No one wants a perfect character.
In fan fiction terms, we call those characters “Mary Sue(s)” and they are highly frowned upon.
Okay, by “perfect character” I mean someone who is completely equipped to deal with anything that you, the gods, the editor and every shade of monster in between can throw at them. I’m talking about the damsel in distress who comes from a perfect, oftentimes rich, family and can save herself, thank you very much, without so much as breaking a nail or getting a single hair out of place.
No one is that perfect.
Not even Tom Hiddleston.
Besides, why would anyone want to read about that kind of character? That’s BORING.
We want conflict! We want action! We want to see our hero(es) get so utterly beaten down and broken that there is no hope for them to get back up again and then when all our hope is gone and we are ready to resign ourselves into that hero of ours dying, dammit, they dig deep and find that last little bit of strength and keep going. We want to see our hero(es) make mistakes! We wanna see them lose, only to come back bigger and better and defeat that evil sonofabitch who is threatening whatever they hold dear!
We wanna see a hero with a dark side. We wanna see that perfect princess scratching her ass when she thinks no one is looking. We wanna see the ABSOLUTELY HORRID AND PERFECTLY RELATABLE HUMAN side to these characters.
That’s why we love it when our hero isn’t quite as squeaky clean as the propaganda makes him out to be. (Except Captain America. I don’t think that I could handle it if he was suddenly a puppy-kicking misogynist.)
Now, the problem with giving your character flaws is that you have to make them believable. Making Captain America a puppy-kicking misogynist doesn’t work with what’s already been established as canon. It’s not believable.
A School counsellor with a hidden past of child abuse is a good example of something believable that would get past the checks in place and could create a new canon for the character as it comes into play.
Not that that’s a flaw, exactly, but it’s a helluva good example, isn’t it?
What’s your characters’ flaw(s)? What’s one you haven’t seen but wish you could?