I've already spoken in the GD and elsewhere about how Naruto is the most grimdark anime of all time and basically the ultimate crapsack world.
Anime: Where the heroes use child soldiers like it ain't no thang.
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These feelings build up and by seeing someone doing something rebellious, one subconsiously remembers those feelings and it triggers in their mind the urge to like the character and to be excited by what they are doing because they wish they could do it themselves. It helps them to relate to the character.
Many socially inept people could take this to heart, changing how they act to normal people so they can better relate to the character. There are many people who see these characters and feel they deserve to act that way. Some even think they are that character. Yes, this is an extreme, but hey. I like extremes.
Now, a character needs a good background and a good story for it to stick in the minds of the viewers/readers. Even if they have a good personality and would be really likeable characters, they need to have a background and a part in the show that the viewers can kind of relate to in different ways. If they didn't you wouldn't have a show that people are willing to watch, much less learn about the characters enough to like them.
Originally Posted by Conversation
I kind of agree with what jaidrun says but I think its more than just a simple sense of rebellion that these characters spark. I think 'unrelenting' is a good word for these types of characters but I think uncomrpromising is a better one. These characters have clear values and goals and they do not yield or change for anyone and I think that is why they are so compelling. Watching them we can imagine that one day we will have the courage and power to stand up for exactly what we believe and take what we want, no compromise for anything. Although the bad guys are often the kind of characters with these traits a good example that springs to mind is edward from full metal alchemist. Even though eveyone tells him and his brother that they can't do this or that and they can't be unwilling to kill they are uncompromising in their quest and in their morals, making Ed a very appealing character.
- Johann Liebert is an enigma until very near the end of the series. He was described as "like an ancient dark god" in a review of Monster, and that's what lends him his power as a villain: he subverts the institutions of a somewhat familiar society (Germany shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall) to achieve his goal of erasing his existence from history. He doesn't particularly care who's killed in his quest to murder everyone who was responsible for him and commit suicide. He knows he's a (the) monster and hates himself for it.
- Patrick Bateman has no personality. He's defined by his consumption of consumer goods and useless luxury products, like all the other yuppies in American Psycho. However, while other characters in the story accept this blindly consumerist and meaningless lifestyle, Bateman rebels against it in the only way he feels able: serial murder. Which is why I say Bateman, aside from his secretary Jeanette (who's just an insecure young woman), is the only genuinely human character in the story: his murders make him the only yuppie who isn't a braindead drone.
- McMurphy is an anarchistic criminal, and the hero of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. While some of the characters say he's a psychopath, later in the story he's shown to be a caring, if rough-hewn, character. His rebellion against the mechanistic rule of Nurse Ratched is symbolic of a broader movement to take back a human spirit from the mechanisms of an oppressive society and the rulers of that society.
- Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin (here represented by a portrait of the writer of the novel he appears in, A Hero of Our Time) is a disaffected soldier. Throughout the course of the novel we become closer to his mind, until he admits several things: that he glories in power; that he was a shy youth, but was twisted by the lack of affection of others; and that he felt he was born to be a hero, but was never "drawn to that calling". Largely this is because of his boredom and apathy to the feelings of others: he's a fairly archetypal Byronic Hero.
- Don Giovanni is a depraved libertine and all-around douchebag.
While these characters are different (Johan is well-educated and handsome, McMurphy is working-class and ginger), they all feel constrained by society. Which is why I like them. Eh.
Originally Posted by Fenn
Since when has badass been a bad descriptor? Being a badass doesn't make someone a bad person. Badass just means over-the-top-awesome. And in a very vaguely related note, I've been told I'm similar to McMurphy far too many times to give a shit about anything anyone says when comparing IRL people to works of fiction.