Why I Love Flawed Heroes

Credit: Martinm

Credit: Martinm

In pop culture we have a lot of amazing hero characters that entertain us and any of them are almost flawless. James Bond is good looking, tough, and has the ability to work his way out of any difficulty.  If he has flaws in his personality you don’t see them, but in general he is portrayed as someone always in control.

Superman has a weakness around Kryptonite, but his drive to doing good and saving lives is unthwarted in most situations. He has unearthly powers that every kid would love to have and he has a goodness in him that radiates through his character.

There are many characters in film and literature that portray strength and consistency in their thinking  and behaviors, but I don’t think they are as compelling as heroes with deep flaws.

In contrast, there are characters who are trying to help and do the right thing, but have a dark side that they continually fight against. I can relate to that.

My new favorite is a British detective series call “River”.  The main character, Detective River, is a brilliant and effective investigator yet has mental illness where he has hallucinations of the victims who’s crimes he is trying to solve. He talks with them, fights with them, and asks them questions while people around him are perplexed at his behavior. At times he is comfortable with his hallucinations and at others he is terrified by what is happening to him. But it’s in his interactions with his hallucinations that give him the clues to solve crime.

Why am I writing about this?

I believe that deep in each of us, we want to do great things.  We want to make a difference in the world, our community, or the people around us. We also want to be recognized and seen for who we are and what we do.

But many of us connect with the flaws of these heros because we know we are deeply flawed too.  In my life it seems that I can take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back in many of my goals. My motivations go up and down. My behaviors are consistent and sometimes erratic. And as soon as I think I got life figured out I realize I have much more to learn.

Do we need to be flawless in order to do make a difference and do good things?

No. Our flaws, short comings, and quirks are part of our lives but they do not have to define us. Living with awareness of how our flaws affect us can give us insight to what we need to do to mitigate their impact.

Acceptance of our flaws can create greater self-compassion and compassion for others. One of the reasons I like the Detective River character is that he has deep compassion for those is society that struggle and are marginalized . If we have connected with the fact that we all struggle and need help, I believe we will be less judgmental and more compassionate on those around us.

Becoming our best selves is not a perfect process.

Becoming our best selves isn’t living life without failure or struggle. Rather living an excellent life is about focusing on our strengths and working on our flaws and weaknesses so they don’t hold us back. If perfection were the prerequisite for success, then no one would achieve it. Trial and error can be the clues to success. Our flaws can help us find people who can work along side us and balance out our weaknesses.  Giving up perfection can save us time and energy trying to achieve something that does not exist.

So do we embrace our flaws?

I think by acknowledging our flaws they have less power over us. When we make mistakes we can correct our plans or repair our relationships. We can seek out help in humility. We can partner with others who have similar goals.


Be the hero you are; to the people you love, the people you work with, and the people around you. Don’t let your flaws get in your way of being the excellent person you are.




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