Top ten characters I’d like to be best friends with.…well, this is going to be fun.
1. Ducky, California Diaries (Ann M. Martin)
Ducky is a sixteen-year old guy living alone with his older brother while his parents explore Pompeii. A sophomore in high school, Ducky is feeling the strain of growing up as his two childhood best friends move away from him. This is a shame, because Ducky’s a great guy. Ducky is cool. He has his own eccentric sense of style, he’s fun to be around, and he’s always there for his friends — going out of his way to support them, like the time he drove to Venice to find Sunny after she ran away. He makes his appearance in the series by rescuing a few humiliated freshmen who just escaped dangerous hazing incident, and remains devoted to the welfare of his friends throughout the series — even stopping a suicide attempt.
2. Dobie Gillis, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (Max Shulman)
Dobie Gillis is not a good guy to be friends with. He’s girl-crazy! He’s always out of money and asking for more from friends, and he wouldn’t think twice about “borrowing” your car to chase some girl halfway across the continent because he’s so madly in love and must woo her. How can you study for exams with a fellow who’s always staring dopily in the distance or moaning over his romance woes? But you can’t help being friends with Dobie, because he’s charming — and hilarious. How can you resist listening to the results of his latest scheme gone awry? ” And he really is an interesting fellow, with varied interests in Egypt, chemistry, and philosophy. (Okay, so he only took chemistry to get close to that one girl, and together they called themselves Pierre and Marie, and they were locked in a schoolroom closet for the better part of a weekend with only pickles to tide them over while they feverishly worked out solutions to the work they’d missed during the term when they were being proper hedonists instead of academics.)
3. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
Hermione is such a lovable little smart-ass know-it-all. I wouldn’t want to join her in nearly getting killed (every.single.year), but most of my friends tend to be nerds of one stripe or another — mostly history geeks or music majors. Given my own fondness for books, seems we’d hit it off.
Except on days when Ravenclaw battled Gryffindor on the quidditch pitch, I guess.
4. Aximili Esgarrouth Isthill – okay, let’s just go with “Ax”. Animorphs
All the kids in the animorphs crew seem like good people to be around, with the exception of Rachel, who is crazy aggressive and loves malls. Tobias and Marco are the most likable to me, but the human kids have a tough time psychologically coping with years of brutal guerrilla war against the Yeerks who are attempting to take over the world — especially Marco, who fights them as an actual gorilla. Doesn’t help that the military leader of the Yeerks has taken oer his mother’s body. Aximili comes from a culture used to fighting the Yeerks, and his alien perspective makes even watching commercials with him interesting. He can be oddly logical, but at the same time is full of pride. Just…don’t let him go near a food court, especially not one with a Cinnabon. He’s also the source of many running jokes.
Ax: We have twenty-six of your minutes left.
Marco: We’re on Earth, Ax. They’re everyone’s minutes.
Ax: (quite deliberately) We now have twenty-five of your minutes.
Jake: Don’t call me prince, Ax.
Ax: Yes, Prince Jake.
5. Sam Yeager, WorldWar/Colonization series, Harry Turtledove
In my experience characters named ‘Sam’ tend to be everymen, and Sam Yeager surely fits the bill. Readers meet him in the WorldWar series as a minor league baseball player who turned soldier after the outbreak of World War 2. Sam passed his long hours on trains during his ballplaying days reading magazines like Astounding Stories, enjoying authors like Asimov and Lester del Ray. When World War 2 is interrupted by an invasion of spacefaring lizards, Sam’s SF-strengthened imagination allows him to work with lizard POWs. He becomes the United States’ chief expert and is later sent as an ambassador to the lizard Homeworld when the various nations of Earth begin sending ships out into space. He remained likable throughout the series, especially when he stood up against his own government in ethical protest.
6. Liz Ortecho & Alex Manes, Roswell High
You know, not everyone responds well to learning that one of their friends is an alien, but Liz and Alex don’t hesitate to step up and help. They didn’t know what they were getting into. I like Liz immediately as someone quiet and interested in science, but Alex’s geekiness was endearing as well. He proved to be like Ducky, going out of his way to be there for people who needed him: once he sat all night outside another character’s bedroom talking to her after her boyfriend was murdered by the cold-eyed sheriff.
7. Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton)
The narrator of The Outsiders, Ponyboy lives with his brothers Sodapop and Darry in 1960s Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like everyone else in their neighborhood, they’re ‘greasers’ — poor, working-class kids who find more support from their gang than from school or society. Though his brothers try to keep him from the violent part of gang life, Ponyboy gets in a spot of trouble after he and his friend Johnny are attacked by a couple of rich kids looking for trouble and has to go on the run. He remains throughout the book a good kid in a tough spot, and I wanted to join him and Johnny while they were hiding in the woods. He seems like good company.
8. Hari Seldon
In the original Foundation series, Hari Seldon is a passionate scientist who wanted to preserve civilization, and his Seldon Plan makes him into a godlike figure for members of the series who lived centuries after him — they only see him as a holgraphic personage who appears in moments of crisis. The prequel books (Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation) visit Hari in his youth as he develops the field of psychohistory. Seldon is in part based on Asimov, so I can’t help but like him.
9. Gordianus the Finder, Roma sub Rosa (Steven Saylor)
Gordianus the Finder is a fundamentally decent man living in the last days of the Roman Republic. He matures throughout the series from a young thirty-something into a bearded elder, having spent his life working as the Roman version of a private detective. Gordianus’ decency stands out in his times, and as much as he dislikes politics he’s forever being drawn into it: his famous honesty makes him a favorite hire of the day’s ambitious politicians, and through Gordianus’ eyes the reader gets to experience the struggles for power between Crassus, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, and many others.
10. Klaus & Violet Baudelaire, Series of Unfortunate Events (Daniel Handler)
Okay, I’m not sure which I like more. At first I just thought of Klaus, but a friend was surprised I hadn’t picked Violet. And then so was I…so I’m going to cheat. Who can choose between two clever, courageous kids such as these?
I suppose in a pinch I’d choose Klaus, because he’s forever reading.
Honorable Mentions: Henry Huggins (Beverly Cleary), the Alden kids (Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny) though they’re rich and clannish. Harry Potter, though he’s got a big chip on his shoulder. M&M from That was Then, This is Now; Johnny from The Outsiders. The Narrator from H.G. Well’s various novels.
I enjoy playing The Sims 2, and many of these characters and other characters from their series have their names in my neighborhood. One of my favorite sims is named Hari Seldon, and he used to be the town’s immortal god-like mayor. His adopted son is Harry Seldon, who looks suspiciously like Harry Potter. I just borrow names from the rest.