In this week’s Top 10 Tuesday we explore the king of all character tropes, the lovable rogue. Tvtropes.org defines a loveable rogue as, “A person who breaks the law, for their own personal profit, but is nice enough and charming enough to allow the audience to root for them, especially if they don’t kill or otherwise seriously harm anyone.” From Star Wars’ Han Solo to The Evil Dead/Army of Darkness’ Ash Williams, lovable rogues are often the favorite character archetype of filmgoing fans, but where are the great loveable rogues in television?
10. Shawn Spencer – Psych
This fake Psychic Detective, regularly scams his local police department, while recklessly interfering with dangerous cases. Thankfully, he has a photographic memory and honed deductive skills that keep him from being a burden. Shawn Spencer is an 80s loving, comedic presence whose natural chemistry with nearly every other character on the show, though most notably his BFF Gus, is the reason to watch this USA Network series. But I know, and you know, that he’s not telling the truth.
09. Alan Shore – Boston Legal
With James Spader exploding in geek popularity thanks to his upcoming portrayal of Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it seems appropriate to bring up my favorite James Spader character, that of the lawyer Alan Shore on ABC’s oft-overlooked legal dramedy Boston Legal. Joined by Star Trek’s William Shatner, as the unconquerable Denny Crane, Shore will break every rule in the book with a beaming smile on his face. Though unlike most sleazy Lawyers, Shore is out for the greater good.
08. Jack – Jack of All Trades
Bruce Campbell had to make this list in some form, had this list come out a year from now, perhaps his reprisal of Ash Williams in Ash Vs. The Evil Dead would have been the pick. Though, as that series has yet to debut, our pick is the titular character of Jack in Jack of All Trades. Campbell plays the perfect balance of quick wit, sliminess, and lovability in nearly every iconic role he has had. In Jack of All Trades, he is a spy/vigilante with a carefree attitude that can infuriate his colleagues.
07. River Song – Doctor Who (The Doctor, Captain Jack)
This was a difficult pick, limiting a show full of lovable rogues to a single pick, while necessary, is an act of near futility. So before talking about River herself, lets acknowledge how close I came to picking Captain Jack Harkness, or even The Doctor himself, who both fit the archetype. I give this one to River due to her selfish sidestepping of any and all ethics that do not coincide with her goals. River could just as easily sabotage The Doctor as she could save him. Keep in mind that she marries, and desperately loves, him. River Song, turns out to inherit her wild streak from The Doctor himself, who imparted some of his Time Lord energy on her when she was within the belly of his companion at the time, Amy Pond. Spoilers.
06. Omar Little – The Wire
This gay, whistling, criminal who rips off criminals rounds out the first half of our top 10 list of lovable rogues. With a unique code that puts anyone in “the game” on the line while avoiding damage to anyone outside of it, Omar is a unique and larger than life presence on the typically more grounded HBO crime series. When Omar wants a score he struts down the street with his long coat, large facial scar, and sawed off shotgun while whistling The Farmer in the Dell which is his audio queue to everyone not involved in his business to get the f’ out of the way. Omar is bold, smart, tough, and just. A breakout presence for a gay man in a homophobic world of crime.
05. Dean Winchester – Supernatural
Just about any Hunter on CW’s self descriptive series Supernatural can qualify as a rogue. Though few are as lovable as the wise cracking Dean Winchester. As the older half of the constantly in turmoil Winchester brothers, Dean hides the weight of his responsibilities towards his family behind jokes, heavy drinking, greasy eating, violence, and sordid hook-ups. Dean connects to the audience with his seeming simplistic values, and then makes us fall in love with his deeper introspective turmoil, before making us laugh with his wisecracking facade. Wearing a leather jacket, driving a classic muscle car, playing classic rock mix tapes, and hiding jokes within his cover identities, Dean is a wild card who is always fun to watch.
04. Saul Goodman – Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad
Saul Goodman busted into Breaking Bad as a near perfect caricature of a sleazy lawyer. He is first referenced by Jesse Pinkman who refers to the necessity of Goodman’s skills by saying, “You don’t need a Criminal Lawyer. You need a criminal Lawyer.” But sleazy appearance, snide comments, and corrupt practices aside, Saul Goodman is actually a decent human being. Often taking a dangerous position to protect his friends in ways that are contrary to his own self interest, Saul Goodman is a sleazy shark with a heart of gold, and at the end of the day, if you are a criminal who is in trouble with the law in Albuquerque, New Mexico your first call should be to Saul Goodman. Because when you call Saul Goodman, it’s all good, man.
03. Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones (Jaime Lannister, Bron, Oberyn Martell)
As with Doctor Who, picking just 1 lovable rogue from the massive cast of characters in HBO’s smash hit fantasy series Game of Thrones is nigh impossible. At the end of the day, however, it is hard to overlook the small man, who casts an enormous shadow when talking about lovable rogues. Beating out his own brother, personal mercenary, and his champion in a trial by combat as Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of “the imp” Tyrion Lannister. Born to scorn, hatred, and insult due to his condition as a dwarf and his mother’s death in childbirth, Tyrion’s wit and a sense of personal justice was forged in the cruelty he endured. Tyrion carefully walks the tight rope between his sense of honor and his sense of self preservation. He will often engage in reckless, yet cunning acts of defiance against those who deems corrupt and foolish.
02. Malcolm Reynolds – Firefly
With his western vernacular, Bruce Campbell-esque presence and looks, and a fiercely independent streak, Malcolm Reynolds falls just short of our top spot in this week’s top 10 list of loveable rogues. As the leader of a misfit crew of space outlaws, Captain Reynolds treats his crew like a dysfunctional family, as they fly across the galaxy scoring odd jobs of questionable legitimacy. Firefly only lasted one season, but thanks to Reynolds and his crew of misfits, the series has become one of the most popular cult series of all time, with one of the most fiercely loyal fanbases.
01. Sawyer – LOST
Coming in 1st, as a surprise to absolutely nobody who frequents our site, is Sawyer from ABC’s LOST. Initially reviled by many as an antagonistic sleazeball and con-man, Sawyer slowly grew on fans of the 6 season mystery. I clearly remember introducing a friend to the show, and watching him spit rage at the screen everytime Sawyer acted up. I joked that he would come to love the character, and was quickly denied, yet a few seasons in and he reluctantly admitted that Sawyer was one of his favorite characters on the show. It is a similar path to audiences hearts as that of Jaime Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones. As we develop a better understanding of his character, and where he comes from, and as his own circumstances evolve him as a human being, Sawyer goes from antagonistic to a voice of reason, and takes the top spot of this week’s list.
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