Author Type


Publication Date


Document Type

Contribution to Book


This chapter traces melodrama’s historical triumvirate of characters – victims, heroes, and villains – to examine how they are applied in contemporary television serial dramas. Looking in particular at the examples of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, the author argues that the characterological trio now often exists within singular protagonists who follow a narrative trajectory from victim through hero to arrive, ultimately, at villainy. Collapsing the characterological triad into single protagonists marks a late modern version of melodrama in which the possibilities for heroism are circumscribed, leaving characters able to opt only for victimization or villainy.

Book Title

Criminals as Heroes in Popular Culture

Book Publisher

Springer International Publishing

Book Editor(s)

Kathryn E. Lane, Roxie J. James



Document Version

Post Print

Publisher's Statement

Authors whose book or chapter is accepted for non-OA publication are permitted to self-archive a portion of the accepted manuscript (AM) on their own personal website, and/or in their funder or institutional repositories, for public release after an embargo period.