And I've been thinking about that lately. Yes, one or two morally ambiguous (or "gray") characters are usually in each story. They can be protagonist, antagonist, or just there. So why are people fascinated by them?
Maybe it's because we're all so good and amazing in our everyday lives(I know, I know) that people who don't always do what's right are just interesting. It probably adds a bit of excitement into the story when you don't know a character's motivations. A lot of times, they throw loops into the story that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
So here's a gallery of what I consider "gray" characters:
My Own Agenda
This category is made up of characters that always have their own plans in mind. If it goes with the protagonist's plans, splendid. If it doesn't, look out! They can be friendly, unfriendly, on the "good" side or "dark" side, or all by themselves!
In it for the Money
Characters for whom greed is their primary motivation(or so they say). They claim to only care about money..but usually stick around to help out anyway. ;)
Han Solo(not really anymore)
Whose Side Am I on Anyway?
These characters are really frustrating, because they elicit a sense of "What the heck are you doing on the protagonist side? Join the bad guys already" These guys so blindingly, obviously, suck that you're just waiting for them to stab the main character in the back twice and be done with it.
Octavian(Heroes of Olympus)
I Hate Everybody
Anger/Revenge is these guys' primary motivation. They're bitter at life and just waiting, waiting to be redeemed :)
Nico :) (Percy Jackson) (Former, not so much nowadays. Still all mysterious and lonely though)
Lux from The Clone Wars :P He has good eyebrows, but he couldn't hit the side of a barn. Just sayin'
Merrin Merredith(Septimus Heap) Kind of the "Nico" of SH. He should probably count as an antagonist, but he's just so astonishingly bad at it.
Nemo from 20000 leagues under the sea. Kind of random.
The next categories are all individual:
These guys are mostly teachers or senior officers or people in authority who are all tough and bitter from all the damage they've had through their lives. They're usually good-but-tough, but you never know ;)
General Krell from TCW(before he turned into a total wingnut and became a Total Jerk. A Total Jerk is a character who can be good, bad, gray, anything, but all that really matters is that they are just Total Jerks. Total Jerk is what defines their characters)
Mazer Rackham(from Ender's Game) That's the guy who plays him in the movie.
I'm Bad..but not really
Redeemable secondary antagonists and bullies go here, like:
Clarisse(PJatO). I just discovered Clarisse doesn't have an official picture. Weird.
Draco Malfoy. Tom Felton is just too adorable.
Murtagh(Eragon)(so far, I've only read to Eldest)
If there's a category I forgot, remind me in the comments!
Gray characters always help add depth to the story, so try adding them! A teacher or fellow soldier who for some reason just hates your protagonist! A bounty hunter/assassin who'll do anything for money! The possibilities are endless.
I've written both of the characters I mentioned above. In my current story, I have a Jaded character, a Not Really Evil character, and a Whose Side Am I On character. :)
In other news, I was cut from the top twenty list at the Go Teen Writers contest(hangs head in shame).
Congrats to Taylor Lynna and Jenna Blake Morris(I think you guys follow me) who both made it!
Do you have any gray characters in your stories? Which characters do you think I should add to my list? Do you spell "gray" "grey"? Comment!