“Yes, it was love—unchangeable—unchanged,
Felt but for one from whom he never ranged.”
(The Corsair, Lord Byron)
As promised, this week’s Top List is part 2 of what I’m calling the “Byronic Hero Top 20 Series.” Part 1 focused on Byronic Heroes in Film, while Part 3 (the next list from me) will center on Byronic Heroes in Literature. This week is the Top 20 Byronic Heroes in Television (and I use the term “top 20” lightly as there are a few ties).
In the top 20 Byronic Heroes in Film, I presented a detailed list of the characteristics of a Byronic Hero which was a combination of research as well as some of my own ideas. Make sure to check out part 1 for a refresher on the specific traits (such as passionate, arrogant, intellectually superior…). Remember, just because a character (or even a bad boy) presents some characteristics of a Byronic, doesn’t mean they are one, whereas just because a character doesn’t present all of the traits doesn’t mean they aren’t one.
RELATED: Read Part One: Top 20 Bad Boys: Byronic Heroes in Film
This week, I thought I’d dig a little bit deeper into the Byronic Hero before presenting what I believe to be the best Byronic Heroes in Television as of 2013. At least the ones I’ve seen! So let’s take a look at the varying types. Not all Byronic figures look and sound the same. In Atara Stein’s book The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction, and Television, she categorizes Byronic Heroes into three types. Her book blurb summarizes her argument quite nicely:
“Stein places her Byronic heroes into two camps: the leader-hero who pursues justice outside the law through explosive violence, illustrated in a trio of Clint Eastwood Westerns, the Crow films, and the Terminator films; and the angst-ridden loner hero who views his power as a burden and pines for human existence, represented in Anne Rice’s vampire novels and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels. She also provides a detailed examination of one manifestation of the Byronic hero who embodies traits of both leader-hero and gloomy egotist.”
Taking this a step further in presenting the three types, I would argue the type 1, or the leader-hero as Stein puts it, is the Byronic who embraces who or what he is. Type 2 is the brooder, the loner. Type ones will typically be sarcastic, a mocker if you will, who looks down on society. It’s almost like the difference between an extrovert and an introvert (though at the end of the day most Byronic Heroes are introverted even if they present extroverted tendencies). And then there’s type 3 who combine both of these elements as Stein proposes.
RELATED: Read Part Three: Top 20 Bad Boys: Byronic Heroes in Literature
There are two great examples of the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Byronic Heroes on Television: One, Spike vs. Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel). And two: Eric vs. Bill (True Blood). Where Spike enjoys being a vampire, mocks and laughs at situations, Angel broods in the corner and tries to become a do-gooder to make up for past sins. Eric and Bill present the same differences. Bill broods and mopes, while Eric parties and runs a nightclub. Both are tortured, both believe in Byronic love, but they approach it in different ways.
You can see the difference quite clearly between the two types in this fan video of Spike and Angel as they spar over their love for Buffy (trust me, this video is a must-watch; it is HILARIOUS):
A good example of Type 3 in Television is Mick St. John from Moonlight. He’s a vampire who is both leader-hero and gloomy egotist. He spends his time seeking justice outside the confines of the law while also brooding over the fact that he’s a monster, and all done with sarcasm and superiority. He believes he’s better than the other vampires, while also believing he’s above humans – or at least their laws (even though he longs to be one).
Byronic Heroes in Television
In this particular list, you will find examples of all three types. Since television these days is rampant with Byronic Heroes, I tried to pick the best ones, so no doubt you may find one you like from the list (trust me I had to drop a few of my favorites as well). My choices come from TV shows as well as from TV Movies; so no literature (although it can be adapted from it) and no feature films. Part 3 will be coming soon with a full list of the best Byronic Heroes in Literature (so make sure to subscribe below so you know when!)
Until then, read through the entertaining quotes of the Top 20 Byronic Heroes in Television.
Featured Image at top: Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) and Beth Turner (Sophia Myles) in Moonlight. Photo: CBS