Last night, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with our penultimate installment, detailing our picks for #20-11. Be sure to listen to the show to hear everything we said, but here are some choice excerpts:
PAUL: Westley/The Man in Black (The Princess Bride)
He bested the greatest swordsman, overpowered a giant, and outwitted a brilliant strategist. And then he got to be the one true love, thought lost at sea, now returned to his princess.
AJ: SS Colonel Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)
What makes Landa so terrifying is that he seems entirely bereft of a sense of morality; he manipulates himself into a position of power with whatever group seems to be on the winning side, caring little for past alliances or relationships.
PAUL: Matthew the Raven (The Sandman)
In the time that we knew him, Matthew acted as a page and advisor for Dream, and he was given assignments from time to time, missions to perform. But his most important function seems to have been as a companion. Though Morpheus never spoke of his need for a friend, by the end of the series, that is unquestionably what Matthew had become.
AJ: Dr. Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters series)
He stands around listening to all of the technobabble, then bursts everyone’s bubble with his sardonic wisecracks. He doesn’t appear to be taking any of this seriously, but at the same time, he’s willing to throw in with these other lunatics and do ridiculous things.
PAUL: Lorne (Angel)
Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan was unique among his people: he could hear music. Mystic tomes and dimensional portals aside, I choose to believe this is what brought him to our world.
AJ: Dr. Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica)
I mean, there’s no doubt about it, Baltar can be a slimy, skeezy, unlikable character drowning in a sea of morally grey actions–but that’s why I love him!
PAUL: Benjamin Linus (Lost)
Ben was one of those characters on Lost that I truly hated in his earliest appearances but who grew on me, eventually becoming one of my favorites on the show, a magic trick the series pulled off for me more than once, actually.
AJ: Al Swearengen (Deadwood)
Al was an evil, violent, incredibly brutal and always terrifying presence in Deadwood, South Dakota.
PAUL: Jayne Cobb (Firefly/Serenity)
Actor Adam Baldwin manages to infuse him with just enough boyish mischief, which if you squint your eyes just so could almost be mistaken for a kind of childish innocence–but probably not–to make much of Jayne’s troglodyte behavior humorous.
AJ: The Bride (Kill Bill series)
She is the star, the hero, the blonde warrior wielding a Hattori Hanzo blade.
PAUL: Lloyd Dobler (Say Anything)
Lloyd Dobler is an almost magical, alchemical mix of the shy, nerdy, introverted outcast and the popular, confident cool guy that everybody wants to hang out with.
AJ: Seymour “Swede” Levov (American Pastoral)
The Swede goes from a respectable family man living the American Dream, a beloved athlete and head of the well-known Levov family glove company, to a tortured man who lives the rest of his days in pain, always seeing his daughter just around the corner, wracked with guilt and torturing himself over every small misstep he may have made.
PAUL: Hob Gadling (The Sandman)
As a mere mortal who basically wills himself into immortality, and then quite literally has to live with the consequences, Hob provides a running narrative on the nature of humanity over a long span of time.
AJ: Dr. Horrible (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog)
It’s not until Penny dies in his arms, due to his own weapon’s malfunction, quietly muttering that Captain Hammer will save us all, that Billy transforms from the lovable nerd into Dr. Horrible, and the story’s darker purpose is revealed: It’s not a story about a supervillain, it’s the supervillain’s origin story.
PAUL: Desmond Hume (Lost)
He spent much of his time in the series being skittish, furtive, maybe even a little bit crazy. But in the final season, thanks to the convention of the sideways timeline, we get to see a completely different kind of Desmond, a sort of supernatural James Bond.
AJ: Batman (DC Comics)
Batman is the greatest DC Comics superhero, the only one I’ve ever truly been able to connect with. It’s because he’s not an all-powerful alien being like Superman, or an Amazonian warrior like Wonder Woman, or a galactic cop like Green Lantern…he’s just a psychologically scarred man who puts on a bat costume to avenge his parents’ murder night after night. He’s a little crazy.
PAUL: Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Firefly/Serenity)
He was the funny guy with the plastic dinosaurs and the Hawaiian shirt fetish that always tried to smooth over any arguments between the crew and tended to prefer the more pragmatic, reasonable course of action in battle situations (i.e., cut and run).
AJ: Joel Barish (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
He’s drawn to, and even a little scared of, Clementine’s reckless spontaneity. He finds her fascinating because she unlocks a part of him that he has no idea how to access on his own.
PAUL: Serenity (Firefly/Serenity)
The tenth crew member.
AJ: Dream (The Sandman)
Dream may be the protagonist of the series, but he is not always likable. He is cruel, largely without a conventional sense of humor, and capable of carrying nigh unbreakable grudges against anyone who dares to slight him.