Atticus Finch. When the American Film Institute voted the best hero of all time, it was not Indiana Jones, Luke or Rick Blaine. It was Atticus Finch. He was so great, Harper Lee gave her real father's watch to Gregory Peck and started to cry, because he was just so fantastic. Boo Radley deserves a mention too. An evil monster? More along the lines of the nicest, sweetest person ever. Always brings this troper to tears.
Seconded for both of the above but can we get a holler for one of the greatest narrators in American literature. Scout has the benefit of hindsight behind her as she tells the story but you can still see that everything that happened in the book is being filtered through the perspective of a child. I mean just in terms of writing that is sheer genius, let alone the fact she's smart, funny, flawed, gutsy and guilts a bloody'''lynch mob'''into going home and taking a good hard look at themselves
Vimes from Discworld. It's generally accepted that he has far too many Crowning Moments to bother listing.
And the most obvious Discworld example, Lord Vetinari.
The other two obligatory Discworld characters are Granny and Death...possibly Cohen the Barbarian, too.
Carrot is amazing and will kill you without saying a word.
A shout-out for the rest of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch here. In addition to Vimes and Carrot, I love Angua, Detritus, and Nobby.
Rincewind. He's just such a neat character and his weary, jaded Genre Savviness and hilarious suffering and cowardice...
DEATH. The Grim Reaper really shouldn't be that sympathetic and charming, but... yeah.
The moment for him that won me over? In Hogfather, when he rescues the little match girl. I had to read the original poem in my sophomore english class, and it just about caused a Heroic BSOD. And then, two years later, I read that scene and almost teared up. GodDAMN, Pterry deserved getting knighted for that scene alone. He made the freaking Grim Reaper a goddamn hero. Hell, rereading that passage gets the same reaction from me every. single. time.
He doesn't have a particularly big/important role, but I cheer whenever the Bursar is mentioned.
Nanny Ogg is made of win. When I am an old woman, I want to be like her.
Can't forget the Luggage! How many animate inanimate objects do you know that will follow their owners off the edge of the world or protect them at any cost?
Remus Lupin of Harry Potter is the epitome of what an awesome teacher should be. Compassionate, sweet, calm, with a sense of humour, mature, realistic when necessary, and deserved wayyyyy more page time than what he got. And a better ending, dammit. But he is part of what makes Prisoner of Azkaban such a joy to read, and if anyone is lucky enough to have someone like him in their lives, well, they are lucky bastards indeed.
Seconded. Lupin was a source of warmth and support who entered Harry's life when he needed him the most.
Thirded. The fact that werewolves in the Harry Potter universe get so heavily discriminated against, and most of them turn against wizard-kind makes Lupin's kindness and accepting nature even more remarkable. He spends his entire life fighting prejudices, living in poverty and enduring a hugely painful transformation once a month, and yet he's still one of the nicest characters in the books. He's my hero, that's for certain.
Severus Snape. The only most complex character in the series. All the other characters make it obvious where they fall on the good-evil spectrum, but Snape is someone who isn't good or evil. If you don't love the guy after reading "The Prince's Tale", you have no soul.
Not to mention the amount of Horcruxes you need to achieve that.
Thirded. I simply cannot understand why some people hate Snape so much. So he's not a nice guy, big deal— If you ask me, more fictional heroes should be snarky, bitter, and blunt, not the "oh-looky-me-I'm-trying-not-to-be-an-obvious-expy-of-Jesus-Christ" archetype people have become used to. (I blame The Hays Code.) Snape is also probably the most realistic character in the series, and the perfect example of a person who left behind a truly horrific past and more than atoned for his mistakes, all in the name of love. Which was Rowling's whole point.
Luna Lovegood, oh good God Luna Lovegood. How could you not love this girl? Delightfully kooky yet so utterly centered at the same time, she is almost pure WAFF in human form. Words are not adequate to describe her awesome-ness. Weather or not you thought Luna should have ended up with Harry, they have such a sweet friendship that develops the last three books that I just want to reach in the pages and give this girl a hug. And radish earrings are made of win.
Fred and George. FRED AND GEORGE! The books had heaps of Crowning Moment Of Awesome, but nothing can top "Give her hell from us, Peeves!" So. Much. Win.
I would say that the ONLY thing that tops that is about half a second later, when Peeves, of all people, doffs his hat and freaking BOWS to them! Chaos incarnate, with that one act, pretty much told everyone ever that Fred and George were the Gods of Mischief!
Hermione Granger. Developed from a annoying know-nothing-know-it-all into the best main character in the series. Especially in Deathly Hallows when she proved again and again that Ron and Harry are nothing without her.
This girl was my role model for my entire childhood, and still is. She's smart, savvy, no-nonsense, goes from Rules Lawyer to Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right, and dates a famous Quidditch player but DUMPS HIM FOR RON. She campaigns for the abolishment of slavery, and owns a cat.
Ron Weasley, because I don't think I've ever wanted to hug a fictional character as badly as I wanted to hug Ron after the locket scene in Deathly Hallows. Here is this completely normal, insecure kid who's not the ChosenOne, not wealthy, not athletic, not the smartest... and the poor guy knows it, agonizingly well. And yet this profoundly normal, down-to-earth guy still chooses to risk his life helping his best friend destroy Lord freakin' Voldemort. I also love that Ron is as fiercely defensive of Hermione when she is a buck-toothed, big-haired, unpopular dork as he is when she later turns out to be hot - although I can't deny the appeal of various Draco in Leather Pants characters, none of them make my feminist heart sing like Ron.
Sirius Black. There's just something admirable in his "if you want a job done at all, do it yourself" attitude. I liked him when he was a traitor (set up for an awesome complex backstory, anyone? No? No love for the villains?) and I liked him even better when he wasn't.
Oh and Umbrige. Love to hate her. For me she turned out more compelling and more believable than Voldemort.
She's terrifying in a different way to Voldemort, because she's possible in real life. There might be Umbridges wandering the world right now.
Seconded. I actually punch the book several times when reading about her.
Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody. The man has a magical eye! He's paranoid! And crazy! And unbelievably badass!
Albus Dumbledore. Yes, he was the guy who worked with one of the greatest Dark wizards of all time, but you know what? He overcame his bad past and became one of the greatest wizards of the age. He worked tirelessly to promote acceptance of ALL people, magic and muggle. He's a master manipulator and chess master, but he's also one of the most benevolent characters in the series.
Harry. Potter. That is all.
Actually, no it's not. Here we have a kid, an orphan, who was lied to, maninipulated, starved, abused, and kept in a cupboard who can somehow overcome that and show the most incredible forgiveness at the end of the book. Not only that, Rowling created a character whose loss is so real, so incredible, that I, who have never lost anything in my life, sob and weep for him. He's been through so much pain, so much suffering, so much evil, and he still keeps a good heart. He's loyal and kind, and frankly, adorable. He's so conflicted, and so complex, and so awesome. He puts up with everything, and has some of the most Tear Jerker lines in the series. He's just a kid exploring the world, with his instant fame, trying to make it through. He's. Amazing.
And, on top of that, he gives his life, willingly, to defeat the most evil guy in the world. Wilingly. Walks to his death, which will probably be something cruel and torturing, without all his friends. All alone. He's the greatest hero in the world, and he's all alone, caked in blood, with no one with him but ghosts, no one to witness his last moments, no one to comfort him, or remember him in his greatness. He just wants him mom to stay by him, to make it through.
No love for Tonks? I fell in love with her from the first moment, if only because her enthusiasm and gumption were so different from the cynicism of the other cast members. And the fact that she fell for Remus? ADORABLE. Plus she's competent and achieves her goals despite her flaws, providing a real show of what your personal willpower can do.
Agreed. I always loved Tonks- she was hilarious from the moment she was first introduced! Also, she was pretty much the youngest member of the Order, having not even been old enough to participate in the first wizarding war or be in the original Order, but was able to hold her own alongside some seriously Badass experienced wizards. There's a reason she qualified to become an Auror!
Hagrid. A half-literal Gentle Giant most of the time, yet fiercely protective when he needs to be. At heart, he's just a loving, caring, kind of doofy Nightmare Fetishist who got the short end of the stick in life. But when he was forced to grow up alongside masses of eager, privileged witches and wizards reaching for their magical dreams while he mundanely cared for creatures with more powers than he would ever have, what did he do? He helped them, loved them, remained a wonderful person despite his low status and being refused his potential. The worst he did was to cheat a little and keep his wand- nobody can possibly begrudge him that. He could have become bitter and angry and envious, and this troper sure would if she were in his place. But he didn't, because he's a better person than that, and a better person than many. The world needs more Hagrids.
Can I just state right here and now that the ENTIRE Weasley family is officially the most heartwarmingly adorable (with a side order of Memetic Badass!) fictional family in the entire history of literature? What they represent for Harry brings tears to this troper's eyes when she reflects on them — the warmest, cheeriest, kindest, sweetest, funniest, coolest, most generous, most loyal, most supporting adoptive-family Harry could have possibly hoped to fall into the hands of. Accepts him into their home without a second thought, actively adores and nourishes in him when he's been bullied and belittled all his life, believes in him when no one else does, can always be counted on to help or support him when the going gets tough, and never run out of compassion for him and are always happy, despite being so dirt-poor they can hardly afford to send their children to school. And they cling determinedly to a firmly moral, fair, unbigoted benevolence towards muggles and muggleborns, not only despite the fact that they get flack from other pureblood families, but also despite the fact that they know nothing about muggles and have no personal reason to protect them other than being decent human beings. And they all have red hair and freckles, just as a bonus.
My vote goes to Regulus Black. Sirius is quick to write him off and sneer at him, yet he turns out to have been a hero in his own right. He died to protect his house elf. His goddamn servant. He had totally no obligation whatsoever to do that - not from his family, or his friends, or his boss - but deliberately died a tortuous death for Kreacher. And his note to Voldemort? Fucking AWESOME.
McGonagall. A no-nonsense professor that showed potential from the very start. She grew over the series into a balanced character who wants the best for her students, and pushes them to work toward their full potential. She genuinely cares for the other teachers and kids at Hogwarts, defending them when she believes they've been wronged. She's also revealed to have a brilliant dry sense of humour that comes as a refreshing breath of comic relief. And as of Order of the Phoenix, she's quite badass. Honestly, she took five stunners square in the chest to protect Hagrid, and lived to tell about it.
Minerva McGonagall is awesome incarnate. Just... damn. Damn.
Especially during Umbridge's reign of terror. Helping Peeves with his pranks ("It unscrews the other way."), and even lending him her walking stick to beat Umbridge over the head with as he chases her out of the castle? Absolutely brilliant!
Danny Saunders from The Chosen. He was something of a Woobie. He was destined to be Rebbe of a Hassidic congregation and therefore subjected to a Training from Hell that included being shunned by his own father because a Rebbe "Needs to know what it is to suffer". He was always bewildered but tried to struggle on like The Dutiful Son he was. I have sometimes wondered if Danny was meant to be a metaphor for the Jewish People. That sounds like something Chaim Potek would do.
Faramir from The Lord of the Rings has some of the best dialogue in the whole book, pretty much. And he's noble to boot and not arrogant at all. Plus, he let Frodo go away with the Ring, when he could have taken it for himself.
Faramir is a wise, intelligent and very compassionate young man, but also a Badass Bookworm and a brave captain. And a true gentleman! He is also incredibly understanding and sweet with Éowyn. He tries hard to be a good friend to her before being her Love Interest, and he talks to her as an equal and admires her for her free spirit while the other men in her life all patronized and caged her somehow (even if it is without realizing it). No wonder she falls for him!
And Galadriel, the Lady of Lórien. Goes from representing the transcendent and the epic (giving Aragorn Celebrían's broach and naming him Elessar) to smiling at Samwise Gamgee, "little gardener and lover of trees," as an equal, in a matter of sentences. Not to mention that she maintains all of Lothlórien. Rivendell is nice, the Shire is cozy, but Lothlórien, your heart breaks when the Fellowship steps out of it.
And it gets even better when you read The Silmarillion and find out that she started out as a rebellious tomboy with a power-hungry streak. She could've become another Fëanor, but she doesn't and that's awesome.
Maybe it runs in the family. Finrod, anyone?
This troper would like to mention how awesome two under-appreciated characters are: Gimli and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. Gimli is tough, loyal, and the sort of person who, after finding out that his relatives were killed by Orcs, fleeing a fiery demon, and seeing the leader of their company get killed, can insist that they stop so that he and Frodo can appreciate the cultural significance and natural beauty of the mountains reflected in a pool of water; he impresses Elves with his descriptions. As for Lobelia - she attacks a bunch of thugs with her umbrella. That's just awesome.
This troper would like to second this!
Samwise Gamgee. I claim Sam is THE hero of TLotR. The most Bad Asssimple gardener of all literature, and a lovable, selfless guy on top of that.
And humble. When the Ring tried to tempt him, he refused, because he didn't want what it was offering. And then, shortly afterwards, he became the second person in the history of Middle-Earth to surrender the Ring willingly.
He said that because Sam was the one who got the ending that he would associate with heroes (achieve amazing quest, end up going back home and living long and fulfilled life). However, he also implied that Frodo was awesome because he was the only person who could have got the Ring as far as he did. No-one else could have completed the motions that allowed the quest to be fulfilled.
I fully, completely, and utterly plan to name my future son (if I have one) Samwise. And I have planned this since third grade.
Although perhaps best known for being the guy who betrayed the Fellowship and also carried a dinner-plate as a shield, Boromir is the one character This Troper can fully believe. Why? Well, he built his entire life around the idea that he'd become King one day, was ready to give that up to save Middle-Earth, went through a completely realistic Fall when confronted with a ring made to corrupt good men, and then he DIED in a last-ditch attempt to gain his honor back. IT WORKED.
I adore Boromir, mainly because in a series full of larger-than-life characters (not that that's bad), Boromir's fall feels real. My heart just breaks for him every single time.
Gandalf. Full stop. Age-old Maia in human form, and eventually the most powerful being in Middle Earth next to Sauron, and he's still got a soft spot for hobbits, and a wonderfully snarky sense of humor. Best mentor-figure ever.
Merry and Pippin deserve some love! Simple mischief makers from the Shire dragged into a war that has nothing to do with them, eventually becoming friends of nobility and war heroes. The whole time they remain completely loyal to each other and can still crack a joke in the darkest of situations. THEN they return to save the Shire as well, creating a lasting legacy amongst their people as Big Damn Heroes.
SECONDED SO HARD. Pippin in particular is my favorite character in the series, he's just so funny yet adorable and yet so badass all at once. I identify with him because of his clumsy foolishness, and yet his good heart under it all; it reminds me so much of me. I could go on and on about my love for Peregrin Took.
Éowyn. I wanted to be her when I was ten more than anything. I love her strength and her Lady of War skills, not to mention the fact that no matter how depressed she got she never lost sight of what was truly important. She's so human because she behaves exactly like a teenager when she's jilted, but she lives and learns from her mistakes.
Denethor gets very little admiration, but this troper love how complex, morally grey and human he is. He was proud, yes, but he also genuinely loved Gondor and did the very best he could to save her, at the detriment of his own health. His fall is so very tragic because of just how much potential for greatness he had, and the fact he lost (or thought to have lost) both his sons, and felt so terribly responsible for that, is simply heartbreaking.
Frodo Baggins himself. Come on! One of the biggest Woobies ever, just this nice little hobbit who turns his life upside down and sacrifices far more than he bargained for to make the journey to save Middle-Earth.
Also from The Silmarillion, Lúthien Tinúviel. Yes, she has some Mary Sue-ish tendencies, being the "fairest child of Elves and Men" who spends her youth gambolling in the gloaming to the tune of a merry minstrel, but she's also a complete badass quasi-angel who will stop at nothing to save her man, taking out BOTH the mythology's Big Bad's in the process before following Beren to the Halls of Mandos and convincing death, Orpheus-style, to return them both to life. And, she's based on Tolkien's wife.
Beren deserves some credit here too for sheer balls. "The Silmaril will be in my hand" indeed...
Matrim Cauthon is one of the best fantasy characters created in the last few decades. Even some people who despise the books as a whole have expressed a fondness for the character.
Perrin "Golden Eyes" Aybara, the Wolf Brother "Young Bull". Devoted husband, loyal friend, compassionate leader, and an absolutely bloody insane fighter. Absolutely amazing character.
Rand Al'Thor. A superb psychological study in what being a prophesied saviour and most powerful magic-wielder in the world might actually be like.
One Word: Jane. Who wouldn't like to be a Person of Mass Destruction? Ok, so it isn't literal, but she is just SO Bad Ass in New Moon. There's no way around it, even if you are a hardcore Edward fangirl like this troper.
And in the movie, she was played by DAKOTA FANNING (caps because it's just totally awesome).
I admit it, I have a huge soft spot for Mike and I don't even like those books. But he's just so adorable...
Speaking of Clearwaters, SETH. Friendly to everyone, boundless enthusiasm, manages moments of pure fighting awesome.
It's gone unsaid for so long now, so I'll be giving Jacob Black his mention now. Despite all the torment he endures, he's still a decent guy to the end.
What about Emmett? Big, goofy, lovable teddy bear who never stops cracking jokes and is always cheerful no matter what. What's not to love? Looks like Esme is the only Cullen who hasn't been mentioned yet, and she deserves to be here too, simply because of her Badass Normal status.
But in the latest book, makes an astonishing Heroic Sacrifice that redeems his entire people. Damn.
I can honestly say I love Kallor, because he's such a monster. Three gods cursed him. And what did he do? He cursed them back. And it worked. And became a sociopathic Badass Grandpa despite everything. And (or so I'm told) took a freakin' dragon Soletaken with him when he finally died. And hell, killed the main character, and a bunch of supporting characters, and knocked out a friggin' mage, all in one battle. Again, a total psycho. But kind of cool too.
Itkovian. His tragic death at the end of Memories of Ice makes me well up every time.
I know he has a lot of haters, but Ashfur will always be my own personal woobie. He's just so damn sweet! And no, he didn't turn evil, he went insane. As in, he wasn't in the right mind when he did those things. Can you really blame someone with such a history of bad luck for snapping eventually? Yeah, yeah, I know, Draco in Leather Pants...
This Troper came here specifically to gush about Ashy, and for once, she's really glad that you beat her to it. No matter what happened in LS, he was woobie-riffic, and actually tried to get Squirrelflight to be nicer to Brambleclaw at one point. Besides that, he had three distinct CMOAs: Once, in DP, when he and his sister volunteered as dog-bait to avenge the death of their mother, once in DH when as an apprentice, he helped kill Bone (who had recently killed his dad), and once in Twilight, where he fought so hard against the badgers that Brambleclaw thought he was dead at first. It gets overshadowed by what he did right before his death, but this is Sugar Wiki: Be happy.
Sanya and Waldo Butters. The first is a guy who can laugh at armageddon and is an atheistic knight of God. The second goes into harms way and saves Harry's life multiple times, despite being the most normal character in the series.
Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. What a hysterical, perfect-tastic quiet guy/crazy frood duo. They're so fresh it would take an ordinary badass years to build up the proper amount of badassery just to equal the badass degree of these two non-badasses.
Also, Zaphod Beeblebrox. Combine confidence, snark, infectious energy, flat-out zaniness, and all-around cool, and you get one incredibly hoopy frood. (And he has enough character flaws to be really interesting!)
Ford. Self-serving, willing to take any advantage he can get, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anything he might actually have a moral qualm about. But in spite of being all in favor of carjacking, killing defenseless animals via hormonal manipulation, lazing around when in a position to save the Universe, and killing geese, he will readily lay his life on the line for Arthur without a second thought. And you do not fuck with the Guide under any circumstances or you will pay heavily. Ford is by no means a role model, but he's definitely someone you'd want as a friend.
Sansa Stark. The girl's among the most dynamic characters in the series.
Jaime Lannister. Yes he's a monster. But damn I still feel bad for him. I hated Jaime at first...and then I realised it was pointless because no one hates Jaime more than Jaime does. I've given up on him surviving, but I hope he at least dies happy. Plus he's even snarkier than his brother at times.
No love for Davos Seaworth?
Wyman Manderly. Frey pie, anyone?
Margaery Tyrell. Her grandmother Olenna Redwyne as well.
Queen of Thorns for the win. If there's any justice in this world, Judi Dench has to play her in the show.
I would like to add Dairine Callahan and Roshaun ke Nelaid to this page, taking the risk that no one will know who they are. Bad Ass alone, double as a team. Two of this troper's favorite book characters by far.
Yes! I would like to add Tom and Carl, as well as Macchu Picchu. Hell, all the Young Wizards character are great.
No words for the main characters? Nita and Kit are more believable than Dairine (who will always be amazing, but really, what human is a computer nerd, jujitsu star and Deadpan Snarker all at the same time? And they manage to have at least one Crowning Moment Of Awesome each. Per book. While remaining completely normal, completely believable, and most importantly completely relatable characters. Of course, now I feel obligated to list every other Young Wizards character in the series, because every single one is a master feat of characterization. Diane Duane is amazing. Read the books.
All of Diane Duane's original characters are great. In her Star Trek books, she features a Bad AssHorta Ensign with a sunny, cheerful personality (hortas look like this, by the way), a glass spider whose Heroic Sacrifice is a five-alarm Tear Jerker, and Ael i-Mehessian T'Rllaillieu, Romulan Rihannsu Bad Ass chick and bane of my spellchecker.
I would like to pile on the Diane DuaneStar Trek character love, and put in for mention the Sulamid (vaguely squid-like beings with a ton of tentacles); the Sadrao (bipedal cats who literally cannot comprehend the past tense); the various species of Denebians (various non-hominid body types with one thing in common: big; and the entire good crew of ChR Bloodwing, particularly Aidoann, whom I would like to marry. Also, Diane seems to have made it her personal mission in life to make Dr. McCoy as Bad Ass and completely, addictingly awesome as humanly possible, and her characterizations of the entire original crew deserve accolades that echo to the Andromeda Galaxy and beyond.
When I grow up, I want to be Elizabeth Bennet. She's smart, she's funny, she's not afraid to speak her mind (or admit when she's wrong), and she loves her family in spite of their screwiness. Getting Darcy is just the icing on the cake.
Mr. Darcy, the stoic, quiet, socializing-is-so-boring-because-shallow-ignorant-people-are-boring, rich but generous, true heart of gold beneath an emotionless exterior Mr. Darcy... if there were more real men like this, the world would be such a better place.
I'd look to put my votes in for Jane and Mr. Bingley. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a Nice Guy, and Bingley is in general a lot nice than Bingley, at least on the surface. Fear not, I like Darcy as much as the next guy, but people who start of as lovable as Bingley always have my heart. And Jane is who I want to be when I grow up, who thinks the best of everyone!
Mr. Darcy's excellent, but for this troper, the Austen hero that most deserves love is Emma''s beloved Mr. Knightley. Intelligent, well-read, respected by all who know him; a wealthy landowner who treats all of his tenants and neighbors with compassion and respect; one of the only people able to put up with Emma's father's weird personality and nervous temperament; generous, honest, and noble. He loves Emma even though he sees and acknowledges her faults, isn't afraid to tell her the truth in order to help her become a better person, and is just an all-around good guy.
I love Erek King. A millennia-old android whose programming SPECIFICALLY forbids him from committing any violent act whatsoever, yet would still like very much to give the creatures who killed his creators a Very Painful Death, YET still gets really bitchy at the main characters for being ruthless and not caring about loss of life in their war. Also very snarky. Yes, he's a grade-A hypocrite, but he fascinates me.
While I thought Erek was a hypocrite, I nonetheless suffered through all that Animorphs could throw at me... Even that whole disabled-kids-as-an-army debacle. Why? Because Marco - funny, troubled, yet non-wangsty Marco - kept me going. In the face of mind-numbingthreats I could only wish I'd be that glib, and then he actually went to Hollywood and capitalized off of it. That man is my idol, dammit!
Marco and Jake were by far the most interesting characters. Marco was the coolest, probably. He was ridiculously smart, better at tactics than anyone else on the team, funny and confident. He was an opportunist and could turn any situation to his advantage. But he was also sarcastic, rude, cowardly, overly suspicious and paranoid, and a huge jerk, especially to David. Multidimensional character right there.
Reputation of wangst aside, Tobias is a truly compelling character. He is caring, loving, and gentle to his friends, yet bluntly refuses such compassion for himself, for fear it will make him weak. He is a predator and relentless warrior, but tries to hold on to mercy for the weak and defenseless. Such a dichotomy makes for a fascinating read. Also, he is a part of the Trope Pantheons!
Hi there fellow Marco fans! But I've got to say that Ax is also pretty awesome. In one instant, he's the calm, rational one with the vital information, and seconds later, he's commenting on how much fun it is to say the the world "Million"....
I agree with you, and the Tobias+ Ax friendship is her favorite part of the books. I like to believe that Tobias was able to save Ax, and went to live with him, to finally heal.
Rachel. In the beginning, she was a gymnast with a passion for shopping by day, huntress and Knight Templar by night. At the end, she gave her life to stop the Yeerks.
Miles Vorkosigan. He's overcome severe birth-defects, anti-mutant prejudice, his own grandfather trying to kill him and being used as a pawn in a lethal power struggle even before he was born to become a interstellar spy and mercenary. And now, in his own name, he's one of the Emperor's personal troubleshooters. Mind you, he does have equally awesome parents. And friends.
I love Cordelia. Crushed on her so hard when reading the two Cordelia and Aral books. She steals almost any scene she appears in, probably the most triumphant example in the Miles books being her acting has Mark's baboushka.
Cordelia is so awesome she steals scenes she isn't in. She doesn't appear in Brothers in Arms, but the whole conflict of the story revolves around how she shaped Miles's values and beliefs.
Simon Illyan. Never have I wanted to hug a character more than Simon in pretty much the entire book Memory. Luckily, Lady Alys is nearly awesome enough to deserve him, so I'm not too jealous.
While we're at it, let's talk about Lady Alys. Lived in hiding in Vorbarr Sultana during the pretendership, which resulted in her witnessing the murder of her husband, giving birth to her only child in an alley. From there, she went on to work for/with impsec internal affairs and control the emperor's social calendar. This puts her in a position to play the Council of Counts like a violin, which she does without a qualm. The scene in A Civil Campaign where Miles gets the letter detailing her latest political machinations is absolutely priceless.
Gregor Vorbarra. Orphaned at the age of five, only a few days after becoming Emperor of an entire planet, which he is then tasked with dragging out of the dark ages (though he has good help.) With one minor hiccup, has been an incredibly astute, dedicated, and capable leader, while still, in his own quiet way, being personally awesome.
"You don't want to see what he's like pissed."
"What does he look like, pissed?"
"Identical to what he looks like the rest of the time. That's the scary part."
Hey now, those other four kids were pretty good too. You've got a semi-racist jackass, a geeky guy with OCD, a broken young man desperately masquerading as The Hero, and a nice girl who just wants to go home, set up against gods, monsters, and their own psychotic friend. And yet in the end, they pull it off. They take down Senna, break Baldur and Thor out of Hell, save Ireland from Ka Anor, and stand a legitimate chance of making the world a better place. And they do it while simultaneously overcoming their own issues (as much as they could anyway), and working together to form a solid set of True Companions.
His number two man, Admiral Pellaeon, just rocks, especially in the Hand of Thrawn novels.
If we are talking about Timothy Zahn's characters, I nominate Talon Karrde and Shada D'ukal. Is a novel - or short story collection, or single short story, or comic, or anything - about Karrde, Shada, and the crew of the Wild Karrde too much to hope for?
While we're talking about the X-Wing Series, Aaron Allston's magnificent version of Warlord Zsinj. Thoroughly devious, flamboyantly evil... and just an absolute hammy pleasure to read. And I swear to God, when Wedge, Han, and the Wraiths are taking his plans to pieces in Solo Command, there's a scene where I genuinely felt sorry for the poor bastard.
Jaina Solo. Ace fighter pilot, just like Dad (Han Solo). Backbone of steel wrapped in pragmatism, like Mom (Leia Organa Solo). Strong-as-hell Jedi who falls to the Dark Side a number of times, but unlike some people (* cough* little brother Jacen and granddad Anakin), Jaina drags herself back and lives to fight another day. She is the Sword of the Jedi.
Chak Fel! He admits when he's wrong, he respects the Jedi, he's angry at injustices, he unhappily hands over command to someone more experienced even when he doesn't personally like that guy, and he commands Aurek-Seven, the four most badass stormtroopers from the Empire of the Hand!
Leia Organa Solo, at least the Timothy Zahn version. She's got her father's drive and underlying temper, but she's genuinely good and restrained and patient. The mal'ary'ush! Threatened by an alien Grand Admiral who wants to give her unborn children to an evil Dark Jedi? Not a problem! She will keep planning and working and using that righteous anger, she will never "die of grief" or give in or fade away, she'll keep going and turn the situation around.
Seth Sorenson, from Fablehaven. Admittedly, this troper wasn't all that impressed with him in the first book, but this opinion had been changed drastically by the end of the second installment.
Bigwig. Do I really need to say anything on this subject?
I will add Hazel and Fiver.
Strawberry. The only member of his warren with a spine; one of the only complaints I have about the movie is that they left him out.
Woundwart is surprisingly complex and interesting for a villain. He's very intelligent, but with a flawed philosophy. And his last scene was epic. " Dogs aren't dangerous", anyone?! Yes, PLEASE. On that note... I also loved both Keehar and Blackavar, both of whom the movie did such wonderful justice... Oh, and Dandelion, without whom the story just would not be the famed classic it is today.
As strange as this may sound, Death in The Book Thief.
Seconded. The character is so wonderful, and the book so convincing, I ended up less scared to die. I'd also like to add both Rudy and Liesel. I can't Pot Hole either of those to anything sufficiently descriptive. And while we're at it, Rosa Huberman. I could actually extend this to most of the cast, but those four (Rosa to a slightly lesser degree, but they're all wonderful) are my favorites.
I would like to add Max. He's determined and sincere, and his friendship with the family that saved him was just beautiful.
Dmitry Karamazov is amazingly human. And pretty damn adorable. Plus, nobody else will fight with me for him.
Ivan Karamazov. Unlike some writers, Dostoevsky was intelligent enough to portray a genius character convincingly. "The Grand Inquisitor," which may be the most anthologized and quoted section of The Brothers Karamazov, exists within the novel as a short story written by Ivan. In other words, if Ivan actually existed, he would be a famous author in his own right. Or do I just have a thing for brilliant but troubled woobies?
Pechorin from Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time. Russian students are taught that Pechorin has a very generic personality. Now, what exactly is generic about a character with a mind so brilliant and an imagination so active he constantly over-analyzes and exaggerates his vices? He has nobility and good sense of humor to him, he is brave and adventurous, smart and introspective, but he is also cruel, irrational, suicidal, and perpetually bored. You don't really feel sorry when he dies (he was asking for it), but he is surprisingly sympathetic for a character whose main purpose on Earth seems to be to ruin other people's lives.
Discarding his appearance, he's persistent, smart, resilient, painfully honest and noble. He applies the same high standards to himself as to anybody else. All in all, his only flaw is his adherence to the letter (not the spirit) of the law, which makes him a unique antagonist.
Eponine has to be one of the best female characters ever. So what if she's a stalker? She's so Badass, anything can be forgiven. We're talking about a 16-year-old girl who scared away a gang of bandits and murderers and who stopped a bullet with her hand. She speaks her mind, she is literate, and she is fairly cheerful and talkative. She's like Natasha Rostova, but not as stupid and annoying. And much more of a fighter.
What, no love for Jean Valjean?
Here! Valjean is my favorite type of character: one who's nice to people. I mean, I took a peek through the book, and there doesn't seem to be one scene where that man isn't saving someone's life. (He gets into town unquestioned by RUNNING INTO A BURNING BUILDING to save some kids!) He's kind, badass, believably flawed (but in no way does it interfere with his goodness), and AWESOME. Even before this troper knew what to call it, she loved characters who could be kind to their enemy. Valjean frees Javert when killing him would be easy and he would not be punished for it. That is one of the few things that can really impress this reader.
Harriet the Spy. She throws tantrums, is imaginative, persistent, independent, overly opinionated and she never learns her Aesop. Could be the most realistic fictional girl ever.
Bertie Wooster, despite his "mental negligence", has one of the greatest narration styles ever. Not to mention that he has to be one of the kindest characters ever: he's perennially cheerful and optimistic, doesn't hold grudges and is always ready to help. Also, he's the only book character this troper has ever REALLY wanted to hug.
"...I don't mind confessing it made me feel more or less as though nobody loved me."
And of course we can't forget his lovely valet Jeeves. A master of manipulation, the chief of the Fashion Police, and with brainpower that no other earthly man could match.
While I am firmly of the opinion that Bertram Wilberforce Wooster is the most likable character in all of literature, she recently became aware that she is also quite fond of Spode. ...It - It's his love for Madeline; it somehow makes him adorable...
There's also Gussie Fink-Nottle, the adorkable newt-fancier.
I would like to second the Bertie love. He's sunny, he's sweet, he's sincere, he's got the most amazingly bizarre thought processes ever, and it's just impossible to read about him without feeling good. Plus, he talks to you (the reader) as if you were there with him in the room. He's basically the Wodehouse ambassador of goodwill. Is it okay to add hearts? Because this calls for hearts. <3333
Same troper who had the Spode revelation would like to continue the Wodehouseian theme and say that Psmith never fails to make her psmile. Mike is adorable, too.
Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle, 'that amiable and bone-headed peer', whom Wodehouse named as his own favourite among his characters.
As long as we're punning on the names of Wodehouse characters, Lord Dawlish from Uneasy Money is just Dawlishious.
Can I just give a shout out to Deborah? Prophetess, respected judge of Israel... it really says something that Barak wouldn't go into battle without her. Hard to imagine a woman going into battle in those days? Well, there you go. And when the battle was over, they sang a duet.
As far as the Old Testament goes, Moses is the man. The guy was born in rags, rose to riches, then went "FU Egypt!" and ran away to Arabia. Then God comes to him and he is like, "Go to hell, dude", so God begs him to get the Jews outta Egypt. Then Moses says, you know, I was raised as a pharaoh's son so I know rhetorics and shit, but I don't wanna do the talking for You. And God's like, no problem, and appoints Aaron as his PR manager. So Moses goes our and shows everyone what it's like to be made of pure, condensed badass. For 40 years in a row! And then the God's like all grateful to him and Moses just goes "FU, man, lemme die in peace, already". And that's so badass, God buries him personally. Now, that's a man we are talking about.
Artemis Fowl. He's a genius, smart-ass kid who nearly turned the world upside-down at the age of twelve. Seems to be incredibly self-centered, worried only about restoring his family's name and fortune—to most people, that's it. Yet you get to see a lot of the younger kid behind him, even as he gets older: he kept a website running on a computer for a year in the vain hopes of hearing about his dad . . . hell, he teared up when he tried to talk to his mother, whose sanity is gradually waning. He's simultaneously badass and someone you want to hug.
Have to add my love for the Butler siblings. Butler himself is a walking, talking Crowning Moment Of Awesome, and there is no one more loyal to Artemis, whatever his alignment may be, than Butler. He'll take a bullet for Artemis only seconds after telling him to lighten up and have a normal life. Juliet is a smart, sassy girl who takes none of Artemis's crap, and just after being told she'll never live up to her brother's example, goes racing to his side, ready to fill his shoes. Plus, her love of wrestling and lucha libre makes this longtime female wrestling fan very happy.
Holly Short. Badass, badass, badass. Clever, funny, quick witted, a non-strawman feminist in a hugely sexist job, and just basically the coolest fairy ever.
I love Foaly. He provides comic relief in the darkest of moments.
In the world of Dragonlance there's one character whom I've always thought deserved more recognition: Caramon Majere. Yes, for a long time he appeared to be just the simple-minded fighter, there to serve as MeatShield to his Squishy Wizardbrother. But after a book or two, you've gotta give Caramon credit: Most people wouldn't take Raistlin's constant belittling, much less the adjacent sense of entitlement. This makes Caramon prime Woobie material, including that whole background of being poor, his mother going crazy, his sister running off to be evil, his father dying, his mother dying... And then, when things are looking up, Raistlin goes evil and Caramon heads into a downward spiral. Of course, he gets back in shape in the Legends series, just in time to realize that in order to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, he's gonna have to kill his brother, whom he still, against all logical thought, loves. And despite all of this, Caramon manages to pull a Love Redeems moment and lives happily with his wife to a ripe old age, siring children who (assuming they live) go on to be heroes themselves. Plus, Word of God says that Caramon was never actually that stupid, but in a family with his * ahem* strong-minded brother and sister, he was okay just going along with things. AND he becomes a charismatic and effective leader of men! So why doesn't this guy get a little more appreciation from the fandom??
Because they're all too busy fixating on his brother. But I agree with you, Caramon is just freaking awesome. He was so devoted to Raistlin, and never got a scrap of appreciation. I wish he were MY brother.
No love for A Wrinkle in Time's Meg Murry? Meg was simultaneously who this troper both was, in middle school, and wanted to grow up to be. Meg was a glasses-wearing brainiac too smart for her own good, who felt she'd never live up to her genius parents or her normal twin brothers - but she saved the universe more than once, and she grew up to marry one hell of a biological sport.
Charles Wallace is also rather awesome. He's a genius, and completely adorable.
Crowley and Aziraphale of Good Omens. A not-so-bad demon and a not-entirely-good angel who are best friends and work together to stop the apocalypse? Sounds pretty awesome. These two are so awesome by themselves that they triple the amwesomeness. Crowley can hold charred, burning cars together with his mind, and Aziraphale owns a flaming sword that he planned on using on Satan. I don't know how it gets any better than that.
Sydney Carton! The man gives up the woman he loves to who he thinks is the better man, then gives his life to allow them to be together. And he goes gladly.
Bren Cameron of C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner novels. Having the guts and mind to forge his way to a top spot in an alien culture which doesn't even have a concept for 'friend' and assasination is acceptable problem-solving... and being the only human there? And his position was supposed to be more like a low-order clerk and dictionary maker? Part Woobie, part Morality Chain, part Badass Bookworm. Crazy. Awesome.
I would like to nominate Pharaun Mizzrym and Gromph Baenre, both from the Forgotten Realms 'verse. They are both MADE OF WIN. Example: Gromph at one point went blind. What does he do? STEAL ANOTHER DROW'S EYES!
Catherine is more amazing than Heathcliff. She's essentially a female Byronic hero: wild, rebellious, complex and deliciously egotistical to boot.
Nellie Dean, you have my deepest sympathies and admiration.
So does Edgar Linton, whom I advocated though the rest of my Lit. Class didn't like him. I liked him because he seemed like one of the only characters (besides Nelly) who was most a Nice Guy.
Georgia Nicolson is rude, silly, sarcastic, and quite possibly the best female heroine in any book I've read.
Seconded, so badly. I've started to adopt her slang.
I can't decide if Marianne Dashwood or Fanny Price is my favorite Jane Austen heroine. The latter has so many fighting against her, from her uncle whom she genuinely wants to please to her aunt, but still manages to stick to her guns when she never has in her life before; the former, however, is just so passionate and lively and refuses to bow to the Stepford Smiler expectations of her society. Austen women rule!
Fellow troper, I adore you. They're my two favorite Austen heroines and they do not get enough credit.
Watson. If you have not mentioned Watson, yes, you need say more.
Seconding Watson. If you've never read the books and received your impression of him through Pop-Cultural Osmosis, then you must get to know this guy. He's straightforward and intelligent, he suffers lots of pain and pressure with barely a complaint, he's addicted to danger, and he's a hopeless romantic at heart. And all this goes without saying that he's the only guy Sherlock Holmes feels he can consistently rely on. As an added bonus, he rarely goes anywhere without packing a revolver. That's my boy.
Inspector G. Lestrade. I have never wanted so badly to actually glomp a fictional character and never let go. It helps that he's played by Colin Jeavons in the Granada adaptation.
Agreed. This troper hates it when movies flanderize him into a stupid rival to Holmes, when in the books he is, by Holmes'a admission, among the smartest in Scotland Yard, and the rivalry with Holmes is of a Worthy Opponent variety, which makes Lestrade always interesting to read about.
Father Brown. Not just one of the wisest characters in fiction, also one of the most compassionate. He doesn't just solve crimes, he persuades the criminals to repent.
Made even awesomer by the fact that he convinced one criminal to repent by telling him about all these horrible things that criminals do that the criminal hadn't even heard of.
Sparhawk. An aging, world-weary knight whose conviction he's nothing more than an old soldier, driven almost entirely by loyalty. He might look far from the Knight in Shining Armor and have no shortage of flaws, but he's clever, poetic, compassionate, and noble. He was this troper's first fantasy hero, and he remains one of his favorites.
Seconded. Sparhawk is amazing. This troper always associates him with the expression "a mighty heart," because that's what he has.
And playing opposite him, Martel, everything an Evil Counterpart should be and more. Their final duel was Bad Ass, and Martel's death, despite everything he'd done, managed to be sympathetic without seeming too overdone. Good job Mr. Eddings.
Ryan Veitch from The Age of Misrule. When we meet him, you'd be forgiven for thinking he's just a vicious, homophobic thug. Three books and some Character Development later, you realise he's actually a really nice guy who'd give anything for his friends (and frequently does); a brave, intelligent warrior who always looks out for the poor, the downtrodden and the defenceless.
Can I just say, Neal of freakin' Queenscove. That is all.
RAOUL. He was funny in Song of the Lioness, but he got so much character development in Squire alone that he became one of the coolest characters in the series. And while we're on the subject of totally badass mentors, Wyldon of Cavall.
Sandrilene fa Toren. In a series where her friends have the powers to hold molten metal, command all natural forces on, under or over land, and control the entire plant world, this girl has the power of sewing. Which she uses to cocoon people to walls! And spin pure magic!
Aly and Dove from the Trickster's duology. One's a Magnificent Bitch (or Guile Hero, I guess, technically) in training, the other is a thirteen-year-old who steps up to be Queen and all signs point to her having the skills to do the job.
Beka Cooper. "The Lower City is mine. Its people are mine - its children are mine. If I find them that's doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they'd best pray for mercy. Because once I get my teeth in them, I will never let them go."
And her later descendent, George Cooper. Rose to become the King of the Rogue at age 18, befriending a page and a prince, kept the thieves in line (taking their ears, if necessary), protected the crown, and then eventually became a noble spy-master. Yeah, he's boss.
Alanna, of the Song of the Lioness series, is badass, adorable, insecure, funny, and inspiring. Tamora Pierce is known for her strong heroines, but Alanna is the first and best. She has been my role model since I first read about her at age ten or eleven.
How about love for Faithful/Pounce, the constellation cat who comes to Earth to protect and guide worthy mortals. If nothing else, his snark is glorious.
All of the companions in the series deserve some gushing of their own. This troper has had a crush on Prince Gwydion for years. He's patterned after King Arthur but without Arthur's detriments (e.g. the doomed love triangle)!
Danny's father, from Danny the Champion of the World. The book's last line is exactly right: "What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is sparky." And no-one in literature exemplifies it better.
Ever single character in Weetzie Bat. From Weetzie herself to Mysecretagentloverman to Duck to Dirk to Cherokee to Witchbaby... They are all amazing.
Saint Dane is one of the most brilliant villains I've ever read about. He has no qualms about destroying worlds and killing mass numbers of people, but somehow manages to remain charming. He repeatedly demonstrates that he is the one in control of the events of the story and routinely kicks the heroes' asses.
It seems these days that no one has heard of a little series called The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. If only they did. They would know about the awesome Rose Dyson, who is a swordfighting mini-messiah princess that tries to make friends with villains.
The best character in The Time Traveler's Wife doesn't appear until the last bit: Alba DeTamble.
Christopher Carrion from Abarat. Clive Barker is CURSED with making sexy Eldritch Abominations that the fans weren't supposed to love.
So much. If the Crowning Moment Of Awesome trope could be embodied in a person, Gen would be it. He’s the coolest character even when he’s not the main focus of the story. Even readers who hate the plot and couldn’t get past the first book (because it’s “boring”) or the second book (because of the Tomato Surprise) still love Gen.
Niall - adorable. Just plain adorable. Complete woobie, fashionably scarred, strong enough to protect you, yet vulnerable enough to need taking care of, loving, trust issues, strong, a survivor through and through...and lets not forget his oh-so-adorable, if somewhat damaged relationships with IrialandLeslie!!
Irial. Such a heady mix of darkness and selflessness. Seemed so cruel, and yet can be so kind. Almost mockingly polite, with a very seductive and dangerous edge. All Girls Want Bad Boys, afterall.
I honestly cannot understand how Gilbert Markham of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall has a reputation for being such a Jerkass. He's not perfectly perfect in every way like Mr. Weston, and, yes, he has some serious anger issues, but he himself learns that and becomes highly ashamed of how he attacked Frederick Lawrence. That incident aside, he's a dutiful son who sincerely does try to be satisfied with tending his late father's farm when he was hoping for some more glamorous calling; he loves books, children, and dogs; he hates hypocrites, gossip, and the prevalent view of a wife as her husband's slave (which he tells his own mother); and he slowly falls for Helen for her mind, heart, and personality... but whenever Helen tells Gilbert to back off, he does ("I would rather have your friendship than the love of any other woman."), following her lead and moving at her speed every step of the way. When you're The Hero of The First Feminist Novel, you can't save your girl like Mr. Darcy, and you can't teach her a lesson like Mr. Knightley; you just have to love and respect her even when the rest of the world turns on her... which he does, standing up for Helen to his family and neighbors, refusing to believe the Malicious Slander about her, and not condemning her once he knows the truth despite what his own society and peers dictate. (If only Frederick Winterbourne had had the strength and courage to do the same...) Gilbert Markham: My favorite Bronte Hero.
Mattimeo of Redwall. I like him more than his father, because he develops more as a character over the course of the series. Born as the child of The Chosen One, he's faced with people expecting greatness from him when all he wants is to be a kid. But when he's kidnapped for a twisted revenge plot? Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass indeed.
Romsca from The Pearls of Lutra is not only badass, but one of the most interesting, well-written vermin in the series.
I read the Inheritance Cycle half because I like it and half because I hate it. But I recently was surprised to discover the one part that I really, really like—-Nasuada. She's maybe twenty, leading a massive army, out-politicking her own advisers and most of the world's major powers, and does it not because she's a super-awesome God-Mode Sue like Eragon and Arya, but through sheer grit and clever thinking. She has problems, tons of problems, but they tend to be practical as opposed to the "deep" issues those two face, and thus she avoids the overdone angst and Clueless Aesops. And while not played up much, there are all sorts of subtle tensions within her—-she's a determined general but also wishes she could be a normal woman, comes from a culture different than the one she's leading, etc. I'm actually really surprised when I look for fanfics or fanart and find out other people don't consider her the Ensemble Dark Horse that I do, because I just keep looking ahead hoping the POV changes to her again. (I just wish she wouldn't constantly say/think how important and special Eragon is...)
Roran as well, for being such a Badass Normal (which kind of jumped the shark in Book 3, but still), deserves a mention. He doesn't have all the skills and powers Eragon has, yet he does such extraordinary things in the series whenever he appears. His chapters in Eldest were, in my honest opinion, the best parts of the series, full stop (showing that when he puts his mind to it, Paolini can be a phenomenal writer). Even Eragon himself commends Roran, in story, for being so awesome.
The reason that, despite my sincerely best efforts, I was unable to get interested in or enjoy Super Hero comics is no doubt because they no longer have characters as well-written as Marguerite Blakeney. Baroness Orczy accurately recognized that an invincible Genius Bruiser and paragon of manliness and perfection like the Scarlet Pimpernel is better as the Big Good than the protagonist. No, the protagonist — who undergoes the Hero's Journey, is given the Sadistic Choice, and suffers a painful disillusionment leading to a Heel Realization — is his wife! Marguerite's journey as The Atoner culminates in an awesome midnight stalking mission requiring Ninja-like stealth and the courage and endurance that neither her husband nor her Arch-Enemy thought she had in her until her interference completely ruins Chauvelin's plans. Percy regrets his Catwoman had to go the ends of the Earth for him before he realized he could love and trust her as much as he always wanted to. (Add points for female sexuality, especially in the sequels.) Radical feminists will disagree with me, but Marguerite Blakeney is one of my favorite literary heroines.
Any mystery lovers here? My favorite fictional detective of all time has to be Marcia Muller's venerable PI Sharon McCone, the forerunner of Kinsey Millhone, VI Warshawski, Carlotta Carlyle, Stephanie Plum, and dozens of other American female detectives. Muller is such a gifted plotter and McCone is a great, down-to-earth character.
Jo March. She learns her lesson and advocates morality, all the while retaining her tomboyish and often rude personality.
You don't get much more awesome than Joscelin Verreuil. He starts out as a disapproving, dry, stuck-up yet undeniably badass warrior priest. Over the course of the next three books, he transforms into a quietly humourous, reliable, loving consort for Phedre who is determined to do anything. Plus, he's gorgeous, and the most badass warrior in pretty much the entire world.
Steve Leopard from The Saga of Darren Shan. Pure determined evil, with a bitter, twisted sense of humour, and an ending that would make anyone feel sorry for him; as well as having a suprisngly deep psychology. His determination to destroy Darren, but wanting it to be a theatrical event as well, and his constant laughter makes him the best kid's book villain this side of Voldemort.
Edward. No, not that one. Say what you like about the Anita Blake series (though I'm a fan I've probably said some of it too), Edward/Ted Forrester is cool. He starts out as pretty much a sociopath, but even when he gains elements of the Papa Bear and we find out Anita really is important to him, he never stops being one of the deadliest people in the books. This is a guy the preternaturals know as Death, and unlike Anita with her ever-growing power list, he's a Badass Normal with mad skills and lots of cool and deadly toys.
Rowan from the Rowan of Rin series. A shy, small, sensitive boy who lives in a village where physical strength and bravery are valued above all else. He is considered a weak, pathetic disappointment by nearly everyone. Until he's the only one capable of saving everyone on five separate occassions, each time by using his brains instead of blindly leaping to attack, as everyone else tried and failed to. Also from the Rowan series, Zeel and Allun are massively awesome too. Both outcasts like Rowan, but in different ways. Allun is half Traveller, whom most Rin people do not like, so he does not fit into either world, but always makes the best of things and is always joking and cheerful. Zeel is a Zebak orphan who was adopted by the Travellers. (Zebak are at War with Rin/Travellers.) Zeel must put up with people assuming her to be a traitor because of her biological parents, but even when inside Zebak territory, she never once considered betraying her adoptive people. And she's a Bad AssAction Girl to boot.
I second that. And Sheba, anyone? Old, withered, a bit bitter from spending her life seeing flashes of the future, but not always understanding them. Yet, in the end, she wouldn't have it any other way. She probably set Rowan up to succeed on his first adventure, going to great lengths to make sure he would go along... but he promptly saved her life with his second adventure.
Say what you want about Smeyer, but Ian O'Shea is a wonderful man and a great love interest for the main character.
Jamie Stryder = completely adorable!
Quint from The Edge Chronicles. As a child, impossibly sweet. As a tricorned adult, indescribably awesome.
Everyone in The Night Angel Trilogy. Being a perfect example of true character-driven fantasy, this could be expected, but then each character is complex, sympathetic, and believable. Just wonderfully written.
Percy Jackson from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And his friend Grover. They save the world a lot, they're kids, they're funny, and yet they still seem decidedly human, despite the fact that neither of them are. And they both remain Nice Guys despite all the weirdness that's dumped on them, so that's a plus.
The Heroes of Olympus series gives us the hilarious, complex, highly awesome Leo Valdez. He's in the Hephaestus cabin for what, two seconds and the first thing he does is recapture their bronze dragon and give it flight capabilities. The fact that he's considerably low on Wangst makes him even more sympathetic when you do find out about everything he's been through. He's also a genuinely kind, selfless person who'd do anything for his friends, and he looks good in suspenders. His cameo in Book 2 is amazing:
Nico De Angelo of the same series starts out as a geeky Annoying Younger Sibling. By The Heroes of Olympus he is basically Batman, rarely speaking but being the most badass of the bunch. He survives Tartarus alone with his sanity relatively intact, leads an army of ghosts, and is revealed to be the first LGBT character in the series.
Gretchen Richter, of Eric Flint's 1632 universe. Age 21 at the start of the book, she spent the last few years protecting her brother, sister, grandmother, infant son, and every other helpless individual she can get her hands on, in an army camp, in the middle of the 30 years war. Rape, abuse, and threats have not only barely fazed her, but have in fact hardly slowed her down. And that was before someone had the bright idea to give her a gun and a vote. She is a rock hard survivor turned deadly political activist, and absolutely nothing stands in her way for long.
MELISSA MAILEY. World's coolest teacher, ridiculously intelligent, wild child liberal feminist rebel in her younger years, won over an entire mining town by jumping in on the side of the miners during a strike and giving an amazing speech, once had an anarchist for a boyfriend (and can advise on the proper way to make improvised bombs), gives no fucks about what anyone thinks regarding her living in sin with her black, ex-Chicago-ghetto-street-thug, ex-Marine Combat Medic doctor boyfriend despite Grantville being an Appalachian town, snarkiest snarker who ever did snark anywhere, imitates cheerleaders badly, undergoes a whacking great dose of character development, and with such a soft heart that the thought that refugees thinking she was going to kill themmakes her vomit. Good God I love Melissa Mailey!!
I almost can't say enough good things about Katniss Everdeen. Her unflinching narration, her complex psychology, her, let's face it, awesome survival skill. The fact that she can have a troubled backstory, wear flaming dresses, be deadly in combat, sacrifice herself for her sister, inspire just about everyone, and have two guys throwing themselves at her—all without being even remotely a Mary Sue—is a feat you won't believe unless you read the series. She's damaged, deeply flawed, and highly believable. Underneath everything, she's just trying to do the right thing. I'm not one to complain that Girls Need Role Models, but seriously—that is a heroine.
Of course, having her be played by the ever-so-wonderful Jennifer Lawrence in the film adaptations certainly adds more to the awesomeness.
This tropette has some serious respect for Primrose Everdeen. A classic case of Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold, adorable, a Friend to All Living Things, even to Buttercup. When she is called up to be a tribute before Katniss saves her, she accepts her fate, knowing that she won't last 10 seconds in the Games in comparison to Katniss, despite being rigid with fear - she even remembers to tuck in her "duck tail" before she's about to go on the stage. She doesn't complain once about constantly having to help her mother with being a healer, at only 12/13-years-old, she gets things done without whining. Prim basically goes from a helpless little girl into a brave, strong doctor - even Katniss notes how much she's matured in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, being able to give her comfort and advice when she needs it most, and it makes it all the more tragic when she is killed at the end of Mockingjay while she's working as a medic.
And then, there's Cinna. The guy's just so impossibly kind in a world full of selfish, greedy souls turning a blind eye to the havoc being wreaked around them. Sure, he is one of them, and yet he isn't, because he cares. Also, gold eyeliner is freaking awesome.
BriarMoss makes me into a fangirl. He transforms from awesome+cute, to awesome+awesome, to awesome+awesome+PTSD. That is all.
Speaking of Edwards who rock, Edward the Blue Engine from The Railway Series. Patient, kind, and even-tempered, and still giving it his all in spite of his age. There's also Rheneas and Skarloey. Even more Determinator than Edward, and older to boot - 2015 will be their railway's 150th anniversary. They both gave it their all to keep the trains running in spite of being in increasingly decrepit condition. They're awesome, and an inspiration to others.
Serge A. Storms from the novels by Tim Dorsey. Serge is insane, a Serial Killer, smart, charming, charismatic, optimistic, and I absolutely love him for that.
I admit she’s not from a very popular series, but I’d like to put Akiko (from the series of the same name) on this list. She is likable, realistic, and manages to rescue the prince of the planet Smoo (with help from her friends) from the villainess when the king mistakes her for an intergalactic hero. Did I mention that Akiko’s only in the fourth grade? Her friends include: bookworm Mr. Beeba, mysterious and silent Poog, brash but caring Spuckler, and the best robot in the literature world - Gax.
Another not too popular one, but Doc from Cannery Row (nothing to do with the other one. You fall in love with him as soon as you read his introductory paragraph. He's just so lovely. And anyone who will try a beermilkshake has to be wonderful. Gosh dang I could just go on about him forever. Best character.
I came here to add this and found it right at the bottom of the page. I hate to be that person who's being overly friendly via TV Tropes page, but we should really be friends. Anyway, while I'm here, Anji is pretty great too. She's only in half as many books as Fitz, so she doesn't get as much characterizationnote and is unfortunately hampered by being an Asian businesswoman being written by white authors, leaving open silly questions such as whether her ethnicity is Indian or Pakistani and what her career actually involves, but she's just kind of awesome. She's a clever young futures trader who apparently Minored In Ass Kicking. And she's funnier and quirkier than she first appears. And she balances being close friends with the Doctor with being very skeptical about him. And her friendship with Fitz is often quite adorable. And she's the first (and so far only) Asian companion in Doctor Who history, which admittedly makes it a bit sad she's just an Extended Universe character. She's the sort of person you'd love to have as a coworker or travel in time and space with.
The Lovely Bones has Grandma Lynn, who manages to be wild, irresponsible, rude, and yet still completely lovable; not to mention all of the life she breathes into a book all about, well, death. She's just such a likeable character. And then, of course, there's Lindsay, who manages to pull over a brilliant Crowning Moment Of Awesome against the resident Complete Monster, Mr Harvey, in spite of all she's been through.
The Fault in Our Stars: My goodness, everyone. Gus and Hazel would get special mention, of course, but there's also Isaac and Hazel's parents and gosh, just every single character is so wonderful and likeable and huggable. What a perfect cast for an amazing book.
Literature/Dracula has a few often overlooked examples.
Jonathan Harker is often demoted to The Watson or a disposable fiance but in the book was a Rory-like badass and devoted husband to Mina. Among his achievements are climbing down the side of Castle Dracula (twice). This is acknowledged in universe as an awesome moment. He kills Dracula by decapitating him with a Kukri in one swing. Finally he is fully prepared to become a vampire if they can't save Mina just so he can be with her.
Mina Harker is also often demoted to a distressed damsel who is in love with Dracula. In the book she nurses Jonathan back to health after he escapes Castle Dracula, organizes all of the groups notes, guides Lucy across town shoeless in her pajamas after the latter wakes up from a vampire attack, uses her psychic link to Dracula to track him down, and finally joins in the final battle alongside the men providing cover fire as they attack Dracula's coffin.
Doctor Jack Seward fights to save Lucy when she is slowly dying from vampirism and is essentially the story's protagonist while Jonathan is recovering.
Quincey Morris delivers the first half of the killing Blow against Dracula, driving a Bowie Knife into Dracula's chest while wounded.
Arthur Godalming is Crazy-Prepared enough to bring a dog whistle when investigating Dracula's base in England on the off chance that they get attacked by rats. He also willingly kills Lucy, his fiancee, when he realizes that she's too far gone to save. Was it tragic? Yes. Did it demonstrate a tremendous amount of strength? Yes.
Van Helsing puts in the same amount of effort as Seward to save Lucy, the difference being that he didn't even know her. He also provides cover fire with Mina in the final battle despite being well past his prime.
The Honorverse is full of them. Starting with Honor Harrington herself, of course, but the supporting characters are almost better than the protagonist. Especially Eloise Pritchart, she who can lie to a People's Republic of Tyranny for six long years, survive two revolutions, and wind up as the truly elected president of a republic that hadn't existed for two centuries, and Shannon Foraker, Badass Adorable techno nerd who can wipe out two whole squadrons of superdreadnoughts with only the word "Oops." And then there's Dame Estelle Matsuko, the world's greatest diplomat, and Augustus Khumalo, who proves his badass in the most unlikely manner, and the sheer unadulterated awesome that is Aivars Terekhov and Michael Oversteegen, and Badass Princess Abigail Hearns, who is the first-ever Grayson woman to serve in the Navy, and Michelle Henke, Honor's best friend, who is awesome and snarky and also an amazing tactician, and Tom Theisman who is basically goodness incarnate, and poor Allen Higgins who just needs a goddamn hug already, and Benjamin Mayhew who's basically restructuring an entire society while keeping the bones of it intact, and....
Piratika: Art Blastside is simply wonderful. She is cunning, slippery, arrogant, Cold-hearted and nice att the same time. She started a pirate craze in London after her husband had saved from being executed from being a pirate. And she is crazy and haughty! She is simply great.