Characters you sympathize with.

Recent events at work have led me to reflect on different things and people, and one of the people I’ve been thinking about lately is Seymour Skinner from The Simpsons.

I know that I’m waayyyyy overthinking this, but over the past year or so, I’ve come to see this guy in a new light to the point where I find myself actually pissed off at the other characters on the show (I know . . . I know :smack: )

Here is a guy. He’s a wounded Vietnam Vet and former POW; his combat experience has left him with severe flashbacks. He might be a schlump, but he’s certainly not stupid, and it seems he could have been anything he wanted to, but for whatever reason, he winds up in charge of the school. He’s obviously the only faculty member in that silly back-asswards shit pit who can rise above his own personal problems and dreams enough to actually give a fuck about the students. He knows the kids’ names. He encourages Lisa, and he does try to help Bart, even if this is the original exercise in futility. When one of the bus drivers is fired, he steps in and drives the damned bus himself to get the job done. Principal Skinner is a good man.

And what is his reward? He gets mocked and humiliated at every turn. He gets blamed and fired by his weasely incompetent superintendent for situations totally beyond his control. His good qualities are never really dealt with; we only get to see the side of him that’s out of touch and goofy. So what if he’s under his mother’s thumb? He cares for her deeply, and if he shows some arrested development and discomfort in dealing with others, I’d say that going to war right after graduation (It’s the only way the dates remotely add up), and then having to care for his sick mother might have something to do with that.

And after all the humiliation, after all the abuse, after all the scorn and blame heaped on him, he’s asked back by the same people who fire him once they realize that they’re nowhere near competent enough to run the place. Somebody more concerned with his or her image than Skinner would tell the faculty to take a flying fuck before going out into the world and finding something that would actually give him his due, but Skinner cares too much to go that route. He always goes back, and he never bears a grudge, even though he has to know that he’ll always get the shit end of the stick. He’s education’s answer to George Smiley.

Whew! Sorry, but I had to get that out of my system. So anyway, who do you guys sympathize with? Who’s gotten a bum rap in your opinion? Who makes you want to shake him and tell him to find a better cast of characters to hang with?

ITA about Skinner. And remember how Bart was gleeful that he’d caused a 'Nam flashback? And when he was in the Be Sharps, he was the only one who didn’t have a gut. Not that that’s a huge deal, but besides him and Flanders, there aren’t many men in Springfield who keep themselves in shape. Well, Lenny and Carl, but they don’t get taken seriously either.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll just say it again: Claire in The Breakfast Club. Sure, she’s uppity, but I don’t see how she’s more deserving of condemnation than the two bullies (yes, Andy is a bully; he admitted it). The interrogation scene, about her virginity, makes me chew glass. It’s presented as actually wrong that she doesn’t put out, like she’s hurting guys. What about her body, her life, her future? She’s never given a chance to speak for herself.

Similarly, Becky in the comic strip For Better or For Worse. So she left that crappy garage band – so what? Her friends were gossipping about her even before she left. She doesn’t love the special needs kids; okay, but she was never shown making fun of them to their face. (Being impatient with Shannon right before she went on stage doesn’t count, IMO; you’re not supposed to distract the talent at that moment.) April is a hata and Eva encourages her. Becky is not evil. And you’d think April the Wonderful would have had a bit more sympathy during Becky’s parents’ divorce.

I’ve always thought that Hank Hill, from the first seasons of King of the Hill, was a quietly brave man. He’s a guy who is stuck in a middle age crisis and in the middle of every cultural change that this country has seen in the last half century. He was raised with a “spare the rod” mentality which he knows wasn’t entirely good for him, and most of the time he barely has a clue how to raise his son. All the same he does his best, and while he doesn’t have all of the answers and often gets it wrong, he is still entirely committed to his responsibilities as a father.

Now, the weird thing is that I kind of feel for Bill Dauterive. :dubious:

Clearly, the guy didn’t develop a strong sense of self when he was growing up, but was certainly high minded enough when he graduated from high school to join the Army and serve his country. Between his ex wife and the women who picked him up (he wasn’t assertive enough to ask anyone out) it was obvious that he was too afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings to stand up for himself. The problem is that no one told him along the way that he was more than a doormat.

Skinner’s a pretty complex guy. The OP’s quite spot on. (Of course, this is why I hate the episode the Principal and the Pauper, aka the Armin Tanzarian ep, but I digress.)

I sympathize a lot with Christopher on the Sopranos, but I honestly can’t think of anything to convey why I feel that way. However, the other character I’ve been sympathizing with lately is Chris’s girlfriend, Adriana. Actually, I was just thinking about this before I opened up this thread. Adriana’s a nice person, not too much older than me, and despite not being all that educated, she’s fairly ambitious (like in that episode where she wants to manage musical groups). She’s a devoted girlfriend and generally a nice person…seeing her get treated so badly by Christopher gets a bit hard too watch. And seeing the FBI pull that stuff with her. It’s one thing when they put pressure guys who actively sought out mafia life, but with a somewhat innocent and naive person like her? It just seems so evil.

I totally agree about Hank Hill and Bill Dauterive. Especially in the episode where Hank is getting utterly fed up with Bill and is tempted to let Bill rot in jail–and then Boomhauer tells Hank why Hank has Bill’s name tattooed to the back of his head.

Bill just wants somebody he can take care of. He doesn’t want anybody to take care of him. When the Hills get sick, he steps up to the plate without hesitation, and later in that episode, he volunteers to open up his house to recovering alcoholics and takes care of every one of them. He takes a great deal of pride in his work as a barber, and with good reason. He’s thoughtful and careful when it comes to the men in his care, so to speak. He blocked for Hank while they were in high school, protecting him from danger, and did the same for him when he was off the field, too. Of everybody on Braintree Street, he is the only one that Hank can really count on to always have his back, despite his many emotional problems.

Unfortunately, Lenore took what little self-esteem he had and completely and totally destroyed it. When he can pull himself together, we get a glimmer of a man who is truly a good person, through and through. But he’s the sort of person who is so good, he doesn’t see the bad in other people. So he never sees the Lenores of the world coming until it’s too late–and even after they’re gone, he doesn’t know what happened to him. But he has been happy a few times–with Ann Richardson and Khan’s mom. So there’s that hint of hope.

And wow, I have put way too much thought into William Fontaine de la Tour “Bill” Dauterive.

The Wolf Man. Through no fault of his own, this guy’s just totally screwed.

Maybe so, but the second season of KOTH is probably required viewing in some college in a class on systems theory of psychology.

His name is Laurence Talbott!


Or Lawrence Talbot, or some variation of those spellings.

Never thought about Principal Skinner, but the OP nailed it!

For me- Renfield in DRACULA. Coppola’s DRACULA almost did him justice until he
cringed & begged for mercy at the end. Uh uh! He stood up against Dracula till the bitter end & got his neck broken for it. He died a hero and a martyr!

Eddie Willers and Cheryl Taggart in ATLAS SHRUGGED. He wasn’t a great achiever but he was a loyal friend & worker who loved Dagny, knew she was out of his
league, and accepted his place as her faithful assistant. She was a capable shopgirl who admired heroism & was blindsided by James Taggart. He ends up broken & despairing at the collapse of Taggart Transcontinental. She ends up
drowning herself. Dagny isn’t shown as ever knowing what became of Eddie, while she loathed James for what he did in breaking Cheryl’s love for life.

In my version- Cheryl was fished out just in time & Dagny got her sent to the
hospital in Galt’s Gulch, where Eddie is also taken after Dagny finds him as leader of the search party. That’s where Eddie and Cheryl meet…

And Groundskeeper Willie. “Grease me up, woman!” He’s probably the buffest man in town.

I agree with everybody already listed (with the exception of Wolf Man; sorry, Manatee!), especially Bill Dautrieve. There’s just something about him that makes me want to tell him to sit down, have a piece of pie, take care of himself for a minute.

His death scene, with Drac coming down that huge stairway–wow, what a piece of cinema! :slight_smile:

Chris on the Sopranos? Wow! To me theres not one sympathetic character on that show.

Well, I think that the beauty of the show is that they take these characters who do horrible things and yet somehow manage to make them so likeable in spite of everything. I don’t think there are straight up bad guys who everyone just hates (except maybe Phil Leotardo to a degree).

I’m not sure what it is about Christopher that makes me identify with him so much. Maybe it’s his love of film and his desire to do carve out an identity for himself while simultaneously getting deeper and deeper into the mafia world.