The thing about fiction, whether it be in the form of a much-loved book, a movie or TV show, or even a comic, is that it taps into the deep pool of imagination and a wealth of what-ifs. This is never more apparent than with the much adored hero of any good story, or in some cases, the villain (for fans of Damon Salvatore and his ilk).
The perfect (and, even better, the imperfect) hero usually combines good looks, with bravery, some smarts, a well of deeply repressed emotions and, say, a crown (if it’s Disney) or a fleet of oil-rigging ships (if Mills & Boon is more your thing). Or, if you’re lucky, they’ve a massive estate in Derbyshire complete with a lake, for random midday swims while fully clothed.
Of course, you then also have the sparkly-watch-her-while-she-sleeps psychopath vampire boyfriend who was entirely too popular for common sense. But then, we all have our own tastes! And to that end, I’ve compiled a brief list of my own favourite fictional boyfriends below, in no particular order. Some are, I grant you, a little strange, while some clearly hark back to my early years, but I still think of them fondly!
- Tuxedo Mask/Darien/Moonlight Night, Sailor Moon. While the man did have far more aliases than one ever could possibly need, there was something about him that tugged at my innocent six-year-old heart. I recall swooning when the love/hate phase of his relationship with Serena/Sailor Moon paused long enough for them to realise their true identities. And even though, in reality, he was actually kind of a jerk and almost entirely useless (dude, a cane is not ever a match for a sword, unless you’re Lucius Malfoy), pure sentimentality – in conjunction with his ability to throw roses around at the drop of a hat – secures his place on this list.
- John Thornton, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Now I love the book, but it doesn’t have a patch on the BBC adaptation. Scandalous to say? Not if you’ve seen Richard Armitage and the cup scene. He’s complicated, a touch on the broody side – but then the woman he’s attempting to woo is judgy, ignorant and blind to his charms – and he’s fiercely loyal and protective. Plus, that voice! As my friend once said, I could happily listen to him recite the phone book all day.
- Dean Winchester, Supernatural. Sure, he’s been to hell and back a few times, and tangled with more than his fair share of demons, ghosts, zombies and face-eating monsters, but he’s quite the sweetheart beyond all that. Admittedly, he’s more of an unforgettable fling (unforgettable because seeing him will probably be coupled with a near-death experience) kind of guy than long-term fictional boyfriend material, given his habit of never staying in the same town for long, endless stream of fake identities, and an unhealthy tendency to die for his brother on a regular basis. But with his pithy one liners, ridiculously attractive jaw line, and that cheeky grin, I quite literally could not say no.
- Jonah Griggs, On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I can’t even. Still one of my favourite books (but not one to be read before having to present myself before people and not look like a blubbering mess), and to this day I lament the deplorable lack of Jonahs in reality. Sadly we don’t yet have a movie version to pine over either! So I leave you instead with your own imagination, and some swooning.
- Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Well this one doesn’t need much explanation as it only set the trend for every what-a-bastard-oh-actually-he’s-not-and-I-love-him book that followed. Misunderstood, wealthy, protective (albeit totally snobby) and attractive, he fits the ideal hero in almost every way. And Colin Firth did nothing to help to stem the flow of adoration from women the world over.
- Noah Calhoun, The Notebook. When a girl decides that in fact James Marsden, in Military dress, and worshipping at her feet, just doesn’t cut muster compared to her first boyfriend, you know he had to have had a little something-something. Low and behold, it’s a younger Ryan Gosling, talking about birds, building houses, writing a year’s worth of letters, and just generally being Ryan Gosling. So, yeah not really a tricky one here.
- Seth Cohen, The OC. Bless him, he was so adorable in a way that spawned a wave of lesser than Seth clones across TV shows everywhere. He loved Summer from the third grade, named a boat (the tiniest one ever) after her, and even Captain Oats and Summer’s Princess Sparkle had their own thing going on. Admittedly he was also an idiot many times over, but a sweet one with an army truck full of chuckle-worthy one liners. Nerd love!
- Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls. I loved Jess, even though in reality he was probably one of the worst TV boyfriends ever (until she was later with Logan, at which point Jess had matured into potentially the best TV boyfriend ever… such a wasted opportunity, Rory!). He was moody, inconsiderate and always looking for trouble, but he read prolifically and wrote notes in the margins of her books and, well, that’s hot.
- Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars. Sure he was snarky (who doesn’t love that?), had a serial killing sociopath of father, and was the ex-boyfriend of Veronica’s murdered best friend, and consistently wore that ugly beaded necklace thing, but really what’s a little baggage in the scheme of things? He was complicated, slightly damaged, but vastly entertaining (especially when compared to Duncan… must boring TV boyfriend ever) and never without a pithy response.
- Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid, No list for me would be complete without my one-true-Disney-love! He’s two-dimensionally good-looking, like totally humble – at least enough to not want to stare at his creepy replica statue – polite enough to not comment on the use of a fork as a comb, and has an awesome dog. Really, what more could one ask for? Okay, granted his will power sucked and he was brainwashed into marrying a crazed half-octopus villain (incidentally, one of the best of all time), but hey, these things happen.