Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hero Types

I've been watching a lot of the nineties TV show Andromeda.  My favorite character is Seamus Zelanzy Harper, the ship's engineer and designated comic relief.  I've known plenty of people who handle stress with jokes, snark, or sarcasm.  I don't know anyone who deals by vowing to right all wrongs, or becoming a cynical mercenary for hire. 

Harper's not a coward, but he's not a fighter either.  He's very much a talker.  Whenever he's in a rough situation he tries to get out of it by cutting a deal.  He's a contrast to the shows hero, Dylan Hunt, who is skilled with weapons and doesn't really do compromise.  

It seems there are two different types of heroes.  If the villain gives your hero the sadistic choice between saving his beloved Aunt Em or keeping an inhabited planet from being blown to smithereens, the one type of hero says `it's not like I knew anyone on that planet' and picks Aunt Em, while the other type says `Sorry Aunt Em.  Been nice knowing you.' and saves the planet. 

It's the difference between leading with the head and leading with the heart.  Someone who leads with their head is going to take a `needs of the many outweigh the need of one' approach.  Sometimes they'll be right, but other times they'll be too practical.  They might be unintentionally cruel if it fits their agenda.  They might sacrifice people who are loyal to them if they feel it's for the greater good.

The people who lead with their heart have just as many strengths -and just as many problems.  They may betray their country to save their friend, or make compromises they shouldn't make.  They're less likely to have well laid plans -or any plan at all.

Of course, in a perfect world you'd have both types of hero working together, one who leads with the heart to rush in and save the day, and one who leads with his head to pick up the scattered pieces and groan `why me?'

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