Taylor Swift “Anti-Hero” Lyrics Meaning

“Anti-Hero” is a song by Taylor Swift, an American singer-songwriter. It’s the main song from her tenth studio album called “Midnights,” released in 2022. Taylor Swift wrote and made the song with Jack Antonoff. The song falls into the pop rock and synth-pop genres and has a 1980s vibe with drum sounds from a LinnDrum and vintage synthesizers like the Juno 6 and Prophet 5.

The lyrics of “Anti-Hero” are inspired by Taylor Swift’s own insecurities and how fame affects her mental well-being. The song talks about self-doubt and the negative impact of being famous. There’s also a part in the song where Taylor Swift imagines a scary scenario where her daughter-in-law tries to kill her for her inheritance.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the meaning of the song’s lyrics.

“Anti-Hero” Lyrics Meaning

[Verse 1]

I have this thing where I get older, but just never wiser

Midnights become my afternoons

When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people

I’ve ghosted stand there in the room

In Verse 1, the lyrics convey a sense of introspection and vulnerability.

In the line “I have a thing where I get older, but not any wiser”, Taylor Swift is acknowledging a personal struggle or pattern she experiences as she ages. She suggests that despite getting older, she doesn’t necessarily feel like she’s gaining more wisdom or maturity. 

The following line “Midnights feel like afternoons to me” suggests that the passage of time doesn’t bring her the clarity or insight she expects. The comparison between midnight and afternoon implies that her nights, often associated with introspection, feel as bright and revealing as afternoons – not very enlightening.

Taylor Swift opens up about her struggle with sadness or depression in the line “When my sadness takes over, all the people I’ve pushed away Stand there in the room, it’s hard to see.” She reflects on how her emotional state can push people away from her life. The people she’s distanced herself from now seem to confront her in her thoughts, representing the burden of past relationships and actions that haunt her.


I should not be left to my own devices

They come with prices and vices

I end up in crisis

(Tale as old as time)

I wake up screaming from dreaming

One day, I’ll watch as you’re leaving

‘Cause you got tired of my scheming

(For the last time)

In the Pre-Chorus, Taylor Swift expresses a sense of unease or discomfort when she’s left alone to contemplate her thoughts in the line “I shouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts.” 

Swift acknowledges that her thoughts come at a price – they’re not easy to handle. Her mind being “tied in knots” illustrates the mental turmoil and confusion she experiences.

Swift admits that when she’s left to her own thoughts, it often leads to chaotic and distressing situations, as she sings, “I end up in a mess, it’s such a distress.”

The parenthetical phrase “Tale as old as time” is a reference to the idea that her inner struggles and battles with her own thoughts are not unique. It suggests that others may have faced similar challenges throughout history.

The line “I wake up from nightmares, I’m filled with despair” reveals the depth of her emotional struggles. Swift experiences literal nightmares that leave her feeling overwhelmed with despair. 

In the line “One day, you’ll leave me, I’ll be gasping for air,” Taylor Swift anticipates the possibility of someone she cares about leaving her because of her emotional issues. She envisions a future where her actions or mental state push people away, and she feels desperate and breathless as a result.

When Taylor Swift sings, “‘Cause you’ll be tired of my games, I must confess (For the last time),” she’s acknowledging her own behavior, which she describes as “games.” She confesses that her actions might lead to people eventually growing weary of her. The phrase “For the last time” suggests a sense of finality or inevitability, as if she’s resigned to the idea that her actions may push people away permanently.


It’s me, hi

I’m the problem, it’s me

At teatime, everybody agrees

I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror

It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero

In the chorus, Taylor Swift directly acknowledges her own role in her life’s challenges in the line “It’s me, hello I’m the issue, you see.” She’s essentially saying, “I’m the problem.” This self-awareness demonstrates her willingness to take responsibility for her actions and emotions.

In the line “At teatime, everyone seems to agree,” the mention of “teatime” suggests a calm and civilized setting where people gather to discuss matters. She implies that in her life, it’s widely recognized or agreed upon that she’s the source of the problems or issues.

The line “I’ll stare at the sun, but not in the mirror” creates a striking contrast between looking directly at the sun and avoiding one’s reflection in the mirror. It suggests that Swift is more willing to confront external challenges or difficulties (like staring at the sun, which can be blinding) than to confront her own self-image or introspection.

The phrase “cheering for the anti-hero” alludes to the idea that she sees herself as an anti-heroic figure – someone who is not a traditional hero but still has qualities that make them relatable or compelling. She suggests that supporting or empathizing with such a character (herself) can be a difficult or demanding task.

[Verse 2]

Sometimes, I feel like everybody is a sexy baby

And I’m a monster on the hill

Too big to hang out, slowly lurching toward your favorite city

Pierced through the heart, but never killed

In the opening line “Sometimes, I feel like everybody is a sexy baby,” Taylor Swift employs a metaphor to describe her perception of others. She characterizes them as “sexy babies,” which implies that they appear pure, innocent, and perhaps carefree. 

Swift contrasts the “sexy babies” with herself, describing herself as a “monster” who is separate and isolated from the others, as evident in the line “And I’m a monster standing on the hill.” The imagery of standing on a hill suggests an elevated position where she can see others but is not a part of their world. This reinforces her sense of being an outsider or feeling like she doesn’t belong.

In the line “Too big to fit in, slowly moving toward your city,” Swift continues the metaphor of being a “monster.” She suggests that she’s too large or conspicuous to blend in or fit into the societal norms represented by “your city.” This could signify a feeling of being out of place or incompatible with the expectations of society.

Despite the emotional pain she experiences, Swift conveys resilience by stating that she’s still present and enduring, as she sings, “Pierced by the pain, but I’m here still.” The word “pierced” suggests that the pain is sharp and piercing, further emphasizing her emotional struggles.

[Pre-Chorus 2]

Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism

Like some kind of congressman?

(A tale as old as time)

I wake up screaming from dreaming

One day, I’ll watch as you’re leaving

And life will lose all its meaning

(For the last time)

In this part, Taylor Swift reflects on a potentially conflicting aspect of her personality, as she sing, “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism.” She suggests that she may exhibit behaviors that resemble selflessness or altruism but, in reality, are driven by a form of narcissism. The term “covert narcissism” refers to a subtle or hidden form of self-centeredness. She acknowledges that her actions may not always be as selfless as they appear to be.

In the line “Like some kind of congressman? (A tale as old as time),” Swift uses a simile to liken her behavior to that of a politician, specifically referencing a congressman. This could imply that she sometimes engages in actions that are politically motivated or manipulative. The phrase “A tale as old as time” suggests that this kind of behavior is not unique to her but has been a recurring theme throughout history.

Swift admits to experiencing nightmares that leave her feeling fearful and anxious upon waking, as expressed in the line “I wake up from nightmares, feeling so scared.” This further emphasizes the emotional distress and inner turmoil she grapples with.

In the lines “One day, you’ll walk away, and I’ll be unprepared,” Swift anticipates the possibility of someone she cares about leaving her. She imagines that this person will leave her unexpectedly, and she won’t be emotionally prepared for it. 

Swift expresses the idea that if someone were to leave her due to her emotional issues, it would lead to a profound sense of emptiness and loss of purpose in life, as she sings, “Life will lose its meaning, I must confess (For the last time).” The phrase “For the last time” suggests a sense of finality and perhaps a feeling that she’s confessed her fears and insecurities repeatedly but without resolution.


I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money

She thinks I left them in the will

The family gathers ’round and reads it and then someone screams out

“She’s laughing up at us from Hell”

In the opening line “I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money,” Taylor Swift describes a disturbing dream she has where her daughter-in-law wants to murder her to gain access to her wealth.

Swift explains that in her dream, her daughter-in-law believes she has left her and possibly her family an inheritance or financial assets through her will.

In her dream sequence, Swift envisions a dramatic scene where her extended family comes together to read her will. The atmosphere is tense, and the anticipation builds as they discover the contents of the will. She sing, “The family gathers ’round and reads it, and then someone screams out.”

The Bridge concludes with a chilling image of Swift’s ghost or spirit looking down from Hell and laughing at her family’s distress, as evident in the line “She’s laughing up at us from Hell.”


It’s me, hi

I’m the problem, it’s me

It’s me, hi

I’m the problem, it’s me

It’s me, hi

Everybody agrees, everybody agrees

In the breakdown, the repeated phrase “It’s me, hello I’m the issue, you see” reiterates her self-awareness and acknowledgment of being the source of her own problems or issues. She straightforwardly introduces herself as the problem and emphasizes this self-perception to the listener.

Deeper Meaning Behind “Anti-Hero”

“Anti-Hero” is the first song from the album “Midnights.” Taylor Swift mentioned that feelings of “self-loathing” influenced the album, and in this song, she takes a hard look at her own fears and desire for control. It marks a return to her autobiographical songwriting style, which she had moved away from in her 2020 albums “Folklore” and “Evermore.”

In an episode of her TikTok series Midnights Mayhem, Swift said:

“‘Anti-Hero,’ is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before…I struggle a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized…

Not to sound too dark, but I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person – don’t feel bad for me, you don’t need to. But this song really is a real guided tour through all the things I tend to hate about myself; we all hate things about ourselves.”

The song begins with Swift reflecting on her imperfections: “I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser,” which is a reference to her early fame.

In the first verse, she looks back on her challenging past, with lines like “Midnights become my afternoons, when my depression works the graveyard shift/All the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room.” These lines might hint at Swift’s previous celebrity controversies, including the events in 2016 that made her believe her career was in jeopardy.

In the second verse, Swift talks about how her fame makes it difficult for her to form genuine connections with others, as expressed in the lines, “Sometimes I feel like everyone is a sexy baby/ And I’m the monster on the hill/ Too big to hang out/ Slowly lurching towards your city/ Pierced through the heart but never killed.” 

The phrase “sexy baby” might be a reference to an episode of the TV show “30 Rock” where a female character adopts an overly sexualized, baby-like persona. Taylor could be commenting on how women are often objectified and expressing her feelings of not fitting into society’s conventional beauty standards.

In the chorus, Swift takes ownership of her problems with the lyrics: “It’s me, hi/ I’m the problem, it’s me/ At teatime, everybody agrees/ I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror/ It must be exhausting, always rooting for the anti-hero.” 

In the bridge of the song, Swift describes a nightmarish scenario where her daughter-in-law murders her to inherit her fortune. She envisions herself in hell, realizing that she may not have been as sincere as she appeared to be.

The music video for “Anti-Hero” adds another layer to the song’s story about Taylor’s nightmare. It features Mike Birbiglia, John Early, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Taylor’s future children who argue over her will, which leaves them with only “13 cents.” 

Throughout the song, Taylor Swift appears to be portraying herself as an anti-hero. She acknowledges her imperfections, past controversies, and the challenges she faces as a public figure. The lyrics suggest that she’s not trying to present herself as a flawless hero but rather as a human being with flaws and vulnerabilities. 


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