Do you love a loser?

At a recent Comicazi Book Club meeting we were discussing Superman: Secret Identity.  Without getting too deep into this book, it’s about Superman, but also not Superman and explores a different characterization of the character. While I thought the book was fine, I couldn’t connect with this version of Superman. He wasn’t the paragon he is usually portrayed as, nor was he enough of a loser to stir up any strong feelings.  He just sort of “was” and I didn’t know what he was reaching for.  Which brought me to this conclusion…lovable losers are my character jam.

Heroes and villains are easy enough to get.  And there is something delightful about characters who are so black and white.  It’s hard to beat a villain you love to hate.  But what about those characters who try so hard to head to one end of the spectrum, to be the best hero or villain, but keep falling back thanks to their own failings?  They rarely catch a break, but keep grinding, and because of this, I love them the most.

It’s my post, so you are going to get my introspection about this and my thoughts on what’s gone into some of my favorite characters.  Feel free to (respectfully) disagree.    


You keep trying Clint.

So what is a Lovable Loser (LL), as opposed to a regular loser? Well lots of things. But the core of what makes these characters is the willingness to try, often in the case of overwhelming odds.  They also rarely complain about this, and if they do, it’s often a passing quip, rather than a pity party.  They can take a punch, and mostly likely feel like they deserved it anyway. They are brave, maybe even fearless to a fault. There is genuine intention and earnestness.  In some cases a LL may come off as seen as cocky, but that’s to disguise self-hatred.  And despite all this, you actually want to spend time with a Lovable Loser, because a Lovable Loser doesn’t give up and rarely settles.

Here are some of my favorites:  

Hawkeye (especially the Matt Fraction run)- The guy is an Avenger, gets in trouble with the cops anyway
Dean Winchester (Supernatural)- Has literally been to hell and back
Dr. Zoidberg (Futurama)- Is having fun with friends..despite living in a dumpster
Nux (Mad Max: Fury Road)- Being mediocre doesn’t stop him from trying to be a hero
Jessica Jones (Alias)- Makes Hawkeye look put together
Seymour Krelborn (Little Shop of Horrors)- May or may not cause the destruction of the human race
Willow Rosenberg (Buffy)- The little witch who could, and then couldn’t, and then could, and then couldn’t….
And I could go on…..

UntitledWhat makes a loser less lovable? Again, opinions may vary, but as character tropes go I don’t like a defeatist.  Nothing bores or frustrates me more than a character with a permanent rain cloud over their head.  If you aren’t trying to to figure out how to take those lemons and squirt them in someones eye (lemonade is not necessary), there are only so many times I can watch someone be a doormat.  If the character doesn’t care, why should I?  I know these characters have strong and loyal followings and are lovable to a lot of people, but they don’t click for me.  Frankly,they just make me sad.

Charlie Brown – A human doormat
Eeyore (Disney)- Just lets that rain cloud keep raining on him
Gill Gunderson (The Simpsons)- Thing never go well for Ol’ Gill, but he’s not exactly reaching for the stars either

 So, Lovable Losers, they may be the human equivalent of a slow motion car crash, but ultimately they are endearing.  And I would argue perhaps the most human of character tropes.  We all want to do the best we can, but it doesn’t always work out.  The difference is getting up and trying again.



  1. Gary

    I have to disagree with you on Charlie Brown. Here’s an 8 year old kid who’s already bald. His dog doesn’t really respect him. The little red-headed girls vexes him at every turn. He gets rocks for Halloween. His baseball team has never won a game. Lucy always takes away the football before he can kick it. Lastly, everyone calls him a blockhead. Yet, he perseveres. Charlie Brown lives his life to triumph over adversity. He gives his all and never gives up. He never is successful at kicking the football or winning a baseball game. However, one thing is true: He never ever ever gives up! By all accounts, Charlie Brown could be thought of as a loser (he even got really down about it himself), but because of the fact that he always tries, make him anything but a loser. He is an endearing and admirable character. He does not let feelings of loss, rejection, isolation, and defeat stop him from pursuing his goals. Charlie Brown is kind, considerate, friendly, and introspective. That makes him loveable.

    • tinydoom

      Ah Gary- I knew we would disagree on this, but I really do appreciate your view of Chuck. The thing that is tough for me is that he keeps letting Lucy hold the football!? Why doesn’t he ask someone else? Get a little stand for it? You want to kick the football? Find another path to your goal. But watching him do the same thing (that leads to failure) over and over again, just bums me out. Perhaps it’s a fear of success that holds him back?

      • The Red Menace

        This is true. While many feel that Charlie Brown perserveres, and thus deserves praise, I do think repeating your mistakes over and over isn’t really perserverance so much as being stuck in rut. And the Little Red Haired Girl doesn’t even know he LIKES her, because he’s never said! And she doesn’t owe him anything, anyway! (And I have a lot of other things going on right now that are coming out in this weird Charlie Brown rant, so I’m going to stop, now.)

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