One of the members of my D&B group posts a #fivethings challenge almost every day asking us to list of five answers to various questions. Five favorite candies. Five most influential people. Five favorite quotes. That kind of thing.
A couple of weeks ago, the challenge was to name your five favorite fictional characters. I listed mine without much thought to a pattern. It was there though, and I didn't notice it until someone else pointed it out. Three of my five were named Charles - or some derivative of that name. Digging deeper, I recognize more Charles, Chucks, and Charlies that land in the list of my favorite fictional characters. They are as follows.
Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've adored this story as long as I can remember. There's so much hope: the impoverished kid winning the chance of a lifetime through a stroke of luck? We all dream of opportunities like that. But more than being lucky, Charlie deserved this break. He was a good kid, and perhaps the most noble of all of the characters - including Mr. Wonka.
Chuck Bartowski (AKA Charles Carmichael) from Chuck. There are so many things that this show got right. The culture of big-box electronics retailers. The customers. The staff. The geekery. As a former Best Buy employee, that show constantly reminded me of days past. Except when they were fighting spies and blowing stuff up. That never happened at my store.
Charles Xavier (AKA Professor X): The leader of the X-Men was my fictional sensei. A mind reading Mr. Miyagi that looked like Mr. Clean. Through the comic books and the cartoon series, there was no doubt that Professor X was the smartest guy in the room. Yet he never lorded that superior knowledge over anyone. He was compassionate and endlessly forgiving. Qualities I always wanted, even without superpowers.
Charlie Brown from Peanuts. He was me. Insecure, melancholic, and awkward around girls. But also a champion for those that kept trying in the face of ongoing failure.
Charlie Pace from LOST. Charlie's story is one of the most heartbreaking in LOST. I might have cried when he died. But his story is that of redemption. A rock star by choice, a one-hit wonder by the nature of the recording industry. He was a heroin addict when the plane crashes. There he sobered up, rekindled his music dreams, became a surrogate father to a baby born on the island, and finally sacrificed himself to save his friends. One of my favorite scenes in all of TV history is him sitting on the beach with Rose. He was distraught and depressed. Rose sought to comfort him and told him, "It's a fine line between denial and faith. It's much better on my side." He asked Rose for help, but she prayed with him instead, knowing that there wasn't anything she could do. They struck the balance between loss and hope so perfectly.
Charlie Gordon from Flowers for Algernon. There is a bittersweet tone to Flowers. The sadness of Charlie's low IQ at the beginning of the story, his gained and lost love for Miss Kinnian, the realization that his friends were only interested in mocking him, the mouse's death, Charlie's realization that his intelligence will not last, the reversion back to being dimwitted yet knowing that he was once smart. There isn't a happy ending, but rather a challenging conclusion. This book was one of the more important stories I read while growing up.
Did I miss any? What's a good Charles that I've overlooked?