Influential imaginary characters

A new book out lists their 100 most influential people who never lived.

I’m not pushing the book especially - but it’s an interesting idea. Who would you all nominate? I was glad to see King Arthur on the list (disappointed that there were no hobbits - though I recognize a character like King Arthur is much more influential). I don’t think Adam & Eve were on the list. I’d nominate them.

These things just start to get ridiculous.

Most of those names are ‘notable’ or ‘famous’ or ‘popular’, but I think a person would be hard pressed to show that many of them are/were influential.

And, despite this, they can’t keep the number under 100? They just couldn’t bring themselves to cut Citizen Kane or Nessie? Or King Kong, who inspired us all to… climb buildings?


I have a hard time accepting the list once I saw the Marlboro Man was leading it.

It appears they left religious figures off the list.

What religious figures would you include? Greek and Roman Gods? Most Biblical figures have a historical basis in fact (even if you don’t quite buy what some claim they actually did).

I’d include Satan as an influential fictitious character


And quite a few of them aren’t, strictly speaking, people.

There were a few religious figures; Venus, Cupid, Prometheus, and St. Valentine. We don’t usually think of religion when we picture them, though. I agree that many of these characters are/were not influential. Did we learn anything worthwhile from Joe Camel? He sold a lotta cigarettes, and he taught us that camels are friendly, can walk upright, and look sharp in a suit and tie. :dubious:

Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster, on the other hand, did carry a lesson. It didn’t come across in most of the movies, but the book taught me a lot about kindness to the handicapped. He was a pitiable character, and almost everyone feared and hated him. He couldn’t speak at first, but he learned speech by watching a rural family while he hid in their wood bin. He wasn’t mean. He’d sneak out at night and gather firewood for the family. If people had treated him better, he never would have hurt anybody.

The guy was huge, ugly, and not very bright. If he showed up today, somebody would show him how to play basketball.

What, no Homer Simpson? As a reflection of the average late 20th-century American, I think Homer holds more symbolic weight than a cowboy who pushed cigarettes or a bear that told you fires are bad.

Dracula and Alice were also based on indisputably historical figures but made the list. Presumably the author distinguished between the historical person and the fictional myths that surrounded them and felt that the fictional character had established an independent existence. A similar argument could have been made about Abraham, Moses, Buddha, or Jesus.

Awful list. How can they seriously put The Marlboro Man ahead of all other fictional characters? Have Marlboro advertisements really done more than Santa Claus? Do children around the world hang their stockings up in hopes that they’ll get a pack of smokes in the morning? No.

I tend to take “influential” to mean, you know, causing an influence. A really, truly influential character should be one that sets trends or somehow results in some amount of action. Many of the characters on this last are not so much influential as renowned, or popular. I don’t think, however, the terms should be used interchangeably, and the list suffers accordingly.

God. Note that even if he exists, there’s so much contradictory nonsense surrounding him that he has to be mostly fiction, just like Dracula, as said above.

I want my money back from my history classes. They had the nerve to tell me that cowboys actually existed in America! But now I learn that the American cowboy is fictional.

And #42: William Tell? I’m disappointed that he edged out George Washington.

Then there are the compound entries. OK, Romeo and Juliet makes some sense, I guess… Neither one is significant without the other. But Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn can each stand on their own. And beyond both being Greek gods, what’s the connection between Apollo and Dionysus?

As far as cowboys go, I’m surprised the Lone Ranger isn’t on the list. He’s a greater symbol of the cowboy way than the Marlboro Man is. (And William Tell doesn’t deserve to be on the list: he’s only known for two things: 1. Shooting an apple off his son’s head 2. That song, which was later co-opted by the Lone Ranger himself)

I am really surprised that Holden Caufield isn’t on the list.

I mean, not only did his character actually probably inspire some people to make some decisions in their lives, but Holden is on the record for having influenced Mark David Chapman to kill John Lennon which in turn influenced a lot of people’s lives.

I agree that most of that list is rubbish. I’m glad Harry Potter wasn’t on it though because I’m still steaming from one of the HP movies being included in the “top high school movies” list.

And which one, dammit? The guy with the elephant Amy, or the guy who died of lung cancer?