If you’ve ever read a space adventure with smugglers and pirates, or a sword & sorcery with rogue thieves and master-less swordsmen, or a western with gritty outlaws and mountain men, you know this character alignment. If you’re a fan of any of these genres, chances are you love him, too.
The Chaotic Neutral‘s one consistent rule is to always look out for #1. Beyond that, he’s a free spirit who believes in individuality and resists anyone or anything that tries to control him. Rebellious spirits and lovable rogues tend to fall into this alignment, but so do tricksters and wild cards. Their resistance to any form of personal restriction makes them unreliable allies, despite what Jack Sparrow says.
A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions.
A lot of characters start out as this but tend to shift as the story progresses. Han Solo, for example, shifts from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Good as he becomes more and more involved with the Rebellion. The Jägers from Girl Genius are Chaotic Neutral until they have a Heterodyne to lead them. But in other stories, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Schlock Mercenary, the Chaotic Neutral serves as an anchor.
My favorite Chaotic Neutral is probably Waylander from David Gemmell’s Drenai series. The Jerusalem Man is another good one–in fact, just about every one of his books has a Chaotic Neutral that I love. Haruhi Suzumiya is an excellent example of a female Chaotic Neutral–in fact, she’s probably the queen of this particular character alignment.
In my own work, the best example of a Chaotic Neutral would probably be Tamu from Bringing Stella Home / Sholpan. Even though she’s technically a slave, she doesn’t really mind it because she has everything she wants and doesn’t have to be beholden to anybody (not even Qasar, really, since she’s his favorite). Amina from Desert Stars is also Chaotic Neutral, in contrast with Surayya, who is more of a Lawful Neutral, though sometimes it’s hard to tell. And in Genesis Earth, Terra is definitely a Chaotic Neutral at the beginning, though she shifts a little somewhere around the middle.
I’m hesitant to admit this, but when I took the character alignment test for myself, I tested out as a Chaotic Neutral. As to what that means, exactly…I’m not going to say. o.0