Nowadays, an Antihero is usually thought of as a Badass, SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids bitter, HatesEveryoneEqually misanthropic, BloodKnight violent, SociopathicHero sociopathic, angry person (see NinetiesAntiHero). However, this is actually a recent invention. For much of history, the term antihero referred to a character type that is in many ways the opposite of this.
In Template:Classical and earlier mythology, the hero tended to be a CanonSue dashing, confident, stoic, intelligent, highly capable fighter and commander with few, if any, flaws. The classical antihero, as the title suggests, is the inversion of this. Where the hero is confident, the antihero is plagued by self-doubt. Where the hero is a respected fighter, the antihero is mediocre at best. Where the hero gets all the ladies, the antihero can't even get the time of day.
In short, while the traditional hero is a paragon of awesomeness, the classical antihero suffers from flaws and hindrances. The classical antihero's story tends to be as much about overcoming his own weaknesses as about conquering the enemy.
As time has gone on, this portrayal has become increasingly popular, as readers enjoy the increased depth of story that comes from a flawed and conflicted character. Hence, the classical antihero has to some extent replaced the traditional hero in the minds of readers as the idea of what a hero should be. It is nowadays rare to find a hero who does not have at least a little of the classical antihero in him.
Stands on the heroic end of the SlidingScaleOfAntiHeroes. See also PunchClockHero. Compare SuperLoser and TragicHero.
[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Shinji Ikari from NeonGenesisEvangelion, who saves the day several times in spite of all the mental problems.
* Rock (and Benny) from BlackLagoon. The same can't be said for the other members of the Lagoon Company, though, who are pretty much Template:Villain Protagonists.
* Nozomu Itoshiki of SayonaraZetsuboSensei. AKA Mr. Despair, he is constantly attempting suicide and angsting about the most ridiculous of things. Interestingly, he isn't an example of ThisLoserIsYou, as he's very good looking, intelligent, and comes from a very wealthy (if bizarre) family. In fact, the irony of his character is that he acts the way he does despite having these advantages.
* Tatsuhiro Satou of WelcomeToTheNHK is a highly unstable NEET who places all of the blame for his highly unstable life on a conspiracy organization known to him as the NHK.
* Renton Thurston in EurekaSeven, who eventually graduated into a proper hero.
* In TwentiethCenturyBoys, Kenji starts as this.
* Yukiteru Amano of MiraiNikki starts out as as one.
* Kei Kurono from Manga/Gantz. TookALevelInBadass He gets better.
* The protagonist of TheTatamiGalaxy, who is something of a Zetsubou-sensei Expy, and is described in some promotional matterials as a "not-so-lovable loser".
* Saji Crossroads, Shinji Ikari's Expy of sorts, during the second season of Gundam 00. TookALevelInBadass He gets better.
* Usopp from Manga/OnePiece is pretty much this in the beginning and mostly in the Water 7/Enies Lobby arc.
* Mr. Satan from DragonBall
* Vincent Law/Ergo Proxy of ErgoProxy early on. He gets better and advances to a Type II.
* Kou Uraki of Template:Gundam 0083.
* Akitsu Masanosuke from HouseOfFiveLeaves is a classical anti-hero, being an overly humble samurai with no self-esteem.
* Natsume from NatsumeYuujinchou is a SociallyAwkwardHero with no self-confidence about people and a tendency to alienate what friends he does make by constantly lying to them to avoid causing a fuss.
* Early ComicBook/Spider-Man , explicitly designed to be the first superhero with personal and internal conflicts besides super-villains and criminals.
* Dave from Template:Kick-Ass.
* Wikus van der Merwe of the film Film/District 9.
* Most of the protagonists in Creator/KevinSmith's ViewAskewniverse qualify.
* Sgt. Neil Howie in the original version of TheWickerMan.
* The portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in TheSocialNetwork teeters between this and VillainProtagonist.
* The eponymous character of Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian, which makes all the funnier the fact that he is repeatedly mistaken for TheMessiah.
* Megamind in the movie of the same name. Yes, he's a VillainProtagonist supervillain, but he's our protagonist and he fits this to a T, especially as his character *ahem* develops through the movie.
* EvelynWaugh's first novel, Decline and Fall, has ButtMonkey protagonist Paul Pennyfeather who is one of these in the way he is rather a pushover taken advantage of by the other characters.
* Discworld's Rincewind as an inept wizard and DirtyCoward[=/=]LovableCoward who is the ButtMonkey of the universe. He's noticed it himself.
* The narrator of Notes from the Underground is one of these, as is FranzKafka's Josef K-.
* Gilbert Norrell of Template:Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, while a skilled magician, is a humorless and petty character who is far from evil enough to be an EvilSorcerer, but also far from sympathetic (or interesting) enough to be a traditional hero.
* Template:John LeCarre's spymaster George Smiley is like this as a contrast to JamesBond, living in the more cynical side of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, and as opposed to Bond being stylish and a ChickMagnet, Smiley dresses poorly and is a cuckold.
* Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's House of Mirth. Let's see: fails at anything and everything she tries her hands at? Check. Only ever succeeds at alienating the few people who genuinely do care about her? Check. Is a whiny, insufferable JerkAss with an entitlement complex bigger than Brazil? Check. spoiler:Dies at the end? Check.
* Lola from Kit Whitfield's Benighted is pathetic, self-loathing and self destructive, turning away from or turning on anyone who might help her.
* Mick "Brew" Axbrewder from Stephen R. Donaldson's Man Who series, a self-pitying alcoholic who makes Thomas Covenant look like GarfieldAndFriends Binky the Clown.
* Linden Avery in the second Template:Chronicles of Thomas Covenant trilogy. Becomes a more standard heroine in the third trilogy. Stephen Donaldson is very fond of taking classical antiheroes and transforming them.
* Flinx of the HumanxCommonwealth series. He IJustWantToBeNormal just wants the universe to let him be. Too bad he's TheChosenOne and TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive, not to mention that he has a hidden romantic streak and a not-so-hidden streak of curiosity that constantly gets him into trouble.
* Amir, the narrator of TheKiteRunner starts out as a coward hiding from his past but grows throughout the story and is redeemed to become a 'true' hero.
* HeroicWannabe David Levin of Everworld. He improves as time goes on.
* Mr. Rochester of JaneEyre.
* Jason of the Template:Argonautica.
* Dave Lister, Cat and Arnold J. Rimmer from Series/RedDwarf start out like this, although Rimmer is both a neurotic loser and a JerkAss smeghead. Lister once goodnaturedly described himself as a "bum", while Rimmer would call him a lazy slob. Cat was vain, self-centered to the point of callousness, and not very smart... not surprising given that his species had evolved from a single, pregnant female housecat 3 million years ago (imagine the inbreeding), and even other cats considered him a moron. All three CharacterDevelopment became more competent in the course of the series, but they never quite lost their essential quirks, their BigDamnHeroes good qualities (such as Lister's selflessness and sense of fairness) merely became more pronounced. Or, in the case of Arnold Rimmer, who had no redeeming qualities, Rimmer had a run-in with his AlternateUniverse counterpart TheAce "Ace" Rimmer.
* Willy Loman from DeathOfASalesman. A little, pathethic man, broken by his chase after a dream that isn't true.
* Woyzeck from the [[Theatre/Template:Woyzeck eponymous play]] is considered the first true Antihero, as opposed to the classic tragic hero.
* Everyone but Ricky Roma in GlengarryGlenRoss qualifies, but with particular attention paid to Shelly Levene.
* Hamlet was conflicted and emotional before it was cool.
* Travis Touchdown, of NoMoreHeroes, a porn-obsessed Otaku without anything resembling a social life. He's also an EvilAntihero, however, eagerly slaughtering opponents and rarely showing any remorse for his killings.
* Raiden is largely considered to be this in MetalGearSolid2, though he becomes more of a JerkassAntihero in MetalGearSolid4.
* Lester the Unlikely from the SNES game of the same name starts out as such a wimp that even turtles scare him. He does become more heroic about halfway through the game, however.
* Almaz from Disgaea 3.
* Cloud Strife of FinalFantasyVII, although he JerkassFacade pretends to be a prick.
* Commander Shepard can show shades of this in MassEffect2 given the potential to fail multiple loyalty missions and get most of your squad killed through poor choices during the suicide mission.
** This grows more obvious in MassEffect3. Shepard grows increasingly distraught and frustrated over his/her inability to do significant damage to the Reapers and save everybody. After spoiler:the fall of Thessia, Shepard briefly goes through a HeroicBSOD and teeters on the verge of the DespairEventHorizon; even Paragon dialogue options are cynical.
* James Sunderland of SilentHill2 is easily one of these.
* Raimi and Kamimura from BrokenSaints.
* The "Knights of Good" from TheGuild, except TokenEvilTeammate Tinkerballa.
* Aquerna, of the WhateleyUniverse. She is one of the SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy Underdogs, with laughable powers that make her a campus joke. She has self-esteem problems, and is no longer welcome in her own home since she turned into a mutant. Her combat final story and her Christmas story are all about her personal life and her personal problems, even if some action intrudes into the plot.
* ScoobyDoo and Shaggy.
* Philip J. Fry from Futurama.
* Cody and Sierra Template:Total Drama World Tour. First season, Cody was a standard hero, but developed less heroic traits in the third season.