Just DIE already! Characters we can't stand
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This thread is an outlet for letting the vitriol flow against characters we want off our page, and I mean now. Character who, being fictional, we can guiltlessly hope will be killed off in particularly unpleasant ways.
Characters we can't stand tend to fall into two camps:
The first, and less annoying -- characters we're supposed to hate. My example of this would be Ratboy in Dhampir, a repulsive little sadist who takes being a vampire to a whole new disgusting level by enjoying his kills. Whom does he take particular pleasure in killing? Innocent, pretty young girls. This character seems specifically designed to make readers like me impatient to see his demise. But since we KNOW we're supposed to hate him -- and not in the same way that we both hate and admire those villains invested with fascinating grandeur -- we know he'll be out of our hair soon. So we find a way to live with him, even though we may cringe every time he shows up.
The second, and far more annoying -- characters we're supposed to admire and root for, but don't.
The gold standard example of this kind of character is the loathsome Bella Swan of Twilight fame. As far as I've been able to discover, this character has absolutely no positive qualities whatsoever. She isn't intelligent. She isn't brave. She isn't kind or generous. She isn't imaginative. She isn't insightful. Absolutely NO heroine-worthy adjective applies to this helpless, whiny, useless vacuum of a character. Yet somehow we're supposed to believe this is a strong heroine. I wish someone would explain to me, or even point out one single positive or constructive thing she does. But I've yet to hear any sensible explanation, or have anyone point out that one thing. All the same, somehow this book keeps turning up on lists of books that are supposed to feature "Strong Heroines" or "Strong Female Characters." Who keeps putting it there? And WHY?
So come on, feel the hate. What are some of our least favorite fictional characters? The ones who get on our absolutely final nerve?
Since you brought up things Hendee, my wish for death can go to that utter drip Wynn, which is clearly pronounced "whine" as that's all she does. I have shade and shadow as I love the other characters in that series but I can't bring myself to sit down to a whole book of the moaning idiot. I might just skip it and go straight to the next one!
Thomas Covenant in the namesake series. Rapist, self-loathing, self-pitying...
Most of the female main characters in the Wheel of Time, probably Rand as well, but especially the girls. If all the tics and needless repetitions ala braid-tugging were trimmed down to a more acceptable level they would be down to... one-fifth of actual text left ?
The protagonists in Darkwar by Glen Cook or The Blind Knight. Mary Sues.
Flat, transparent, "please insert yourself here" heroines typical in the romance genre.
Herald Myste in some of the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey. A blatant self-insert which any fanfic author would be ashamed of. One of the many reasons I stopped reading this series, even from the library.
Oooh, I second Twilight, Wheel of time & Thomas Covenant!
I also hate Herald Myste, but since I absolutely love the rest of the series, I just read these Myste-parts diagonally and continue reading normally when she is gone.
Another character I hated was the protagonist of Ellen Kushner's first sword book (I forgot the title. I guess there's a reason for that...) I kept wishing he would die in his nnext sword fight.
I hate Cersei too, but I hate Melisandre of Asshai even more, and less because she commits political murder in the blink of an eye than because what she stands for troubles me.
The men who surround Cersei, with the exception of Tyrion, are just as venomous as she is. Tywin, Pycelle, Joffrey -- these men are her co-conspirators, not her victims.
The men around Melisandre, however, are victims, and are seen as flawed but essentially or at least potentially decent, while she is eeeeevilll. As a result, Melisandre, even more than Cersei, comes across as a paranoid male fantasy under which the message is writ: "Power in the hands of a woman is a dangerous, destructive thing." (Note that nowhere in the "Davos" scenes can a remotely trustworthy female be found; all the honorable Davos' strong emotional attachments are to other males. He's married, but his unnamed wife is an afterthought at best; his world revolves around his King and his sons.)
So Melisandre stands out as the Evil Woman among "good" men. That makes her all the more unpleasant, IMO.
Seconding: about all the women in the wheel of time. Stubborn, conniving, manipulative. One wonders what Robert Jordan thinks of women.
Sorry, but I love the whole Twilight thing. I admit Bella is not a particularly strong heroine (although she saves the day in the last book). But I'd say her biggest characteristic is being selfless. That's the main reason she keeps trying to sacrifice herself stupidly all the time... Of course, she gets completely entangled with being selfless and makes a mess of things, but still...
I know this is OT, but does anyone think that the characterization of females in The Wheel of Time might improve now that Brandon Sanderson is taking over? Sanderson seems to do quite well with female characters.
Here's one we're definitely supposed to hate:
Dolores Umbridge. Most of the Harry Potter villains are a lot of fun to read about, but Umbridge infuriates and disgusts, pure and simple. No comeuppance could be too painful for a teacher who forces a student to mutilate himself.
The female co-main character of Elantris is OK, the whole book as well, but I wasn't enthusiastic enough about it to seek others of Sanderson's books, even less consider catching up with a truckload (anything after the Dragon Reborn) of books I probably wouldn't enjoy just so I could check on what he's been doing with the characters and the conclusion of the tale.
9 zjakkelien - How is Bella selfless? She's possibly the most selfish, self-centered character I've ever read. And the only reason she "saves the day" in the last book is because she transforms into Mary Sue Vampire and makes everyone else superfluous.
While Umbridge is, of course, despicable, at least she's a good character. She creates good conflict, advances the plot, and gives the students a common enemy to fight against. The HP character that drives me crazy is Sirius Black, who frankly seems like a waste of space. He does almost nothing worthwhile, and generally only gets Harry into trouble. I don't think I ever wished that he would "just die already", but I certainly didn't mind when it happened.
I'll have to think about it and see if I can remember any other characters that I wished would just die already--but I think usually when that happens I don't care for the book in general.
12 Hi Bluesalamanders, I'm not saying she is effectively selfless, because she's usually doing it in a stupid way, but she's constantly trying to sacrifice herself for someone else. And she's always taking the blame for everything and feeling guilty. She could definitely use a more healthy outlook on life, but I'd say her motives are selfless...
>13 Oh I think Rowling's characterizations of both Remus and Sirius went way awry after Prisoner of Azkaban. They were wonderful characters then and if the progression had been natural would've been awesome throughout the series. But she made them weird... I just *hated* Order of the Phoenix. I cannot get over how bad it was after waiting for 3 and a 1/2 years for a sequel. Sigh.
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