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October 13, 2015

The Five: Most influential characters

by Anna Johns, posted Oct 17th 2006 4:47PM
anne of green gables; megan followsThere's a great discussion happening over at Pop Candy today about the fictional characters that have shaped our world. It's based on the book, "The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived". The list includes Big Brother, The Marlboro Man, and Kermit the Frog but commenters are pointing out some glaring omissions including Harry Potter, Homer Simpson, Bugs Bunny, and Charlie Brown.

I'm not even going to pretend to narrow down the five most influential television characters ever... I'll just give you the list of five TV characters that had the biggest effect on me. Interestingly, none of mine are from cartoons. List your Top Five in the comments.

5. Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables. In 1985, PBS aired a spectacular version of the Anne of Green Gables series of books, starring Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst. Anne was a real fish out of water among the high society folks of Prince Edward Island. What I admired was both her frustration with the fact that she was different, but also her determination to remain true to herself amongst so many pressures to conform to society.

4. Elaine Benes, Seinfeld. I actually managed to pick up some of Elaine's mannerisms and I still find myself using them today. I think I was influenced by her confidence in herself and her ability to hold her own with the boys. She isn't a woman who has a lot of female friends and I can identify with that. She's a woman living in a man's world.

3. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie. The television character that I identified with most as a child was definitely Laura Ingalls Wilder. Just like Laura, I was always getting myself into uncomfortable situations. Whether it was feeling bad about telling a lie or wanting to do the right thing... I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Plus, I grew up in Montana, which felt like Walnut Grove compared to the rest of the world.

2. Heathcliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show. Cliff Huxtable was a very influential father figure on television during my impressionable years. The way he disciplined his kids -- partly with humor -- sent the message to viewers that a father can be an authority figure but can also love his kids very much. The Cosby Show is also considered legendary for portraying a successful African American family, which I'm sure is buried in my psyche somewhere, too.

1. Kermit the Frog, The Muppet Show & Sesame Street. Although Kermit is not my favorite Muppet character, he embodies everything that I learned from The Muppets, including comedy, humility, kindness and understanding. Not to mention my ABC's and 123's!

*The most influential character from my childhood was not from television, but from literature: Ramona Quimby.

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Love your list, Elaine Benes, Laura Ingalls, and Claire Huxtable would be on mine too. Funny enough, I picked Laura when I read the headline, and I've had giggling fits over the line 'These pretzels are making me thirsty' for the past two days.

October 18 2006 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julie Messerer

Most influential fictitious TV character(s) would be The Partridge Family!! I loved singing as a child and still do (drives my family nuts, except for my toddler, who loves Mommy's singing).

For nonfiction TV Characters: Mr. Rogers and JP Patches (in Seattle, WA). I loved watching these guys!! Mr. Rogers was so kind and good. My dad wasn't there when I was little, so I took to Mr. R. As for JP, he was a goofy clown whose "girlfriend" Esmeralda was a guy with a mop for hair!! I was a die-hard "Patches Pal!!"

October 18 2006 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Christina Warren

1. Elaine Benes
2. Joey Potter (before they went to college and the show became all about "the wonder that is Joey")
3. Felicity Porter
4. Karen Walker
5. Lisa Miller

October 17 2006 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Laura Ingalls Wilder really lived! She wrote the Little House books! I'm sure she was nothing like the character on TV! but just! anyway!

October 17 2006 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awww common,.. where is MacGyver?

Easily fits on that list. I mean,.. how many guys grew up wanting to be MacGyver?

Heck, I think most guys out there STILL get a boost to their pride when someone calls them MacGyver for doing something creative or fixing something with just the tools around you.

October 17 2006 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

1. Captain Kangaroo
2. Mary Richards
3. The Log Lady
4. Napoleon Solo
5. Lassie

October 17 2006 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mulder and Scully
Sydney Bristow
Angela Chase
Clarissa Darling
Mary Poppins

October 17 2006 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tess Capra

"They" -- I think it was a Canadian network -- made such a great series about Ramona. It starred Sarah Polley before she moved to Avonlea or got indy cred.

October 17 2006 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The prankster in me wants to post "Jesus Christ" just to see the website explode in comments.

October 17 2006 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kramer, Fraiser Crane, Nick Moore (Family Ties), Jim Ignatowski, Jimmy McNulty

October 17 2006 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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