The greatest characters ever: Ones of a kind

Emmy Commemorative 2012

The unique ones come in two broad categories.

The Holy Terrors bring attitude. Garage jockeys Chico Rodriguez and Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli effortlessly seize attention the moment they swagger into a room. What propels these peacocks is sheer hormones, but whether the romantic come-on is as smooth as that of Vinnie Barbarino or as brash as the good times-lovin’ James “J.J.” Evans, their effect on us is nothing less than dy-no-mite.

At the extremes, their impact is positively nitroglycerin. Carrie Bradshaw’s Big never balks at indulging his big appetites. Coach Sue Sylvester and Eric Cartman aren’t just the straws that stir the drink: They gulp down the beverage before anyone can take a sip.

Occasionally a Holy Terror may be assigned a vulnerable moment, but honestly, isn’t it more fun when a Louie De Palma resists sentimentality and sends life a big, fat raspberry?

Untouched by negativity are the Holy Fools, drifting within a reality forged in their own heads. To savants like Sheldon Cooper or Steve Urkel, the world is exactly as they’d have it: no arguments, please.

Sometimes the haze is of pharmaceutical origin. DJ Dr. Johnny Fever and cabbie Reverend Jim Ignatowski were clearly forged on a controlled substance diet, and who knows what goateed Maynard G. Krebs was smoking down there in the Dobie Gillis basement?

But no matter what, bliss-heads see themselves as normal. Leaving for work, Herman Munster is as blithely unaware of his neck bolts as Beaver Cleaver is innocent of what could happen if he picks up that frog. They sail along doing what comes naturally — like bewitched Samantha Stevens, who could cook a banquet with a single nose twitch but still wakes up to fix Darren breakfast the old-fashioned way.

No matter how peculiar, they remind us we’re all only human. For which we should echo the inimitable Latka Gravas to say, “T’ank you veddy much.”

Emmy Commemorative 2012
Critic says ‘MASH’ top show of character
THE GREATEST CHARACTERS EVER
Anti-heroes | At your service | Authorities | Crimesolvers | Father Figures | Goundbreakers | Height of Hijinx | Heroes | Inseparable Duos | Journeyers | Ones of a kind
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