The antihero prevails in recent American drama television series. Characters such as mobster kingpin Tony Soprano (The Sopranos), meth cook and gangster-in-the-making Walter White (Breaking Bad) and serial killer Dexter Morgan (Dexter) are not morally good, so how do these television series make us engage in these morally bad main characters? And what does this tell us about our moral psychological make-up, and more specifically, about the moral psychology of fiction?

Vaage argues that the fictional status of these series deactivates rational, deliberate moral evaluation, making the spectator rely on moral emotions and intuitions that are relatively easy to manipulate with narrative strategies. Nevertheless, she also argues that these series regularly encourage reactivation of deliberate, moral evaluation. In so doing, these fictional series can teach us something about ourselves as moral beings—what our moral intuitions and emotions are, and how these might differ from deliberate, moral evaluation.

chapter 1|38 pages

Morally Murky

On Navigating Fictional Worlds by Moral Emotions and Intuitions

chapter 2|25 pages


How Knowing Someone Well Influences Morality

chapter 3|26 pages

Suspense and Moral Evaluation

How Morality Is Shaped by Suspense and Style

chapter 4|30 pages

Why so Many Television Series with Antiheroes?

The Attraction of the Antihero's Very Immorality

chapter 5|30 pages

Crossing the Line

On Moral Disgust and Proper Villains in the Antihero Series

chapter 6|32 pages

The Antihero's Wife

On Hating Skyler White, and on the Rare Female Antihero

chapter 7|5 pages