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(NPR)   The 100 best characters from fiction since 1900. Somehow none of L. Ron Hubbard's creations made the list.   ( npr.org) divider line
    More: Interesting  
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10969 clicks; posted to Main » on 19 Mar 2002 at 7:56 PM (16 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2002-03-19 11:18:29 PM  
I'd only ever read 'Starship Troopers' by Heinlein. You Farkers have inspired me to go out and read more; thanks!
2002-03-19 11:23:46 PM  
Well to add my $.02 in.
I hate how all these list leave out anyting contempory ( Yes I know I can not spell)
It is a group of people with a very specific idea of what "Best" is.
Having read about 90% of these books, I can say that I have seen much better characters in books they would never think of putting on the list.
Oh well
Their Loss.
Think I will go read for a while.

The Dead Guy
2002-03-19 11:24:11 PM  
boomslang: I typed it that way, muthafarka...

2002-03-19 11:24:25 PM  
B@dy0da: There are plenty of intelligent people who don't care for Heinlein. And many of us know how to spell "intelligent."
2002-03-19 11:25:26 PM  
How about Charlie from Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
I find it strange that they give many characters from one book their vote but neglect so many other great novels.
2002-03-19 11:28:21 PM  

Here's some good suggestions for Heinlein:

"Stranger in a strange land"
"Double Star"
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"
"Starship Troopers" (movie is lame by comparison"
"Job: A comedy of Justice" (My all time fave)

I'm a Heinlein Fanatic, grew up reading him. Sorry for the Rant.
2002-03-19 11:34:15 PM  
Correction: Valentine Michael Smith, not John Valentine Smith.

Heinlein rocks. He's written so much for such a wide range of audiences (Podkayne is not anything like Friday), that you can choose the style you like and run with it.

William Gibson, too. I really like Rydell, the wannabe-cop from the San Francisco trilogy (Idoru, etc). The afore-mentioned Hiro Protagonist is another strong character, as is just about everyone from Snow Crash.

Ayn Rand had some really strong and complex characters, despite being a twisted old biddy. And I really like what Frank Miller does with the characters he takes over (Dark Knight, Ronin, Wolverine, and Elektra).
2002-03-19 11:36:27 PM  
I think that there needs to be some Norman Mclean in that list.
2002-03-19 11:36:30 PM  
I love the inclusion of Seymour Glass and Phoebe Caulfield. Of all the books I've ever read, they were the two characters I actually wished were real people.

If I can make one suggestion, I would add Frances and Kathleen Piper from "Fall On Your Knees". I would also like to add that I read the book long before it was an Oprah book. Alright, my inconsequential comment has been made. Good night.
2002-03-19 11:40:23 PM  
"we only saw the world of 1984 through his eyes, and learned a good bit about his psychology along the way"

thats all fine and good, but i could write about a lot of things from my perspective, and you might learn a lot about me. but that won't necessarily make you learn anything about yourself, which is what the good characters do.

(i'm not sure i could have worded that worse, but you'll get the point (if you already get it))
2002-03-19 11:41:05 PM  
First off, Vinegar Tom, thank you! I agree with your suggestions, especially Offred and Dorian Gray. I'd add R. Daneel Olivaw to the "genre" list too.

Question: I admit this is from Book Magazine, but shouldn't a "best characters in fiction" list be more inclusive in source material scope? There are no characters from plays (I'd nominate Hickey from "The Iceman Cometh"), comics (Batman), or poetry (archy the cockroach).
2002-03-19 11:47:03 PM  
RedLynx: R. Daneel Olivaw! Absolutley! Dang, wish I'd thought of that one.
2002-03-19 11:50:13 PM  
Where the hell is this man??
[image from mrks.org too old to be available]
2002-03-19 11:55:16 PM  
Vinegar Tom
Dorian Gray (The Portrait of Dorian Gray), Victor Frankenstein, a guy named Dracula (ever heard of him?), etc. Geez, any one of these characters would have made a great -and sensible- addition.

Personally, I think Sebastian from "The Importance of Being Earnest" should have made the cut, at least over Eoyore.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray - 1890
Frankenstein - 1818
Dracula - 1897
The Importance of Being Earnest - 1895

All of which fail to meet the 'since 1900' criterion.
2002-03-19 11:55:36 PM  
Gully Foyle is my name
and Terra is my nation
Outer Space my resting place
the stars my destination
2002-03-19 11:58:05 PM  
Atticus, Scout, and Boo all made it on that list. I smile.
2002-03-19 11:59:04 PM  
They left out Joe Bonham from Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.
2002-03-19 11:59:21 PM  
03-19-02 11:41:05 PM RedLynx

archy the cockroach? Ew. I've tried to plod my way through 'the lives and times of archy and mehitabel' a number of times and find myself getting nauseated about 3 lines in, no matter where I start. Just doesn't work for me.
2002-03-20 12:00:17 AM  
I was about to give up on this thread until I read Kady's post... and then the man himself showed up. Haven't found a delillo book I didn't like yet, but White Noise was incredible.

I would also have included Kilgore Trout, King David from Heller's God Knows, Zorba from Zorba the Greek (Kazantzakis), and Jesus or Judas from the Last Temptation of Christ (also Kazantzakis). fortuantely the list cut off at 1900, so they don't have to hear me biatch about the lack of respect for Dostoevsky...
2002-03-20 12:00:23 AM  
A list without Ender is just depressing, and where the hell is Brave New World at?

zholy mother of fark, a farking fly just flew into my candle....hehehe flaimbait
2002-03-20 12:07:15 AM  
Nessus, the insane Pierson's Puppeteer form "Ringworld"

named a cat after him..............
2002-03-20 12:21:54 AM  
What about Louis Wu, for that matter?
2002-03-20 12:37:03 AM  
I actually agree with this list to a large extent, espicially seeing Scout and Atticus from To Kill A Mockingbird on there. And anyone complaining about Atar Wars Charecters or LOTR....
A.) Tolkien, in my opinion, is total BS. his books are terrible, ive read the trilogy, hobbit, and sillmarion, they all left a bad taste in my mouth
B.) George Lucas is a TERRIBLE writer. He can direct great movies, and has an eye for action, but he cant write worth shiat. read the star war's novel, published in 1966, its worse then battle field earth in novel form, and that sucked worse then BE the movie
2002-03-20 12:40:07 AM  
Where is Vito Corleone on this list?

and Charlie Marlow gets beaten by Harry Potter!
2002-03-20 12:42:38 AM  
I do agree with you, Jack. I wrote a few papers on you...um, on Jack Gladney while in college.

Dude: Happy I could redeem this thread for you. I am working on Americana right now. David Bell seems to be quite the character:

I closed the door. Then I unzipped my pants and took out my cock. I walked around the office like that for a while. It felt good. I put it back and then filed Trotsky's memo...

What a charmer. I know a few David Bells.
2002-03-20 12:46:33 AM  
The list needs Howard Roark... Read "The Fountainhead".. you will be glad you did.
2002-03-20 12:59:01 AM  
This list is bullshiat. They left out some of the greatest characters known to man. And they put in Harry Potter. Harry farking Potter.

By the way, thanks to random people who helped give suggestions. I'm not plagiarizing. I don't think.

1. Howard Roark, from The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. Genius egotist.

2. David Bowman, from 2001 and 2010, Arthur C. Clarke. Star-child. Screw 2061 and 3001, they sucked.

2.5. HAL 9000, same source as above. Paranoid computer.

3. Uncle Oswald, from My Uncle Oswald, Roald Dahl. Horny old man extroardinaire.

4. Winston, from 1984, George Orwell. Room 101 visitor.

5. Simon, from Lord of the Flies, what's-his-name. Nutcase.

6. Arthur Dent, from the Hitchhiker "Trilogy", Douglas Adams. Clueless human.

7. Frankenstein's monster, from Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Unlucky abomination.

8. The Elder Things, from At the Mountains of Madness, H. P. Lovecraft. Sentient alien race.
2002-03-20 01:20:08 AM  
"Sir Simon Milligan and Manservant Hecubus" Kids in the Hall, (1989)
I'm a sucker for cutesy funny evil.
2002-03-20 01:37:01 AM  
What is up with these top 100 lists? They're such BS.

Firstly, there's no way to quantify the quality of the character, so how can they objectively say that Sula Peace from Sula was a slightly better character than Mersault from "L'etranger", but slightly worse than Neddy Merrill from "The Swimmer"? They have no idea. The whole thing is written by some intern who picks the first few to make the brass happy and throws in the rest randomly.

Secondly, isn't it a little strange that of the great fictional characters of the 20th century, only 3 of them come from after 1990? Especially considering that there's about 10x as much published today as there was in 1920?

I really think that this list is mistitled. Instead of being
the "100 best characters in fiction" it should be "100 (or so) books that, by going in this list, will enforce our subscribers' already-present notions that they are superior to the population at large." That might not have fit, though. Nuts.
2002-03-20 01:45:26 AM  
See, here's what I'm thinking.

I guess this list was put out by the good people at the oxymoronically-named "Book Magazine." BM's business, like all other businesses, is to make money. Book magazine makes money by selling copies of "Book Magazine." Book Magazine will not sell if the articles within are to the effect "Hey, all the books you've been reading suck, read these instead!" No, Book Magazine makes money by finding the books that it's readers have already read, and printing "Hey, these are great books! You're a great person if you read these books! Also, have you read Book Magazine recently?" And then the literati who read "Book Magazine" take the bait and start thinking that they're special and they buy the magazine to prove it and "Book Magazine" acheives it's goal. So if your favorite book isn't on this list, I wouldn't sweat it it. I'd only wager a guess that you probably don't subscribe to "Book Magazine."
2002-03-20 01:52:04 AM  
1. Howard Roark, from The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. Genius egotist

Pleas God no. One of the most god awful, boring books i've ever read, and i've read a LOT of books.

I was dissapointed there were no Philip K. Dick characters. This list sucks. BOOOOOO
2002-03-20 01:57:19 AM  
How come Jesus isn't on the list?
2002-03-20 01:59:06 AM  
Sorry, but what book has the characters Seymour Glass and Phoebe Caulfield in it? I'd like to read it.
2002-03-20 02:02:24 AM  
Fat Bob smith: Because Jesus, like it or not, DID exist, there is historical proof.
Whats unknown is wheather he was an ordinary, everyday guy, or happened to be the omnipotent son of God. That depends on your religious views
2002-03-20 02:50:33 AM  
A character from The Great Gatsby should be at number one, but not Gatsby. Nick Carroway, the narrator should be on that list. That's more of a shame than Bilbo's absence!
2002-03-20 02:51:40 AM  
Yes, this list is utter crap.

On another note, there are other people who've read the Coldfire Trilogy. Kick a$$
2002-03-20 03:11:26 AM  
Eh. I'll admit I didn't read alot of these books, but I did read the two near the top, and actually remember details.

Does Batman deserve to be in here: Honestly, I would say he does. He was original, developed (unlike the other superheros of his time), and managed to survive all the way since his birth, in an age where superheros were largely ignored. But, comic books don't count, and I think this list only refers to original characters, cutting off his chances of coming in from one of the batman books. Same goes for Spiderman (a personal favorite), Superman, and the tentecle monster from Japanese Hentai. Whining won't help.

Does Harry Potter: No. Dear God No! I can't put my finger on where exactly from, but I can swear Harry Potter is a rippoff, and every inch of the book has either already been done, or hasn't been done just because it would be stupid. The fact that he is put in for croud appeal does calm me, but there's no way in whichever afterlife for bad people you believe in that he should be above Eeyore or Lenny. Lenny was the deepest simple-minded character perhaps ever, and Eeyore is probobly a role model to millions of sarcastic, bitter, "you wouldn't care if I dropped dead right here" teens of today, yestoday, and possibly tomorrow.

Does Pikachu: I forget who mentioned him, but I refuse to dignify it with a response.

Do Sci-fi characters: Yes, but not from Star Wars books... Those books hardly ever use original characters, just warp and twist those made by Lucus. Dune characters: Yes. But frankly, I always prefered Muad Dib (pain in the ass to spell though) to the original Paul. (They are almost completly different charcters, despite being one person, from what I see). Lord of The Rings does too... But this really doesn't seem like a sci fi or fantasy list.

So just accept it, and let life go on.
2002-03-20 03:14:55 AM  
They could have at least justified the Top 10 or 20 decisions so we know why they chose them. I'm fairly well-read, but I didn't know who the hell some of those characters were.

SHERLOCK HOLMES?!? what a joke

No Raskolnikov, no Nick Carraway, and although the books are popular crap, Hannibal Lecter should have been on the list. This list sucks. They nailed the top 2, but the rest was way off. It was good to see Atticus & Scout Finch and Boo Radley make the list.
2002-03-20 03:32:49 AM  
I think we should start a top 100 list of ridiculous suggestions for best characters.

Some of you people are either completely and utterly insane, or have never read any good books.

List of 100 Loony suggestions

1. Jack ryan
2. Pikachu
3. paul atreides
4. charlie brown
5. Buffy
6. Mulder from the x files
7. anyone from a heinlein book
8. Rocky
9. jack and piggy from lord of the flies
10. Grand admiral thrawn

Anyone care to continue?
2002-03-20 04:47:39 AM  
Charlie Brown rocks.

I enjoyed reading him more so than the books on this list. It is filled with authors that have been bumped up by the english departments of too many schools.

I feel most of these people are overrated, in reading some of these books like To Kill a Mockignbird and Great Gasby I did not get anything out of these books. I felt my reading them was a waste of time. But then I rather read textbooks so crazy me anyways.
2002-03-20 06:37:01 AM  
Len Deighton's nameless spy, the hero of his early books, is one of my favourites.
2002-03-20 07:25:29 AM  
I'm somewhat stunned that this article caused almost 300 (and counting) posts. It usually takes a leftist article about US and/or Israeli war crimes or something to generate this number of posts.

I guess there is some intelligence in here after all...
2002-03-20 07:42:23 AM  
Tyler Durden?

No good books in my lifetime?
2002-03-20 08:02:37 AM  
HEYYY! Where the hell is TWIKKI from Buck Rogers??? Beedeebeedeebeedip
2002-03-20 08:05:17 AM  
If you're going to lower the standards to let in Fox Mulder and Lestat, why not:

[image from hazzard.simplenet.com too old to be available]

[image from tvguide.com too old to be available]


[image from images.ucomics.com too old to be available]

Jebus, read some real books.

2002-03-20 08:10:21 AM  
L Ron and the Scienos are full of shiat, that's why.

Could be that his books are about as exciting as Olympic curling?

Who ever says they liked "Battlefield Earth" should have their friggin' head examined.
2002-03-20 08:11:01 AM  
harry potter? jay gatsby? pshhaw.

where are thomas covenant or angus thermopyle?
2002-03-20 08:17:00 AM  
Jclark: I actually pointed that out in my own post, but feel free to mock me anyway.

2002-03-20 08:37:49 AM  
Can I get a hellyeah for Ace Ventura!!! Maybe...no...oh well.
2002-03-20 09:30:22 AM  
Well, I'll add my SciFi characters to the list

R.Daneel Olivaw

Hari Seldon

Arthur Dent


Frodo Baggins

Samwise Gamgee

Howard Roark

Napolean (the Pig)

Winston Smith (over Big Brother -- c'mon he's just a construct not a character)

Piggy (from Lord of the Flies)

Hey, I'll certainly agree to Drizzt D'Arden (sp?) over Harry Potter.
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