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Crazy, Bad, and Dangerous. Byronic Hero in Movies.

byronic hero in movies
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Byronic heroes are public favorites who drive themselves to a dead end. They are all mysterious and attractive to readers due to their high intelligence, education, good manners, and fantastic charisma.

At the same time, they are fed up with an unjust society, thoughtful, selfish, cynical, consumed by passions, constantly using others, and disrespectful of any authority. For this, they are assigned the role of outsiders suffering from loneliness.

It is roughly how one can describe the most typical Byronic hero. And now, Byronic heroes have gained great influence again. Sherlock, Dr. House and Edward Cullen are almost some of the most beloved figures in today’s pop culture and well-known role models. But to understand the reason for such popularity, it is worth turning to history – and finding out why Byronic heroes appeared in the first place. I’ll also give you examples of byronic heroes in movies.

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What is considered a Byronic hero?

A Byronic hero named after Lord Byron. The famous poet himself can safely be called a typical Byronic hero. He was born into a very noble family, easily made people fall in love with him, and his knowledge and intelligence amazed everyone. Byron suffered from his clubfoot and a lot of bullying as a child. He was brooding, selfish, and despised the society around him. The whole of Europe closely followed the life of Lord Byron – in fact, he was a superstar of his era. The constant violation of moral standards, a scandalous divorce, and expulsion from England only contributed to the glory of his works.

Byron created Byronic heroes in several works, including Childe Harold, The Corsair, Manfred.

( Edward Rochester is great example of Byronic hero)

Byronic hero traits :

Rebellion: The main aspect of the Byronic hero’s character is his refusal to accept established social norms and rules. He does not follow standards and traditions, often speaking against them.

Melancholy: This type of hero often suffers from an internal illness of the soul and experiences deep emotions, including melancholy and alienation from the outside world.

Complex Personality: Often a character with a deep and complex psychology, a mixture of virtues and vices that makes him humanly realistic.

Striving for Freedom: The Byronic hero often strives for freedom in the broadest sense of the word: freedom of thought and action, freedom from social restrictions and prejudices.

Masculinity: His mystery and charisma make him very attractive to women.

a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.

Lord Macaulay ( historian)
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In this vein, the ideal expression can be called the Count of Monte Cristo, showing the complete package: tragic past events, a “vampire” image, a very eccentric lifestyle, a frightening philosophy, contempt for society (combined with intense attention to the hero on his part), and, of course, impeccable manners. The most popular Byronic heroes come from works akin to adventure literature, so their torments are easily overshadowed by their exploits.

Luckily there is a new film, The Count of Monte Cristo 2024. You can watch the trailer.

These features made the Byronic hero very attractive to readers of different eras. He became a symbol of romantic nature, internal conflicts and the search for true freedom. Just a reminder that despite the attractiveness of the image, the Byronic hero is also the object of criticism. Some consider him overly selfish, unbearably proud and inadequate to social norms.

New transformation of Byronic Heroes.

In the 20th century, the Byronic hero underwent a slight transformation and became even more popular. They did not depend on anyone and broke all possible rules to do their job – and under the influence of the image of Sherlock Holmes, they were more likely to save people.

At the same time, Byronic heroes are far from saints, which is important since the modern public does not favor ideal people. At the same time, they lost their outsider status: now, such heroes have become bosses and those whom everyone admires. As a result, everyone is forced to listen to their orders, which is why they behave as they please.

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Why do we fall in love with Byronic heroes?

The Byronic hero refers to protagonists with prominent masculine traits, including dominance, but also many personality flaws. Such characters resonate strongly with the tastes of young female audiences and provide compelling images of heterosexual relationships.

I read about a research study in which women were presented with pictures of Byronic figures. The outcome was that ladies associated these men with sensuality, enigma, and defiance. Most importantly, such a hero has both outstanding moral qualities and flaws.

Of course, many girls cannot resist such a man!

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Byronic hero examples in movies.

Let’s glance at the Byronic heroes who look at us from TV screens.

Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice.

Tall, handsome, rich, and intelligent, Mr. Darcy initially arouses prejudice in the main character, Elizabeth, due to his pride and secrecy. In addition, many unpleasant rumors circulate around him. But then she discovers Darcy’s true nobility and falls in love with him.

Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo.

One of the first such Byronic “adventurer” heroes was Edmond Dantes from Dumas’ novel. He was imprisoned for a false denunciation, but he escaped, found a treasure, and became rich. Many years later, he returned to his homeland, took the name Count of Monte Cristo, and avenged all his offenders. But Edmond realized that innocent people also suffered from his revenge, which was always a burden.

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.

The novel Wuthering Heights also presents the typical characteristics of a Byronic hero in the character of Heathcliff. He expresses rebellion against social conventions, experiences deep emotions, and is often misunderstood by society.

Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind.

Rhett Butler is initially a shady, poor businessman with a tightly buried reputation (he was left alone with an unmarried girl and then refused to marry because “he didn’t want to marry a fool”) and rich life experience. He does not like southern planters and openly mocks them, but he made a fortune by supplying them with contraband during the war. As it turns out throughout the novel, Rhett is quite a smart, educated person who values honesty and gets along well with children.

Modern Byronic heroes.

Dr. House, Tony Stark, Sherlock Holmes, Edward Cullen and Christian Gray are some of their era’s most famous and influential characters.   Only some can compete with them.

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Tony Stark from Iron Man.

Tony Stark is a smart, rich, charismatic, and charitable guy who is the informal leader of the Avengers and inventor of the Iron Man suit, in which he performed superhero feats. At the same time, he is self-centered, narcissistic, and sarcastic, which drives everyone crazy but his wealth and intelligence silence almost everyone who opposes such behavior.

Stark set out on his adventures out of terrible shame that he had previously created weapons that killed people all over the world. But the list of things that bothered him doesn’t end there: in almost every major crossover in the cinematic universe, he did something that caused him to suffer for a long time.

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Dr. House from House.

Dr. House is the head of the diagnostic department and a brilliant doctor whose rules-breaking methods constantly save patients. He behaves provocatively, constantly demonstrates his cynicism, manipulates everyone, considers those around him idiots, spits on all standards of decency, and is continuously insolent and rude. Still, because of his talent, everyone is forced to tolerate House.

He also takes Vicodin and other drugs to somehow cope with the unbearable pain in his leg. Because of his character, House is forced to live alone since he does not even perceive his only friend as his equal.

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Sherlock from Sherlock 2010.

Sherlock, performed by Benedict Cumberbatch, is definitely the most famous version of the great detective.  Like no other Holmes, the resulting character deserves the title of Byronic hero. He is more than brilliant, passionate, and sympathetic to the audience.

At the same time, he considers almost every person a fool, despises society and the morality imposed by it, suffers from childhood problems, and is terribly lonely. But since he is always right, everyone is forced to put up with his antics.

The image of such a hero is replenished by the fact that he protects society and tries to improve it at least a little, although he doesn’t really like it. He enters into the fight against criminals and enemies of the state. So, the image of the Byronic hero came a little closer to the archetype of the classical hero.

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James Bond from Bondiana. 

James Bond has shown himself well in the secret service of the English crown. He is resourceful and strong. Bond manipulates people, uses women, and does not see himself as part of society. At the same time, Agent 007 is romantic and independent, although he eventually loses his taste for life after a series of shocks.

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John Wick from the John Wick series.

Meet John Wick, the stoic killer who stops at nothing to avenge his wife’s death and retrieve his stolen car. He is not perfect, but he has clear ideas about honor and justice. He doesn’t like people but loves dogs. His tragic backstory, moral ambiguity, and unwavering determination make him a true embodiment of the Byronic hero archetype.

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Edward Cullen and Christian Gray.

The other two Byronic heroes are more classical. They want to change the world but still want more love. And they are practically the same character.

Edward Rochester heavily inspires the vampire Edward Cullen from Jane Eyre, who is named after him. Christian Gray appears in Cullen’s image. After all, initially, “Fifty Shades of Gray” was a fan fiction based on “Twilight.” It is the Byronic continuity.

They are strong, smart, ironic, and have very complex characters. They have a dark, mysterious past, are gloomy and unsociable, and consider themselves complete monsters. Ultimately, the main characters overcame all the problems and lived happily ever after.

Thanks to this, Cullen and Gray became the main characters of our time’s “female” romantic literature and cinema, whose influence should not be underestimated. Twilight was once second in sales only to Harry Potter and books about Robert Langdon, and the “Fifty Shades of Gray” trilogy was the main book bestseller of the last decade.


Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy – Healing Love or Illusion?

byronic hero in movies
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Final words.

Despite their shortcomings, Byronic heroes are very attractive to viewers and readers. Viewers strive to be like their idols. But to be like a Byronic hero in life, you need not only to languidly look from under your brows at the world and the people around you but also to be a genius in your field.

What this fashion will ultimately lead to remains to be seen. But since the second half of the 20th century, the passion for Byronic heroes has made society more cynical, arrogant, and rude than it could have been. But honestly, I found such characters very attractive! Do you have your favorite Byronic hero?

Share this blog post if you enjoyed it. I would really appreciate it!

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I`m in love with movies and psychology. Here I write how we can use movies for healing and self-growth. Also, be sure to check out my movie lists. You will find cool suggestions for movie night.

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  • This was such an amazing read! I’ve never heard the term Byronic hero before, but it turns out they’ve always been my favorite. LOL.

  • Such an interesting article this is. I had not heard of the term ‘Byronic hero’ before – so thank you for explaining and providing some examples.

  • Exploring the Byronic hero in cinema sounds like an intriguing journey through complex characters. The blend of craziness, flaws, and an irresistible charm makes for captivating storytelling.

  • Great review of crazy bad and dangerous byronic hero movies. Thanks for the great information and guide. I look forward to your next post!

  • Very educational as I had not heard of this term before. I am proud that the 2 characters that came to mind were Cullen and Darcy then you mentioned them both although I was unsure of Darcy. Fascinating read about Byronic characters.

  • What a great read, I’ve never really looked at it this way before. I enjoyed the read, and look forward to seeing what you post about next.

  • Great list and guide to Crazy, Bad, and Dangerous, Byronic Heros in Movies. This is the first I have heard of the term, byronic, and now it’s stuck in my head! Just about every great movie has one. How about John Bender in The Breakfast Club!

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I`m in love with movies and psychology. Here I write how we can use movies for healing and self-growth. Also, be sure to check out my movie lists. You will find cool suggestions for movie night.

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