Batman. Ebenezer Scrooge. Mr. Darcy. They make up a sample of our favorite male characters. But this post isn’t about them. Instead, I’m focusing on the underdogs, the male characters who are just as admirable but for some reason no one talks about.
#12: Don Pedro from Much Ado About Nothing
In the first half, he uses mischief and deceit to bring two couples together. But in the second half, the tables are turned and he’s the one being fooled—not once, but twice. At the end of the story, not only his he one of the only main characters without a love interest, but he also has a treacherous brother to deal with. In a story where everyone dances with joy, he’s the one left out of the picture.
#11: Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon
Under different circumstances, Hiccup would not be on this list. But much like the movie, they took a flat character and made him interesting. I don’t know what they did or how they did it, but they did it. Plus, it’s fun watching him interacting with the dragons, taking the time to get to know them.
#10: Thresh from The Hunger Games
While Thresh isn’t a major character in the story, the times we do see or read about him speak volumes. He lives in a poor district and he could’ve won the games singlehandedly, but he speaks for himself and doesn’t play to the audience’s expectations like everyone else does. There’s also the interaction between him and Rue in the movie. It was a short moment and neither of them said anything, but that one moment showed a touching vulnerable side.
#9: Aragorn from Lord of the Rings
Not the most interesting character in the story, but not the weakest either. Up until the Fellowship forms, he chose a life of exile in order to avoid the temptation that ensnared his ancestor. And by the end of the series, you know he didn’t become king simply because he was heir to the throne; he earned the title. Read/watch the story again and watch him strategize, interact with the people, and claim the throne of Gondor.
#8: Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice
Like Aragorn, Mr. Bingley is more like the kind of men we want to meet as opposed to the kind of men we do meet. But Darcy finds him fascinating to count him as a trusted friend, and who am I to argue with that?
#7: Peter Pevensie from Chronicles of Narnia
In LWW, he has a lot of responsibility thrust on him from every direction and no idea of how to cope with it. He’s gotten stronger by the time Prince Caspian rolls around, but he’s also gotten cockier and has to be reminded of who made him king in the first place. In the books, Peter has always been a blank slate. But in these films, they flesh him out and give him an identity.
#6: Quasimodo from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame
When it comes to Disney men, we tend to think of the princes—Aladdin, Eric, and you can probably name the rest. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve met a poor soul who feels tortured inside. But that’s not what makes Quasimodo likeable. There was such an uncommon gentleness to him that you can’t help but admire him for. Traits like that are so simple yet so uncommon, and sometimes simplicity speaks volumes.
#5: Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter
First, he’s one of the few father figures in Harry’s life who stayed alive. Second, he’s the one who introduced Harry to the wizard world. Third, in Chamber of Secrets he was the one who comforted Hermione when Malfoy insulted her. Fourth, he has a hippogriff, which—right next to dragons—are the coolest creatures in fiction.
#4: Bob Cratchit from Christmas Carol
He worked long hours for what little Scrooge would give him to support his family. He refused to say a bad word about his employer. When Tiny Tim died, Bob was the one who tried to keep his chin up—and in one film adaptation, he was the one whose grief struck Scrooge the hardest. And because he’s Tiny Tim’s father, we can assume Tim got his joy from him.
#3: Klaus Baudelaire from Series of Unfortunate Events
While an intelligent kid character isn’t new, the way Klaus is portrayed in literature and cinema is enough to earn him a spot on the list. His character is also good when you consider his relationship with his sister, Violet. She’s hands on, her motto is “there’s always something,” and she wants her family to be safe, while he’s theoretical, his motto is “things don’t just happen,” and he wants to see justice served.
#2: Char from Ella Enchanted
If you want an example of a good significant other, look no further than Char (and for the sake of argument, let’s ignore the movie and focus on the book). When Ella realizes she loves him, you understand why. He interacts with his people. He fights ogres to keep his country safe. He makes an effort to connect with people while traveling in another country. He reached out to Ella when she was grieving the loss of her mother.
#1: Juror 9 from 12 Angry Men
He’s the one—in the film adaptation, anyway—that we know the least about. Except for #5, we learn where all the other jurors work, and we know snippets of the others’ lives. Juror #3 has a strained relationship with his son, Juror #5 grew up in the slums, and Juror #10 is an asshole who was more than likely never on the debate team. With #9 (again, in the film), all we know is that his name is McGargle.
But that’s not what makes him fascinating; that lies in how he reads people and the way he puts himself in the shoes of the witnesses testifying against the accused. Read/see this story again and watch how he explains why the witnesses’ testimonies might not hold as much water as everyone originally thought. You can tell he’s lived a long life and experienced a lot, but you have no idea what he went through or what made him who he is. They say less is more, and it’s true when you look at Juror #9, the most underrated fictional male character.