Hotshot (stock character)

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For other uses, see Hotshot (disambiguation).

A hotshot or hot-shot, also known as a badass or bad-ass, is a stock character featured in works of fiction that's known for initiating more actions, taking more risks, and suffering more pain than the other characters in the story.[citation needed] This type of character is usually present in action-driven tales and takes either a core protagonist or co-protagonist role, though many exceptions exist.[citation needed] What differentiates the badass and hotshot archetypes from the generalized concept of an action hero is that he or she generally works within the context of a group or team and features traits that are contrasted with other allies that act differently.[citation needed] He or she is also not always the leader of the team. In some sense, the terms can be applied to an "action-byronic hero" with a "loose cannon" or vice-driven nature.[citation needed]

Analysis and details[edit]

American actor Tom Cruise, pictured in Paris in May 2014, is known for his roles as hot-shot characters Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher.[1][2]

A hot-shot character can exist in a partnership or team where they play off other individuals, such as comic relief and love interest characters.[2][3] A character and his or her love interest may both display traits considered bad-ass in the same media, such as Dante and Trish in the Devil May Cry video game franchise.[4][5] Frequent characteristics of the hotshot character include some level of hubris, abrasive manners, aggressiveness, and a tendency to prefer to be alone even to the point of working alone. The latter trait may put the character at odds with a group, becoming a personality flaw.[citation needed]

The character of Jack Reacher, devised by author Lee Child for a series of novels, provides a particular example. Film critic John Serba has described the "hotshot" individual as "a loner, a mysterious drifter who lives off the grid, a former... military policeman, an expert marksman and hand-to-hand combatant, [and] a man of murky morality". Serba also has written that Reacher winds up "always a step ahead of everyone else" due to "powers of deduction, observation and foresight" that match "uncanny" abilities "with a righteous sense of justice." A film production with Reacher played by Tom Cruise came out in 2012.[1]

Sometimes, not just an individual but a whole group can receive the label. For instance, critic Richard Roeper has stated about the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) in the Mission Impossible movie franchise that the group's "hotshot rogue types who don’t follow protocol" make superiors "refuse to listen to logic and disregard the facts because they don’t care for" that attitude. Describing protagonist Ethan Hunt, also played by Tom Cruise, Roeper noted the character's abilities to outlast, outwit, and outgun multiple assailants as well as show a mischievous personality, engaging in witty banter with adversaries.[2]

Over multiple films, a hot-shot character may display a growing hesitance to act as they once did. For example, actor Mel Gibson, who performed as the cop Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon film series, stated with reference to Lethal Weapon 4 that the character notably was slowing down as he got older.[3]


Byron and other literary commentators challenged views of characters such as Satan, pictured here in an illustration from John Milton's Paradise Lost, and they cited laudable characteristics held by these otherwise antagonistic figures.[6]

A precursor to the contemporary definition of the hotshot is the figure known as the Byronic hero, those being heavily influenced by the Romanticism movement. Such heroes are a particular kind of anti-hero, the namesake attributed to famous writer Lord Byron, and they're defined by rebelliousness, a sense of dark mystery about them, and a devil-may-care personality type. The intrigue behind these heroes have often attracted readers as a source of psychological fascination. The resulting body of literature featuring Byronic heroes provided the framework for the more fully defined hotshot stock character found in contemporary culture, society evolving over the many decades.[6] Born George Gordon Byron on 22 January 1788, the man himself is regarded as one of the most seminal figures in the history of British writing, his use of the English language in his works inspiring a great many.[7]

In the modern age of film and literature, the hotshot archetype has become better-defined, and hence, more easily and intentionally embodied.[citation needed] One of the earliest contemporary examples of someone deliberately cultivating that image is the work of Rudy Ray Moore, a former r&b artist, who developed a persona known as Dolemite first appearing in recorded media with 1970's Eat Out More Often.[citation needed] The strident, boasting figure quickly became synonymous with Moore, and his profanity-laden style influenced so many that he became called the "Godfather of Rap". Professor Bruce Jackson wrote in a 1974 evaluation of African-American oral traditions that Dolemite functioned as "the ultimate badass" as he suffered none of the "limited perspective" or "inarticulateness" of similar characters. A typical bragging remark from one of Moore's many stand-up routines is: "First thing Dolomite encountered was two big Rocky Mountains. He said, 'Mountains, what y'all gonna do?' They said, 'We gonna part, Mr. Dolemite, and let your badass through'."[8][9][10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Serba, John (February 2, 2013). "'Jack Reacher' review: Tom Cruise fits the role of shrewd loner perfectly in well-crafted action movie". Retrieved August 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Roeper, Richard (July 30, 2015). "'Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation': Tom Cruise Thriller Keeps Topping Itself". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "'Lethal Weapon' Strikes Again". CBS News. July 10, 1998. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Reiner, Andrew. "Devil May Cry". Game Informer. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Kolar, Philip (April 30, 2015). "Hands-on with Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition's many playable characters". Retrieved August 2, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "The Satanic and Byronic Hero: Overview". The Norton Anthology of Literature. Norton. Retrieved June 20, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Lord Byron - Poet, Playwright". Retrieved 2016-10-10. 
  8. ^ a b Darling, Josh (May 21, 2012). "Film Review: Dolemite (1975)". Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Jackson, Bruce (2004). Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition. Psychology Press. pp. 57–62. ISBN 9780415969963. 
  10. ^ a b Adams, Michael (October 16, 2009). "Bad Movies We Love: Dolemite". Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  11. ^ Jenkins, Henry (2003). Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Routledge. p. 296. ISBN 9781135964696. 
  12. ^ "'24' returns: Jack Bauer's coolest 10 moments". Retrieved 2016-08-02. 
  13. ^ Stefan Mohamed (2014-11-04). "24: Jack Bauer's 10 Most Badass Moments". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2016-08-02. 
  14. ^ mtv (2009-01-28). "The Greatest Movie Badasses Of All Time: John McClane". MTV. Retrieved 2016-08-02. 
  15. ^ Nicholson, Max (2012-04-27). "Who's More Badass Than John McClane?". IGN. Retrieved 2016-08-02. 
  16. ^ Martin, Brett (December 19, 2015). "Star Wars Actor Reveals Which Character Was Supposed to Die in The Force Awakens". Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  17. ^ Agar, Chris (January 2, 2016). "Star Wars 7 Script & Novel: New Details and Biggest Answers". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  18. ^ Kamen, Matt (November 23, 2015). "Two new Star Wars: The Force Awakens clips focus on Rey". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 

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