How Alpha is too Alpha?

I’ve been watching Vikings – a TV show based around.. (no spoilers here)… a band of Vikings. These men are tough! As they raid the English shore, they delight in looting, killing, and taking slaves. The ultimate Alpha males?  But how Alpha is too Alpha? How do you get an audience to watch a show where the main characters are so inherently unlikeable?

As I’ve been watching the series, it’s become clear that the main character isn’t actually unlikeable at all. While his crew are made up of men who’d kill you as soon as look at you, he’s a devoted family man. He’s fair-minded and unlike his men, he’s not quite so keen on murder for the fun of it. He’s determined as all get-out and he laughs in the face of both enemies with swords, and giant waves breaking right over his tiny boat. Yeah, he’s iron-willed to the point of ruthlessness, and doesn’t flinch from a fight. But because he’s proven himself to have a good heart, that just makes him more attractive.

I think he’s the best kind of Alpha hero. A man who knows exactly what he wants and although he won’t let anything stand in his way, his family always comes first.  I’ve been drawn into the show because he’s a man I can root for, even though I dislike the men who fight with him.

Figuring out how far you can push an Alpha character before it goes too far… that’s a great trick. I think it makes TV shows and movies more interesting when they tiptoe along that line, teetering on the edge of making a character unlikeable. It’s one of the things I enjoyed most when I watched House of Cards. The interaction between Frank Underwood and Zoe Barnes was riveting.  But then Frank stepped way over that line, and now I can’t help but despise him. Does that make the show any less enjoyable? Not for me, but if his true character had been obvious from the beginning I think it would have been harder to get drawn into the series.

What do you think? Do you like characters who are teetering on the dark side of grey as much as I do?  I’d love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment!

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About Talia Hunter
Talia Hunter, aka the Goddess of Laughter, likes writing about smart, funny women, and the men who are hot enough to torch their resistance and set their hearts on fire. Her motto is, If you aren’t laughing, you aren't doing it right. There’s nothing Talia loves more than a beautiful white sand beach and Her first book, Her Hot Number, is set on Australia’s gorgeous Queensland coast. It’s due for release in August with Entangled Publishing.


  1. Great post, Talia.

    I love a hero who is will to push the boundary. The Alpha who will do anything to protect those he loves has me in his corner every time. I don’t want him to become evil or start enjoying his quest for justice, but for me to cheer him on, he needs to be willing to suffer the consequences if necessary.


    Talia Hunter Reply:

    Well said, Jerrie!


  2. Kimberly Quinton says:

    Great Post!

    I love an Alpha Hero anytime… But yes, they do stop being a hero to me when they cross too many lines. I love to watch shows like The Walking Dead or Justified where you can watch characters compromise and transform due to their circumstances and once-heroes turn into villains and others turn into true heroes…. As far as Romance goes, my Alpha hero has to have a set line and never cross it for him to remain a hero… He can have his world turned upside down and he can have the “lines about love” he’d imposed pushed, but if he goes over the edge on control, violence or manipulation he is no longer a hero.


    Talia Hunter Reply:

    Absolutely agree Kimberly, and I love shows where the characters transform too.
    I was trying to think of a novel where the protaganist walks such a fine line as some of the shows I’ve been watching, and I couldn’t think of a single one that went so far and made me question whether I could still root for the hero or not.
    Well, there was one but I stopped reading in disgust after the so-called ‘hero’ drugged the heroine to stop her doing something he didn’t want her to do. She woke up in bed with her pyjamas on – he’d undressed her while she was unconscious – and this was a romantic comedy where the two characters were supposed to be falling in love!
    Talk about going too far. I’d have had him charged with sexual assault, not get turned on by imagining being undressed by him, like the woman in book did.


  3. Aubrey Wynne says:

    I love an alpha male. The only way he can be too alpha is arrogance. If he’s too arrogant, I’m turned off. Great post!


  4. I’ll jump on the great post bandwagon! Nice work. I like a dark grey character, but usually like a little more beta to my men. I can, however, appreciate the alpha of alphaites, and I loved House of Cards. You’re so right about the line of no return and I have to admit that when Frank crossed over, a little of my love for him cracked. I now want to know what happens next, but I’m not rooting for him. At. All.
    I haven’t seen the viking series though. But…judging by the picture you’ve got above…sparkly blue eyed, mohawked men…I’m there.


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