Wild Card & Will to Live — A-to-Z Blog Challenge, Literary Terms

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My play on V for Vendetta

Today is Wild Card and Will to Live, both which describe characters.


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Wild Card

The Wild Card is a character that does for himself more than anyone else. He’s not good or evil, doesn’t even really have a cause to fight. A good day could mean that his ship is still flying. He’ll choose to remain in the shadows, simply to be left alone.

He can be convinced to be on the side of good, but a simple request will hardly cut it. Generally coercion or fear of his own life will enable him, but still, it is only for himself.

A few traits:

1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Unless it directly deals with him, he’s not interested

Firefly’s Jayne Cobb simply sat in a bar while Mal and Zoe got into a fight, simply saying, “Hey, not my war…best of luck to you though!”


2. Changing Allegiance: While not bad in nature, he will be with which ever side gets him closer to his goal.

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mostly during season 4 and 5 as he transition into an ally. He helped the heroes when they paid him and easily betrayed them to Adam, only to rescue them there after.


3. Unfettered

4. Self-Preservation: The only way he’d save others is if it helps save himself.

In Battlestar Galactica, Gaius Baltar through most of the series was only interested in saving himself, saving others when it meant his survival.


5. Manipulative: Will constantly work people against each other, whether enemies or friends.

Revolver Ocelot is the best character of manipulation from the Metal Gear series. In Metal Gear Solid (year in game 2005), we see him working with Liquid Snake, only to find out he was working with the then President of the United States, Solidus Snake. Through Ocelot, Solidus convinced Liquid to start the Shadow Moses Incident.


In MGS2 (2007), we see him ally himself with Sergei Gurlukovich to get Metal Gear Ray, only to betray him since he is still working for Solidus. Later in the game (2009), he betrays Solidus as he is actually working for the Patriots.


In MGS3, we see him in 1964 working with the GRU but is secretly a double agent for the KGB and CIA. After 1970, he joined Zero, and worked on the Perfect Soldier project, becoming a founding member of the Patriots, along with Zero, Para-Medic, Sigin, EVA, and Big Boss.


He worked in the KGB as a Patriots spy. in MGS4 (2014), Big Boss stated that Ocelot was never working for anyone, simply wanting to destroy the Patriots.


He really manipulated EVERYONE!!!

6. Anti-Predictable: His strength is remain elusive, and not be reliable or predictable. He sees it as a sign of weakness

In Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow is very much like this. No one is quite sure what his plan is, he could even have several plans at once and waiting to see which one gives him what he most desires. Generally his life or his ship.


7. Good ol’ Fun: Doesn’t hurt to have a bit of fun along the way, and if people don’t laugh, then they don’t get it.

Garak is someone who finds fun in tough situations. Then again, he’s the only Cardassian on a Bajorian/Starfleet station, unable to return home. Gotta find fun somewhere.


These characters don’t have to be loners. They tend to act as lone wolves, but can be romantically link to someone, or be dating across the known worlds/realms.

While they resist being good for too long, they aren’t fully dedicated to be evil enough. Unlikely to be a big boss, more like a mercenary for hire when he needs to pay the bills.

Friends are a resource to them. Nice to have in the thick of things, but like any resource, it can be used up or sacrificed for their ultimate goal. Not quick to betray, but they still look out for themselves first and foremost. They will undoubtly betray anyone who tries to betray them, having no loyalty to others.

There is the rare chance they can sacrifice themselves for the group, becoming the Hero. However, this is likely due to them going to die anyways. They are generally fearless.

Will to Live

The will to live is a psychological force built around survival. This force is an active process of the conscious and subconscious mind. This force is more noticeable when someone’s life is threaten by serious injury or disease. Someone on the brink of death may try to stay alive through the belief that they have a reason to live or something to live for, whether this be a conscious or unconscious response.

That’s a lot to take in. Essentially, the will to live is considered to be a basic human drive, though it may not be the main driving force in a person’s life. Sigmund Freud touched on this in his pleasure principle, that we seek pleasure and avoid pain. We also see this in Hierarchy of Needs.

Whatever is the true motive behind this force, it is generally agreed that there are several basic types of forces at work in our lives, such as:

The Will to Live
The Will to Pleasure
The Will to Superiority
The Will to Connect

This is also termed as self-preservation, which is often paired with concepts of the future such as dreams, aspirations, and future expectations in improving one’s life. This is important to understand when we try to understand people’s motives when trying to stay alive as long as they can. Often times people have a direct reason, while some simply do it without knowing why.

There are extremes to the will to live. There is the will to not die and the will to live due to an emotional need.

The emotional need for wanting to live is something that still connects us to the living, that no matter how tough life is, the chance to reconnect with the origin of that emotion keeps us alive.

Kahn from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is a good example of this, as having spent 15 years on a barren planet that became a desert soon after he arrived, and many of his people died including his wife. He blamed Kirk for all of this, and swore vengeance upon him, which is likely what kept him alive all those years is the slim chance to carry out his vengeance.


The Will not to die, can often be described Thanatophbobia, or Death Anxiety. To an extent, we all experience this, as none of us want to die, but through it all, we ultimately decide to face it. Knowing there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Others begin to develop a fear and paranoia in the thought of their own death. This anxiety may result from the fear of the unknown, of what comes after death. While many sources have stated a possible explanation, nothing has ever been confirmed about life after death.

To combat this, many are in denial about death. Out of sight, out of mind. Many of us do this, especially the younger generation. Many of us will be alive in our 80’s to 120’s, and being 25 that is far off, so we choose not to think about it.

In narration, this gives us the Immortality Seeker. They want eternal life, and will do whatever they can to get it, often being an Unfettered person in their pursuit of their goal.

Interesting variation on this is Lord Valek in John Carpenter’s Vampires. Now he was already immortal and had been for centuries. However, he could still die (under specific circumstances). In seeking the ritual with the Berzier Cross, he sought to obtain Complete Immortality.


There is also a flip side to all of this, when one loses the will to live. This can lead to suicide. I will say that I don’t take suicide lightly in any way, in reality it is not something to laugh about, it is something that can be used for humor in narration.

Normally I would give examples of this in narration/media, but I feel that it is a subject matter that is very serious and I might offend others in my attempt to show examples.

Wild Card & Will to Live

Survival is a powerful need. Often times it is what shapes our lives and the decisions we make. We may even convince ourselves that our survival is built around other aspects beyond the most basic needs, which can include elements of love and revenge. It is one thing to keep on living, it is another think to maintain what we call our lives.

Self-preservation can be more than trying to stay alive, it can often be maintaining a lifestyle that we have identified with ourselves. It can often be a motive for us to stay alive or commit crime so we don’t lose it. Often it is the big 3, love, money, and power. People can often become attacked to material possession and to ask them to give it up is like death to them.

One comment

  1. Tom says:

    I’ve just read this and it was a bit deep for me in the evening, but interesting. What I did realise is that I only have any knowledge of one of the movies/programmes in the post – ‘Pirates …’
    I’ve known a couple of wildcard types in my life, and they were friendless individuals, best avoided when I think back on them.

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