The third category, or discussion, as it relates to the bad guys being bad and good guys being good is the bad guys being good scenario. This isn’t something I’ve seen done too much, in fact as I said in my rant on good guys, I often feel the good guys are barely making the grade.
In fact, the only example that I can think of is Dexter. A serial killer, whose fixation is the killing of other killers. The character makes no qualms about it, he is a monster and he is evil. Somehow we the viewers refuse to believe him. Everyone that is along for the ride (those who actually stick around for more than an episode or two) is rooting for him and the tension springs from the times when he is on the edge of getting caught.
Why do we root for him? 1) He only kills bad people. This is pretty straight forward, although we have to take his word on it. Often times his victims are people who the conventional legal system could not collect enough evidence on or had to let go due to a technicality. Because Dexter is only doing what the justice system intended to do (though more gruesomely), he is a ‘sympathetic’ character. 2) It’s not his fault. He was born this way and then programmed by an overbearing father to be a perfect serial killer. We can’t blame him because he didn’t make himself in this image. 3) He is actually a good person most of the time. Despite the narrative voice telling us how awful he really is, the main character’s actions show us that he is a good guy. He takes care of a girlfriend/wife that was in a fragile state when they met. He is great with kids. All of his colleagues consider him a friend and one of their more competent co-workers.
It is peculiar to note, I am pro-death penalty with my real world politics and believe that Dexter really is a bad guy (i.e. what he is doing is wrong) and that he should actually be caught (despite being entertained by the show), whereas my wife argues that he is a ‘good guy’ and is OK with the character’s actions despite being anti-death penalty in her real world politics. What drive’s this anomaly is uncertain, but I think it is the mark of a well written (and therefore interesting) character.