Top Ten Most Unlikable Characters

“Charity ain’t giving people what you wants to give, it’s giving people what they need to get.”

Terry Pratchett

  1. Odysseus – The Odyssey, Homer. I feel like we’re brainwashed to think Odysseus the greatest hero in Western literature, but really he’s just awful. He doesn’t care about his men, he slaughters indiscriminately, he lies, steals and threatens his way through Greece and yet everyone still likes him. Grr.
  2. Pamela Andrews – Pamela, Samuel Richardson. God, I hate Pamela. She’s whiny, cowardly, hypocritical and supremely dull. And she has no brain.
  3. Thomas CovenantThe Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson. This is a strange one, because Covenant is also one of my favourite characters ever. But for the entirety of the first trilogy he mopes about the Land telling everyone how useless he is, changing his mind multiple times and endangering the lives of his friends, and generally being perversely self-involved. It’s intensely annoying while being completely understandable.
  4. Edward Pike – Half-Sick of Shadows, David Logan. Selfish, selfish, selfish, with no redeeming qualities. Not even villainous, just self-interested.
  5. Prince Humperdinck – The Princess Bride, William Golding. Is there any pantomime villain more nasty than this one?
  6. MordredThe Dark Tower, Stephen King. Spidery and evil and bloody scary.
  7. Calvin Simms – Chart Throb, Ben Elton. A thinly-disguised satirical portrait of Simon Cowell, Calvin Simms is money-grabbing, manipulative and cold-hearted and I never want to watch The X Factor ever again.
  8. Mike Engleby – Engleby, Sebastian Faulks. The scary thing about Engleby is that he doesn’t realise why he’s unlikable. He thinks it’s everyone else. A dark, creepy madman lurking in the respectable suburbs of Cambridge.
  9. Charles Kinbote – Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov. Another madman, chillingly self-interested and delusional, with his priorities in all the wrong places.
  10. Vorbis – Small Gods, Terry Pratchett. An awful picture of how religion can give bad men excuses to be horrible to other people.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)


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