Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite “Unlikable” Protagonists


Hosted by ThoughtsOnTomes

Hello again, Strangers! It’s time to do this week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic! This week’s topic is your favorite “unlikable” protagonists. “Unlikable” protagonists get a bad rap, but they’re often some of my favorite characters. I get tired of flawless, can-do-no-wrong main characters, so “unlikable” ones are often a refreshing change. So, let’s discuss all my favorite protagonists that like to get under people’s skin.

  1. Julian Blackthorn from The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare: For a YA hero, Julian sure is morally corrupt. He lies and manipulates with ease. He’s ruthless and will not hesitate to play the monster. Sometimes he goes too far and you wonder if he’ll be able to continue to straddle that line between good and evil or if he’ll fall over the edge. Either way, you want him to accomplish all his goals and love to see him do literally anything to protect those he loves. He’s exactly the kind of protagonist you don’t want to mess with.
  2. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Katniss is not only “unlikeable” as a protagonist, but she’s “unlikeable” in-world too. That was a huge issue she had to overcome in the first book in order to win sponsors. She hates the extravagance of the Capitol and is a living example of the hardships of the outer districts. She’s also snarky and judgmental, difficult and stubborn. She rarely listens to authority and refuses to go out of her way to appear “likeable.” She’d rather hide in the woods than be the symbol of a rebellion. She’s passionate, which sometimes serves her well and sometimes doesn’t. She’s not the protagonist you’d root for on a reality show, but you may find you see yourself in her more than you first thought.
  3. Victor Vale from Vicious by V.E. Schwab: What is an “unlikeable” protagonist list without the vengeful villain himself? He envies Eli and strives to be equal or greater. Rather than blaming himself for his crimes, he blames Eli and concocts a scheme to take him down. He doesn’t even care if he’s perceived as a villain, as long as he gets what he wants. He’s also very probably a sociopath. While he has a few redeeming qualities, mostly he’s just cold as ice.
  4. Mara Dyer from the Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin: I mean, the girl can kill people with her mind. While she often struggles with this, she becomes more and more comfortable with it as the series goes on. As the reader, you never quite know if you can trust her. It isn’t even until the third book that’s you’re able to determine whether or not any of this is even real. Her PTSD causes her to lash out, but you get the feeling she was temperamental and judgmental beforehand. Despite her quest for answers, she often stops to do selfish things instead. Hell, she knows she’ll “love [Noah] to ruins” and yet she never even considers leaving him. She’s messy and vengeful, a Slytherin among rats. As one of the few actual female antiheros in YA, she reigns supreme.
  5. Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo: I mean, what can you say about Kaz? He’s a literal crime boss. He ripped out a guy’s eyeball and threw him into the ocean because he hurt the girl Kaz loves. He often doesn’t tell people what he’s planning and he holds wicked grudges. He threatened a child (even though he didn’t really mean it) and would willingly throw anyone under the bus to get even close to what he wants. He’s manipulative and violent and I love him so much. Perhaps I’ve been misdirected by one of his magic tricks, but he is my king and I’d let him rob me blind any day.

Well, those are my top five favorite “unlikeable” protagonists. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to pick ones I don’t love, exceed my limit, or break the, albeit flexible, parameters. I could’ve picked America Singer from the Selection series by Kiera Cass, but I don’t love her. I could’ve picked Darth Vader since he’s got his own Marvel comic series, but that relies too much on other canon. So, in the end, I had to pick these five. And they are a good— or perhaps bad— five indeed.


What are some “unlikable” protagonists you love? Let me know in the comments!


Stay weird, Strangers!

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