My favorites are better than their favorites

This is the 20th anniversary year of Entertainment Weekly, which means they’ve been putting together a lot of nostalgic lists and such. In the new issue: the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years (well 100ish…they cheat by putting some famous pairs of characters under the same number, and including honorable mentions here and there). Everyone knows that complaining about what’s left off these kinds of lists is silly. But it’s also really fun, so here I go.

First: there are a lot of omissions that I forgive because it’s obvious the list compilers were limiting themselves to just one character per title. So, including Harry Potter means no Ron Weasley or Hermione Granger; Buffy Summers (#3!) means no Spike (or Wesley Wyndham-Price, if I had my way); Tony Soprano means no Carmela Soprano; GOB Bluth means no Lucille Bluth; John Locke means no Ben Linus, James Ford, Hugo Reyes, Juliet Burke, etc.; Omar Little means no anyone else on The Wire (though Omar is maybe the best character on anything ever, so who can complain there?). I also appreciate the fact that over a third of the characters on the list are female. That’s actually a great ratio as far as these things go, since most works of fiction have vastly more male characters than female.

Many of the list inclusions are obvious because of our society’s worship of them: Homer Simpson (#1, meh); Cosmo Kramer; Cartman. Some of my personal favorites are a bit less of a given, but still culturally significant enough to be unsurprising: Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace; Don Draper; Sarah Connor. I was delighted to see some less obvious great choices: Edward Scissorhands; Bridget Jones; Cher Horowitz; Harold & Kumar; Thelma & Louise; Jen Yu of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Beavis & Butthead; and most of all: TIM RIGGINS.

But oy, is there a lot of random dead weight as well. Here are just a few of the most questionable inclusions: Shrek; Lara Croft (the entry for her literally only talks about her digital tits); Austin Powers; Vivian Ward of Pretty Woman (gotta have the hooker with a heart of gold!); Edward Cullen (honestly??); Allie & Noah from The Notebook (ask anyone who claims to love that movie whether they can even remember the names of those characters); and Molly Shannon’s abomination Mary Katherine Gallagher.

So, if I, in all my wisdom, was in charge of this extremely important list, who would I have included? Here are my Top 20 Most Glaring Omissions, and the brief character descriptions that do them no justice (in no particular order):

-Liz Lemon: hapless modern woman (they chose Tracy Jordan instead)
-Bill Haverchuck: greatest geek of all
-Ron Swanson: lover of breakfast foods and not talking to people
-Sam & Dean Winchester: demon-fighting, angst-having hotties
-Jason Bourne: amnesiac and creative driver
-Katniss Everdeen (of The Hunger Games novels): steely protector of family and friends
-Dory: forgetful, fanciful fish
-River Tam: brain-fried genius or ninja assassin?
-Dr. Allison Mann (of the comic series Y: The Last Man): acerbic potential savior of humanity
-Gen Watanabe (of the novel Bel Canto): translator extraordinaire
-Al Swearengen: ultimate dispenser of profanity
-Leonard Shelby (of Memento): picture of irrational determination*
-Dr. Cristina Yang: exasperated cardiac surgeon
-Daria Morgendorffer: bitter, brilliant teen
-Max Fischer: savior of Latin
-Lilo: savior of Stitch; Elvis Presley fan
-Sheldon Cooper: scientist baffled by human nuance
-Nicolette Grant: conflicted follower of polygamy
-Tommy Gavin: mostly drunken, occasionally sober anti-hero
-Chuck Bass: Chuck Bass

Whether you’ve seen the EW list or not, let’s hear your favorite characters of the last 20 years. There are many great choices that haven’t been covered by them or me (though none are from Shrek).

*I apparently really love amnesiacs, huh?


4 Responses to “My favorites are better than their favorites”

  1. 1 Jared May 31, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Andy Dufrain from The Shawshank Redemption, in the viewers’ mind he goes from smart, likable, albeit weak wife-killer to smart, likable, wrongly convicted, strong freed man without missing a beat. Did he make it?

  2. 2 Brandi Sperry May 31, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    They went with Red from that movie, so Andy never had a chance. I do agree that he is the more interesting character; sadly, he does not have Morgan Freeman’s voice, which is the focus of EW’s entry.

  3. 4 Emily June 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I have zillions to add to this list, but for some reason can only think of the dude from The Professional. That’s weird…

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