The 100 has garnered a reputation for mishandling storylines and character arcs throughout its six seasons.
With The 100 Season 7 underway, I started thinking about what's kept me watching the show for the past few years.
There's only one answer: leading man Bellamy Blake.
When I started watching The 100, I figured I was in for a lot of cheesy storylines and awkward teenage romances.
Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of that to go around, but I never expected to meet my favorite television character of all time.
In the first few episodes of the show, it's made clear that Bellamy's role is supposed to be the designated asshole of the group.
He's snarky, impulsive, and acts as the perfect foil to our protagonist, Clarke. But, it quickly becomes apparent that there's more to him than meets the eye.
Power-Hungry Self-Serving Jackass?
I'm a total sucker for a bad boy with a heart of gold, but what's amazing about Bellamy is that he doesn't exactly fit into that predictable trope.
He gets to exist as a complex, multi-faceted character who faces tough decisions and deals with the consequences.
He's not trapped in a linear redemption arc full of making amends for his past mistakes. We get to see him at his best and his worst.
He's a dynamic character who can be hard to predict. Throughout the first few seasons, I found myself being surprised every time Bellamy subverted the tropes I was expecting him to succumb to.
The show was exciting to watch because he was so compelling.
I expected he would have some sort of tragic backstory for why he acted the way he did, but I didn't anticipate how the reveal of his childhood with Octavia would change my perspective of him.
His intense devotion to her and his protective nature now made sense, but there were also underlying themes revealed that that the show didn't have to touch on explicitly to make an impact.
He spent his entire young life caring for Octavia, which has led to his psyche being unable to grasp the fact that he can't always put someone else before himself.
We see this most notably in his relationship with his sister, but it can be found in every relationship he has on the show.
We're supposed to think Bellamy's selfish based on how arrogant he can come off and how headstrong he can be, but it's evident that Bellamy has never cared about himself more than anyone else.
He always puts others first. He puts himself in danger time and time again to save Octavia, Clarke, and the rest of his friends.
He volunteers to go undercover in Mount Weather to save his people. He trades himself for Jasper in a hostage situation. He crosses through an army of Grounders to get to Clarke without any regard for his safety.
He's arguably the most selfless character on a show full of characters with messiah complexes.
This Is Who I've Always Been
But, that doesn't mean he's always easy to root for. Sometimes what he thinks is best is counterintuitive to the narrative arc of the show.
And yet he did. It's a choice he regrets deeply, as expressed several times throughout the later seasons of the show. But, it's not surprising that he made it.
Bellamy is defined by his strong sense of loyalty. And in his eyes, he was doing what he thought was best at the time for the people he cares about.
There's something incredibly earnest about Bellamy's decisions in the series, even as misguided as they can be. His motivations are always clear.
He's not afraid to be the bad guy if it means protecting the people he loves.
He pulls the lever with Clarke in Mount Weather to save his people. It wasn't for himself. He betrays people who trusted him and helped him on his mission to save the captured members of Skaikru.
This action takes a heavy toll on him, and in the eyes of the citizens of the mountain makes him the villain. It was another rash choice, even though it's not entirely his own, that has a high body-count.
He's not a perfect caricature of the ideal tough hero who will always save the day.
Watching the show, you get a sense of who Bellamy is down to his core, but his actions remain hard to predict. He's morally ambiguous to a tee.
Who We Are And Who We Need To Be To Survive Are Very Different Things
Part of what makes Bellamy such a revolutionary character in the world of teen dramas is how much emotion we get to see from him.
Unfortunately, male characters are still rarely shown expressing a full breadth of emotions. And if they do cry, it's always intended to frame them as weak.
But Bellamy, our male lead, is consistently painted as anything but weak. He's a soldier, a hero, and occasionally even a playboy, but he's completely ruled by emotion.
That's part of what makes his and Clarke's interactions so interesting to watch. The male and female lead's expected roles have switched. He's the heart, and she's the head.
It's refreshing. Bellamy never hides how he's feeling and is honest to a fault. When he fights with other characters, he always knows exactly how to hit them where it hurts. You can feel the passion behind everything he says and does.
This manifests most notably in the way he deals with guilt throughout the show. As early as The 100 Season 1 Episode 8, he breaks down over his actions and how disappointed his mother would be in him if she could see him now.
He has a magnified sense of personal responsibility beyond any of the other characters on the show. He's hard on himself and uses that feeling of moral culpability to drive himself to do better in the future.
And this is what makes him such a great leader. He can inspire the masses because he understands how they're feeling. His famous inspirational speeches to the delinquents come from his heart. He's a natural.
How cool is that? Seeing a male character on a teen show who leads a group of people based solely on his keen ability to empathize with others? There's no other character like him.
Screw fear, I'm telling my own damn story.
Bellamy has always been the most layered and emotionally complex character on The 100, and in large part that is due to actor Bob Morley.
He cares about his role and works to understand him in a way most actors wouldn't.
He brings passion and depth to a role that has come to mean so much to so many people. Because not only is Bellamy an excellent example of what a male character can be, he's one of the only Southeast Asian men leading a television show. Since the show began, fans have expressed gratitude over the representation he provides.
When asked why otherwise sensible women are willing to die for Bellamy Blake, there is an endless amount of reasons.
He's a thoughtful, compassionate man who isn't afraid to put others first. He's a strong leader, a kind friend, and a caring brother.
He's framed as the literal heart of the series.
Bellamy Blake is the best part of The 100 and will be deeply missed when the final season finishes.
Goodbye, Bellamy. May we meet again.
Remember, you can watch The 100 online right here via TV Fanatic.
The 100 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
Jillian Pugliese is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.