By CEO_OF_FRESH 10 Comments
This is part 3 of my blog posts on my favorite characters of all time. That can be from any media (Lit, Games, Comics.) Definition of subjective. Expect minor spoilers across the board, I'm not really talking about what they did, just how they are, and what makes them so great. Fun Fact: you know this article is close to 5,000 words. That boggles my mind.
Well first of all she’s the cutest thing of all time. She’s also the embody of what makes a great character, a great supporting character. Main characters usually get all of the development, and so even if you gather some understanding of supporting characters, you never really care about them. This is a common problem in the video game genre. But Telltale managed this with this character in The Walking Dead. And she’s got things stacked against her too. She’s supporting, she’s essentially a full time escort mission, and a kid. But she’s so cute, innocent, and genuine, that you can’t help but learn her. This is the hallmark of great character creation; specifically in video games, When I play the game, I feel sorry when I disappoint her. I stop from being a monster, because I don’t want to change her. I don’t curse around her, because I don’t want her to pick up bad habits. This is how you create great secondary characters. Sweet, wide-eyed, and so-so cute. Clem.
Monkey D. Luffy
Where to start with the future King of The Pirates. As far as Shonen characters go, Luffy’s basically an exemplar, with only Goku being a more perfect example. He’s greedy, loves to fight, loyal and forgiving to a fault, logically dumb, a technical genius, doesn’t understand love or sex and is only seen mad or scared when his friends are put in danger. He’s beats all his main antagonists. And only really cares about his friends, food, fighting, and adventure(broke the alliteration). But like all of these heroes, there is nuance in characterization. On the surface Luffy just seems like a ditz with the blessing of being really strong, but there’s more. No better example of this than his talk with ViVi, over the nature of war and Crocodile. He’s a kid with an inherent wisdom that doesn’t surface much, but when it does it shock his companions and enemies alike with how insightful it can be. He understands politics, war, and power, even though as far as we can tell he’s never had a single day of education. Don’t get me wrong he’s still an idiot, but he carries some amount of knowledge that makes him more than typical, makes him more than average, and makes him one of my favorite characters.
This character is obscure amongst mainstream America. But in the African-American community this character is a comedy legend. This is Eddie Murphy’s character from the hilarious movie, Life. Ray, and his companion Claude(played by Martin Lawrence), is caught in quite a predicament in Life. They are sentenced to Life, for a crime they didn’t commit. And as such they spend movies getting adjusted to prison life, meeting weird characters on the inside, and never giving up hope that one day they’ll be free.. First of all Ray is a great comedy character. I know basically every line of dialog he says in the movie. It is comedy gold. It helps that Ray is also a determined person. Over many years Ray never gives up hope that he will find a way out of prison. He never stops, no matter how many times he gets caught, beaten, bludgeoned, and put in the hole, he never quits. Underneath his jokey exterior is a great spirit. It isn’t something you think about when watching the movie, it’s so funny and silly. But going to jail for life is a serious thing, especially when you didn’t commit the crime. And I see that as a testament to the writing that there could be such humor from such a dark premise.
Talking about the video game’s world first certified female bad---.(Excuse me oh ravenous game fans, if I forgot about some female character who came before her). I mean she’s a 6'3 fighter in power armor, I’d be sold even if she wasn’t the awesome character that she is. I think Samus’ characterization and her story is told in one of the first examples of passive storytelling in gaming. None of the first Metroid games: Metroid, Metroid 2, or Super Metroid, really get into backstory or even the current game story. There’s some text, but that’s really it. Only Samus’ internal monologue. Instead it tells Samus’ story in a very relaxed manner. You can tell from the gameplay and the fights alone, a good amount of things about Samus. She’s patient, strong, tough, fast, determined. But also mostly moody and brooding. Samus doesn’t say much, but when she does, it’s always peppered in extreme professionalism or melancholy. She can even be a bit angry calling the Federation 'Fools!’ on a number of occasions. Samus is a loner in ever since of the word. In Super Mario World, Mario has Yoshi. Fox McCloud has Star Fox. Belmonts have the Belmont clan. Who does Samus have? Nobody. Super Metroid is a prime example. They gave Samus a friend in that story, and what happened? It got killed. That’s what happens to Samus, she’s like destined to be alone. Every planet she steps foot on, explodes. And I find that refreshingly depressing. Samus has always been a bit of a more mature character than Nintendo’s typical fare anyway, but that adds another layer of it on to the melancholic hero.
So looking at another example of comedy gold in my opinion. Rocko is essentially the quintessential straight man. I mean, I think he’s the funniest example of all time. Typically speaking straight men are surrounded by a bunch of wacky, but realistic characters. Or at the very least humanistic caricatures. Rocko is surrounded by a bunch of impossible, hilarious, gravity defying cartoons. His world is filled with zaniness, impossible feats, and pain around every corner. So many cartoons are surrounded around the zany characters, that’s it just cool to see a quiet, timid creature. Who tries to live normally. He just wants to do his laundry, clean his house, or give his dog a bath, but the world conspires against him. Anything and everything impeding in his quest for success. Some of the funniest moments is when he breaks from his quiet nature and releases He’s just hilarious. And that’s why I love Rocko of Rocko’s Modern Life.
Not talking about any other version, than the Val Kilmer version from Tombstone. First of all he’s just awesome. He’s a great gunslinger and poker player. But I don’t think Tombstone gets enough praise for the nuance in the character. Sure he’s romanticized, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Rarely do you see a tragic character like this. And I’m not talking about him being sick. I mean the fact that he essentially has nobody who likes or cares about him. He’s essentially a vagrant, who’s alienated everyone around him. Not even a good guy like Virgil really likes him. People look at him as a loss cause. Everyone except Wyatt Earp. Wyatt treats him like an equal and a friend. And that’s all it takes for Doc. To have one friend, he will literally ride with blood flowing out of his mouth, as a member of Wyatt’s posse. And he doesn’t even let his illness stop him from saving Wyatt’s life. Because he was nice to him, because he was his friend. I just think there is something so powerful in that characterization.
If you’re a child of the nineties, there’s no way you don’t know who Belle is, and you should love her. If you don’t, I’ll tell you why you should(Actually you have a right to like and dislike who you want.) Belle is the protagonist of Beauty and Beast, or maybe she’s the deuteragonist, it’s debatable. But she is one of the main characters of the movie. What’s the conflict around Belle? She’s surrounding by the largest group of a-holes in the entire animated universe. They through trash at her, they stare at her, the do an entire coordinated song and dance surrounding around her. Why? Because Belle likes to read? Side note, how does a town have a working bookstore if only one girl reads? That’s always confused me. Anyway. Belle wants more from her world and life. This is one of the typical yearnings of characters in the nineties, but I think Belle carries the personality better than most. Why? Well because she actually comes off as an intellectual and an adult who knows what she wants. She isn't being impulsive or immature when she looks for more. She acts reasonable. Then she sacrifices herself for her father's well-being, and actually makes me care about a love story. Belle is just wonderful from the first moment you see her.
Vice & Mature
These characters are probably obscure. And even fans of the King of Fighters will be like ‘Really? Why do you like them? Don’t worry I have no problem backing myself up, I’ve been doing it for 3 lists now(or would it be 2.5 because I’m not done with this one. Or maybe 2.3 or something?) Why do I like Vice & Mature? This might sound crazy(Never a good sign), but I just love how freaking crazy and psychotic these two are. These two characters don’t have too much backstory, so this love is based solely on how they act in the games. And there insanity is just so enjoyable to me. Did you know Vice and Mature were created with sole purpose of illustrating a ‘cruel woman’ and a ‘ruthless woman’ respectively. And it definitely shows in the games. But the real joy from these two comes from the pure insanity that they engage in. Like how one of Vice’s entrances is her bending over and howling at the moon. Or how she has the ability to powerbomb somebody and blow huge amounts of blood from their bodies. Or that she. . . really likes American comic books. Odd tidbit. Not to mention their sense of style! Ankle length dresses never looked so cool.
She’s essentially one of the coolest characters of all time. And I’m not even talking about design, though the cybernetic arm is awesome, I mean just straight personality. Misty is just cool. That might have something to do with her creation. She’s essentially a exemplar of the blaxploitation characters of the 70s. She’s got an afro. Last name that has to do with combat. Is beautiful, with chocolate skin. And exudes sass from her very being. Just cool. But she’s more than that. Like all heroes, she seeks to keep people safe who can’t keep themselves safe. She’s a great tactician and leader, shown through her head of Heroes of Hire. I’ve never thought there was anything wrong with heroes making money while they save lives. I mean she’s bionic a--kicking black woman, a great detective. And her partner is a a--kicking swordsman. One of the greatest duos of all time! Misty can fight, she is fast, quick thinking, she’s beautiful, and look at that fro. She is just awesome.
Another Avatar character? Surprise! Sorry I know you’re probably sick of hearing about Avatar at this point, but I’m almost finished with them. . . almost. So Katara? Why her? Evolution is a nice place to start. Seeing Aang do awesome stuff is cool, but it really isn’t surprising because he’s the Avatar and essentially a prodigy from the start. But with Katara we really do get to see the evolution of her strength and power. In the first episode, she can barely make a ball of water stay contained, by season two she can literally ride waves likes she’s Aquaman. And it isn’t sudden, that’s a great part of Avatar’s storytelling and Katara’s character. Even when training isn’t a central part of the story, the characters are still seen doing it on the sidelines. We see Katara’s battle with learning difficult moves, eventual understanding and mastery, and even jealousy over Aang’s inherent ability. But in the end I can’t hate a character with this much warmness, sweetness, and overall positivity.
File this character under ‘Person put under amazing, terrible struggle and still finds the spirit to keep living.’ I can’t talk about what happens to Celie, without major spoilers for The Color Purple(A movie older than me), so I’ll just leave it at that. What do I like about her? Well that file name is a good start. It’s always great to see a character capable of overcoming such extreme adversity, and Celie hits just about type of adversity there is. And I mean every part. Celie is a black woman living in the early 1900s. And The Color Purple, shows how hard it was being a woman, let alone a black woman, during that time. Go watch/read The Color Purple now, to get full context.
The single most optimistic character in the history of fiction. That is a true statement, not opinion. Charlie Brown is also one of the most tragic. Don’t think so? Name any other tragic character who’s been treated as a cosmic plaything, a chew toy, and a loser for FIFTY YEARS! I honestly can’t think of any. What did Charlie Brown do to deserve it? And why do I find it so funny? Why am I such a terrible person? I digress. Charlie Brown manages to be pretty optimistic all things considered, he is famously wishy-washy, but mostly anyway. Even though he had to suffer through fifty entire years of failure. No red-haired girl, no valentines(except for that used one that he took, with absolutely no shame), hardly any baseball wins, no kite flying, no writing a pen pal, no halloween candy, no having a dog remember his name, no respect(Shout to Rodney Dangerfield), no love, no parents, and never, not ever one single solitary kick of the football. The only people who seem to like him are Linus, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Lucy, when she feels like it. He never gets anything he wants. He never wins. And rarely accomplishes anything worthwhile. He and Spider-Man are like cosmic brothers or something. But he’s always certain he will. He always thinks there’s a chance, even though there never will be. He’s optimistic to an extreme fault, and I’ll never stop loving him for it.
Have you ever noticed that fighting games make the main character a generic fighting guy, and surrounds them with more colorful characters. I mean even if they're stereotypes, they're still more interesting than guy trying to be the best fighter. This is the case in Street Fighter of course, which is where Chun-Li is from, why do I like the reported 'First Lady of Fighting Games.' Because she's strong and she's just goo. Unlike the other characters she doesn't really fit into a stereotype, I mean she is a detective stereotype maybe, but not an Asian stereotype. She's just an Interpol agent, seeking to bring justice on Bison for his countless atrocities, including the death of her father. She's strong and a great fighter. Also look at her. She's so dignified, and elegant, and classy. She's beautiful and sexy, but not sexualized. She's tough and she isn't shown to be any less strong than any other of her fellow fighters. She's just great. Chun-Li is just awesome and she can street fight with the best of them.
Who doesn’t love Bugs? And why wouldn't anyone? He’s hilarious, he’s witty, he’ quick, he’s smart. He’s surrounded by idiots. That’s always a great character. It’s always entertaining to see a person struggle with a so many stupid enemies. Now why I personally like Daffy more, Bugs is still great and classic for all of the reasons. I can watch his cartoons a hundred times in a row and laugh at them everytime.
Tarantino again. So no backstory, but here we don’t even get the guys name! So why do I like Mr. Pink. First of all he’s the funniest character in the movie, or maybe it’s Joe. Regardless he provides some of the best moments in the movie. I also like his nervous logical mind. He’s the most logical person in the movie. Doesn’t let emotions get ahead of him. And he doesn’t get killed protecting an undercover cop
Obviously he’s had many different portrayals over the years. And many different adaptations, since X-Men is one of the most popular comics of all time. I’m specifically talking about his well-intentioned extremist day, when he’s closer in portrayal to Malcolm X, than an actual terrorist. Well with his powers, that is pretty hard. Nevertheless it’s always that powerful character to me, the ‘He Who Fights Monsters’ character. You get so close to the edge that you’ve essentially become what you hate. That’s a complexity that no one can really argue against. That’s the strength in Magneto. He’s not the polar opposite of Professor X, they’re actually parallels. He could’ve easily been as benevolent as him, but the things that happened in his past, and continue to happen in his future were just too horrible, that eventually became a tyrant in his own right.
Kind of a cheat, because Marjane Satrapi is a real person(One of my favorite writers) and the Marjane in her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis, is just her, but probably a little fictionalized. But still. Technically she’s a character, so I’m going to talk about it. Marjane is the protagonist, obvs, of Persepolis. It chronicles her maturation and life growing up in Iran. So it’s a bildungsroman set during the Iranian Revolution. As a kid she doesn’t exactly understand why the things are going on around her, she is a youth of course. She gets older and she understands more. And forms opinions based on that. She develops humor and a critical view. But she is not judgmental, and that’s what I like. In her adult life she has a strange living place and relationships with people.
Natsuo is the protagonist of the mana Teppuu. What is this series about? It’s essentially about a seemingly perfect protagonist, Natsuo. Who gets bored from always winning. She has an MMA fight with a girl with bushy eyebrows, and loses. Is intrigued and decides to dedicate her entire life to destroying her. That is Natsuo’s tale and that’s why I enjoy the character. She’s a bit psychotic, at least a little bit. She’s actually more like the villain of the story. Technically the girl she’s fighting against seems very earnest and eager and nice, like a typical Shonen hero. Natsuo is more like the rival of the story, or the villain that you like. And I like that. It’s just hilarious how focused she gets when she thinks about this girl and how beating her seems to consume her every moment.
If you’ve played Portal then you know why I like GLaDOS. She’s psychotic, and funny, and sarcastic, and a scientist and deadpan. And everything I love about a great villain. I know Sci-Fi has literally has 100s of murderous A.I.'s(AIM from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is one of my favorites.) But I haven’t read/seen that much Sci-Fi, so she’s a breath of fresh air for me. Here’s another example of passive storytelling through character. In the first portal you literally get no clues or text or cinematics explaining why you, that is Chell, is there and under what circumstances. But slowly GLaDOS starts revealing the sinister path, after she tries to incinerate, explaining what happened to the staff of Aperture Science and why she tried to kill you. She’s just hilarious. She’s one of the funniest villains of all time.
Alana & Marko
These two are relatively new compared to everything else I’m talking about, and since there in a comic, I’d rather not get in depth about what they’re doing and spoil the fantastic series for you. Alana & Marko are the protagonists of Saga. These characters have strong emotions, they’re funny, they’re bad---, they’re cool. That’s all I’m going to say. Go and read Saga.
One of the most obscure characters, Anna is the protagonist of iOS game Device 6. I don’t won’t to spoil anything, because you should buy Device 6 right now and support the awesome developer Simogo. I’ll just get into this a little bit. Anna wakes up in a strange place, that’s all I’m going to say, well maybe a little bit more. She doesn’t know where she is, but she doesn’t cry or gets scared or weep. She gets angry and indignant and impatient. She actively walks around this mysterious place to force herself out. She just active. And I think that’s an important part of a strong character. And even more important, that’s the step every writer should take when making strong female characters, one’s who aren’t cliches. A woman doesn’t have to spit one-liners or fire a machine gun, or smoke cigars to be strong. She just has to be active. Work hard for her own survival, not fall apart at the sign of adversity. And Anna that’s what Anna does. It helps that we don’t get any description of Anna in the game, and absolutely no backstory. I picture her with a scowl on her face as she’s forced to do all of these puzzles. And the defiant ending. Sad but I love it.
I heard that Alan Moore expected people to hate Rorschach. Or at very least pity him. Not think he was awesome. Which confuses me, why did he write him doing such awesome things? But that’s not why he’s great. He’s one of those tragic heroes, one of the exemplars actually, with a terrible childhood, and an unshakable will against evil. Ultimately attitudes like that don’t work in the real world, hence the entire creation of Rorschach, because there aren’t many people who are pure evil, and I can’t think of anyone who’s completely good, but it’s still something that can be admired. It’s just strong to have a character who literally won’t compromise at all. That’s a different kind of character than most, even Nite Owl, the most decent of characters in my opinion, is willing to compromise for the sake of humanity. Not Rorschach and he’d rather meet his end than go back. That’s powerful, even if it is impractical.
This character is probably obscure because she’s from a book, and people don’t read anymore, but I do. And Liesel is the protagonist of the novel The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It’s also a movie adaptation, but I haven’t seen it yet. Why is Liesel great? Once again, file her under ‘Person put under amazing, terrible struggle and still finds the spirit to keep living.’ Her story isn’t as terrible as Celie’s, but then nobody can really compete with Celie’s early life. But there’s still a fair amount of tragedy here. But again I won’t spoil. Just know that Liesel is funny and inquisitive and curious. And go read the book now.
Finn & Jake
These guys are just barrels of fun and excitement. They’re funny, they love adventure. Jake has some of the funniest transformations of any character I’ve ever seen. They get really creative with his size changing powers. But they’re an understatement of more serious. Like when you watch One Piece, sure they’re having all of these zany adventures and acting goofy, but then in the past Robin’s entire island was slaughtered by the World Government. That’s how Adventure Time is in line with that, and these two characters especially. They’re are inherently goofy, but they also dedicated to fighting evil and protecting people. They have a blast doing it, being somewhat of blood knights, but they’re still doing good. And when things get dangerous, as they are subject to do, they’re always ready to put they’re lives on the line.
He just seems classic to me. He’s got a pipe, he’s an inventor. He’s essentially mission control for the Metal Men. He had a kind of relationship with one, he went crazy. He’s just great and funny. His subplot in 52 was one of my favorites by far, but my love for him starts when I read the Metal Men backup feature in a volume of Doom Patrol.
This guy is just weird. Plain and simple. He’s a character from fighting game Tekken. He’s my favorite character in the game. He’s a swordman, kind of cheating considering everyone else fights hand to hand, and some kind of skeleton, insect, demon, thing. His species isn’t clear. What we do know is he’s the head of a ninja clan, or multiple heads of a ninja clan, who’s essentially a cyborg Robin Hood, who literally steals from the rich to give to the poor. He has one of the zaniest fighting styles in any fighting games. He can sit in mantis style, he can teleport, he can use his sword as a pogo stick, He can spin super fast, and get dizzy, he can fly with the sword, he can use electricity, he even commits seppuku to damage himself and his opponent. He can even backspin and take away his own damage. He’s just a freak of nature, who sounds like an alien. He’s just the coolest, craziest guy.