Hope can typically be found through the actions of heroes. Their noble deeds inspire those around them. Having one character that people can look towards for hope in conflict can usually be found in every story; the underdog that nobody believed in initially that rose to defy everyone’s expectations, the strongest warrior the world has seen, or an intellectual that aids the world through wisdom instead of fighting. These are all common elements we have seen in stories. But what about characters that aren’t good or evil? They are the key that will allow you to explore your world in ways that could not have been done before.
A good example of a character like this would be Illidan Stormrage, The Betrayer, one of Blizzard’s most iconic characters that was born from the Warcraft universe. Illidan is a character that wavered between good and evil, teetering between the two, and eventually landed himself in the middle. His philosophy was sacrifice, something he knew very well himself. He gave up his family, birthright, and the love of his life. He tossed his previous life aside and became what he would eventually set out to destroy.
We can’t say that Illidan is a misunderstood hero; he did things that can’t be forgiven. He was given the title Betrayer for a reason, after all. But despite him making these mistakes he eventually found his place in the world and what he fights for—himself. Don’t let that fool you, though. Illidan’s endgame was to put an end to what would destroy everything in the universe, the Burning Legion. He did things his way, sacrificing what he must, so that he could achieve what he set out to do. Illidan made several decisions towards the end of his story that inspired the people around him, even those that hated him the most. His unorthodox approaches filled people with hope for their survival.
Without a character that sits between good and evil, our stories can be sort of predictable. A character like Illidan, however, is the exact way to remedy that. This character’s action has little to no repercussions as they act of their own accord and belong only to themselves. Due to this they create events and interactions that probably would have never been guessed by your readers—maybe even yourself.
We don’t need an Illidan to add depth to our stories. But, depending on the story you wish to tell, an Illidan may turn your story into a great one. If you do choose to take this route, your character(s) don’t need to accept the enemy’s powers to destroy them and they don’t need to teeter between good and evil, but when a war takes place—whether it be a threat that will end all life or something as small as a fight between two people—having someone that is not ordinary and may sometimes go to the extreme will make the actions of those on either side of the conflict more intriguing. It can make your characters, the readers, and even yourself find hope in ways that we never knew could have existed.
Tyler Connolly is a second year student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. He is passionate about fantastical stories of any form. A lot of his time is spent thinking about how little time he has. He is also quite fond of Owls and Foxes.