Literary Death Match: 18 Extreme Characters Face Off

Everybody has their favorite characters from literature. How do yours stack up?

To save you the trouble of fighting with your friends, we’ve slated eighteen extreme characters for some literature-inspired cage matches. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

1. Most Grizzled Sea Captain: Captain Ahab vs. Captain NemoMoby Dick

Best Known From

Ahab: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

Nemo: Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Claim to Fame

Ahab: Took on a giant whale. With a glorified spear-on-a-rope.Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Nemo: Took on a giant squid. With axes.

Mad Skills

Ahab: Whaling, weathering storms, and never taking “no” for an answer.

Nemo: Exploring, blowing stuff up, and making Sgt. Pepper totally jealous.

Super Strength

Ahab: Is completely and utterly insane. At least when it comes to the White Whale.

Nemo: Lives in a submarine.

Critical Weakness

Ahab: Has a peg leg.

Nemo: Lives in a freaking submarine. Thanks, but no thanks.

Wild Card

Ahab: Could easily conceal a weapon in his peg leg. (Just ask the TSA.)

Nemo: Believes so strongly in cosmic justice that he might very well team up with Ahab against the White Whale.

And the winner is… The White Whale. As it drags Ahab to a watery grave, the whale gives Nemo’s submarine a good whack with its tail. The thing implodes because, oh yeah, it’s 1870.

2. Nerd You’d Never Want to Tangle With: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin vs. Lisbeth SalanderEnder's Series

Best Known From

Ender: Orson Scott Card’s Ender series

Lisbeth: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (you know, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Claim to Fame

Ender: Blew up almost an entire species of hostile aliens at eleven years old.

Lisbeth: Set her abusive father on fire at twelve years old.The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Mad Skills

Ender: Laser tag, military strategy, and encouraging the fantasy that a Level 80 on WoW makes you qualified to save the world.

Lisbeth: Hacking, vigilante justice, and stealing millions of dollars in her free time.

Super Strength

Ender: Commands an army.

Lisbeth: Has a MacBook Pro.

Critical Weakness

Ender: Prepubescent.

Lisbeth: Posttraumatic.

Wild Card

Ender: Can communicate telepathically with enormous, extraterrestrial insectoids.

Lisbeth: Knows how to dole out an impromptu tattoo.

And the winner is… Lisbeth Salander. As Ender’s interstellar combat fleet moves in for the kill, Salander uses her Mac to encode a virus into what looks suspiciously like a .GIF of a laughing skull. Lisbeth uploads this into the mothership and SHAZAM! – the entire force is defeated because that’s how hacking works. Right, Independence Day? Right??

3. Most Revolutionary Pig: Napoleon vs. WilburAnimal Farm

Best Known From

Napoleon: George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Wilbur: E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

Claim to Fame

Napoleon: Helped overthrow and replace his human master.

Wilbur: Convinced his master not to eat him via shameless, spider-web-related self-promotion.Charlotte's Web

Mad Skills

Napoleon: Brainwashing, tyranny, and making you cry over the death of a horse.

Wilbur: Stayin’ alive, interspecies hijinks, and making you cry over the death of a spider.

Super Strength

Napoleon: Bipedal.

Wilbur: Adorable.

Critical Weakness

Napoleon: Drunk.

Wilbur: Delicious.

Wild Card

Napoleon: Has a pack of trained dogs.

Wilbur: Has a sac of spider eggs.

And the winner is… Napoleon. Sorry kids, but some animals are more equal than others.

4. Most Dangerous Subterranean Beast: Balrog vs. SandwormThe Lord of the Rings

Best Known From

Balrog: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Sandworm: Frank Herbert’s Dune

Claim to Fame

Balrog: Is a demon composed of flame, shadow, and what we can only guess are kitten screams.Dune

Sandworm: Is a thousand-plus-foot-long worm whose excrement (“spice”) is more valuable than Unobtanium.

Mad Skills

Balrog: Puking fire, terrorizing bridges, and ruining perfectly good underground civilizations.

Sandworm:  Eating stone, crapping sand, and ruining perfectly good watery planets.

Super Strength

Balrog: Has an arsenal of fiery, supernatural weapons.

Sandworm: Swallows anything it can fit in its (sizeable) mouth.

Critical Weakness

Balrog: Is relatively puny.

Sandworm: Can be killed with water.

Wild Card

Balrog: Can be destroyed physically but not in essence.

Sandworm: Is extremely heat-resistant.

And the winner is… The economy. Impervious to flame, the sandworm eats the Balrog whole. Particularly spicy and lucrative spice soon follows.

5. Most Depressed Non-Living Being: Moaning Myrtle vs. Marvin the Paranoid AndroidHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Best Known From

Myrtle: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

Marvin: Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series

Claim to Fame

Myrtle: Killed by Voldemort’s pet basilisk.

Marvin: Once waited for someone for “five hundred and seventy-six thousand million, three thousand five hundred and seventy-nine years.” (He counted.)Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

Mad Skills

Myrtle: Crying, clogging toilets, and voyeurism.

Marvin: Calculating, fatalism, and inspiring other machines to commit suicide.

Super Strength

Myrtle: Undead.

Marvin: Nearly (and regrettably) indestructible.

Critical Weakness

Myrtle: Cannot leave the area in which she died.

Marvin: Has chronic pain in the diodes on his left side.

Wild Card

Myrtle: Lives in a watery, rust-inducing environment.

Marvin: Really, really wants to kick the bucket.

And the winner is… Nobody. Life should have taught you that by now.

6. Bloodthirstiest Wife: Madame Defarge vs. Lady MacbethA Tale of Two Cities

Best Known From

Defarge: Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities

Macbeth: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Claim to Fame

Defarge: Helped start the French Revolution.

Macbeth: Helped overthrow the Scottish throne.Macbeth

Mad Skills

Defarge: Wine-making, secret ops, and knitting death lists.

Macbeth: Ambition, nagging, and metaphorical spot removal.

Super Strength

Defarge: Makes you think twice whenever grandma buys yarn.

Macbeth: Uses infanticide as a motivational tool.

Critical Weakness

Defarge: Pervious to bullets and/or fiercely loyal governesses.

Macbeth: Hasn’t been sleeping so well lately.

Wild Card

Defarge: Knows how to use a guillotine.

Macbeth: Might very well beat Madame Defarge to the punch.

And the winner is… Madame Defarge. Driven by her hatred for the elite, Defarge throws Lady Macbeth off of the highest tower of her castle. (That is, right after Lady Macbeth gives her a boost up the turret.)

7. Darkest Alter-Ego: “Mr. Hyde” vs. “Gollum”

Best Known From

Hyde: Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Gollum: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Claim to Fame

Hyde: Tramples little girls on busy sidewalks.

Gollum: At around 590 years old, can still bench-press a hobbit.

Mad Skills

Hyde: Potions, nefarious acts, and sporting some serious top hat.The Lord of the Rings

Gollum: Sneaking, finger-biting, and making you never want to eat fish again.

Super Strength

Hyde: Has that mad scientist thing going for him.

Gollum: Refers to themselves in pluralses.

Critical Weakness

Hyde: Faces annihilation from Dr. Jekyll.

Gollum: Easily distracted by bling.

Wild Card

Hyde: Knows how to swing a cane.

Gollum: Knows this large spider…

And the winner is… Poetic justice. Wrestling in Dr. Jekyll’s lab, Gollum defeats Mr. Hyde only to fall into a vat of boiling chemicals. This works out remarkably well for everyone.

8. Biggest Psychopath: Dr. Hannibal Lecter vs. Cathy “Kate” AmesLicense of the Lambs

Best Known From

Hannibal: Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs

Kate: John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

Claim to Fame

Hannibal: Once fed a guy his own brain.East of Eden

Kate: Burned down her parents’ home… with them locked inside.

Mad Skills

Hannibal: Psychotherapy, cannibalism, and making fava beans seem sinister.

Kate: Sadism, child abandonment, and pimpin’ it. (No, literally.)

Super Strength

Hannibal: Can MacGyver it out of a max prison with a pen and whoever’s face is handy.

Kate: Looks so adorable that you never even see it coming.

Critical Weakness

Hannibal: Capable of love.

Kate: Can’t hold her liquor.

Wild Card

Hannibal: Wasn’t actually born evil (but has some serious baggage from watching Nazis cannibalize his kid sister).

Kate: Carries a vial of poison around her neck in case of emergencies.

And the winner is… Cathy Ames. Playing into Hannibal’s obsession with his sister, Kate conquers Hannibal’s softer side. Right before she sticks a knife in it.

9. Most Kickass Wizard: Albus Dumbledore vs. Gandalf “the White”Harry Potter

Best Known From

Dumbledore: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Gandalf: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Claim to Fame

Dumbledore: Defeated Grindelwald, the second most dangerous wizard after Voldemort.The Lord of the Rings

Gandalf: Spent two days defeating a Balrog, the second most dangerous kind of monster after dragons.

Mad Skills

Dumbledore: Mischief-enabling, wand-to-wand combat, and “teachable” moments.

Gandalf: Fireworks, bridge-smiting, and staff-to-skull combat.

Super Strength

Dumbledore: Possesses the (undefeatable) Elder Wand.

Gandalf: Is so important that when he dies, he LEVELS UP.

Critical Weakness

Dumbledore: Once trusted Grindelwald, an evil wizard.

Gandalf: Once trusted Saruman, an evil wizard.

Wild Card

Dumbledore: Has a phoenix that can carry immense weight, heal wounds, and self-resurrect.

Gandalf: Has the world’s fastest horse and is buddy-buddy with a bunch of ginormous eagles.

And the winner is… Love, justice, and the power of the imagination. That’s something we can all feel good about, right?

(Seriously though, Gandalf would totally throw down.)

One thought on “Literary Death Match: 18 Extreme Characters Face Off

  1. Gandalf wins. So does Gollum. Maybe not the Balrog. I still love this. Because we all need this list. Now, where’s that fave button?

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