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Most Favorite/Least Favorite characters

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 10:49 am
by Shipple
So I was thinking about writing the other day, and it occurred to me that there are lots of great character types out there that are used over and over. Or at least some of the elements of these characters are used over and over.

I started a list by asking myself (and my husband): "Who is your favorite character? What about least favorite?"

Here's my list:

Mr. Wickham (of Pride & Prejudice)-at first he seems wonderful, but then he turns out to be the villain. This type of character is most interesting if the main character discovers Wickham's evil ways before the rest of the characters, allowing the reader to know just what sort of a fellow he is while the other characters fumble along, trusting them like the saps they are.

Kronk (of The Emperor's New Grove)/Bolin (of The Legend of Korra)-this character is big, dumb, and loveable. He creates laughs and relieves tension and is truly a worthwhile character because he also has unexpected moments of brilliance or usefulness.

Dolores Umbridge (of Harry Potter fame)-she is just so darn evil, and she has the main character right where she wants him. The reader wants to help the main character but is helpless against Umbridge's pure evil. Her appearance is a contradiction to her evil nature. She is not even a very powerful person in her own right, but because of the situation, she is all-powerful, and she makes the life of the main character miserable.

Hobbes (of Calvin & Hobbes)-he is clever and makes you laugh. He is the best friend who lives in the background of Calvin's larger than life persona. People relate to the way Calvin feels, but Hobbes can see the full truth of the situation and says something hilarious that puts the whole world in perspective. Hobbes is downright insightful.

Snape (of Harry Potter)-unrequited love is a very moving thing. Snape's love gives his life purpose, and, in the end, you feel so much for him. He's also interesting because he is a villain too. Even though he turns out to be a hero, I think he made Harry's life miserable enough to consider him the secondary villain of several of the books. Fascinating character.

Miss Havisham (of Great Expectations)-the twisted side of unrequited love. An obsessive, insane character who cannot get over past disappointments. For an insane person who lives in the past, she's remarkable good at plotting.

Elizabeth Bennet (of Pride & Prejudice)-ok, so I love Lizzy. I don't think she's quite so fascinating/unusual as the others on the list, but I needed one positive female character! She's sarcastic and smart. She's a great sister, and a woman who learns from her mistakes. She also has a "fine set of eyes," and you love her so much that you're ridiculously happy when she gets her Happily Ever After (or at least I do). She is a flawed person, but you understand how she makes her mistakes and you love her for the way she tries to be a better person.

So who do you think are great archetypal characters?

*I actually put much of this on my blog, but I'd love to have some other peoples' thoughts on their favorite/least favorite characters & I have a new blog, so I know that's not going to happen there.

Re: Most Favorite/Least Favorite characters

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 7:24 pm
by Beethovenfan
Captain Picard (Star Trek TNG) His character is duty, honor, and integrity, even in the face of death. He's private to a fault, but once someone gets in he gives his all to the relationship.

Re: Most Favorite/Least Favorite characters

Posted: August 20th, 2012, 12:45 pm
by dios4vida
Elbryan Wyndon and Jilseponie Wyndon of R.A. Salvatore's DemonWars saga. These guys always take the cake for me. They take their great burdens of power and use them to right the wrongs of the world. They struggle with the weight of their tasks, they long for a more normal life, but they never give up because this is who and what they are. In the end, they are the epitome of honor, nobility, love, and sacrifice.

Harry Dresden of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Kate Daniels of Ilona Andrews' series of the same name. They're in a similar vein as the others, but with snark.

Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle Baenre of R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms series, and Durzo Blint of Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy. These are the honorable villains. They are not good men, but they have such a strict code of honor, however twisted, that you can't help but admire them. If situations get bent where their best interests are in favor with the heroes, they'll work alongside them and save their lifes with as much nobility as the good guys, and you love them, but you can never fully ignore the fact that they are horrible, selfish men.

TenSoon of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. The one who goes against all culture mores to stand by their friend and defend what they know is right.

Samwise Gamgee of Lord of the Rings, Annabeth Chase of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, and Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger of Harry Potter. The friends who stick by you, even at your worst. Also, the kick-butt sidekicks who step up when the main hero falls apart.

I could probably go on...

Re: Most Favorite/Least Favorite characters

Posted: August 20th, 2012, 9:06 pm
by Sanderling
Fun question, Shipple. I actually haven't read most of the stories your listed characters are from, but recognize the character types you're describing.

I've got two that are my primary favourite MC types:

The outwardly cool, put-together, confident character who's extremely skilled in some area (whether by talent or hard work) and capable of looking after themselves just fine, thank-you-very-much (often this personality is developed as a defense mechanism)... but who has an inner soft side and vulnerability that's not often seen but will tear you up when it is. Eg. BBC's Sherlock Holmes (from the tv show Sherlock); Severus Snape (Harry Potter).

The character to whom it seems it's one bad thing/roadblock after another happening, but who, despite some inner insecurities, finds the strength of will to forge ahead anyway, even in the face of what seems like near-certain failure, and because of their perseverance keeps coming out on top (but without losing their kindness/goodness). Eg. Harry Potter (Harry Potter); Puck Connolly (The Scorpio Races).

Also, for side characters, the character who is bright and (sometimes) funny, but incredibly loyal and generally quiet, staying at the edges of the main character's limelight but always there at a moment's notice, should the main character need help. Eg. Hermione Granger(Harry Potter, esp #7); Jem Carstairs (Cassandra Clare's Clockwork series).

And villains who are more layered than they seem; who have a good side beneath their bad exterior; who maybe, given different circumstances in life, could have ended up the good guy; who are bad not because they are bad, but because of decisions they made when bad things happened to them, or because their current circumstances necessitate it. Eg. Severus Snape (again; he's possibly my favourite villain ever); Lord Vetinari (Terry Pratchett's Discworld series).

Re: Most Favorite/Least Favorite characters

Posted: August 25th, 2012, 12:56 am
by JohnDurvin
My favorite villains are the disturbingly affable ones that are also unspeakably evil, such as Dr. Facilier from Disney's "The Princess and the Frog", Mr. Nick from "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus", Oogie Boogie from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (I feel kinda bad that I can't think of any favorite villains from books). Dr. Terwilliger from "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" gets a mention, too, and I'm pretty sure he would have been just the same if we'd ever gotten to see the public face he presented to get parents to send their kids to his school.

My favorite side characters are the ones that don't act like real people--who process information in different ways, and can be bewildering, whether or not they're being helpful. This covers a lot of ground, from every single character in almost everything Lewis Carroll ever wrote, all the way over to some of the lighter characters in Kafka, most of all Odradek, a strange little wooden creature that does nothing in particular besides weird the narrator out. I also loved Artur and Jeremias, K's two "assistants" from "The Castle"; they spent most of their time making fun of him and lounging, eventually revealing that they were being paid by K's superiors to get him to lighten up. Then there was the pretentious, swaggering guide at the Lagado Projector's Academy from "Gulliver's Travels"--my favorite segment, and left out of almost every adaption. Douglas Adams did a lot of this, too, although there's not any one particular character I can single out. Q from Star Trek is totally there, too--I just love characters that don't think the way normal people do.

I had never realized before answering this post, but I don't seem to have a favorite type of hero. I used to be a big fan of the uptight everyman that's bewildered by everything around him (as my enjoyment of Kafka and Carroll can attest to), but once I started writing it got old really fast, and I don't feel like I've ever come up with a MC archetype that I'm really fond of. Heck, that might explain why I have so much trouble coming up with them...geez, I think I just got an insight into my writing. Thanks, Shippie!

* EDIT: Thinking about it, I made a list of my favorite heroes: Sam & Max, Axe Cop, Dick Solomon from "3rd Rock from the Sun", Baron Munchausen (book and movie), Dr. House, and so on. The unifying thing seems to be that, again, their thought processes are quite different from normals, and also they all have very high opinions of themselves--while they are indeed quite amazing, they think they are even greater than they are. "Il Capitano" types, in Commedia dell'Arte terms. I'm not sure what to do with this information, but I'm sure it will be put to good use!