Dark Side of Protagonist If You Remove the Kind Protagonist Mask

As readers, we are often drawn to protagonists who are kind, empathetic, and selfless. These characters are easy to root for, and we want to see them succeed. However, what if you remove the kind protagonist mask? What if we explore the dark side of protaganism?

Unmasking the Dark Side of Protagonism

Protagonists are often portrayed as the “good guys.” They have a moral compass, and they fight for what is right. However,  if you remove the kind protagonist mask, we see that these characters can have a dark side. They can be selfish, manipulative, and even cruel.

Take, for example, Walter White from Breaking Bad. At the beginning of the series, Walter is a kind and loving family man. However, as the series progresses, we see that Walter is capable of terrible things. He lies, manipulates, and even kills to get what he wants.

Another example is Amy Dunne from Gone Girl. Amy is portrayed as a victim for much of the novel, but we soon learn that she is a master manipulator. She goes to great lengths to frame her husband for her own murder and ultimately gets away with it.

The Psychology Behind the Kind Protagonist Mask

So why do we tend to create protagonists who are kind and selfless? According to psychologists, this is because we are drawn to characters who embody our ideal selves. We want to believe that we are kind, empathetic, and selfless, so we create characters who embody these traits.

However, this can lead to one-dimensional characters that lack depth and complexity. When we remove the kind protagonist mask, we create characters that are more relatable and realistic.

Tips for Creating Multi-Dimensional Protagonists

If you want to create multi-dimensional protagonists, consider the following tips:

  1. Give them flaws – No one is perfect, so your characters shouldn’t be either. Give them flaws that make them more relatable and human.
  2. Challenge their beliefs – Characters who are forced to confront their beliefs and values are more interesting than those who never waver.
  3. Make them selfish – While we don’t necessarily want to root for selfish characters, they can be more interesting and complex than selfless ones.
  4. Give them a dark side – Like Walter White and Amy Dunne, your characters should be capable of terrible things. This doesn’t mean they have to be villains, but they should have a dark side that makes them more interesting.


Q: What is a protagonist?

A: A protagonist is the main character in a story or novel.

Q: Why are protagonists often portrayed as kind and selfless?

A: Protagonists are often portrayed as kind and selfless because they embody our ideal selves.

Q: Why is it important to create multi-dimensional protagonists?

A: Multi-dimensional protagonists are more relatable and realistic, which makes them more interesting to readers.

Q: Can protagonists be selfish and still be likeable?

A: Yes, protagonists can be selfish and still be likeable. In fact, giving your protagonist some selfish tendencies can make them more interesting and complex. The key is to make sure that their selfishness doesn’t overshadow their other traits, and that they still have redeeming qualities that make them likeable to readers.

Q: How do you create a dark side for your protagonist?

A: To create a dark side for your protagonist, consider giving them a flaw or weakness that they struggle with. This flaw could be something that causes them to make bad decisions or hurt others. You could also give them a traumatic past that influences their behaviour in the present. The important thing is to make sure that their dark side is believable and adds depth to their character.

Q: Is it okay for a protagonist to be a villain?

A: While it’s not necessary for a protagonist to be a villain, it can make for a compelling story. If you do decide to make your protagonist a villain, make sure that they are still relatable and have qualities that readers can root for. You could also consider making them an antihero, a character who is morally ambiguous but ultimately works towards a greater good.


If you remove the kind protagonist mask, you create characters that are more complex, relatable, and interesting. While we may be drawn to characters who are kind and selfless, we also want to see characters who are flawed and multi-dimensional. So next time you’re creating a protagonist, consider unmasking their dark side.