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Archetypes: the Outlaw

In Jungian theory, the Outlaw lives for revolution. A rule breaker, this archetype challenges convention and questions the status quo. They are outrageous, shocking, outspoken, radical, reckless, counter-cultural, independent and innovative, and are most fulfilled when they change something to better the world. 

At times, the Outlaw may be motivated by the desire for revenge, and can be disruptive, dangerous, misguided, or even unhinged. The archetype who gives way to the dark side may develop a warped morality, turn to crime, or succumb to addictions and engage in emotional/physical abuse.

In writing, the Outlaw provides conflict as the adversary to the Hero, and is the agent for change.

This archetype is also known as the rebel, revolutionary, reformer, maverick, destroyer, iconoclast, wild man and misfit.

Examples in Folklore and Literature

Robin Hood, Outlaw
  • Ali Baba
  • Pedro Tercero in The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • Beowulf in Beowulf by anon.
  • Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • The Joker in DC Comics
  • Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • Amy Dunne in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The preacher in Pale Rider by Alan Dean Foster
  • Tank Girl in Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin
  • Ixion (Greek mythology)
  • Lucifer/Samael the Bible
  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  • Rooster Cogburn in True Grit by Charles Portis
  • Robin Hood
  • Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
  • Ivanhoe in Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  • Rob Roy in Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
  • Han Solo in Star Wars
  • Long John Silver in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Saruman in Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein
  • Lucy in How Much of these Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
  • Zorro

If you liked this…


Hudnall, Ariel (2015) Archetypes: Outlaw

Vogler, Christopher (1998) The Writer’s Journey. Third Edition. Michael Wiese Productions.

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