fun

What I Don’t Like About You: Character Traits I Dislike

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Hello lovelies! How are you? I saw this post over on Georgia’s blog a while ago, where she talked about character traits she likes in fictional characters and I’ve been wanting to do my own version of that ever since. But once I sat down to write that post, I realized that I have a much clearer idea of what I don’t like (No, I don’t want to know what that says about me). So I’m being salty and talking about characters traits I dislike in characters instead. Since this is light, fun post, I’m going to keep the topics light and fun too. But any kind of discrimination and prejudice are obviously character traits I don’t like.

THEY’RE ENTITLED

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This word perfectly encapsulates a certain type of character we often see in YA fantasy novels. Yes, I’m talking about the lost/secret/exiled princes and princesses. They’re not all entitled and arrogant, but some of them are. It’s like 99% of the reason I hate on princes and dislike the secretly royal trope so much (Please shut up about your birthright, son) I find it frustrating to read about characters who act like they’re owed something, simply for being born. So I just can’t get into the whole “I am the rightful Queen and will reclaim my throne” thing. Ok, you’re royal. So what? Get over yourself and do something useful you arrogant loaf of stale bread. And why can’t fantasy lands just be be democracies anyway? Where’s my anarchist protagonists? #toosocialistforthis

THEY’RE MEAN

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This is probably the most unpopular opinion I’ve ever had on the internet, but I’m being bold today. I don’t understand why Kaz Brekker, Prince Cardan and Ronan Lynch are everyone’s favorite characters. They’re so mean for no reason. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that a sad backstory gives someone the right to be rude and awful to people. The dark, tortured hero just isn’t my thing. And I‘m a soft Pisces so you know they’d 10/10 make me cry.

Disclaimer: I do love Kaz and Ronan, cause they’re complex, fascinating character with a lot of redeeming qualities. So this isn’t me hating on them at all. They’re just not my personal favorites. Cardan’s a bully though, so that’s still a hard pass for me.

THEY’RE PASSIVE

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This is a trait that’s unfortunately most common in female protagonist and that fact alone is enough to infuriate me. It’s so unbearably dull to read about someone who shows no initiative or agency, who’s just pushed around by the events of the plot and never expresses a single ambition, want or desire of their own. I want to read about characters who are the instigators of their own stories, who scheme and plot and makes things happen, instead of simply having things happen to them.

THEY’RE POSSESSIVE

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This trait’s most common in love interests, especially of the paranormal variety. I know I said I’d keep this post light and fun, but I can’t stand toxic masculinity and possessive, controlling behavior is the embodiment of that. I know you’re all thinking about S.J.M right now and I feel you, her broody fae males are a big nope for me. What’s up with all that growling? Are they ok? If my husband growled at me, I’d be deeply concerned.

THEY’RE BADASS

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I know what you’re thinking, but being badass isn’t a character trait! And I agree with you! Which is why it’s so frustrating when a character’s only defining characteristic is… being a badass! Sticking people with the pointy end of a sword, while throwing sarcastic insults around is really cool. But it’s a useful life skill, not a personality type.

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What character traits do you dislike in characters?

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49 thoughts on “What I Don’t Like About You: Character Traits I Dislike

  1. I agree with all of these! I also dislike unnecessarily mean characters (Cardan: no thank you), even more so when I find them in a contemporary book, and the lost royal is one of my least favorite tropes (the only time I’ve liked it was A Spark of White Fire). They never sat on a throne and now they think they can rule a country… because birthright?

    A trait/trope I dislike is when most of the protagonist’s characterization is angst about a “big dark secret” they can’t tell anyone. My problem with this trope is that the secret always ends up being something they had no control on (“I killed someone… by mistake!” Or: “my family killed someone!”), and while some people do feel guilty for things that aren’t in their control, it’s narratively unsatisfying and it perpetuates the idea that you can find forgiveness only if you objectively did nothing wrong. I want to read about characters who actually make mistakes!

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! Yes, mean characters in contemporaries are terrible. Especially if we’re talking the mean girl trope. Cause all girl do is hate each other and fight over boys. Cool, cool.

      YES! I really dislike that too. One of the things I find most frustrating about that is when the character is so scared someone will find out, cause then they’ll hate them forever and never forgive them. And it’s usually a close friend or love interest, who clearly cares a lot about them. And I’m like??? Why do you even want to be friends with them, if you think they’d never forgive you for something you had no control over? Doesn’t make sense. And yes, yes. yes to characters who make real mistakes.

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  2. I definitely agree with you about so many of these! Even though I love Kaz and Ronan, they’re so mean sometimes! It really bothers me when characters are mean with no reason (those two at least have other redeeming qualities). And UGH entitled characters get on my nerves so much 🙄

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    1. I’m glad you agree! I love Kaz and (especially) Ronan too, cause even though I think they’re unnecessarily mean sometimes. They’re also so much more than that ❤️ Yes, they’re the worst!

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  3. Passive characters frustrate me to no end! JUST GO DO SOMETHING! I’m more lenient when it comes to mean characters because a well developed mean character will be more than just their meanness. I just recently read a book where a side character wasn’t quite mean, but she was not a friendly character at all. But I really grew to like her because although she was gruff, she also was developed really well!

    I guess in the end the character development is the most important factor. If any of these traits are the only thing used to described the character I’ll hate it, but if it’s part of a more complex personality I can be okay with it.

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds passive characters so frustrating!

      I totally agree with that, it’s all in the character development. If a character is complex and has other traits that balance out the negative ones, I usually like them. Even positive traits can be infuriating if they’re the only things used to describe a character. I’ll take a complex, flawed character over that any day!

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  4. Possessive is THE WORST character trait. If a male character acts entitled to a female love interest, that is a deal breaker for me. I also hate ‘badass’ because this is where I see a ton of lazy writing, where authors have other characters frequently comment on how badass a character is even though the reader never really sees that firsthand…? And you’re right, ‘badass’ is not a character trait in and of itself. I have to say I have a soft spot for ‘mean’ characters though – I’ve always loved the bad boy type 😂

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    1. Me too, I see male entitlement and I’m out. It’s disturbing how common it is.
      That’s exactly what bother me about the “badass trope”, it’s such lazy writing. And yes, half the time the character does nothing to back up the claim. Or they do it with no training or skills beyond… being a special badass?
      Haha, it must be all those Colin Farrell movies 😉

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  5. Love the use of GoT gifs in this post! My least favourite character trait is being excessively “quirky” or different and hating “normal” people. You see it a lot in YA, especially from the early 2000s. Characters who think they’re better than other characters because they’re different.

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    1. Thanks! Oh, yes! I remember that being super common a while back and it annoyed me too. It comes across so condescending. And weren’t they always “quirky” in really shallow, generic ways? Like wow, she doesn’t wear make up and has a pet pig – what a revolutionary.

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  6. I can’t stand characters who spend all their time whining about how “plain” they are and comparing themselves to everyone else. Oh no, I have *brown* hair and *brown* eyes, how boring, no one will love me. They usually end up getting a makeover and suddenly the amazing, popular male lead loves them. No thank you! 😂

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    1. Oh, that’s the worst! And they always stand conveniently in front of a mirror and think about their “plain” looks in great detail in the first chapter. Cause establishing how plain they are is priority number one 😂

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  7. I love the GOT gifs you used!!! I couldn’t agree more and this is such an amazing post! I can’t handle entitled if there is literally no redemption or growth arc. I also really really really hate cocky characters. The whole bad-boy-who-doesn’t-give-a-flying-hoot thing makes me really nauseous and want to put the book down. And omg what you said about being a badass — couldn’t agree more! This pisses me off royally if it’s about a woman. Uhhh she doesn’t need to be great at swording and nothing else to be an amazing character. Give her some substance, something that makes me like them!

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    1. Thank you so much! That’s a good point, I can handle most of these traits if the characters grow. Static character are no fun to read about, so some flaws are necessary!
      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s not into cocky bad boys. I just can’t find bad manners charming 😂
      @ Every man who thinks he’s writing a “strong female character” because he stuck a sword in her hand.

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  8. Hahahaha… this whole post (outside of my complete fascination with Kaz… but I’m gonna let that slide for now lol)… had me at hello.

    The use of GOT was spot on…the humor was spot on… the traits you picked were spot on. The whole feckeled post was spot freaking on. Bless.

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  9. I’m loving all the GoT gifs! I agree with disliking the lost royalty trope especially when the characters are entitled. That’s why I never liked Aelin, Jon Snow, or Danerys. (Sansa is my fav, and while she was kind of entitled in the first season I’ve always loved her.) Characters who are too possessive also bother me a lot (Rowan Whitethorn, ew, in this house we hate toxic masculinity), as well as characters for whom “badass” is their only personality trait.

    Mean characters are totally my guilty pleasure though. I love Kaz Brekker and Cardan Greenbriar. One thing that bugs me is that the moment a female character dares to be as cruel as Kaz or Cardan are they’re hated by the audience and called all sorts of demeaning things. Just look at Cersei Lannister – she’s one of my favourites, but everyone hates her because she’s “mean.”

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    1. Thank you! I was mostly thinking about Aelin when I wrote about entitlement, she comes across so bratty to me. Sansa was definitely acted entitled in the first season, but her character development has been wonderful. While characters like Aelin and Dany only seem to get more entitled and arrogant with time.

      I get the love for Kaz, cause he’s fascinating. But I can’t understand the love for Cardan, maybe I’ll come around after The Wicked King! YES, that infuriates me! And that’s probably why I don’t have as big of a problem with female characters being cruel. I mean, I LOVE Cersei. So…I’m kind of a hypocrite. But I’m ok with that 😂

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      1. Yesssss Cersei lovers unite! I love her so much. I actually haven’t read TWK yet but I still love Cardan 😂

        Danerys has definitely frustrated me more as time goes on. I liked her in the first season but nowadays she drives me nuts but everyone loves her, so I fear how the show’s going to end. Sansa for the Iron Throne tbh

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      2. I loved Daenerys in the first season and she’s had some pretty epic moments since then. But she drives me nuts too! I think Sansa would be a wonderful queen, so I’d love to see her on the Iron Throne too! 👑

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  10. I love this, and I agree with so much of what you said! I also wish more fantasy worlds didn’t have royal families – why does every fantasy world have to have royals when there are other forms of leadership and power out in the world?

    I must admit I do love Kaz, but like you I like him because he’s a compelling and believable character. Would I want to be his friend? Uh, no, I wouldn’t be able to trust him, but he’s fascinating. I also went into The Cruel Prince 100% thinking that I would hate Cardan, and I weirdly don’t because everyone in that series is horrid, and also because Cardan isn’t human. Fae are naturally cruel in folklore, so I quite like that he hearkens back to that mythology, but I also completely understand why so many people don’t like him. I have more of a problem with characters like the Darkling, who literally killed an entire village just to prove that he could and yet Grisha fans are always trying to tell me that Mal is worse? Hm, I don’t think so.

    I actually really like mean characters who aren’t villains, like Zoya in the Grishaverse. So many people hated on Zoya and then read King of Scars and were like “Oh she’s not that bad” and like… yeah, duh! We only ever see Zoya through Alina’s eyes and Alina has a real problem with girl hate. That doesn’t mean Zoya’s a nice person, but there are plenty of people who appear nice who turn out to be shady in books and in life, so I love characters who aren’t nice but who are still ultimately good, y’know? I think probably because I’m a grump myself.

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    1. Thank you so much! Right? You can make up a whole fantasy world, but you can explore another form of leadership?

      You’re blowing my mind, that’s the most compelling pro-Cardan argument I’ve heard. I actually love how inhuman Holly Black’s fae are in both appearance and morality, because it does stay true to the folklore. So maybe holding Cardan’s cruelty against him isn’t fair. I still can’t say I like him or ship him in Jude though, but I appreciate his character more now!

      I do love The Darkling, because he’s such a fascinating villain. But at worst Mal’s a messy a teenager and The Darkling’s a mass murdering tyrant. So I agree with you there! I haven’t read King of Scars yet, but all the things I’m hearing about Zoya are the main reason I want to! Mean girls get so much hate, while mean boys are romanticized. So I have a soft spot for them ❤️

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      1. I totally get that! His relationship with Jude is compelling to watch in much the same way a car crash is, but it also is NOT healthy in the slightest. 😅

        Yeah I do get why the Darkling ticks so many boxes, but like you said mean men are romanticised while mean women are villainised and it’s SUPER frustrating. So many fans hate Mal, and I don’t love Mal by any means, but he’s really not that bad. He does and says dumb stuff, but he’s practically a child, as is Alina, whereas the Darkling is just tyrannical, like you said, and he’s also an adult. I guess what I’m saying is I do understand the love for him, but I wish some fans didn’t have to hate on other characters to love him? We don’t have to hate everyone else to love one person.

        Ahh I hope you enjoy King of Scars! Zoya really comes into her own. 😁

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      2. Yeah, they’re an entertaining mess! I’ll give them that 😂

        The double standards for female characters are infuriating, men get away with so much that women are villainised for. I don’t love or hate Mal either, but I don’t think he’s any worse than a lot of other YA love interest who get nothing but love from the fandoms. The Darkling’s one of the most interesting villains out there, but he *is* a villain. Criticizing Mal doesn’t do anything to make the Darkling a better person.

        Thank you! 😊

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  11. This is such a great list, I love it! I have to admit that passive characters make me more and more mad ahah, I just love it when I can read about someone that’s being an actor of their own lives and just taking action and everything ahh, it makes me root for them SO much more. 🙂

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  12. Cardan IS a bully, and I can’t stand him. I honestly don’t get the hype surrounding him. Kaz and Ronan, though–there’s a special place in my heart for them. I think that’s because Kaz and Ronan actively do nice things sometimes, or at least have emotions, whereas Cardan is just a black hole of misery.

    Also, okay, every time I go in the bookstore, I think today is the day I buy a Maas book. And then I don’t, and EVERY SINGLE TIME, I then see someone say something that makes me so happy I didn’t buy it. I think I may just finally decide to never read her books. I’ve seen way too many things that make me feel bleh about them.

    This was awesome!

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    1. I’m so happy I’m not the only one who can’t stand Cardan, it’s truly my most unpopular opinion. I totally agree, Kaz and Ronan are complex and interesting characters with more than one side. Cardan’s just all awful all the time.

      I don’t know if I should congratulate you on your superior decision making or try to convince to come over to the dark side. We have toxic masculinity, love triangles and the worst sex scenes, but also matriarchal witches with iron teeth and claws and the best female side characters. So I guess it depends on how much nonsens you’re in the mood to put up with!

      Thank you ❤️

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  13. That is such a cool post idea, I love it! 😍 I personally also really don’t like characters that are mean for no reason, it kind of annoys me and I’m like ‘why are you like this’? 😂 I also like characters that are more than just badass, I want to read about someone with depth and not the stereotypical ‘ultra badass warrior’ etc.

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  14. Oh I SO want to see more fantasy stories with non-monarchial governments! We see so many interesting types of governments in scifi, so why not in fantasy?? I do have a soft spot for the secret royal trope, though. 😛 As long as the character goes through at least *some* kind of growth and loses that entitled attitude. And I’ve only two of the raven cycle books so far, but I definitely agree with you re: Ronan. I find him super fascinating and I love his complexity (I want to write essays and essays analyzing his personality), but he’s a bit too..thorny. Adam’s easier for me to love.

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  15. You hate Daenerys and I love that, lol. Sansa was ‘passive’ for a while, but she was in no position to find an escape, and her caution has helped her become the wonderful ruler she is today. Caution and passivity are two different things though. Passivity in real life is annoying though, some people in real life will claim they hate passive characters in books even though they are exactly like that themselves. *rolls eyes* anyway, let’s hope Dany doesn’t take the throne!

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  16. Such a great post as well!! Really agree about entitled characters- it’s one of the reasons it took me so long to warm to Sansa (but I love her now!!) And yeah I don’t like passive or mean characters either- though I do have exceptions (I couldn’t explain why but I love the ones you mentioned- but I get why people wouldn’t!) Oh I love your point about badasses- that makes so much sense!! And I really agree with you!!

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  17. ‘Get over yourself and do something useful you arrogant loaf of stale bread.’ 😂

    And I definitely agree about passive characters. It is one thing to not necessarily be a strong character and to rely on others, it’s another being passive and not actually being an active participant in the narrative!

    Such a good point about being ‘badass’. It’s not a character trait at all. It’s description!

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