“Antihero”-“-a protagonist or notable figure who is conspicuously lacking in heroic qualities.”–Merriam Webster.
The hero has been part of storytelling since the Greeks, if not longer. Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s poem “The Odyssey” was the center of the story which first appeared in the 8th Century BC. He has reappeared as the hero of stories since then. Many plays, televisions, and movies could not exist without this central heroic character. However, a branch has grown off the tree of heroes. The anti-hero emerged to give many plots an additional richness.
It is often hard to distinguish anti-heroes from villains. One excellent example of this is Tony Soprano from the HBO series “The Sopranos”. His character is more than lacking in heroic qualities. Over the course of the series he either killed or ordered the killings of dozens of other characters. He is, however, both a protagonist and a notable figure.
In modern media, antiheroes appear in both TV shows and movies. To make this ranking, we looked at television. To determine the best TV show about an antihero, 24/7 Tempo reviewed audience ratings from the Internet Movie Database. Television shows were ranked based on average IMDb user rating as of January 2022. Only shows that revolve around antiheroes or protagonists with morally questionable behavior were considered. In the case of a tie, shows with more user reviews were ranked higher. All other information also came from IMDb.
The No. 1 show on our list is “Breaking Bad.” Created and produced by Vince Gilligan, it stars Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and turns to crime to provide for his family. He starts making crystal meth and becomes a criminal kingpin, causing many deaths directly or indirectly. “Breaking Bad” is regarded as one of the greatest TV series ever, although some critics said it glorified crime. (These are the 100 best TV dramas of all time.)
At No. 2 is “The Wire,” a drama series that explores crime, corruption, and policing in Baltimore. It features a large ensemble cast, including real-life figures. The characters are richly drawn: the supposedly good guys all have flaws, and many of the bad guys have redeeming features. Creator David Simon said it’s “really about the American city, and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals.”
“Game of Thrones” holds the No. 3 spot. Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” this neo-medieval fantasy epic features a large cast of characters, including heroes, antiheroes, and everything in between. It’s popular in part because of the rich storytelling — bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.
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