5 Popular Characters I Can’t Stand & 5 Unpopular Characters I Adore

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is twofold: Either “ten characters everyone loves but I just don’t get” or “ten characters I love but everyone others seem to dislike.” Or, if you’re awesome like me, BOTH. I’M DOING HALF OF EACH LIST.

Enjoy!

Popular Characters I Can’t Stand

1. Jace Wayland from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

HE IS FIRST BECAUSE HE IS THE WORST. (Hey, that rhymes!) He just irritates me SO much – I can’t stand his attitude! I think cockiness is a really unattractive trait but unfortunately that’s a really common trait in fictional guys (and IRL guys…), so I spend like 96.5% of my reading time internally screaming because I just cannot deal with it.

city of bonesALSO, HIS ACTORS. The one who plays him on TV doesn’t look quite so irritating, but the one from the movie adaptation has a stupid little smirk that makes me want to punch him. WOW I HAD NO IDEA I WAS FILLED WITH QUITE SO MUCH HATE FOR HIM UNTIL I WROTE THIS POST. I AM SMALL AND FILLED WITH HATE.

2. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

From a literary perspective, Dumbledore is an amazing character. COMPLEXITY IS GOOD. Characters who are entirely good or entirely bad are boring to read about! So I have to applaud J.K. Rowling for that, because his moral ambiguity is a mark of good writing.

But when people try to say that Dumbledore was good AS A PERSON? That makes me really uncomfortable. He was incredibly manipulative, and withheld necessary information from people for selfish reasons. He KNEW the Dursleys were abusive, and yet he left Harry with them anyway? For YEARS?

Like I said, moral complexity is a good thing. When people say things like, “I love Dumbledore and wish I could meet him,” though, I’m just like DO YOU. DO YOU REALLY.

3. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Whenever I try to talk about why I dislike him, people tell me that he’s funny. Like… yeah, all right, but he LITERALLY MURDERED HIS LOVER? Aaaand I would struggle to say that they were even lovers – he basically forced Shae to have sex with him and then continued to do so until she was forced to have sex with another guy and then forced to testify against Tyrion, at which point he murdered her in a fit of rage?

THOSE THINGS WERE LITERALLY OUT OF HER CONTROL AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING TO WATCH PEOPLE DEFEND HIS ACTIONS. (Especially because they so often say things like, “Well, it’s her fault” as if she somehow had agency and were not a literal sex slave and “she didn’t know her place.” The misogyny in this fandom is real.) I know he’s funny, but… that doesn’t make him a good person? Everyone in that series (and on that show) is SUPER messed up.

the fault in our stars4. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

whimsywriter3 @ Rambling Writer linked up with TTT this week as well, and she has a spot-on description of Hazel Grace in her post: “She’s a pretentious blob of words.” YES YES YES I AGREE AND I FEEL THIS WAY ABOUT GUS AS WELL. Honestly, I feel this way about all of John Green’s characters? They don’t feel like real people. They feel like caricatures. ALSO GUS IS REALLY REALLY COCKY AND LIKE I WROTE EARLIER, I ABSOLUTELY HATE THAT.

5. Four from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Nothing he does really irritates me… unlike some of the other characters mentioned so far, I don’t find him annoyingly cocky or anything like that. I just… don’t understand the appeal? Everyone’s like “OMG MY OVARIES” and I’m like “he’s really bland, though?” TBH, it’s probably a combination of being Too Gay For This NonsenseTM and of feeling like I need to take a really long nap every time I try to finish the second book in the series. (I haven’t been able to make it any further than that.)

Unpopular Characters I Adore

1. Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

I absolutely would not want to meet Cersei down a dark alley (or, well… anywhere), but as I said earlier, there is a lot of misogyny in this fandom. People criticize Cersei for having Robert killed, but he repeatedly beat and raped her for YEARS, so… yeah, I’d say they’re both pretty messed up.

This fandom has a bad habit of adoring the male characters no matter what they do, while simultaneously judging the female characters for doing the exact same things as the male characters. OMG PLEASE STOP.

(Like Dumbledore, Cersei is an excellent example of a complex and richly written character. Neither of them are good PEOPLE, but I do find it interesting that people tend to view morally ambiguous guys as misunderstood or traumatized, while morally ambiguous women are considered just bitches.)

the great gatsby2. Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I would never have drawn this comparison otherwise, but since I decided to include them in the same post… I’m noticing a lot of parallels between Daisy and Cersei. Both of them have certain expectations placed upon them simply because they are women, and then people judge them for behaving according to those expectations.

3. Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

As with Cersei, I definitely DON’T condone Bellatrix’s actions, but she’s a fascinating character! She’s willing to do ANYTHING for her master and that always kept me on the edge of my seat because I was never quite sure what she’d do next.

I always had a lot of conflicting feelings about her when I was a little kid because I adore Sirius as well and it was kinda difficult to reconcile those feelings…

4. Susan Pevensie from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Guess what?! “Female characters who are harshly judged by society for conforming to societal expectations” is a theme in today’s post! At the end of book seven we’re supposed to dislike Susan (or at least feel sorry for her) because she’s started wearing “lipstick and nylons” and I’m just like… so, she’s become a young woman who likes to look pretty? What in the world is wrong with that? As I get older, I begin to realize just how many ideas I disagree with C.S. Lewis on, even if I do love his writing.

J.K. Rowling actually has a fantastic rebuttal of this: “There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She’s become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that.” We may not agree on much anymore, but that quote is everything to me.the lion the witch and the wardrobe

5. Denethor from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien 

I can’t help but feel sorry for this guy! He made a foolish decision to looking into a seeing stone that he did not know was controlled by Sauron and as a result, he started to lose his mind and mistrust those around him.

I feel sorry for his sons, who never felt like they ever lived up to his expectations, but I also feel sorry for him because there are a bunch of passages where other characters talk about how awesome he was in his glory days, and it made me realize that he wasn’t always like this, that the younger version of himself would probably be horrified that he was now like this.

I wish more people realized that he isn’t fully in control of himself at the story’s end – it’s basically the same situation that Gollum is in, where he’s enslaved and deceived by something from which he can’t escape.

-~-

It’s YOUR turn: What unpopular characters do you love? And are there any popular characters you can’t stand?! I wanna know!

P.S. I just realized that all of the popular characters I hate are guys, and 80% of the ones I just defended are girls. THIS IS SO LIKE ME. I constantly want to hug some female character from the latest story I’ve read and tell her that the fandom is being awful and that she doesn’t deserve this. I missed International Women’s Day – it was yesterday and I was too busy to write a post about it, but I soooo wanted to – so maybe I can write a post about this phenomenon for that day next year?! Or any day of the year, really. Because this is important.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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7 Responses to 5 Popular Characters I Can’t Stand & 5 Unpopular Characters I Adore

  1. Glad you liked my thoughts on Hazel. And yes I agree that all John Green characters are the same.
    And I agree with Bellatrix! She’s so interesting and I wanted to know more about her. I’d also like to finish the Game of Throne series and read more about Cersei.
    But Denethor? Really…Hmmm I mean you do have a point, but I’m too much in love with Faramir to side with his bastard father lol.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Exactly! I wanted to know about the Marauders and everyone from their era, including Bellatrix. Like – what was she like growing up? In general, I feel that the Black sisters are underappreciated.

      Ohhhh, I love Faramir too! He’s actually my favorite character from LotR and one of my favorite male characters of all time. I don’t tend to go “awww” about guy characters, but I do about him? So I’m really conflict about liking Denethor as well, but… yeah. I think they (and Boromir as well, of course*) have really interesting family dynamics.

      *This doesn’t include their mother, because Tolkien tended to forget that women existed… but that’s another post for another time.

      • Right exactly! Yeah both sisters are so cool and interesting.
        Yay! Another Faramir lover. Lots of people give him a bad time but he’s my favorite. Glad he makes it onto your list of “aww” guy characters. 😀
        Yeah agreed. I’d like to have seen their family before the mom died.
        And you should totally do a post on women in Tolkien books!

  2. Oh MAN I totally agree about Susan. I was so disappointed with the way CS Lewis just wrote her off at the end as having become a shallow materialistic girl because that was NOTHING like she was in the earlier books. And sure, she could have changed, but yeah, that just bugged me.

    I think Denethor’s an incredibly interesting character. There’s depth to him and reasons behind the things he does. I feel like the movie completely changed his character and sorta butchered it though …. 0.0 Just my opinion. ;P

  3. I 100% agree with you when it comes to Bellatrix, Denethor, and Susan. 🙂

    Check out my TTT.

  4. Heather says:

    I have to agree that like, as a literary figure Dumbledore is great (as a humorous character, as a trope, as all that stuff you said) but yeah… as a person he was not that great. What baffles me is that many people find this an endearing trait about him. Which I do not.

    And I can’t say as much about what you’ve said about Cersei, Daisy, Susan, and Bellatrix, but I really, really like what you have to say about those. Denethor… yeah. I mean… sorta. He’s at least interesting to think about but mostly I feel bad for his sons. XD Still, all those arguments were great!

  5. It super duper helps that the first people to say “haha, Tyrion’s not a bad guy! He’s just a bro!” are the GoT showrunners. These guys: http://gotgifsandmusings.tumblr.com/post/119403805073/meta-analysis-roundup-post have made some excellent points (though of course now I want to show someone, I can’t find the individual post. They’re all good, anyway) about how Tyrion’s complexity has effectively been erased because he’s not allowed to do anything truly awful, and even when he does, it’s re-slanted to make him look like the good guy and victim anyway. Which, as you say, often leads into or stems from some terrible and awkward sexism.

    Also screw Jace. I read those books so long ago but I still remember being done with that kid.

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