Am I the only person who loves a bad guy gone good story?
Present me with a tortured bad guy with a twisted past and then show me his redemption. I will melt into a puddle of tears and feelings. He will forever be one of my favorite characters.
Why is this redemption story, cliche as it is, so important? Why does it impact me in such a huge way? Why am I always rooting for the bad guy who becomes a hero?
Maybe he's an evil vampire who has been rejected all his life, then when he finally finds acceptance with the woman he loves, it changes him.
Or perhaps he's a druggie, who only wants to die, but finds a reason to live and comes out of the gutter as a new man.
What about a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist who literally becomes a hero and learns to love and care for more than just himself.
Or my favorite: a madman who stole a blue box, ran away from his problems, committed genocide and then committed himself to helping save others.
It doesn't matter. The story has been told hundreds of different ways. Why is it important?
Because if there can be redemption for them, if there is goodness
somewhere inside of those people, then there is redemption for me. Maybe
I see that dual layer within myself. A person who has done horrible
things but learns and grows from it to become a better person. Isn't
that the human condition? Isn't that what most people strive for?
And usually the "bad guy" slips up and falls back into his old ways at some point in the story. That always hits me hard. I grieve for them. Why would you do that again?? I think. But then I see myself in that too, always repeating my mistakes. But that still doesn't take away from the redemption. Because the character sees the mistake and is sorry it happened. They pick themselves up and try again to be the hero.
It is more realistic to see characters who are bad and yet also good. That is how most human beings are. Everyone isn't all bad or all good. We are a mixture of mistakes and apologies. Bad choices and good choices. So it feels more real to me even if the story is about vampires, superheros, or time lords. I can connect with that character because I see myself in them.
Redemption makes a great story and great characters but more importantly it gives people a desire and a hope for something better for themselves - that they too can find redemption and have a better life.