There are many things that bring me back to the movies or TV shows I love. Sometimes it’s the writing, or the experience, or the visual appeal, but more often than not, it’s the characters that bring me back for more. Sometimes, even if the movie isn’t that great, I’ll still be on board just because I love the characters, and love watching them on the journey. There are so many characters I love from various TV shows, and movies that I’ve always wanted to highlight my personal Top 30 favorites, the cream of the crop, the ones that have stuck with me long after viewing them. In order to give this rather long list some variety, I’m going to break it down into three classes. They will be my top 10 favorite animated characters, my top 10 favorite villains and my top 10 favorite characters in general from various movies and TV shows. Also, with some exceptions, I’m only selecting a single character from a series or movie. With all that said, lets close my three part countdown with my top 10 favorite characters in general from movies and TV shows ...
#10 Gandalf (Lord of the Rings series)
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been a big “Lord of the Rings” fan. The books were good, but I’ve only read them once, and the original movie trilogy was very good, but they’re not movies I re-watch too often. Having said all that, the franchises elder wizard named Gandalf the Grey has always been one of my favorite characters. We’ve seen the classic archetype of the old mentor character countless times, and while Gandalf falls into this category, he just feels more human. He definitely acts like a moral compos, and I just want to hold onto every word he says, but more often than not he succumbs to the side effects of his age. He can be grouchy, he can be angry, he can even be doubtful, which makes him more relatable, rather than just being a good role model to look up to. This also makes his words of wisdom all the more impactful when they come from a character who’s not all together perfect. He also has a great sense of hummer, and Sir Ian Mckellen just shines in the role. I may not be a die hard “Lord of the Rings” fan, but I’m definitely a fan of this great character.
#9 Evie (The Mummy)
Up next is the character who did something special for the clichéd damsel stereotype, this being the beautiful and intelligent Egyptologist named Evie, played by Rachel Weisz. This is the role that’s most associated Rachel Weisz, despite winning academy awards for performances in other films like “The Constant Gardener”. Regardless, Rachel Weisz is just so naturally lovable in this role, and I enjoy every second she’s on screen. The character Evie is like a little child that gets excited on Christmas, but she’s also adventurous and very useful with her knowledge of Egypt and its history. Also, I love that she’s more than just an attractive damsel stereotype. Even when she does get captured it’s a pivotal part of the story, and not just something that happens because she's a stereotype. Of course Evie made it at #1 on my top 10 Damsels list, but I’d honestly go further and say she’s one of my personal favorite leading female characters of all time. With her cute smile, helpful knowledge, charming, lovable and spunky personality, Evie raises the bar for clichéd damsel’s and is a great addition to the film.
#8 V (V for Vendetta)
In this epic comic book movie adaption, a sinister totalitarian government has taken over London, and one lone masked terrorist simply known as “V” stands in defiance against them. If I had the opportunity to perform as any movie character, it would have to be the mysterious, poetic, masked vigilante “V”. Without any doubt, this was the performance of a life time for star Hugo Weaving, who is outstanding in the role. We’ve seen hero’s in movies that stand against the oppressors condemning the innocent people of the world, but “V” is very different, and doesn’t follow the typical “rebellious hero conventions”. While his motivations and actions are noble, he goes about them like a devious master mind of sorts who’s always one step ahead of his foes. V is like the best of Shakespeare characters rolled into one, and dressed like a comic book character. He’s poetic, charming, sympathetic, frightening and just runs the whole gambit of things I love from a great character.
#7 General Patton (Patton)
Some may argue that this shouldn’t count as obviously Patton was a real person and not a work of fiction. Regardless, I love this portrayal of the historic general so much that I couldn’t help but include him on my countdown. The first thing to highlight of course is George C. Scott who is phenomenal in the role. His sympathetic, unflinching portrayal is what cares this great war epic, and it’s as definitive as any performance in the history of American biopics. On top of that, the movie itself is just a fascinating character study of this famous military general. This is a guy who lived for war, and almost viewed it like a religion in of itself. Many of his actions were questionable, but by the end of the day, he was still someone to look up to and admire. He was daring, and didn’t always go by the books, but he was also dignified and willing to admit when he was wrong. When it comes to American biopics, “Patton” will always be one of my absolute favorites, and it’s George C. Scott’s captivating performance that makes it a classic.
#6 Satine (Moulin Rouge)
In this magical 2001 musical, the star of the Moulin Rouge is Satine, who’s the best at seducing men and stealing the scenery. However, even though she shows off and goes over the top with selling herself, she has a burning passion to escape this world of sin, be a real actress and just make something of herself. In the process of putting on a show, Satine falls in love with a writer, who’s the first person to love her for who she is and not what she sells. It’s a concept that’s been done before with other great characters, but there are two stand out things about Satine that make her a personal favorite. First of all, the movie makes it clear early on that Satine is dying of Tuberculoses, which unfortunately means that she’ll never be able to escape, follow her dreams and make a life for herself. Because of this, it makes the audience savor every second she has while alive, as she makes the most of the moment, and the fact that she has fallen in love with someone. The second thing that always stands out to me is Nicole Kidman’s performance. She is so passionate in the role, and runs the whole gambit of different emotions. I’ve admired Nicole Kidman as a very talented actor, and this is the role that proved she could do it all. It’s a performance that’s everything whimsical, tragic, fiery, adult, and she just shines on the screen.
#5 Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)
To be honest, I think the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones” has one of the greatest ensemble casts I’ve ever seen. Heck, I could fill this list mostly with characters from this show, but that wouldn’t be fair. So let’s just cut to the chase, Tyrion Lannister played by Perter Kinklage is un-be-firkin-lievable! I’m convinced, Tyrion will go down in history as one of the great TV show characters of all time. He’s a midget born into an evil corrupt Kingdome, and his job is to be the tuff as nails, scheming conscience who puts everyone in their place. He knows the disadvantage of being a little person in this time period, but he wears it like a badge, because once you embrace it, no-one can harm you with it. His strength is his intelligence, vision, cool intellect, and capabilities as a master planner. There’s really nothing more satisfying in this show then seeing Tyrion out-smart his rivals and putting his enemies in their place. While the writing for this show is fantastic, it’s Peter Dinklage’s charisma and style that really elevate this character. He may be a little person, but no-one walks taller than Tyion.
#4 Rocky (Rocky series)
When it comes to a conventional “hero archetype”, I’m always drawn to the underdog the most. The hero’s that rise to the challenge, the ones that face all odds, and for me, Rocky will always be the panicle underdog hero. It’s the small town boxer who gets a shot to fight in the heavy weight championship, and surpasses all expectations. This is a character that always spoke to me, about how an everyday man can go above and beyond, and Sylvester Stallone is just so humble and sincere in the role. Honestly, how could anyone not love Rocky, he’s perhaps the most humble and human character from any film franchise. This is a character that inspires me to do more with myself, to break out and make a difference. Even if it’s something small, Rocky has always encouraged me to stick to my passions and follow them through to the end.
#3 Captain Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
I’ve been a long time “Star Trek: TNG” fan for years, and just like “Game of Thrones”, I’ve always regarded this show as having one of the greatest ensemble casts of any TV program. Leading the charge is Captain Picard, who’s brought to life masterfully by Sir Patrick Stewart. No other “Star Trek” captain seemed to capture the same authority and command that Picard had. He was large, in charge and his greatest strength was his intellect. He was a great strategist, one who could out think his enemies without resorting to physical action. That’s not to say he didn’t take physical action when required, he simply resorted to his intellect as his first tool. Also, much like the previously mentioned Gandalf the Grey, Picard wasn’t always a perfect moral compos to rally behind, he could still make misstates, he could be grouchy, but that only made me respect him more when he did do something dignified. Finally, there’s just something about Patrick Stewart’s performance that makes this character feel iconic, like one of the great classic character portrayals for the silver screen.
#2 Wolverine (X-Men series)
It’s been long debated who the greatest comic book super hero of all time is. Some say it’s Batman, others say Spider-Man, most say it’s Superman, and really it’ll always be up for debate. As I’ve said many times before, my personal favorite superhero of all time is and always will be Wolverine. This is the guy who stands apart from other hero’s, and just seems to have everything I want from a great character. Wolverines the ultimate outsider, and his greatest battle is the one within himself. He’s more wild, out of control and doesn’t really have a code in which to fight his enemies ... he’ll just waist them. However, underneath his beastly, bad ass persona is a warrior with a conscience to do what is honorable, and in the end he’ll always be there for his allies. This makes me respect and cheer for Wolverine more because he’s not a “perfect hero”. We can admire Superman as a great role model that will always save the day, but when someone flawed like Wolverine acts heroically, it just feels special. With Batman as my favorite superhero of the animated character spectrum, then Wolverine definitely takes top honors in the live action world of my favorite superhero portrayals. His image, healing powers, and his indestructible claws are every bit as iconic as Spider-Man and his web swinging. The ace up this characters sleeve is that he’s played by Hugh Jackman, whose frikin amazing in the role. He doesn’t even feel like an actor playing a part. When I see him on screen, I see Wolverine alive and in the flesh. This was actually Hugh Jackman’s very first role, and he’s played Wolverine for over 17 years, which is more than any actor has ever played a superhero on film. It’s a performance that’s just as iconic as Sean Connery as James Bond, and it’s a superhero I’ve always admired.
Before I reveal my #1 favorite character, here are some quick Honorable Mentions ...
Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Elena (The Mask of Zorro)
Dock Brown (Back to the Future)
Wayne and Garth (Wayne's World)
#1 Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones series)
When it comes to iconic movie characters, Indiana Jones played by the great Harrison Ford is about as legendary as they get. As a kid, I was once asked “If you could be any movie character who would you want to be?” and my immediate response was Indiana Jones. This guy makes top spot on my list, not because of how deep or complex he get’s, but because I always wanted to be this character. He’s an intelligent, witty, thrill seeking adventurer who in my opinion is the definitive Hollywood action hero. Unlike other action hero’s, Indiana Jones could clearly get exhausted, or tired, showing that he’s not invincible, but it doesn’t stop him for keeping cool and putting up a good fight, which just made me admire him all the more. I love his biting sense of hummer, I love his heroism, I love his charm, and I love how smart he is when either getting out of a tight situation or just understanding an ancient culture. Harrison Ford of course is just incredibly charismatic in the role, and he just makes me wish he was real so I could go on a journey with him. There’s lots of great movie characters out there, some admittedly more resonant than this, but it’s Indiana Jones who I’ve enjoyed the most, and stuck with the most. He’ll always be remembered as an iconic movie character, and he’ll always be my personal all time favorite.