Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture: #40-31

On last night’s show, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with #s 40-31. Be sure to listen to the show for our full run-downs, but here are some choice excerpts:

#40

PAUL: Jesse Custer (Preacher)

He’s a good ol’ Southern boy, with a hard-drinking work ethic and a code of honor that he follows to an almost fundamentalist extreme.

AJ: The Joker (DC Comics)

Though the Joker is frightening on his own, as has been explored in many comics and filmic adaptations, he would mean nothing without the Batman. He is Batman reflected through a funhouse mirror, living to terrorize and provoke Gotham City as much as Batman exists solely to protect it and keep watch over it.

#39

PAUL: Frog Thor (Marvel Comics)

Even as a six-inch high amphibian, Thor is a warrior born and so he enacts a plan to lead the alligators, known to the frogs as “dragons,” up from the sewers beneath New York City and set them against the rats. The scale may be smaller, but the battle is just as epic.

AJ: HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)

HAL is nothing but a single, blinking red light encased in a little glass dome, but he has incredible presence. He is felt all throughout the shuttle sequences; he is always there, always watching.

#38

PAUL: FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks)

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, as played by Kyle MacLachlan, is one of the quirkiest television characters in recent memory.

AJ: Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

There’s a reason that Buffy is the greatest, longest-lived Slayer in her universe: she is not willing to fight alone. She understands that you have to have friends, a support system, a family, no matter how makeshift a family it is.

#37

PAUL: Drusilla (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel)

Juliet Landau really should have won an Emmy for her gifted performance, bringing the perfect creepy mix of damaged, playful, and incoherent.

AJ: Benjamin Linus (Lost)

Over the years, we found that there was more to Ben than just the devious mastermind–and he was a mastermind, perhaps one of the smartest characters on the series.

#36

PAUL: Lafayette Reynolds (True Blood)

Lafayette Reynolds, the badass, take-no-shit, drug dealing, short order cook, gay prostitute of HBO’s True Blood had a lot going for him, in my eyes, from the very beginning.

AJ: Tim Canterbury (The Office)

Tim Canterbury is 30, lives with his mother, has no friends, and is turned down after a couple dramatic attempts to ask Dawn out. He is going nowhere fast, and has no idea how to stop his downward spiral. Which makes him a very believable, painfully funny protagonist.

#35

PAUL: Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Having Willow Rosenberg on your list almost feels like a cheat…who doesn’t love Willow?

AJ: Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane)

He could have everything he’s ever wanted, but he ruins it all with his gigantic ego. He humiliates everyone he’s ever loved, if indeed he truly loved them at all.

#34

PAUL: Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Indiana Jones series)

It’s glorious that a character who, on the surface, is such an action hero, such a billboard example of masculinity, is really kind of a facade put on by a character who is, in truth, something of a nerd.

AJ: Gob Bluth (Arrested Development)

On a series where the ridiculous and the sublime were in no short supply, Gob. was the most sublimely ridiculous.

#33

PAUL: Robin (DC Comics)

What I’m drawn to is the idea that a young person could be brought into the awful world that Batman lives in and not only hold their own but in at least a couple of cases, actually shine.

AJ: Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)

Eventually, Kara becomes possibly the character most integral to the series’ trajectory, obsessed with what she believes to be her destiny, going to great lengths to pursue it, ultimately setting up the show’s endgame.

#32

PAUL: Spider-Man (Marvel Comics)

Peter Parker was on his own and had to figure things out for himself. Furthermore, and much more important to the appeal of the character, aside from his fantastic powers, he was a pretty normal, typical teen.

AJ: Peggy Olson (Mad Men)

Predictably, she faces some vicious sexism and nasty accusations, and though at first she seems so innocent it’s amazing she’s able to survive at all, she plows forward with increasing strength and confidence.

#31

PAUL: Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel)

Removed from the orbit of other characters that I really didn’t care for, the unthinkable happened: I fell in love with Angel as Angel. Given a sharper focus, we got to truly know the character and see his struggle for redemption.

AJ: Claudette Wyms (The Shield)

You want a strong, powerful woman? Well, here she is. Throughout all seven seasons of The Shield, she remains the most formidable and intimidating detective at the Barn.

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