Last week, Paul and I reached the halfway mark of our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. Here are excerpts of our thoughts on our picks for #s 60-51, but be sure to listen to the show for our full rundowns.
PAUL: Vincent (Beauty and the Beast)
Speaking with a gruff but gentle whisper and all but hidden beneath an impressive leonine Rick Baker prosthesis (which didn’t, but absolutely should have, won awards), Perlman was the very definition of Romantic-with-a-capital-R misunderstood emo monster heroes for a generation.
AJ: John Locke (Lost)
His regained ability to walk gave him a new lease on life, and he looked at the island as a beautiful, supernatural force. He refused to leave, and tried to get the rest of the group to stay as well, believing them to be there for a greater purpose. The constant push-and-pull between Jack, the man of science, and Locke, the man of faith, became the series’ core thematic conflict.
PAUL: John McClane (Die Hard)
McClane isn’t some kind of supercop with crazy martial arts skills. He has virtually no outstanding skills or cinematically convenient gifts.
AJ: Jim Halpert (The Office)
Michael Scott is a maddening individual, and there’s no way a series could be built solely around him, not a long-running one, at least. Luckily, to guide us through all of the ridiculousness and absurdity, we’ve got Jim Halpert, Michael’s polar opposite: low-key, reliable, responsible, and genuinely funny.
PAUL: Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean series)
If there’s a more flamboyantly ambiguous (or ambiguously flamboyant) character in modern film than Captain Jack Sparrow, I can’t think of it right now.
AJ: Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel)
Of all the characters on my list seeking some sort of atonement for past sins, Angel’s quest is perhaps the most powerful. He remembers, with a terrifying spiritual weight, everything that he did, every innocent he slaughtered.
PAUL: Yorick Brown (Y: The Last Man)
When you get right down to it, Yorick isn’t necessarily the most charming or attractive candidate for the last man on Earth. He’s immature, often selfish, a little bit self-righteous at times. But ultimately, his heart is in the right place.
AJ: Nathaniel “Nate” Fisher, Jr. (Six Feet Under)
Nate and his brother David are opposites in many respects: Nate is the bad boy, with a mess of a life, and David is the stiff, responsible one. Though where Nate is honest about everything, David is keeping secrets locked away. The two begin to heal their relationship, bringing out the best in one another when they’re not annoying each other.
PAUL: Kitty Pryde (Marvel Comics)
She was cute, smart, she could turn into a ghost and walk through walls, and she got to play with the X-Men. How could that not have been love at first sight?
AJ: Tobias Fünke (Arrested Development)
Everyone’s favorite never-nude, Tobias Funke is an analrapist, an actor of both stage and screen, and possessor of the most ambiguous sexual orientation on God’s green Earth.
PAUL: William Munny (Unforgiven)
Munny was a kind of deconstruction of the larger-than-life mythic Western figures from Eastwood’s previous films. Where The Man with No Name and Josey Wales and the preacher from Pale Rider were all concepts writ large that loomed over the other characters and landscapes around them, William Munny is a rather and small and insignificant man.
AJ: William Adama (Battlestar Galactica)
William Adama, commander of the battlestar Galactica, is respected by both his allies and enemies for his heroic feats and ability to run a tight ship. Above all, he knows that sometimes, you gotta roll the hard six.
PAUL: The Saint of Killers (Preacher)
He was a Civil War soldier and outlaw who was wronged, murdered, and sent to Hell, but was so filled with hate and vengeance that he was sent back to Earth as the new Angel of Death, killing the Devil himself on his way out for insulting him.
AJ: Joan Holloway (Mad Men)
Joan is the office manager at Sterling Cooper, the sexy queen bee of the secretaries. At first, the reason for this might seem to be because she is Roger Sterling’s mistress, but that’s not it. The real reason is that Joan is great at any responsibility that comes her way.
PAUL: Magneto (Marvel Comics)
I’ve always had a thing for villains, particularly the morally complex, shades-of-gray kinds of villains. Magneto has been a personal favorite of mine for years.
AJ: Lestat de Lioncourt (The Vampire Chronicles)
Born into nobility, raised in poverty, and born again into darkness as a vampire, Lestat is referred to as the Brat Prince by his elders. This is a title which fits Lestat perfectly: he is bold, beautiful, defiant, and not a little rash. He kills viciously and indiscriminately, and with joy.
PAUL: Lucifer Morningstar (The Sandman)
Heavily influenced by the works of John Milton, Gaiman’s Lucifer is precisely what he is meant to be: a fallen angel. He is beautiful (modeled after David Bowie, I believe), charming, intelligent, manipulative.
AJ: Margot Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums)
The scene where Richie is at the bus station waiting for Margot, and she walks out in slow motion to Nico’s “These Days,” never fails to wring tears from me.
PAUL: The Corinthian (The Sandman)
The Corinthian, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, was meant to be Morpheus’ masterpiece: “A nightmare created to be the darkness, and the fear of darkness in every human heart. A black mirror, made to reflect everything about itself that humanity will not confront.”
AJ: Clementine Kruczynski (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Clementine Kruczynski is the kind of woman who would drive a man to have all of his memories of her erased, only to try to hold on to those memories as they’re slowly deleted from his brain.