Day Two: Broken Battlers

All characters have flaws, but broken battlers tend to wrestle with addiction and/or a physical handicap. Despite being viewed by others in their world as damaged goods, these characters are heroes in their own right.

Two characteristics that broken battlers tend to have in common are a debilitating personal struggle and the ability to see the world as others can’t.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Girl on a Train, Shoplifters (万引き家族) and Mudbound.

Problems in Functionality

Broken battlers tend to have a dependency on a substance or a habit that impairs their ability to function. One example is Rachel from Girl on a Train, whose drinking habits destroy her relationships and even impair her memory. Jamie McAllan from Mudbound also wrestles with alcoholism, which also damages his relationships.

These problems, however, aren’t limited to chemical dependency. Take Osamu Shibata in Shoplifters, for example. His kleptomania drives a wedge between him and his “adopted” son. Marie-Laure in All the Light We Cannot See, struggles with learning to navigate the world in the process of, and after, losing her sight.

Unique Perspective

Despite their flaws, broken battlers have an extraordinary ability to see parts of the world that are also broken. Osamu Shibata can see the pain of the abused child he finds on the streets, who others have ignored. Rachel notices the clues in a murder mystery. Jamie McAllan can see injustices in the Jim Crow south to which others have grown accustomed.

These character are often seen in drama, but can be found across different genres. Other examples of broken battlers are Fermin Romero de Torres from La sombra del viento, Bianca from Creed, Johnny Cash from Walk the Line, R.P McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, King George VI from The King’s Speechand Kambei in Seven Samurai (七人の侍).

What are other examples of broken battlers that you can think of?

One comment

  1. Interesting insights. I never thought of this character type, even though it’s probably quite common in fiction since it allows creation of a believable, flawed character who at the same time might have some redeeming qualities and be likable/relatable.

    Liked by 1 person

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