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Is the bad guy always the bad guy?

 I’ve always wondered in my life whether the labels we give to different people are correct or are just our personal or social opinion.

Firstly as a curious person and then as a curious writer this question from time to time attracted my attention and sooner or later I’m bond to answer.

I know I’m nobody and that what I’ll write it will be just my opinion but I figured that because I have to live with myself my opinion is maybe the most important one. The biggest problem  I have is that I hate with all my soul judgmental people and, although from time to time I realize that I end up doing it, I believe to be enough open-minded to write what follows.

As you now I love TV shows and lately I’ve watched three new ones: Hell on Wheels, Vikings and Misfits, and something triggered in my head. Something I was thinking of, since I become fan of One Piece.

What do they have in common? They describe the reality in a different way and force the watcher to think about the roles and the labels that the society forces on everybody.

Hell on Wheel is set in the far west, after the secession war. A time when Native Americans were still in their territories, to make it clear.

Vikings tells us about the early stage of pillaging and raiding on English coasts from the Norsemen.

Misfits shows us some small criminals in their social work duty and all the adventures linked to their background and special powers.

One Piece, you know it by now, shows us the growth of a pirate crew. Its captain, Rufy, wants to be the king of the pirates.

Apparently they seem like a bunch of different stories set in different eras and one of them displayed not even by actors.

But it’s not so easy.

The main characters are what are usually labelled as bad, evil, barbaric and poisonous to the society. Well, in the case of the first one let me say that it’s the Native American I’m talking about because it’s told from the civilized American point of view.

But the real question is: is it really so?

Watching closely to the plot and to the story you cannot be so sure. I might want to interpret the situation personally but I don’t think I’m much mistaken.

Native Americans were in their territories already when England & co. started sending ships in the new world. And after they convinced the whole old world that what they were bringing was civilization, for everybody was normal and only the right choice that local people were closed in reserve…like they were an almost extinct race. Guess who’s to blame for the extinction?!

Put it this way. If the Native Americans were to ship the ocean and dock, say, in England and decided that we all have to make sacrifices to our ancestors, do you really think we wouldn’t put a fight? No, I don’t think it even for one minute. The land is ours, why should they invade us and call themselves superior and civilized society?

Yes, why should they?

But what is it that we’ve done?


And again Vikings are shown with a special tendency to respect and honour courage, family and love. The fact that their religion was polytheistic doesn’t mean that it was wrong or necessarily further from the truth than the Catholicism. Bravery, wit, loyalty are things that can be touched and witnessed.

Maybe the best scene I’ve seen so far was the one in the church, when the Norsemen are collecting the treasures and there is this exchange of lines (taken from the web)

Why do they leave such treasures unprotected? Is there some spell, some magic which protects them? It appears not.

Perhaps they think their God protects them.

If this is their God, then he’s dead.

He is nailed to a cross.

He cannot protect anyone.

He is not alive, like Odin, Thor or Frey.


The point is, who decided that one religion is better than the other? Who decided that because people have different believes are considered worse than those who won the war in the end? Being the winner doesn’t put the winner automatically in the right place!

And as you scan the list I’ve made, the same goes with Misfits. People who might be considered dangerous for the society are in truth a bunch of scared, unlucky and maybe a bit too cheeky and daring young people. That’s the end of the story. Sometimes who is considered good or quiet or the best from the society can hide darker secret than we think. I mean, this is not the rule, but it forces your brain to think.

At the beginning of the third series the bad guy was a priest who was tired not be heard and used his powers just to get money and women to get a revenge on his wasted life.

I think the point of the situation is that if you have a gift or a characteristic that makes you different from the rest of the society or the community you live in, you shouldn’t listen to whomever tells you that you’re different or you’re bad. Maybe they just don’t understand and it’s much, way much easier point the finger and make someone feel out of place instead of admitting that we may not be that special.

And finally Mugiwara no ichimi, Straw hat crew. They’re pirates but they’re the most fantastic display of behaviour and feeling I’ve ever seen anywhere!

A part that I know for certain that pirates did have a code they respected, I invite you once again to read the manga or to watch the anime. Pirates they may be, but they have a great respect for friendship and those values that common sense stick only with the “good person” label. I’ve spoken about them already and I will again, because I love the series, so I won’t bother much here.


After all this talking I ask you again: Is the bad guy always the bad guy? Or it might be more misjudgement? Be unware of the motivation that brings a certain person to behave in a way or the other?

Let me know what you think in the comment below!


8 thoughts on “Is the bad guy always the bad guy?

  1. It certainly is an interesting one and a question should always be kept in mind, both in life and in writing. Equally important is the counter question: Is the good guy always the good guy?

    I just finished reading Frankenstein and, if you haven’t read it or even haven’t read it in this light, it’s a great book in terms of right and wrong, hero and villain. It amazed me how many times it made me moved by and sad for the monster!

    Of course, there’s also the extra confusing way to look at it all: Who determines what is good or bad? Are we entitled to choose so? This is something we often debated while I studied philosophy and, while the extreme examples can seem quite hideous and brass headed to bring up, it does actually raise quite an interesting topic if you look at it as objectively as possible.

    In a world where no absolute power is definite or known, our entire presumptions of good and bad are based on opinion and societal belief systems. And just because 90% of people think murder is bad, it doesn’t mean it is bad. It is our belief that it is bad. But who can actually confirm it?

    In reality, we live in a world with good and bad but we have no idea which is which, so we in turn live in a world of unknown grey.

    • Yes I’ve read Frankenstein and I have to admit that I had your same reaction. And I totally agree with you. I just think that keep thinking and thinking about that could drive you insane at some stage, but at the same time, if we couldn’t bear the speculation we wouldn’t be artist, am I right? I wish I could find a solution but maybe you’re right there is no solution to the dilemma!
      But in a way I guess that it’s exactly from this part of my mind or heart mostly that my great passion for pirates comes from!

  2. “Good” and “bad” are nothing more than a perspective, a judgement. The label depends on the person who is attaching it.

    In books and movies the “bad” guy often thinks about himself as the good one, he often is striving towards some good (not counting in the obvious cliche and tongue-in-cheek ones). And if you look at the real life, at any delicate/controversial topic (like, for example, abortion or eutanasia) you will have both sides shouting “we are the good guys” and claiming they are “right”.

    • Yeah, it is actually hard not to create labels. Although I try to keep an open mind I find myself to judge from time to time. Maybe I’m just human, but still it’s frustrating being aware that there is no solution to this question!

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