie James said...

Charlotte, thanks so much for stopping by.

Ahhh, the knight in shining armor. Yes, I love that you can always count on him to have the heroine's best interests at heart.

I also like a damsel in distress, especially if they get there by kicking butt to save a child or the hero (as you find in so much romantic suspense). Love romantic suspense myself. I used to write it, actually.

Thanks for the comments!

Rita Bay said...

Whoa, Callie! I'd be hard-pressed to come up with one or two in each category. Most of them I'd have to look up on the internet - like Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame and one of his Nemeses (?), Ares - played by Kevin Smith

Callie James said...

Hey, Rita!

Yes. Kevin. He gets better with age, for sure.

I had to do plenty of perusing, believe me. But listing all of those names really got me pumped to start fleshing my new characters out in this trilogy. Can't wait!

Thanks for stopping by!

bn100 said...

interesting lists
Not a fan of betas

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Meda White said...

Hey Callie, I love your lists. These days, I like beta men and alpha women. Of the ones you mentioned, I love B from Kill Bill. I watch that all the time and Hubba-luv just shakes his head at me and murmurs about my love of buttkicking heroines. Alice from Resident Evil and Selene from Underworld are also favorites of mine.

Kristi Eads said...

Yes, my tastes have changed in heroes/heroines over time, too. I used to focus exclusively on traditional romantic heroes and heroines...Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet. These days, surprisingly to me, I appreciate action heroes...James Bond and like you, strong females. Still love P&P, though!

Callie James said...

Hey, bn100!

I think alpha and anti are definitely the preferred. :)

Thanks for popping in!

Callie James said...

Oh, Meda! I totally forgot about Alice and Selene. Thanks for mentioning. LOVE those two. Love love. AND I want their hair.


Thanks for the comments!

Callie James said...

I agree, Kristi. P&P is the best. Have you seen Lost in Austen yet? Love it. I do like all the types of characters, but just drawn to characters that make me think lately. Maybe that means I'm bored?

I dunno. Could be a phase, but that's where I'm at. :)

Appreciate the pop-in. Thanks! :)

Kris said...

I love the hero from man from nowhere, that was amazing. I love most of what you have listed in each category, although some I didn't see that way, so it's nice to hear your view on them. A few I would add from my anime years of late, Naruto to hero, Sakura to heroine, and Sasuke to anti-hero? I don't know if you'd agree, but that's my thoughts, definitely would add Kakashi to Hero. : O) very nice list -

Callie James said...

Thanks, Kris! We don't know for sure on Sasuke yet, so probably can't call him an anti-hero. Although, you can call him whatever. But I wouldn't. And yes, all of the Naruto cast should be on there.

And yes! You can see so many of these characters differently. :)

The Man from Nowhere! He's awesome!

Thanks for the comment and insight. :)

Ali Hubbard said...

Awesome post! I love those lists. So many characters I never thought of like that, but now it makes perfect sense. I love Loki as an anti-hero too. And Felicity from Arrow as you mentioned...she's one of my favorites.
I'm evolving as I get older too, but it seems to be opposite your direction. lolol. Because I use to love the beta hero and now I love the alpha and anti-hero.
But, I also love the kick-a$$ heroines. I always think of the Jennifer Garner character in Alias. I loved that show. I'm a BFF (Buffy Fan Forever), so all of those characters were brilliant for me. Another anti-hero is Sawyer from Lost. Whew. Hotness.

Cari Hislop said...

Ali Hubbard just wrote my post for me! Jennifer Garner in Alias...she totally kicked butt! I loved that show...I need to put that on my wish list.

I've always loved the Beta hero though there was a part of me attracted to the Alpha. When I was a or and my sister (who was two years younger) decided we were going to grow up and marry the characters from Star Trek (who exactly we'd marry rotated), but mainly she was going to marry Spock and I usually decided on Captain Kirk, but with hindsight...we would have both ended up fighting over question. Kirk is way too extrovert for either of us. He'd get on my nerves real quick. I think Spock or Bones or maybe me some Beta heroes!

Strangely though I'm finding myself reading more Alpha types of late...though I'd always fall for the Beta. And I LOVE anti-heroes...I love Spike from Buffy. If I could just buy only the episodes with Spike and Buffy...I would. I think he worked as such a great opposite because she was so Alpha. I don't think two Alpha characters work as a's hard to imagine there would be any balance in the relationship.

Regardless of who is A, B or anti - my favorite couples are those who need each other, protect each other and who can and do save each other when necessary.

cari at thehislops dot co dot uk

Callie James said...

Ali, I'm totally with you on Felicity. I adore her character, and she's perfect for Oliver. Just sayin', because her moral compass is just about perfect and she is a great support for him pretty much whatever he needs whenever he needs it. I hope they play that right and don't get those two together for a while yet. They need to keep it going for a couple more seasons.

I'm also a Buffy fan forever, although I never felt she was ever in real danger because she was always snarky, so I only took it so-so seriously. I remember Season 1, the episode where she got all teary and said, "I don't want to die," when she found out she was "supposed to die." It was one of the only times I felt she was truly in danger. Somehow Joss made it work for all seasons though, and I loved all seasons. He's great with character growth.

Thanks for the comments. :)

Callie James said...

Cari, you're cracking me up. Captain Kirk--he will always be the first character I think about when someone mentions Star Trek. Mainly because when I watched it as a kid, I would get so caught up in each episode, and when Captain Kirk walked onto the scene, I knew everything would be okay. He had such confidence. Arrogance, too, but he kind of had to have that to run that crew. But give me some Spock any day.

You make a good point too, and that's something to think about. Part of me wonders if women are attracted to the alpha so much now because men in reality have grown so much and aren't those rough-tough types anymore. They're more in touch with their feelings. I'm thinking of different times when I've been very much into alpha heroes and who I was dating at the time. My husband is kind of all of those types wrapped into one. I think that's why I'm attracted to those really complex type. Spike would fall into that category, I think. He's alpha, beta and anti. He was always whatever Buffy needed whenever she needed it. A huge support, and she was just too alpha to notice.

What great writing. Makes me want to watch all of those episodes again.

Thanks for stopping by, Cari! Love your observations.

Shadow said...

Fantastic post! Those are some awesome characters you mentioned! Ive found that my taste was always more so beta but over the years, im love the alpha and even the anti ones. Theres so many great characters! I do love a strong lead! Thanks for sharing! Youve now got me thinking a movie marathon is in order! hehe! :)

Callie James said...

Thank you, Shadow! I appreciate it. :)

Callie James said...

And the winner of one of my ebooks is...Naima Simone!

Naima, I'll contact you offline for the which ebook and where you'd like it sent.

Thanks everyone for commenting!