NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS

REBELLIOUS



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HELPFUL TIP:

Characters with this flaw will be extra sensitive to certain emotions, so think about how events in your story might specifically trigger these feelings to generate compelling tension and conflict. Another idea is to give a supporting character a positive attribute that is an opposite of this flaw, which will get under the skin of both characters and cause friction in their relationship.
DEFINITION:
Flouting the law or resisting authority

SIMILAR FLAWS:
Defiant, disobedient, insubordinate, mutinous

POSSIBLE CAUSES:
Having domineering parents
Living in a strictly-controlled culture or society
Repression
Being denied creative expression
Discrimination
Being at war or living in a policed state
Being strong-willed
Having been independent and answering to no one for a long time
A history of abuse or mistreatment by those in authority
Needing control and freedom, to be independent
Believing that respect must be earned, not automatically granted

ASSOCIATED BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDES:
Backtalk; insolent or impudent retorts
Arguing
Silent protests
Flouting the rules of one’s parents or society
Ignoring warnings
Risky behavior
Stubbornness
Lying
Doing something because it is forbidden or illegal
Participating in marches, sit-ins, protests, or revolutions
Deliberately engaging in activities that annoy those in charge
Joining a group with like-minded ideals and beliefs
Getting a tattoo or piercing to symbolize one’s freedom to do so
Eschewing trends or popularity
Smoking
Refusing to answer a question, account for one’s whereabouts, etc. on principle alone
Exploring beliefs of right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral, etc.
Questioning facts
Pushing boundaries and testing limits
Aggression that may lead to violence
Encouraging others to challenge authority
Sneaking around to get one’s way
Fighting for personal freedoms and rights
Passive-aggressiveness; acting as if one is on board while secretly planning to rebel
Becoming easily angered
Saying things deliberately meant to hurt those in authority
Ignoring orders
Being uncooperative
Keeping secrets to deny someone information

ASSOCIATED THOUGHTS:
Who put her in charge? I could run this class better than she does.
They can’t treat me this way. I won’t put up with it.
If he wants my respect, he has to earn it.
He might be running this project, but he’s not running me. I’ll do things my own way.
Let him try and tell me what to do. We’ll see who wins that fight.

ASSOCIATED EMOTIONS:

POSITIVE ASPECTS:
Rebellious characters are able to set their own moral compass and follow it without fearing where it may lead. They’re also open to new experiences and are fairly tolerant of others. These kinds of characters are often magnets for those who feel shoehorned into a particular mold, beaten down by parental expectations, and constricted to a certain path.

NEGATIVE ASPECTS:
Rebellious characters often have impaired judgment, seeing the allure of what they want and missing the possible consequences. Risky behavior means putting themselves and others into danger or doing irreparable damage as a result of following their whims. Other people may take advantage of a rebellious character’s zeal for independence by urging them to participate in harmful or immoral activities, and prodding them into behavior that aligns with their own agendas.

EXAMPLE FROM FILM:
John Bender (The Breakfast Club) rebels against authority whenever possible, which frequently lands him in Saturday detention. In one memorable scene when he’s challenged by the teacher in charge, John doesn’t back down but repeatedly defies him, racking up week after week of detentions to come. While his rebellion may look like strength, it’s really just a distorted attempt to gain some kind of control of his world, which is largely ruled by a verbally and physically abusive father. Other Examples from Film: Randle McMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Merida (Brave)

OVERCOMING THIS TRAIT AS A MAJOR FLAW:
To overcome a rebellious nature, a character would have to come face-to-face with the ugly side of his actions. Seeing the negative consequences for something that cannot be undone may open the character’s eyes to the importance of limits, rules, and boundaries in society.

TRAITS IN SUPPORTING CHARACTERS THAT MAY CAUSE CONFLICT: