Comments in a previous post got me thinking about the kinds of characters who pull us into a story.
They're not always likable.
You probably saw my comment, but the first guy who came to mind was Melvin Udall (aka Jack Nicholson) in the movie As Good As It Gets.
Not the kind of guy you want in your family, or even in your apartment building, but he was portrayed in such a way that the audience (moi) felt empathy for him. Who wouldn't feel bad for a guy who's trapped by his self-made limitations?
Not likable, but I rooted for him, as well as the other characters, and though it's been years I haven't forgotten them. Still not sure whether I like Melvin though.
Can you think of a character you didn't really like, but you rooted for anyway? Ever wrote one of those? And if the character is both likable and empathetic, does that make the story stronger?