Hotshot (stock character)

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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. 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. 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. 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.

Analysis and details[edit]

A hot-shot character can exist in a partnership or team where they play off of other individuals, such as comic relief and love interest characters.[1][2] 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.[3][4] Frequent characteristics of the hotshot character includes 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 the group they are part of, becoming a personality flaw holding them back.

Sometimes, not just an individual but a whole group can receive the labeling. For example, 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, 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.[1]


A precursor to the contemporary definition of the hotshot is the Romantic Byronic Hero. The Byronic Hero is a particular kind of antihero, whose namesake can be attributed to Lord Byron, defined by rebelliousness, dark mystery, and a devil-may-care personality. The intrigue behind these heroes 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.[5]

In the modern age of film and literature, the hotshot archetype has become better-defined, and hence, more easily and intentionally embodied. 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. 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'."[6][7][8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "'Lethal Weapon' Strikes Again". CBS News. July 10, 1998. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c 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 Reiner, Andrew. "Devil May Cry". Game Informer. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Philip Kolar (2015-04-30). "Hands-on with Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition's many playable characters". Polygon. Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  5. ^ "The Satanic and Byronic Hero: Overview". The Norton Anthology of Literature. Norton. Retrieved June 20, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Darling, Josh (May 21, 2012). "Film Review: Dolemite (1975)". Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b Adams, Michael (October 16, 2009). "Bad Movies We Love: Dolemite". Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ Martin, Brett (December 19, 2015). "Star Wars Actor Reveals Which Character Was Supposed to Die in The Force Awakens". Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  10. ^ Agar, Chris (January 2, 2016). "Star Wars 7 Script & Novel: New Details and Biggest Answers". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  11. ^ Kamen, Matt (November 23, 2015). "Two new Star Wars: The Force Awakens clips focus on Rey". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 

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