Archetypes: Outlaw

Rules are made to be broken, and without those at the ready to test the status quo, they never would be.

The Outlaw, or Rebel, is a fiction favorite, striding through their worlds with a confidence bordering on arrogance and shaking the foundations their society has always known — often doing so with little to no help at all from those around them.

They speak to a base human desire to break free of the rules and constraints of regular life. Take ten minutes to listen to any radio station: the message is loud and clear. Pop, Rock n’ Roll, and Punk have all gotten their popularity by settling in the heart of the listener, and make them feel the blood of the Rebel pumping through their veins.



 The Outlaw

Also known as the rebel, revolutionary, iconoclast, and misfit, the Outlaw is the archetype that lives for revolution.

The Outlaw, though often motivated by a need to better the world through somewhat questionable means, can also have a desire for revenge against atrocities committed against her.

Independent and radical, the Outlaw employs outrageous or disruptive, shocking habits to shake those they interact with out of complacency.

Though the Outlaw can also be a strong advocate for change, the methods they often employ to get the attention of their oppressor can be outright dangerous or misguided. They can also be dogmatic about their own perspective, and outcast those who do not fit their definition of “good,” thus repeating the cycle of society they are trying to break out of. It is not uncommon for them to turn to crime that harms innocent people on the sidelines, and in the process, lose their way, as well as their sense of morality. They often alienate their friends or those who would otherwise support them.


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14 thoughts on “Archetypes: Outlaw

  1. I don’t know any outlaws personally, but certainly the ones from the 60s, with whom I am familiar, were not – for the most part – ones to be admired. Ghandi, Mandela, yes. Bill Ayers, the Black Panthers, no.

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  2. I’ve always found this archetype to be the most fun to write and create. The sky is the limit. There is such freedom in the creation of an outlaw–it’s likely related to releasing all the pent up and squished down bits of my own personality that would never be allowed to see the light of day.
    Writing is therapeutic. And probably the safest way for me to not harm the rest of humanity. 😛

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  3. My last stop for the evening. I get the whole gist, but i am not sure that “outlaw” and “rebel are quite so interchangeable, and I am pretty sure revolutionaries are their own species.

    Totally get all the subsidiary ideas like alienating the friends and otherwise supporters, though.

    Theres a a pathology here to be explored. But I think this one is mostly about revolutionaries. I thank the universe often for allowing me to outgrow the revolutionary way of thinking.

    I’m till an outlaw, though. Nothing I can really do about that. “Revolutionary” is abut how the actor in question views society. “Outlaw” is mostly about how the society views the actor.

    One is more or less chosen in a free-willed sort of way, the other is inflicted, for lack of a better word. But they get all tangled up, and it’s difficult to tell them apart at times. Many outlaws have attempted revolutions, and many revolutionaries have ended up outlaws.

    Not the same though, and I fear i have devolved into silliness, so I will stop now.

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    1. They are not that interchangeable, you are right, but every archetype within Jung’s original twelve is simply the skeleton of a full personality. Outlaw encompasses, basically, any character that wants to move against the current, or general complacency of his world. This differs from the Hero archetype in that the Hero is always happy in his current world, until The Call comes and changes him irrevocably.

      So, Revolutionary, Outlaw, and Rebel are all under this umbrella. Their actions are different, but their general “need” is the same. This goes for all twelve in the wheel. For instance, a Lover archetype is not always a character in need of a romantic love with a partner. Just my thoughts on it. 🙂

      I do think you fit a lot of this archetype though, in a good way! ^_^

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      1. Yeah. There’s surely an umbrella there.

        And I hope you are right about me. I try to move against the current in non-harmful and occasionally charming ways, but I’ve just got not patience for going along to get along, really.

        If my life were a story, the primary conflict would be “Man against Complacency,” though I struggle with it myself often, and sometimes I lose.

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    1. Good addition! (To be honest, I’m not a huge SW fan, so while I try to include them as much as possible, I’m not familiar enough with a lot of them to make the call.) Han Solo would be a good example of the Outlaw, though I think he straddles the Everyperson, too, being that he has no actual political leaning one way or another (as far as I can remember).

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