The regular-old hero has served us well for the past few thousand years, but ever since the time of that legendary literary bon vivant Lord Byron, we’ve learned to enjoy our heroes with a little bit of moral nuance. They’re human beings, just like you and I, only more cunning, erudite, world-weary, and charismatic than we could ever hope to be. But they’re also more emotionally resonant than the traditional white-knight hero precisely because they’re such deeply flawed people, grappling with eminently relatable self-doubt and moral hazard. Indeed, it’s no stretch to say that the anti-hero is usurping the heroic narrative that’s long ruled our imaginations; the “noble villain” and vigilante have become the new models of valor and bravery.
We asked you for your favorite anti-heroes in modern pop-culture, and after 30,000 votes, and here are the results. Arnold Schwartzenegger’s most successful campaign since he ran for governor was derailed with a last-minute push from Star Wars fans.
In honor of the season premiere of Breaking Bad March 21 on AMC, we’ll be unveiling two of the Top 10 anti-heroes each day this week (March 15-19) in all their gritty glory. Kicking off the list is Lost’s Benjamin Linus. Click through to find out who else made the cut!