Bad Boy Heroes . . .

Victoria Bylin BannerI like men who swagger. When a man with an attitude enters a room, everyone knows it. Men of lesser confidence back down, and women look twice.  Out of my own books, my two favorite heroes are John Leaf in Abbie’s Outlaw and J.T. Quinn in The Outlaw’s Return.  Both of these men have outlaw pasts, but they also have hearts for love, truth and justice.johnnycash

So what makes a bad boy so appealing?  The swagger is part of it; so is the rebellion and the sex appeal. But what most appeals to me is the back story.  Why is he the way he is?  What happened to him?  Who hurt him?  My bad boys heroes are rogues, but they’re also willing to die for people they love.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at the research that goes into a bad boy hero.  It’s not exactly research in the academic sense. It’s rhettmore like daydreaming, but these characters have to start somewhere.  Here’s my list of favorite bad boys from real life, fiction, movies and television.

No. 1 on my list is Johnny Cash. The man in black had a bad-to-the-bone swagger, and Walk the Line is one of my favorite movies. Later in life, he made a u-turn. The story of Nickajack Cave is legendary. It’s the place where he decided to give up some bad habits and become a new man. He did . . . but he didn’t stop swaggering.

No. 2 is Rhett Butler. I haven’t seen Gone With the Wind in years, but I can still recall the scene where he and Scarlett are fleeing Atlanta and he kisses her. Talk about confidence!  It’s got to be one of the most romantic scenes ever. Even in the end, after he loses his little girl and is mellowed by grief, Rhett still has an inner strength. Daniel Craig James Bond Quantum of Solace movie image

The No. 3 slot goes to Bruce Springsteen for his music. His “Born to Run” CD is one of my favorites. The title track is a legend, and so is “Thunder Road.” Bruce grabs life by the shoulders and shakes it. I love that! It’s the same energy that settled the American West, the same boldness that gave us heroes and outlaws and Wild West legends.

No. 4 on my list is Daniel Craig in the James  Bond movies. He took one of the longest running franchise roles of all  time and made it fresh and original.   Humor, courage, intelligence and a big dash of arrogance make the new James Bond a pleasure to watch

No. 5 . . . Johnny Cain in Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider has been at the top of my list of favorite western bad boys ever since I read the book back in the 1999. It’s the book that made me to tell stories of my own, and I love it more than ever.

Real or imaginary . . . Who are some of your favorite bad boy heroes?



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15 thoughts on “Bad Boy Heroes . . .”

  1. Possibly my favorite book of all time is Mischief by Amanda Quick and her hero is the baddest of bad boys. So tough everyone with a lick of sense is scared to upset him.
    Except the heroine of course.
    By some twisting path in her head she decides the hero’s reputation is all nonsense and he’s really a rather refined, overly sensitive type with nervous weaknesses. And she decides this because she has a crazed plan to ferret out a killer and the hero is horrified at the plan and keeps trying to stop her.
    It’s really hilarious.
    He wants to stay close to her so he plays along, and every time she’s ready to do something ridiculous rash he stops her by claiming it’s too much for his weak nerves.
    She keeps trying to bolster his courage, meanwhile everyone else is quaking at the sight of him.

  2. Vicki,
    I loved this post. I agree with all of these bad boy choices, for sure, and I LOVE ME SOME DANIEL CRAIG!!!!

    Johnny Cash…yes, he sure had the swagger! And Rhett? I agree with you about that scene where he kisses Scarlett–that was one of the most romantic scenes ever.

    Your description of The Outsider made me trot right over to Amazon and order it. Oddly enough, I had never heard of that book and this week I’ve read two blog posts that mentioned it. IT’S A SIGN!!! LOL

    Other bad boys with swagger…Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns–love HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER! Also in The Outlaw Josey Wales. I’ll put my mind to more–it takes a lot to make this list, and you’ve named most of them, I think. I never thought anyone would replace Sean Connery as “the” Bond, but Daniel Craig has.


  3. I love your post! I think its easier to fall in love with a character that is kind of a big boy but is also good! one of my favorite is Jesse and Frank James from the movie American Outlaws. such a great movie with good humor and action! and pretty much anything with Patrick swayze!!!

  4. Thanks for a fun post. I guess we all secretly admire the Bad Boy and prefer him over someone “safe.” Have to agree with all your choices as well as Cheryl’s addition of Clint Eastwood. Your question reminded me of TV shows I watched back in high school. Two medical dramas were the perfect example of safe vs bad boy. “Dr. Kildare” starring Richard Chamberlain (it ran ’61 to ’66) was the perfect Mr. safe. Running at the same time was “Ben Casey” starring Vince Edwards. He was dark to Kildare’s blond good looks and he fought the system rather than being Mr. Nice and Cooperative. Not exactly your western heroes and I have no idea why I remembered them after all these years, I just remember being a bit confused why I was more attracted to Casey’s “bad boy.” Not a mystery anymore.

  5. Love, love that picture of Clark Gable. He, Jimmy Stewart and Nelson Eddy are my favorites, along with Cary Grant — people nowadays hardly recognize those names — these old stars whom I’ve loved for so long.

  6. Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by . . . I ran off to the day job this morning and just got home . . . I’m enjoying all the different thoughts on bad boy heroes!

  7. Just thinking about your books with John Leaf and J.T. Quinn have me itching to pull them off the shelf and read the whole series again. But I can’t.

    I just read the entire 72 book Harlequin NASCAR series and there were some serious bad boys and everyone one swaggered to their cars. And yup, most had a reason behind it.

  8. Lou Diamond Phillipes is one of my bad boys that I have always liked and I’ve liked Val Kilmer.

  9. Hi Judy, I personally think there should be a lot of leeway for typos in messages and blogs. What counts is content. I bet the NASCAR series was terrific. Bad boys galore!

    • And they definitely had swagger, Victoria! And back stories.

      Rafe LaCroix was a pretty good bad guy too.

      Being I get paid to proofread, I don’t give myself that leeway.

  10. Hello Jennifer! I loved Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. He’s got a kind of “lostness” that just makes a person wonder what happened in the past.

  11. Judy, you’re a saint for proofreading. I’m halfway through proofing the revised ms for the book that’s coming out next Spring with Bethany House. My eyes are crossing! I just can’t see those missing words! Or the extra ones . . . I do a lot of editing, which means a lot of c&p. Dangerous!

  12. Hi Vicki, sorry to be so late getting here. I love this post! I think Rhett Butler rocks them all. Even from the get-go, when he stands at the bottom of the stairs ogling Scarlett, he steals my heart. I just visited Margaret Mitchell’s House in Atlanta and, be still my heart LOL. And Val Kilmer’s Doc is probably my runner-up. Fun post today! xo

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