On the outside a damaged hero is a tough-as-nails-and-probably-eats-them-too masculine figure. Inside though is a whole different story. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why damaged heroes appeal to female readers. We want to care for, nurture, and heal him. It makes the heroine (and through her us) feel needed. A damaged hero’s heroine is crucial to his fundamental wellbeing.
There are many types of damaged heroes. He usually gets classified as one of them when readers and reviewers talk about him. These classifications are:
A scarred hero is an exteriorly damaged hero. His body has suffered a lot and is usually covered in scars. Most authors either scar his body or his face, rarely both at the same time. The lost of his looks is a real blow for this type of hero.
A wounded hero can also have scars, but he also is facing physical damage. He has disabling headaches or limited mobility and even potential loss of limbs. He could also have lost one or more of his senses.
A tragic hero in romance is an emotionally damaged hero. He’s lost family, friends, careers, purpose, and drive. He is almost always a recluse and a shut-in. He doesn’t want to love again. Getting hurt again just might kill him.
A tortured hero is a damaged hero at the end of his rope. He is already at his lowest point and feels like he can’t get any lower. He may have been emotionally or mentally abused. He could have been neglected or badly treated by someone in his past resulting in wild crazy theories on how worthless he is.
A burdened hero is a damaged hero who acts alone. Over the years he’s learned to rely on himself and not to trust others. This means he doesn’t connect very well to the heroine at first because he’s so set in his thinking. A burdened hero may have been living with a dark secret for a long time. He could be seeking vengeance, revenge, or absolution.
What type of damaged hero is your favorite and why?