Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is:
Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters
For me, frustrating characters tend to fall into a few broad categories. Those who make bad choices, especially when they should know better. Those who chase after things or people they can never have. Those who bring on catastrophe through a failure to communicate. Those who refuse to recognize happiness when it’s staring them right in the face.
So which fictional characters deserve a good shake? Who do I want to slap some sense into? Or at least treat to a very stern lecture?
1) Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie, have you not noticed how many times you’ve almost died? Did you ever think that maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd? People — like Sookie — who consistently put themselves into dangerous situations, fully aware that they’re doing it but doing it anyway, are incredibly frustrating to read about. Plus, Sookie spends way too much time on her beauty routines, and I just don’t have time (or interest) enough to keep reading about her showers, her leg-shaving, and her hair style choices.
2) Scarlett O’Hara. Okay, how could you possibly pick boring old Ashley Wilkes over roguish Rhett Butler? It’s frustrating when a character is so completely deluded about what she really wants and needs. As Rhett tells her:
… you’re such a child, Scarlett. A child crying for the moon. What would a child do with the moon if it got it? And what would you do with Ashley? Yes, I’m sorry for you — sorry to see you throwing away happiness with both hands and reaching out for something that would never make you happy.
But no. Scarlett just will not see what’s right in front of her eyes, and must continually chase after a man so absolutely wrong for her. Wake up!
3) Marianne Dashwood. The embodiment of “sensibility” in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Marianne is ruled by her emotions, which might not be altogether terrible if she also had a shred of judgment. Of course Willoughby turns out to be a cad! For goodness sake, pull yourself together, Marianne. No man is worth that kind of fuss… and oh, by the way, that Colonel Brandon seems like a nice fellow.
4 & 5) Roger Mackenzie and Brianna Randall. Pretty much everything that happens to these two characters in The Drums of Autumn (book #4 in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series) could have been avoided if they had just communicated with one another. Each one withholds key pieces of information, so that the other acts rashly and without knowledge of important facts. And each ends up in awful, devastating danger as a result. Granted, if they’d been straight with each other in the first place, we’d end up missing about half of the plot of this book — but still, talk about frustrating! Secrets and deceptions may make dramatic plot devices, but it drives me crazy when good, strong, otherwise honorable and admirable characters fail to communicate on such a basic level.
6) Robb Stark. So you wanna be a king? You could start by growing up a bit! I’m sorry if you don’t like your arranged marriage, but entire alliances rest upon the deals made in your name. Falling in love is not a good enough excuse for alienating an important ally — not in a world where several different armies want nothing more than your head on a pike. Oh, Robb.
7 & 8) Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele. Men who want to be in charge of your every move are not being romantic. They’re being controlling. Showing up in your bedroom uninvited to watch you sleep is not sweet. It’s creepy. Enough said. [Note: I am not a Twilight-hater. I enjoyed the books. I liked the Fifty Shades books too. But that doesn't change the fact that these two characters make really poor choices.]
9) Lord Conall Maccon. I love Conall (alpha male of the Woolsey Pack in Gail Carriger’s wonderful Parasol Protectorate series). But his behavior in book 2, Changeless, is beyond frustrating. I won’t spoil what happens (go out and read the books!), but suffice it to way that when faced with a surprising development, hot-headed Conall jumps to the worst possible conclusion, with not a shred of reasonable evidence to back it up, and behaves abominably. Stupid, stupid man.
10) Working on a list of frustrating characters ended up frustrating me! I know there have been countless times when I’ve wanted to throw a book across the room due to some character’s stupid decisions or actions. But now that I have to actually come up with a list? I keep getting stuck. I polled some of my friends, added in a few more of my own, and so instead of just one #10, I’ll skip straight to:
Most Frustrating Characters: Honorable Mention
- Romeo and Juliet: Wait a few minutes before doing anything rash, okay? Stop assuming your beloved is dead. Check for a pulse, perhaps.
- Hamlet: Just make a decision already.
- Ophelia: Oh honey, no man is worth it.
- Nathan Price (The Poisonwood Bible) and Pa Ingalls (Little House books): Religious fervor and manifest destiny are no excuse for dragging your family off to dangerous places. Feeling a higher calling is no justification for poor parenting.
- The Cat In The Hat: Talk about overstaying your welcome. And geez, would it kill you to clean up a bit?