We Love Lone Wolves!
Every day, the Google search term ‘lone wolf’ brings Bang2writers to this blog … First though, let’s hear what author G X Todd has to say about her own ideas and inspiration behind her Lone Wolf character, Pilgrim from her bestseller book Defender:
“I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be happy writing about a lone man who experiences so little human contact; I also feared it would bore readers to death. I decided that Pilgrim would unconsciously create a coping mechanism to deal with being all alone in this new world; a coping mechanism that would allow him to hear a voice in his head, a voice that had a mind of its own. Even a lone wolf needs a little company sometimes.
So, let’s break it down and look at the 8 main types of Lone Wolf and HOW we can write them … Chew on these for size:
1) The Hero
‘The Hero’ is a natural leader, just like Ripley. Others are dependent on them and their skills. The Hero is shown to have equal intelligence to their strength and considered an everyman/woman amongst their peers.
- They have morals and these are NEVER compromised
- They make other characters work as a team
- They nearly ALWAYS win the fight
- Usually the main protagonist
- Their role as leader progresses and strengthens through their ordeal
2) One-Man Army
The ‘One-Man Army’ is the lone wolf that doesn’t need back-up. Often made to be a ‘super-soldier’ with an extreme ability or superhuman power to confirm their status. Logan is a force to be reckoned with as a mutant with an adamantium skeleton, claws, superhuman strength and accelerated healing powers.
- Underestimated at first
- Has an extreme ability or power
- Psychological state damaged due to their powers/abilities
- Doesn’t always kill to defeat the masses
3) The Informed Loner
‘The Informed Loner’ can be physically and/or mentally isolated from others. Their loneliness allows them to see their world differently, just like Pilgrim from ‘Defender’. Just like G X Todd mentioned earlier, it can be tricky writing dialogue for this type of lone Wolf.
- Isolated physically/mentally from others
- Socially awkward/ sometimes emotionless
- Sees the world differently
- Has different values because of their outcast status
4) Good Is Not Nice
Example: The Bride
‘Good Is Not Nice’ means this type of lone wolf is capable of violent acts but are morally inclined towards good just like The Bride from Kill Bill. The Bride is averse to emotional expressions of love, gratitude or repentance which is typical of the Good Is Not Nice type while seeking justice and revenge.
- A strong sense of duty – right and wrong
- Intimidate their enemies with their cruel sense of justice
- Does not get close to others – the enemy uses them as a weakness
- Usually live in a cynical universe – being nice does not mean a happy ending
5). The Cowboy Cop
‘The Cowboy Cop’ is probably the most recognised type of lone wolf made famous by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. This type of lone wolf is a loose cannon, driven purely by instinct. The Cowboy Cop doesn’t play by the rules and will go to extreme measures to right any wrongs.
- They bend the rules to save others
- Unpredictable actions and sometimes irresponsible
- Contacts on ‘the other side’, able to infiltrate/go undercover
- Driven by instinct and can go to extreme lengths
6) ‘Think Nothing of It’
Example: Eleven, ‘Elle’
‘Think Nothing of It’ is the lone wolf that considers saving everybody as part of the day job, it’s routine. They are often shy and the cause of the problem that others need to be saved from. For example, Eleven ‘Elle’ is the only person who can destroy the monster she accidentally brought with her from the Upside Down world.
- Modest/shy when receiving praise/gratitude
- Responsible for the cause of danger and MUST stop it
- Can only manifest their strength or ‘power’ during extreme emotional outbursts
- Considered innocent but capable of dark actions to save others
7) The Anti-Hero
Example: John Creasy
‘The Anti-Hero’ is the cynical protagonist. They usually have a troubled backstory that causes moral conflict. Other characters are often used to teach them the value of love, friendship and trust resulting in the anti-hero stepping up to save the day.
- They do not hesitate to kill
- Cynical and flawed protagonist
- Troubled backstory – suicidal, alcoholic etc
- Their physical and moral strength are not equal. It’s a struggle to do the right thing.
8) The ‘Something’ Man/Woman
Example: Luke Cage/Jessica Jones
The ‘Something’ man/woman is a lone wolf that has become a hero due to unfortunate circumstances and uses common themes of super strength, skill or control of elements to save others such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Usually inhabit a gritty and dangerous world or ‘underworld’.
The ‘Something’ Man/Woman characteristics:
- They use super strength/skill or other elements to win
- Similar to the super-soldier/superhuman
- An accident of sorts usually causes them to become a lone wolf
- Live in a gritty and dangerous world with real consequences
So, there we have the 8 main types of lone wolf and characteristics that define them. Obviously, there are MANY examples of Lone Wolf that could represent each category …
… Which is YOUR favourite?
BIO: Hello, my name is Olivia Brennan, a 25 year old who was first inspired by the power of film when I cowered behind a cushion watching JAWS, aged 6. I work as a Freelance Writer, Blogger & Assistant Script Editor. Check out my blog HERE or Facebook Page The Final Frontier. Feel free to follow me on twitter as @LivSFB and say hi!
For more on lone wolves & Thrillers:
CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays about the iconic character of Driver in the movie DRIVE, courtesy of B2W friends Film Doctor. Click on the pic or HERE, to look inside in the front of the book.
Hmm, so according to these categorisations, my protagonist is a cowboy cop anti-hero. Might have to narrow that down, methinks. Great article!
Don’t be too quick to write that off, anything can work, but yes do make sure he’s not ‘stretched’ too far. Good luck!
I think I like “Think Nothing Of It” characters the best, as well as One Man Army and The Hero type Lone Wolf Characters. However, I like it best when these characters are forced to interact with others and realize that maybe their “lone” way doesn’t have to be the only way.
Definitely. Lone Wolves can have arcs too, they don’t have to stay the same throughout the narrative – this sometimes gets forgotten by writers (and audiences!).