Rule Abiding, Unliked Protagonists.

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Booted Vulture
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Rule Abiding, Unliked Protagonists.

Post by Booted Vulture »

So I've been reading through a lot of Napolonic fiction recently. Aubrey-Maturin, Ramage, Temeraire and Hornblower (which is endlessly re-readable to me.) But it comes to mind that unlike Horatio Hornblower a lot of modern heroes fall into a certain type. Lets use NuKirk as an example. The rash, unorthodox hero who doesn't play by the rules and goes by instinct and is generally followed by a very loyal set of subordinates who stay at low rank for unusally long time and all regard each other as family.

Now partially this is just the realities of TV I think. You want to keep the main cast there through all seven years as familiar faces for the audience. And some of it is based on historical. Admiral Nelson himself for example, with his Nelson Touch and band of brothers.

So I'm wondering is it possible to have a protagonist who is fact a follower of the rules and dutiful but who maintains a distance with his subbordinates so he doesn't gain a following of offciers. Hus juniors rotate regularly etc. The kind of man who is followed because of the chain of command rather than charisma. Yet is still likable and shown in the right.

Hornblower would be a good start. But Hornblower's thing is being very competant and smart and being loved and respected by his crew and superiors and just not being able to recognise it at all because of his 'blessed unhappy temperment'

Just wondering what a story like this would look like, if it could be done with out eventually wander back to those cliché.
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Re: Rule Abiding, Unliked Protagonists.

Post by Siege »

Would the movie Patton qualify as an example? Patton's first aide is killed, he's shown to have all kinds of character defects, he's relieved of his position and has to beg his former subordinate for a command, etc. It's been a while since I saw it last but as I recall the focus of the movie is on Patton's character and charisma, not on how awesome everybody thinks he is (in fact a lot of people seem to think of him as a loose cannon and a nut and they're pretty much right).

I think that would be one way to do it: simply put a spotlight on the protagonist's character and let that be the focus of your movie. That means however that everything else, from the events of the film/book/tv-series to the supporting characters, exist mainly to highlight different facets of the protagonist. They aren't important themselves, which is different from typical ensemble cast series or films.

An advantage of doing it this way is you can pretty much do anything and kill off anyone as long as the main character stays alive. An obvious disadvantage is that you're putting a lot of stock in the main character: that's pretty much the only draw you have. If I don't like Kirk in the new Star Trek movies there's still other members of the cast and the story itself I might like. In Patton if I don't dig General Patton there's really nothing else to enjoy.
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