By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student.
Fictional characters are as real as we make them. They can live forever. They entertain, inspire, and sometimes terrify us. Their death can upset us; their accomplishments can please us. There are a whole lot of fictional characters, so what makes some so iconic? I have decided to take a look at my favorite fictional characters and figure out just what makes them so memorable.
1. The Doctor- Part of the most cross generational show on television, Doctor Who, the Doctor has entertained, educated, and inspired generations. The Doctor himself is a complicated character with an interesting story arc. He started out as a grumpy old man who traveled through space and time with his granddaughter, on the run from his own people, the Time Lords. Fast-forward through 50 years of character development and you see a badly damaged man trying to do his best to save and inspire humanity. Without Doctor Who science fiction writing and television would not be the same.
2. Han Solo-There is a lot of talk about Star Wars VII, and with that comes the triumphant return of the coolest gunslinger in outer space, Han Solo. He was the lone ranger of the future until running into Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Throughout the original trilogy Solo learns the importance of working with others to fight for the common good and restore peace and humanity to a struggling galaxy. Han Solo was a great practical smuggler with sarcastic wit.
3. Dr. Hannibal Lecter- The NBC series Hannibal was just signed for a second season and with it returns the terrifyingly brilliant Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He is a super intelligent psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. For fans sometimes the lines are blurred between antihero and villain. Lector walks this fine line throughout all adaptations of him and that is what makes him so interesting. He is charming and smart, but then you remember he eats people. The creation of Lecter has been highly influential when it comes to writing a great villain.
4. Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson- The first duo to make my list is the consulting detective and his loyal friend and author/blogger. Sherlock’s snarky, anti-social, attitude coupled with his powers of deduction and supreme intelligence made him a man that women, and even men, cannot resist. You hate him, but you still love. Without Dr. Watson recounting their tales of adventure what happened at 221B Baker St. would never have been quite as entertaining. Current adaptions of the pair are BBC’s Sherlock and Elementary on CBS. Funny fact: Sherlock never said, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” in any Arthur Conan Doyle story.
5. Batman- The superhero with no superpowers, but loads of money, Batman is one of DC Comics flagship characters. Nothing makes for a hero like serious childhood trauma, or the murder of Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne. Batman being a vigilante made him all the more popular. The character became so popular he got his own comic book in 1940 and the rest is history. Television series, movies, and a whole lot of merchandise followed making Batman an extremely influential comic book hero.
6. Indiana Jones- Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. is an archaeology professor that wears a tweed suit, but much like a superhero, after the lecture is over he dons his fedora, grabs his bullwhip, and becomes Indiana Jones. It is the idea that after the grueling workday is done, he can have an adventure and save the world at the same time that makes Indiana Jones an appealing character.
7. Dracula – The second villain to make my list is the bloodsucker that spawned the modern day vampire. He is cunning and clever. Since the original novel Dracula has been the subject of a number of films. As of 2009, an estimated 217 films feature Dracula in a major role, a number second only to Sherlock Holmes (223 films). Films involving vampires have used the image of Dracula for their basis of vampires’ characteristics. It is evident that without the original Dracula our monster movies could be very different.
8. James Bond- He has had many faces over the years, but 007 always introduces himself last name first with a cunning tone. Originally created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, Bond is subject of the longest running film franchise in history starting in 1962, with Dr. No starring Sean Connery. James Bond is a handsome British Secret Service agent who often fights what seem like campy super villains. Bond is an inspiration to spy characters and we just can’t get enough of him.
9. Romeo & Juliet- This could not be a list of famous and influential fictional characters without at least one mention of Shakespeare. There is nothing more appealing than forbidden love. Many of Shakespeare’s works have been adapted and performed on stage and film, but, in addition to Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet is possibly the most recognizable storyline. Often with a little less death, the story has been told to all ages hundreds of times over since Shakespeare’s time. What would love stories be like without them?
10. Harry Potter- The newest character on the list, Harry Potter hit the shelves in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997. Throughout the series, which goes on in six more novels, Harry works to overcome the leading antagonist and his parents’ murderer, Voldemort, who wishes to become immortal and conquer the wizarding world. Harry’s tough beginning to heroic victory makes him a much loved character. J.K. Rowling created what is possibly the most successful series since J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
As a writer, I dream about creating a character as influential and memorable as the ones I listed. All of these characters have spawned film franchises, books, comic strips, cartoons, and television series. They will live on forever entertaining and inspiring future generations to come. They are the greatest people to never live.