The following contains spoilers from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy.

Fictitious leaders have been portrayed in many different ways, but they usually have their flaws. A good story is often a reflection of the way things are, and our own leaders each have their particular brands of flaws–they are human, after all. A compelling movie can draw us in and give us a closer look at how the world works on an emotional level. We get a chance to see what it feels like to be responsible for the fate of a nation or to be leading a revolution of peasants in Medieval times. From the battlefield in “Lawrence of Arabia,” to the toys in “Toy Story” or gangsters in “The Godfather”–leaders are flawed, and that’s partly what makes them so compelling to watch.

Many Marvel movies are centered around a hero overcoming their flaws in order to effectively lead others–the classic leadership story. | Image courtesy of Marvel Studios

There is a new type of heroic leader character that has begun to emerge (and by begun, I mean within the last 100 years–a short time period in the context of literature). It’s a potent mix of the classic, perfect hero from children’s stories and the gritty, dirty reality we’re reminded of every time we turn on the TV and watch the news.

These characters “truly are incorruptible” as the Joker calls Batman in “The Dark Knight.” They are fervent believers in the difference between right and wrong, and despite constantly being forced to make impossible decisions, they always grit their teeth and “do the right thing.” How does that make for a compelling hero? Isn’t that the whole reason we like flawed characters because we’re flawed too? A flawless character honestly sounds boring and trite–most of the time. It also seems to come at odds with the wave of ultra-realism in recent film and television.

Where these stories become compelling is when that “flawless” character takes a serious toll for all the right things he or she has done. That’s where we connect on a human level: many of us feel like we’re constantly being punished for making the right choices, that doing the right thing scrapes your soul down to a sliver of what it once was.

This “flawless” character is particularly popular in the context of leadership, and it is a reflection of our society’s deep longing for such a leader. I’ve heard from all sides of the political spectrum how many believe that our system is built in such a way that it can only serve to push unfit politicians into office. Even J. R. R. Tolkien once said that, “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)… The most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on) is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” Many share his sentiment here, especially during the last few decades. It’s like being a politician and being a good person are mutually exclusive.

Tired of the constant political games, the “House of Cards” style maneuvering and rhetoric, and general dishonesty all around, most people simply yearn for a good person to take them forward. The leaders in these stories are certainly qualified–they are often warriors and thinkers, but above all else they are driven by a strong moral compass. This seems to be the last thing on the minds of many politicians that “lead” our country toward a successful career for themselves.

During the course of the story, they are often broken physically, mentally and emotionally–all because they keep doing the right thing for the sake of others. | Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

I’ve outlined some traits seen in these types of characters: