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Ringoringa's avatar

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I can't speak for everyone, but it generally has to do with one of two things. Either the character has some incredibly charming quirk, or there's something about them that makes the audience feel for them. I don't know much about Han Solo or Tony Stark, but Snape and Zuko had attitudes that, while not justifiable, were pretty much a direct result of their not-so-happy childhoods. Snape was bullied mercilessly by Harry's father, the only woman he ever loved was murdered, and so on and so forth. He wasn't a great person, but he was a great character, and he was a joy to read about. Zuko's past was even worse. You have to remember that he's just a teenager at this point. A teenager that wants nothing more than to make daddy love him. You see it in real life all the time; the parents are horrible and abusive, and the child is willing to do anything for their approval.

Mako failed, I think, not because his behavior isn't understandable given his past (orphaned young, had to take care of a brother and tried sheltering him from the world while taking the brunt of the burden onto himself, etc.) but because, well, we never really see much of it. Zuko's history had so much detail. You see that little boy begging his father to show some mercy, just to get fire to the face. You see his mother, the only person who ever seemed to care about him, vanish one night, never to return. You see him simultaneously reject and rely on his uncle. You see him struggle even throughout the series with every decision he makes, until it finally gets through to him that he's not making the right decisions. Heck, you see him reunite with his uncle afterwards, and you don't have a soul if you didn't cry as hugged. That scene makes me tear up every time.

Mako, well, you didn't see anything but him being a jerk. He never appeared to struggle with his decisions. He just sort of moved through life being unpleasant to everyone. He helped out, sure, and he had some entertaining moments; I liked the scene where he sneezed fire. However, that scene didn't feel natural, simply because it was so out of character for him. I was in shock when he got all lovey-dovey over Asami not because it wasn't funny, but because they hadn't set up his character in a way that made that something I could believe. Characters, at least the 'unlikable' ones, need development to keep them fresh and entertaining. Mako got none of that. He was a jerk, he stayed a jerk with maybe one or two out-of-character laughs, and he ended pretty much the same. Compared to Zuko, who was an entirely different person by the end of the show, he's just a complete drag.

Character development, along with certain aspects that make them more interesting to the viewer/reader, are vital to the success of jerks in fiction. You need to be able to have the audience say, "You know, this person is kind of a jerk, but I can sort of understand why, and I want to know more about them to help me better get why they are the way they are."
I_Write_Ivre's avatar

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Ringoringa

Mako, well, you didn't see anything but him being a jerk. He never appeared to struggle with his decisions. He just sort of moved through life being unpleasant to everyone. He helped out, sure, and he had some entertaining moments; I liked the scene where he sneezed fire. However, that scene didn't feel natural, simply because it was so out of character for him. I was in shock when he got all lovey-dovey over Asami not because it wasn't funny, but because they hadn't set up his character in a way that made that something I could believe. Characters, at least the 'unlikable' ones, need development to keep them fresh and entertaining. Mako got none of that. He was a jerk, he stayed a jerk with maybe one or two out-of-character laughs, and he ended pretty much the same. Compared to Zuko, who was an entirely different person by the end of the show, he's just a complete drag.

Also about Mako: So what? By LOK, we'd seen dozens upon dozens who had that problem, and they had an actual reaction other than 'bland jerk' to it. Hell, that was the main thing about Sokka before the main credits finished in the first series and he was shaped by that experience.

It really irks me when people just paint 'unhappy circumstances' on someone and call it 'defined character'.
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I_Write_Ivre
Ringoringa

Mako, well, you didn't see anything but him being a jerk. He never appeared to struggle with his decisions. He just sort of moved through life being unpleasant to everyone. He helped out, sure, and he had some entertaining moments; I liked the scene where he sneezed fire. However, that scene didn't feel natural, simply because it was so out of character for him. I was in shock when he got all lovey-dovey over Asami not because it wasn't funny, but because they hadn't set up his character in a way that made that something I could believe. Characters, at least the 'unlikable' ones, need development to keep them fresh and entertaining. Mako got none of that. He was a jerk, he stayed a jerk with maybe one or two out-of-character laughs, and he ended pretty much the same. Compared to Zuko, who was an entirely different person by the end of the show, he's just a complete drag.

Also about Mako: So what? By LOK, we'd seen dozens upon dozens who had that problem, and they had an actual reaction other than 'bland jerk' to it. Hell, that was the main thing about Sokka before the main credits finished in the first series and he was shaped by that experience.

It really irks me when people just paint 'unhappy circumstances' on someone and call it 'defined character'.


I can completely forgive Sokka's faults because he's funny. And that makes me feel shallow. XD;
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RubyRedRhapsody
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Ringoringa

Mako, well, you didn't see anything but him being a jerk. He never appeared to struggle with his decisions. He just sort of moved through life being unpleasant to everyone. He helped out, sure, and he had some entertaining moments; I liked the scene where he sneezed fire. However, that scene didn't feel natural, simply because it was so out of character for him. I was in shock when he got all lovey-dovey over Asami not because it wasn't funny, but because they hadn't set up his character in a way that made that something I could believe. Characters, at least the 'unlikable' ones, need development to keep them fresh and entertaining. Mako got none of that. He was a jerk, he stayed a jerk with maybe one or two out-of-character laughs, and he ended pretty much the same. Compared to Zuko, who was an entirely different person by the end of the show, he's just a complete drag.

Also about Mako: So what? By LOK, we'd seen dozens upon dozens who had that problem, and they had an actual reaction other than 'bland jerk' to it. Hell, that was the main thing about Sokka before the main credits finished in the first series and he was shaped by that experience.

It really irks me when people just paint 'unhappy circumstances' on someone and call it 'defined character'.


I can completely forgive Sokka's faults because he's funny. And that makes me feel shallow. XD;

Shallow?
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Ringoringa

Mako, well, you didn't see anything but him being a jerk. He never appeared to struggle with his decisions. He just sort of moved through life being unpleasant to everyone. He helped out, sure, and he had some entertaining moments; I liked the scene where he sneezed fire. However, that scene didn't feel natural, simply because it was so out of character for him. I was in shock when he got all lovey-dovey over Asami not because it wasn't funny, but because they hadn't set up his character in a way that made that something I could believe. Characters, at least the 'unlikable' ones, need development to keep them fresh and entertaining. Mako got none of that. He was a jerk, he stayed a jerk with maybe one or two out-of-character laughs, and he ended pretty much the same. Compared to Zuko, who was an entirely different person by the end of the show, he's just a complete drag.

Also about Mako: So what? By LOK, we'd seen dozens upon dozens who had that problem, and they had an actual reaction other than 'bland jerk' to it. Hell, that was the main thing about Sokka before the main credits finished in the first series and he was shaped by that experience.

It really irks me when people just paint 'unhappy circumstances' on someone and call it 'defined character'.


I can completely forgive Sokka's faults because he's funny. And that makes me feel shallow. XD;

Shallow?


Like...

Mako? ...He's a sarcastic sourpuss with little character development. Pff. Haaaaaate.

Sokka? ...He's a sarcastic sourpuss with little character development, but he's also funny. ...FAVORITE CHARACTER! <3

XD So I feel a little shallow.
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RubyRedRhapsody

Sokka? ...He's a sarcastic sourpuss with little character development, but he's also funny. ...FAVORITE CHARACTER! <3

He has tons of character.

He was burdened at a young age by the father he looked up to by promising to protect the entire village when he was nine.

He kept that promise, losing a lot of his childhood in doing to. He learns to overcome cultural sexism and recover from Yue's sacrifice.

He struggled with his love for Yue because of her betrothal even though she was of higher rank and decided to abandon it herself.

He kept reuniting with his father, only yo lose him to duty and the fire nation time and again.

Because of his childhood, he can't stand feeling useless when it comes to protecting and helping, yet he will fight and confront impossible odds.

And that's my lazy footnotes. You can check out SFdebris's analysis of the whole series and how well Sokka's developed there.
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RubyRedRhapsody

Sokka? ...He's a sarcastic sourpuss with little character development, but he's also funny. ...FAVORITE CHARACTER! <3

He has tons of character.

He was burdened at a young age by the father he looked up to by promising to protect the entire village when he was nine.

He kept that promise, losing a lot of his childhood in doing to. He learns to overcome cultural sexism and recover from Yue's sacrifice.

He struggled with his love for Yue because of her betrothal even though she was of higher rank and decided to abandon it herself.

He kept reuniting with his father, only yo lose him to duty and the fire nation time and again.

Because of his childhood, he can't stand feeling useless when it comes to protecting and helping, yet he will fight and confront impossible odds.

And that's my lazy footnotes. You can check out SFdebris's analysis of the whole series and how well Sokka's developed there.


Okay, so maybe I'm downplaying Sokka's awesomeness. ._.

But, theoretically you can argue that Mako has some character development too. Namely him loosing his parents and his brother being the only thing he has left, and him falling for Korra but being too stupid proud to admit it and making all sorts of bad mistakes. ....Or at least that's what his fans will say. And he does have fans. :/

.....Yeah... Sokka's clearly better.
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RubyRedRhapsody

Okay, so maybe I'm downplaying Sokka's awesomeness. ._.

But, theoretically you can argue that Mako has some character development too. Namely him loosing his parents and his brother being the only thing he has left, and him falling for Korra but being too stupid proud to admit it and making all sorts of bad mistakes. ....Or at least that's what his fans will say. And he does have fans. :/

.....Yeah... Sokka's clearly better.

Of course Sokka's better. Sokka did all that and overcame it. It was only him and Katara and he fell for Suki, but was proud and dickish about gender roles. But he overcame that and even allowed someone else to protect him--when nearly his whole identity until then was to be a protector of this tribe and family.
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I didn't think Sokka was that much of a jerk. He had his moments, of course, but his role was mainly comedic.
Naked Bacon's avatar

Dabbler

It probably helps that the writer isn't trying to damned hard to make people like him. Actually, that's not true in a lot of those cases, but the main character gets stuck with all the boring tropes often, so readers look to other characters instead if they otherwise like the work enough to continue reading.
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Man-Hungry Fatcat

Well, the thing about these characters is liking them just happens.

You end up liking Zuko because even though he torments Aang, his back story is tragic. I mean, he's only DOING this because he spoke his opinion during a meeting and his father exiled him (unless he came home with the Avatar). All throughout their journey, Zuko's uncle instills some good in him. And little by little, we see him question his anger, his reason for chasing Aang, etc. He begins to throw out those bad things about himself until eventually, all he really wants to do is the right thing. So I guess throughout ATLA, I really identified with Zuko. I knew he could do good things. We've all been there right? We want to please our parents. And eventually, this battle is lost, because Zuko can't please his father.

Gregory House from House is also a jerk character. But we like him because, while (yes) he IS a massive a*****e, he's brilliant. He solves his cases in ways we can't even comprehend.

Then you have Dexter from Dexter. Or Walt from Breaking Bad. With Dexter, he is the protagonist of the show, but he is a serial murderer. He doesn't apologize for being this way, either. But he was raised to take justice into his own hands. The vast majority of the time, when he kills someone, he's killing someone the police can't get a hold of (not enough evidence, admissible evidence). The actual appeal with him is that his character is very different from other characters. He's different than what people are used to.

Walt from Breaking Bad starts out as a chemistry teacher who is sick and dying. He gets into the meth business so he can make money before he dies, with the hope that that money will support his wife and kid. He begins down this dark path that keeps getting worse and worse. It changes who he is. The lies get bigger to friends and family and he does eventually become a bad person. He still has a heart. There are messages of good in him, but his decisions are more about becoming a rich and powerful drug lord than of a family man. You like him because it's fascinating to watch his character's evolution. No changes he makes are drastic, but incremental steps.

So I guess to answer the question, we like "bad" characters because there are aspects of them that aren't entirely bad. Zuko had a good heart, even if he was mean to Aang. House is a genius, and as viewers, we respect him/think he's funny/like his charm. So you just have to find the aspects of a "bad" character that make them likable. Every character has SOMETHING someone will like about them.
misty sundays's avatar

Anxious Gekko

if they're hot.
all kidding aside, many unlikable characters do at least have ONE redeemable quality. For Snape it was his unrequited love for Lily, for Zuko it's because he WANTS to redeem himself and it takes like a season and a half for him to develop in a believable way. Tyrion from Game of Thrones is one of my favorite characters ever and he is far from perfect.

for the record, I ******** hate Mako. Shame on you Bryke for creating such an uninspired, lazy cardboard cutout.
One thing that always makes the jerk character stand out and be more lovable- in my opinion- is that people can relate to them more than they can relate to some sparkly idealistic version of what a hero should be. People love underdog stories and characters with angst. We all want witty and sarcastic but with ulterior motives that prove that deep down they're really just like the rest of us; afraid to let people in or make mistakes. One way that helps make a character more likable is when the idealistic hero becomes diminished overtime- turns to the dark side as one might say- which usually makes us all dislike who they become. However, when an already flawed character makes mistakes- or even better, does a good deed- readers find it endearing. They even like the characters more just because they never tried to be something they weren't cut out for. It's all in how the character is set up; people definitely want to read more about something they don't expect. Try to make them as human as possible- even the jerks of this world have their insecurities. (Like the kid who became as strong as possible and bullies kids because his father treats him like he is weak and inferior. Or Snape's weakness for Lily because she was the only one who didn't treat him like crap when he was younger. The whole Superman and kryptonite thing.) Not sure if this helps but good luck on the story smile
LoperDoper's avatar

Questionable Streaker

That is a good question. I think a lot of it relates to how you understand a character, or if you admire him/her.

I'm going to have to use an example here. Currently, I'm watching the first season of LOST. Now basically, Sawyer is a d**k. He's horrible to everyone or just downright slimy.
It's quite obvious he's the way he is because we see him as a slick businessman. I understand why he's an idiot and unlikeable. And because he portrays this image and knows he portrays this image, I'm beginning to like him.
They can relate to the character on some level and can empathize with how they decided to do certain things.

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