Alright, alright. This is a ridiculously broad category. There are so many fictional characters out there, and I love quite a few of them. I have a slight (lying blatantly to myself here) bias towards male characters, because not only do I get to love them for their wicked awesomeness, I also get to crush on them as much as I like. So below are my favorite fictional characters. I’m not saying these are the best of all time: I probably have some more that I like. But obviously these stand out enough to me to be on my mind without furious digging.
Death the Kid
Soul Eater is not my favorite anime out there. Death the Kid may well be one of my favorite characters. He’s complex, unique, and a BAMF. Kid is the son of Lord Death (in the English dub), the grim reaper who rules over the world and protects us all. Kid has quite a few more powers than the rest of the kids in the show, having inherited them through his father. But he doesn’t take it for granted. Kid works hard at what he does. He decides to go to DWMA (the Death Weapon Meister Academy) to train with the other kids even though he’s more powerful than all of them.
But unlike a lot of Mary Sue characters, Kid is not without his flaws. Anyone who has ever seen the show knows his biggest hang up: He has a debilitating OCD in regards to symmetry. If he comes across anyone or anything that is not at least passably symmetrical, he will either have a meltdown or fly into a blind rage. The irony gets sweeter with his hair. He has three white stripes across exactly half of his hair, the Lines of Sanzu, which have some relation to his powers (you can do a whole lot of interesting research into the Lines and what they represent). Due to his grim reaper body’s rejection of poison, he cannot dye his hair in any way to get rid of the stripes. He himself is what he hates most: asymmetrical.
He has other unique markers. He holds his guns upside down and fires with his pinkies. He’s got some sick skateboard skills. He’s somewhat pompous and full of himself, but he cares about his friends and will do almost anything for them. He went in alone to a deadly place in order to protect his weapons (weapons in this world are humans that can transform themselves). He wouldn’t let his father hand him anything, including an already-made scythe, because he wanted to create his own path. He’s well-rounded and definitely well-developed, with enough hang ups to bring humor to the show without being stupid.
See, I do have some women on this list.
(I am talking about Jane from the book, not any of the movies. I haven’t seen any of them.)
Jane is what I would always like to write as a female character and never can quite pull off. She’s got more girl-power than most of the protagonists in the “feminist” literature we’ve had to read for my early American literature class—and she’s not from a feminist novel. She kicks butt and lets no one tell her what to do or force her around.
Since childhood, she’s been standing up for herself and doing what she wants to and what she knows is right. She has a big heart, but doesn’t let people bully her. Not even the big, scary Rochester. And come on, how cool was it when he asked her if she found him handsome and she answered honestly that he wasn’t? She knows how to find her own way, despite the circumstances and time period in which she grew up in.
L is an iconic character in the manga and anime Death Note. He was created as an equal in intellect but the antithesis in appearance of the villain and main character of the show, Light. This kid is a genius. He’s solved some of the world’s greatest crimes while not letting anyone see him accept the man who raised him and assists him, until the case of the show comes up. He’s pale, sits oddly, touches everything only with his forefinger and thumb, and has no reserves or any knowledge of social mores. The two characters, L and Light, are so dynamic together (the reason Light isn’t on here is because he’s a narcissistic bastard and doesn’t quite compete with the others listed). They both do things that horrify the men around them in order to win. He keeps in pace with Light, risking his life to expose that he really is the serial killer they’re looking for. The only reason he loses is because Light went farther than anyone ever thought he would. But L trained others who eventually succeed in taking down Light, so he really wins in the end.
He’s got enough quirks and odd appearances to put any normal person off. Especially after we’ve been exposed to the attractive, poised, and composed Light for several episodes. And yet he’s so well-written and executed that he is entirely endearing after three episodes of his physical arrival. L definitely has more fan girls than Light. Both the characters are incredibly well-written. Light’s just too egotistical for my taste.
OK, so I don’t actually have a picture of Valek… He’s from a non-picture book, and no movies have ever been made of Poison Study (no matter how much I would pay to see one).
Valek is an impossible to figure out character. You never can figure out what he’s thinking until he tells you, and that isn’t until the very end of the book. Everything is an experiment to him. Even other people’s lives. He’s intelligent, charming, and deadly. Life is a chess game, and he is always steps ahead of everyone else. His assassin skills are legendary. He helped overthrow the last corrupt ruler of the country.
And yet, with his own power and amazing intelligence, he is still absolutely loyal to the man who spared his life in the beginning of the story. He would even kill his soul mate if the General ordered it, following with taking his own life because he can’t live without her. He’s a fantastic balance of mystery, deadly skill, a good heart, and intelligence.
Captain John Hart
I had to have a villain on here somewhere, of course. And James Marsters is one of my favorite actors. Captain John Hart, only present for three episodes of the second season of Torchwood. For those of you who haven’t seen it, he’s like Spike from Buffy before he fell in love with Buffy and became a pushover.
He’s dastardly, handsome, and a git. He’s worse than Captain Jack Harkness. Jack will flirt with anything with two legs and a brain. John will take anything that moves.
He’s a fantastic villain. You know he’s a villain from the start, the characters on the show know he’s a villain from the start. Yet he still somehow manages to win. Unlike most villains, he’s not a villain because he’s evil at heart. He’s just selfish and thinks he can do whatever the hell he wants. Most of the time, he can and does do whatever he wants. His ultimate betrayal in the end is only fueled because his life is in danger from someone even worse (I won’t give away too many spoilers here). He ends up betraying his threatener and helping the Torchwood team, but only because he’s pissed about being manipulated. No one owns him, and he’ll do whatever he has to in order to do whatever he wants. He’s a well-rounded villain with a clear goal and purpose.
I haven’t read the children’s book, so everything I have to say about Howl is from the movie. There are other things I like about him other than he’s incredibly attractive and voiced by Christian Bale in the English dub, I promise!
It’s early and easily established that Howl is selfish. He uses his magic for himself and does what he wants. He doesn’t pay much attention to others. He’s so vain that he has a dark magic meltdown when Sophie’s cleaning of the bathroom makes his blonde hair go orange. Once it fades to black, he lies in the bed as if he’s physically ill. He behaves like a child.
But as the show goes on, his true character is revealed. He won’t help the king’s war by transforming himself into a monster because it would harm him. After enough times, he won’t be able to change back. He moves around to keep himself out of the grasp of the Witch of the Waste, because she would probably use him to do some truly evil things. While he plays around with women, he doesn’t eat their hearts like he’s rumored to. His favorite place in the world was a cabin he studied in when he was a child. He loves Sophie so much that he gives up all of his freedom and cowardice in order to protect her. The selfishness is not a complete fabrication. But it is only one facet of his personality among a lot of other things. He’s a character that rings true because he’s as three dimensional as the people that we walk among every day.
His goal is clear. It’s fairly easy to attain, too. Destroy the man who destroyed his father. It’s a reasonable and defendable goal, too. But he can’t bring himself to do it. Murder does something to you. It makes you cold and not like you were before, no matter your reasons for doing it. Hamlet is an intellect, a man of diplomacy and solutions. He has to face what he needs to do, but only once he’s absolutely sure.
His hesitation costs everyone their lives. But it’s still understandable. Not right, but understandable. He has a singular goal, but he can’t reach it. Sometimes the barriers we put up for ourselves are the largest and most impossible to cross of all.
One of my favorite characters of all time. I just keep going back to The Count of Monte Cristo. He is one of the most complex characters of all time. I do enjoy the movie this picture was taken from, but the book is so much better.
He is not an inherently evil person. On the contrary, he’s actually an amazing man with a big heart. Even while he’s destroying lives and killing men, he’s still helping other people like the banker, Haydée, and Bertuccio. He avoids destroying anyone’s lives that did not destroy his.
Though he starts out as ignorant, thinking the best of everyone and really only knowing how to sail, he thrives on the knowledge he gains while in prison. He learns to read, learns languages, learns to sword fight, learns whatever his fellow prisoner can teach him, which is a lot. Though they do not get out the way they plan, he’s innovative enough to create his own opportunity on a moment’s notice.
He’s creative, intelligent, and focused on a singular goal. When he actually survives his revenge plot, he doesn’t know what to do; he wasn’t planning on getting any farther. But thankfully he doesn’t go back to his love from before his imprisonment. They are different people; they wouldn’t get along any more. He leaves with Haydée. Thank god for a unique ending!
Here’s another man I have no picture of, because this book has an even smaller fanbase than Poison Study. This was my favorite book back when I was still LDS.
Jess is dark, moody, and suicidal at one point. But he’s still intelligent and kind, once he can get past his… well, past. Jess was a major inspiration for Vedo in A Captive Mind.
He grew up with a good, loving LDS family. But he’s always had an innate need to rebel that I can identify heavily with. He used to do drugs, had a ton of different piercings in his ears, and had long hair. But he got past all of that with the help of a friend. He started rebelling in different ways, like showing up to an informal party in a tuxedo.
His life was destroyed when the car he was driving was hit by a truck in the wrong lane, killing his best friend, and his brother and his brother’s wife, and putting him in a comma for three months. He has a history that drives his self-destructive behavior. Everything he does revolves around his past.
This man… So much love for this man. This character is a composite of the genius of Joss Whedon and Neil Patrick Harris. You read my blog long enough, you will learn I have a high respect for Mr. Whedon, who I think is the best television writer of today.
Anyways! This character is the ultimate in sympathetic villain. He only wants to rule the world because it’s in a terrible condition and he wants to make it better for people. I’m pretty sure there are only two reasons he’s a villain rather than a hero: 1) The resident “hero” in the town, Captain Hammer, is a complete and utter douchebag. 2) It’s frowned upon in polite society to take away the free will of the ignorant masses who are destroying the world anyways.
He’s not the dynamic character that is usually the leader of evil. I guess it makes sense since he’s not a leader. He’s quite, shy, and nerdy. But he knows what he thinks is right, and he does everything to that end (or to get the attention of his crush, Penny). He’s another good example of having a clearly defined goal and structuring a character’s actions around that. He’s got many facets to his personality (aspiring to be evil, terribly shy, wants to rule the world, awkward, intelligent, and full of fail). Mr. Whedon is a genius of a writer who always has my respect.
There are so many more I could go into here, as I’ve already said. Jareth the Goblin King (though I’ll admit, most of my love for him comes out of fanfiction and not the narrow view we get of him in the movie), Raeyn from my friend Alex Harrow’s unreleased SF novel, V from V for Vendetta (don’t hate me, I’m referring to the movie; I haven’t gotten to read the graphic novel yet), the Doctor, Tallahassee from Zombieland, the Hitachiin twins from Ouran High School Host Club, Batman, Satan from Paradise Lost… Not to mention a huge list of more classical characters that I absolutely adore. There just isn’t the space or the time to give all the fantastic characters that I love the credit they deserve.
But the top ten I’ve listed here, I try to take something away from each of them. They all operate in unique and fascinating ways that portray true (if extreme) interactions of human beings. These characters have made audiences of different sizes, tastes, and time periods fall in love with them. There’s a reason for that. If I can get my characters just an ounce as good as these characters, I know I’ll have a decent sized audience for my stories. (Ethan’s trying to crash the party and get a word in edgewise, so I’m going to wrap up before he can.)
What are your favorite characters, and why do you love them? Let me know! But please, there’s no need to bash me for the choices I made here. I have wide and varied tastes, but limited space to include everyone. I just went with who was foremost on my mind. I hope you enjoy the list that is a bit different than anything you’d get in a college literature class.