Discussion Post: “Damaged” Characters. What’s Up With That?

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 7.15.36 AMI have been finding a very distinct thread moving throughout the books I am reading lately.  I begin reading a book, get into the plot and, inevitably, there comes the time when I am hit with a backstory of my protagonist.

An orphan at birth they grew up in foster care.

Their father was killed by a psychopath.

Their was/is a psychopath.

Their fiance was murdered days leading up to their wedding.

They had a child but they passed away.

I am finding that these dramatically damaged characters are popping up in everything single book I am reading lately.  Every. Single. One.  So, this got me thinking, why are all these protagonists so damaged.

I know, in theory, that I am supposed to connect to these types of characters faster and forge a bond as they fight crime and overcome evil.  I mean, they have already been through so much!  But, instead, I am finding myself a little irritated as I read.  Obviously you cannot have a relationship with a woman Lead Detective 43!  Your mother was a murderer who tried to sell you on the blackmarket and you have spent your life avoiding your aunt who you lived with after because you could never trust anyone.

It truly is starting to make me feel a little coocoobananas.  I mean, we complain about unrealistic plots all the time.   How about unrealistic tragedies?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that people can be hit hard in life but surely there is a story to be told about a detective who is just a regular guy with regular problems who fights crime.

If anyone knows one, please let me know!

 

11 thoughts on “Discussion Post: “Damaged” Characters. What’s Up With That?

  1. I agree with you. These back stories are getting to be a bit much, especially when I’m sitting down for a little light romance reading. Why does the male protagonist have to have a tragic past? Pffff… I’m over it.

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  2. It does seem the protagonists in crime fiction and thrillers are getting more and more messed up. I enjoy rooting for the underdog though, and that’s often what they are. Plus, “Dark, Complicated Past” is more interesting than “Average Joe.” When I need a step back from these type of books, I pick up a cozy mystery to read. Still has a mystery to entertain me, but much lighter and usually without the damaged characters.

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  3. “Obviously you cannot have a relationship with a woman Lead Detective 43! Your mother was a murderer who tried to sell you on the blackmarket and you have spent your life avoiding your aunt who you lived with after because you could never trust anyone.”

    LOL I loved this. I think it’s always unrealistic but I kinda love it, it’s like the classic cliché haha But yes, every now and then I like fun characters too

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  4. I agree with Nicole about the whole Gone Girl effect. Ridiculously crazy backstories and characters have become the norm in order to “entertain readers.” Yes, readers love a good twist in their novels but it becomes tiresome. I am honestly wracking my brain trying to think of a “norma”l example that you asked about, but I’m at a loss right now!

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  5. The tormented backstory is a fad right now because of the tremendous commercial success of the Gone Girl series, in my opinion.
    One of the things that made GG such a wonderful series, though, that the imitators lack, is the subplot of political commentary, and the way her tortured past ties into the politics.

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