In recent years, the prominence of immoral, law-breaking antihero characters (Machiavellian or Mach-antiheroes) has increased in popular media. How can this trend be explained? It may be the case that, due to globalized exposure to real life injustice, some people experience an increase in anomie and thus prefer characters who can more realistically solve injustice. In two experiments, one correlational and one comparing groups exposed to antiheroes that varied in personal and global justification, this hypothesis was examined. Although evidence was not found to directly support the hypothesis, elements of just world beliefs, anomie, and personal morality were found to be related to Mach-antihero appeal. Results also support the idea that audiences do engage in moral evaluations of Mach-antiheroes. A full discussion of results, as well as implications, limitations, and future directions for research, appear as a conclusion.
Key words: antihero, justice, belief in a just world, anomie, morality