Hero Analysis: Flaws

Mariah Avix again posed a great question. What hero flaws are generally “okay” and don’t turn me off as a reader.

Hi. I’m superman. I’m perfect except when exposed to Kryptonite.


Thinking through this made me realize that in many, many novels I’ve read, the heroes don’t have too many flaws. As I think through these books, and the heroes I’ve liked, here are some of the flaws I’ve seen that worked for the character without making me dislike the character:

Demanding. Setting extremely high standards for themselves and those around them, sometimes too high.

  • In Finders Keepers, the Captain was known for being extremely difficult and held his crew up to the same high standards he held himself to.
  • I’ve seen this is several other books, such as the The Bride. He takes responsibility for his entire Clan, keeping peace, etc.


Bucking Society. This one usually works when something perceived as appropriate by  historical society differs with today’s views. For example:

  • A hero that spends most of his time with his wife and family rather than away from them. (Most Regency)
  • A hero that accepts being considered crazy because he married for love and still loves his wife. (Accidentally Compromising the Duke)
  • A hero that dances with his wife to the exclusion of all others.(Accidentally Compromising the Duke)
  • A society that forces a woman who was raped to be shunned and viewed as a “soiled dove” (The Study of Seduction).

Interestingly, I recently read Loving a Lost Lord and the Madness of Ian Mackenzie (book reviews are coming, I promise!). I rated both of these books very high. The first dealt with a duke whose father was English and whose mother was Indian. This was a central issue of the book although it was mostly glossed over. This was treated as a “flaw” for the historical time frame, with the heroine loving him without regard to his heritage. The second had an autistic hero. The author did an amazing job with the hero, keeping him powerful, brilliant and in control. Yet, he clearly had flaws. Such as being unable to meet people’s eyes, shunning large groups, and being unable to lie.


Ruthless. Granted, this tends to be a trait the hero has to put aside for the heroine. It always makes me a little uneasy as I am not a fan of the “being saved by a good woman’s love” trope. But ruthlessness can really work. I am in the middle of reading Marrying Winterbourne, and he is most assuredly ruthless. You see ruthless heroes in Stephanie Laurens’ work as well.


Selfishness. No great examples of this in recent fiction I’ve read, but Han Solo always comes to mind.  Granted, he overcomes it by Return of the Jedi. Character arc?


Arrogant. Thinking of Darcy here in Pride and Prejudice.  Again, he gets over himself somewhat by the end, but that’s the point of a character arc, right?


I’m sure there are more. What do you all think? What character flaws can a character have or grow out of that you can still find them a good hero?

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4 thoughts on “Hero Analysis: Flaws

  1. Sometimes the hero has sexist/racist views that are despicable, but they can grow out of maybe? I’m spit balling here, but basically I’m describing a scenario with a redemption story.

  2. I’m not sure that having more modern views on something can be a downside. I mean I guess if you thought that women who are raped should be shunned and the hero didn’t you could call that a flaw, but I’m making the radical assumption that you don’t and so I’m not sure that basically having the hero have more progressive or more modern views on things than the society they are in is a flaw. I’d call that a good thing.

    You brought up character arc a couple times as well. So if you had a brooding hero who came around and was less broody by the end would you still find that problematic? (Or any of the other flaws you aren’t a fan of.)

    Is it more that they don’t grow or more the flaw itself at all.

    I’m going to say that a flaw that I do not like at all is the man-child thing. It seems to be heading down in popularity, but it was really big for a little while (especially in movies). It’s not cute or sweet that a man can’t do his own laundry and can’t imagine a world where he will ever need to know how.

    I actually think that lack of character arc bothers me in general. It’s not really a character flaw, more of a book flaw. But a character who never seems to learn anything or try anything bugs me.

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