Here is an updated list of my favorite characters in all fiction. For those who already read this article, skip to #2, for he is the new addition.
No characters on this list are from my own stories.
#5: Jaime Lannister
Game of Thrones, and A Song of Ice and Fire
Condemned for his finest act, and praised for his worst offense.
Jaime Lannister is the epitome of a torn character. He is torn between his principles and his love for his sister, Cersei. He is torn between his family and his sense of duty. He is torn between honor and self-interest. He is torn between his past and his future.
When King’s Landing was about to be destroyed by the Mad King, even though it was Jaime’s sworn duty to protect said king, he chose to slay him and thus save over half a million lives. Yet, everyone assumed he did it in cold blood. Despite being innocent of any real crime, being condemned by so many has left Jaime in a state of feeling he shouldn’t bother doing what is right, and thus we see him throughout the series doing many immoral things. Still, deep down he wished to be redeemed of his past, in some way. He still takes honor very seriously, it’s just that he’s well, torn.
His worst offense, apart from attempted child murder (Bran Stark), is against his brother Tyrion. In the TV show, they omitted this plot point, but in the books, Jaime fabricated the entire story about Tyrion’s first love, Tysha, being a whore. Somehow, this was actually a bonding point for the brothers. Tyrion was very thankful for Jaime telling him ‘the truth.’ But, it was never the truth. Jaime had been forced by their father to fabricate the whole thing, to annul Tyrion’s marriage to Tysha, and to make Tyrion want nothing to do with her anymore. In the end, Jaime admits to Tyrion that he lied, and it tears them apart, even though this confession came when Jaime broke Tyrion from prison and thus saved his life.
Damn. Jaime just can’t get a break. One can’t justify his truly evil acts, but at the same time, I can’t help but understand how he’s torn between trying to be a good person while sometimes allowing himself to not give a shit.
People will think only what they want to think, always, no matter what.
A character who I think we should all look up to. Ozy is one of my favorite fictional characters for this very reason. A great mind, a great physique, and great ambition to save the world from itself.
Ozymandias is in his 40s during the Watchmen story. Despite being middle-aged, he is at peak physical human condition, capable of out-competing Olympic champions and other body-builders. When he faces Rorschach and Nite Owl at the same time, he not only defeats them, but defeats them with ease.
He is also deemed the smartest man in the world, a title he received even before retiring from being a superhero. He deserves such a title, though, because he donated 100% of the wealth he inherited from his parents to charity, and then later in life, still proceeded to become the wealthiest man on Earth. In addition to that, he fooled and concealed himself from Dr. Manhattan, who can teleport, be in multiple places at once, and can see the past, present, and future simultaneously. He basically found a way to outsmart God.
I like this character so much because he worked hard to become the literal best person he could become. He wanted to be the best fighter, so he became the best fighter. He wanted to be wealthy, and he became the wealthiest man in the world. He wanted to save the world, and he did. His plan ultimately worked, though it is left to the reader to determine whether the plan worked in the long-term.
Is ambition great or detrimental? Ozy makes you wonder. Is intelligence great or detrimental? Ozy makes you wonder. Is there any way to truly save the world from itself? Ozy makes you wonder. This is why I find Ozymandias so fascinating. If he had been a real person, I might have actually worshiped him as a god.
#3: Louise Belcher
In all honesty, I just like Louise so much because she’s so entertaining. Of course, I always admire characters that are intelligent, ambitious, and don’t care what people think of them. What I like about Louise more, though, is how her greatest pleasure in life is creating mischief, but deep down, she has a good heart. Whenever given the opportunity to actually inflict harm, she holds back. It’s like being evil, without doing anything evil. She’s just a ton of fun to watch on screen.
To be honest, I’d never even heard of Death Note until maybe last year, and didn’t actually watch the anime until this year. And yes, in such a short amount of time, I came to love one of its characters so much, they catapulted to the #2 spot of my favorite characters in all fiction. That is: L.
He sits with both feet on the chair, he virtually only eats sweets, he grips objects only by their corners, he has the personality you’d expect of a basement-dweller, he’s skilled in hand-to-hand fighting and athletics, and he’s smart AS FUCK.
In the Death Note anime, whenever L is on screen, he always either makes me laugh or impresses me with his wit. His intelligence is well-written; I very rarely feel like its contrived. He’s very weird, and very smart. Always a joy to watch.
He also has one of the most tragic deaths (in my opinion) ever. In the moments leading up to his death, it’s almost as if he knew he was going to die. He stands out in the rain hearing church bells (that no one else can hear), and he also tells his arch-frenemy Light Yagami that they ‘will be parting ways soon.’ And then he dies abruptly, like everyone who gets killed from the Death Note does. That was not only devastating to me, it also made me angry. Angry that there were still 15-something episodes left in the series and they’d go on without him. L was my favorite character in the anime by far. I almost didn’t even finish the series, simply because he died.
#1: The Joker
I’ve talked about my love for the Joker on this blog ad nauseum. I stopped talking about the character because I’ve pretty much said everything there is to say about him, but trust me, it’s not because anything changed. I will say this, though:
When you examine Joker’s philosophy on life and the universe, it’s nearly impossible to argue against it. He has a point. At the same time, though, we all know he’s wrong. It’s contradictory. How do we know he’s wrong? We can’t explain it. There is no higher meaning to existence, and yet, that doesn’t mean we ought to make our lives meaningless. It seems Joker is a classic example of what happens when you fully submit to the hollowness of existence, without just outright committing suicide. The only thing that occupies your time is messing with people, especially people who take life too seriously.
Joker is an outsider even among other villains. He is out to destroy the meaning you give your life because there is no greater meaning to life in the first place. He is surrounded by people, including villains, who don’t see existence for what it really is.
Joker is a collection of all the things I love in characters of any story, except being conflicted. He’s intelligent, he’s capable, he has a mysterious past, he’s ambitious, and he’s entertaining to watch.
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