By Thalia Lauzon
When I sit down to read a book or watch a video, I’m transported somewhere away from the harsh and messy realities of the real world. I’m awed by the different worlds and characters I wouldn’t encounter otherwise.
The point is, I don’t want characters to be realistic. Stories as my escape. I want my characters to be better than the average person, more powerful than they probably should be and more outstanding than anyone else I know.
Therefore, storytellers, please stop harshing my mellow by fighting against the overpowered characters you created.
I understand the need for a story arc that builds to a climax and resolves itself, but sometimes I need my characters to be completely overpowered and practically perfect to have fun.
I have a few arguments against humbling an overpowered character within a story. First, to create a storyline, writers tend to mess up their own stories with outrageous conflicts against a character they’ve established as nearly unstoppable.
For example (spoiler alert), in Sarah J. Maas’s “Throne of Glass” series, Celaena/Aelin, the main character, becomes almost god-like with her fire powers. She trained for three, more than 400-page books to master her powers and defeat her enemies. However, by the last book, the story gets messed up as the character needlessly sacrifices most of her power for no reason, making her abilities go from nearly endless to extremely limited right before the big final battle.
There’s no reason for her to give up her powers –– which would have easily guaranteed her and her country’s victory –– except to create an unnecessary struggle derived from emotional conflicts. Instead, she sacrificed her powers with no bright side. It throws the entire well-designed story and magic system off because it defied common sense.
Another reason is that I need someone reliable to root for. Like a safety blanket or a good friend, I need to trust that my characters aren’t going to be killed off for being too weak. I read stories because they are comforting. I don’t need my world getting rocked because the protagonist dies –– which happens more than you think.
For some reason, it seems as if every time a protagonist becomes too secure, too powerful or too stable, storytellers go right to knocking the characters down. There’s no such thing as a simple happy ending where no one dies or and nothing is sacrificed.
Is it so wrong to ask for an ending where everyone comes out on top and I don’t have to wonder if the next unknown conflict destroys the characters I’ve gotten too attached to?
Apparently not. Hollywood writers like darker tones and drama-filled scripts.
I’m fine with characters having flaws, but once an overpowered character is created, trying to fight them never turns out well. I am all for some characters having personal conflicts and some characters being awesome against-all-odds, but stories always seem to include a character with both to maintain relatability.
Sorry, I don’t need that. I don’t need to relate to characters that I want to be out of this world.
But hey, my thoughts might just be from the lingering frustration I have after recently re-reading the “Throne of Glass” series.