Today, I’m basically waving a red cape in front of a bull and calling its mother names, because I’m going to talk about why I hate Jace Wayland from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.
*ducks as rotten tomatoes are thrown*
Okay, now, hear me out—
Okay, okay. Let me clarify: I hate two out of three iterations of Jace Wayland. And I’ll explain what I mean by that in just a minute.
So who is Jace Wayland, anyways?
Jace Wayland is a much-beloved character. He’s a badass Shadowhunter who overcame a traumatic childhood and grew up to be extremely good-looking. (That’s how he’d put it, anyways.) He’s brave to a fault, he’s dedicated to slaying dangerous demons, and he’s very clever.
But he’s also kind of a jerk.
He’s routinely rude, sarcastic, and arrogant. He’s incredibly careless and assumes that his parabatai Alec will clean up his messes and watch his back during fights. He picks on people and belittles them, even when they’re supposed to be his family (Alec) or his love interest (Clary). He enjoys making fun of people and laughing at them for being afraid or confused.
Despite his good looks, Jace has a pretty rotten personality. I know he’s got plenty of childhood trauma and I’m certainly not denying that childhood trauma affects people throughout the rest of their lives. That’s not what I take issue with.
What I take issue with is that despite his really horrible treatment of those around him, Clary—the heroine of the story—basically can’t stop talking about how handsome he is. To me, Jace is pretty much the epitome of “guy is absolved of his gross behavior by being ridiculously good-looking and having a tragic past.” It’s something that you see a lot in YA and it’s something that I just can’t stand. Toxic people shouldn’t be absolved of their toxicity just because they’re really, really hot.
So, yeah, I hate Jace Wayland.
Or rather…I hate the book version of Jace Wayland.
The real reason I wanted to talk about Jace (other than the fact that I just love being booed by a million Mortal Instruments fans) was because I don’t hate every iteration of him. I hate him in the books. I hate him in the terrible, terrible movie that we do not speak of. But I actually, genuinely adore him in the TV series.
*record scratch* *freeze frame*
Believe me, I did not expect to love him. I only wanted to watch the show because of Magnus Bane. (I feel like that’s 90% of why anyone wants to do anything, to be honest. “Because Magnus Bane.”) But to my complete and utter shock, I wound up absolutely loving Jace**. He’s my son now. I would die for him.
So what changed?
Simply put, Jace did. Jace changed. He’s still hardcore, still an eerily good fighter, still outrageously handsome, and still eager to point all this out to anyone who will listen. He’s arrogant, yes, and mean to characters whom he doesn’t know or respect. He’s still a jerk to Simon most of the time, just like he is in the books.
But he isn’t a jerk to the people who really matter to him. He’s actually very open about how much he loves his siblings, Alec and Isabelle. He visibly empathises with Clary’s distress at losing her family and links it to his own loss as a child. His troubled past is given quite a bit of screen time and its effects on him—how it made him not just closed off, but afraid—is explored more than it is in the books.*
TV!Jace has some softness and some obvious weak points that balance out his arrogance. He’s is loving and vulnerable and also an arrogant jerk. It’s really an incredible balancing act. A few small changes to his character have totally reversed my opinion on him.
Well…one iteration of him, anyways.
*in the interest of total honesty, I should point out that I’ve only read the first three books in the series. It’s totally possible that Jace’s backstory gets the exploration that it deserves in later books. I wouldn’t know.
**again, to be totally honest, I’ve only watched a season and a half of Shadowhunters, so who knows what happens in the latter half of season two? Not me.
What characters do you hate? Have you ever seen them adapted and changed into something that you love, or are they just terrible in every iteration of themselves? Have you read the entire Mortal Instruments series or watched Shadowhunters? Who’s your favourite character from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters universe. (Mine is Jem Carstairs. Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about Jem. 1000% cinnamon roll, too good for this world, too pure.)