I love anti-heroes.
I love the grit, the 'hell with it' attitudes, the cigarette smoke, and the cheap bars. I love the inner conflict and the way they reluctantly save the day. None of them plan on going out and saving the day. None of them want to be the big, damn hero. After the world is saved, they disappear back into the sleazy bar they came from.
Maybe my love for the anti-hero comes from my years of playing Shadowrun, a cyberpunk roleplaying game where the characters are hired to do (mostly) illegal jobs in the Shadows. Cyberpunk is a genre filled with anti-heroes. The characters tend to be addicted to something, down to their last cigarette, and for hire by anyone who can pay. But I think I've always just loved the bastards.
In Supernatural, Sam and Dean Winchester save the world from one motel room to another. (Seriously, do they expect us to believe those nifty hotel rooms really exist? Where are they when I travel?) They aren't licensed or paid anything and are in trouble with the law more often than not, but they get the job done.
In Sandman Slim, the guy escapes from Hell not to save the world, but for revenge. Along the way, he keeps the world from falling apart.
Harry Dresden, in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, does what he does because he has to. The authorities are always waiting for him to take one step out of line so they can smack him down, but he keeps going.
Howard, from Howard the Duck, was just a duck who gave up his dreams and got a desk job. Then he got pulled across the universe and had to stop a race of demon beings from taking over the world.
The anti-hero embodies the fight within us all to put aside our crappy problems and to rise above it. They give me hope that even in my worst moments, even if everything in my life goes down the river, I will be able to become the best person I can. There is a quote from Franz Kafka that embodies it all:
“No people sing with such pure voices as those that live in deepest hell; what we take for the song of angels is their song.”