Friday, January 27, 2017

Most Famous Fictional Character from Each State


The recent death of Mary Tyler Moore, and the identification of her with her eponymous show, set in Minneapolis, led me to wonder who was the most famous fictional character from each State.

Alabama: Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Sorry, Forrest Gump.

Alaska: Commander William T. Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ahead of Colonel Maurice Minnifield of Northern Exposure.

Arizona: John Rambo of the Rambo films. Sylvester Stallone will show up again.

Arkansas: Coach Wood Newton of Evening Shade.

California: Charlie Brown of Peanuts. Yes, ol' Chuck, Snoopy and the rest live in Sebastopol, a suburb of San Francisco where their creator, Charles M. Schulz, lived most of his adult life after leaving St. Paul, Minnesota to fight in World War II. Of all the characters on all the TV shows ever set in California -- whether in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or elsewhere -- none is as famous as Good Ol' Charlie Brown.

Colorado: Mork of Mork & Mindy. No, not Eric Cartman of South Park. Weirder than Mork, maybe. More foul-smelling, certainly. More foul-mouthed, definitely. But more famous? No chance.

Connecticut: Dr. Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones. Although born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, where his father, Dr. Henry Walton Jones Sr., was teaching at Princeton University, Indy taught at fictional Marshall College, somewhere in Connecticut.

Delaware: Lois Lane of the Superman stories. While not definitive, DC Comics has, on occasion, shown a map of the Northeastern United States, with an example pictured above, with their 2 most famous fictional cities on opposite sides of Delaware Bay: Metropolis, home of Superman and his supporting characters, in Delaware; and Gotham City, home of Batman and his friends and foes, in southern New Jersey.

District of Columbia: Alex Cross of James Patterson's novels. Although the 1975-79 TV version of Wonder Woman placed her first in Washington, then in Los Angeles, the comic books never give her a permanent base of operations, other than Paradise Island/Themiscyra, which is not under U.S. jurisdiction.

Florida: Detective James "Sonny" Crockett of Miami Vice. His partner, Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, was from New York.

Georgia: Scarlett O'Hara of Gone With the Wind.

Hawaii: Special Agent Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-O.

Idaho: Napoleon Dynamite of the film of the same name.

Illinois: Jake & Elwood Blues of The Blues Brothers. Well ahead of William "Studs" Lonigan of the James T. Farrell novel trilogy.

Indiana: Dr. Richard Kimble of The Fugitive.

Iowa: Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek.

Kansas: Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman. who grew up in fictional Smallville, which the 1978 film Superman definitively placed in Kansas, and every version since has followed this, before moving to Metropolis (whose State has never been definitively pinned down). Sorry, Wizard of Oz and
Gunsmoke fans, but Superman is ahead of both Dorothy Gale and Marshal Matt Dillon.

Kentucky: Sheriff Rick Grimes of The Walking Dead. The show takes place in Georgia, but the Grimes family is from Kentucky.

Louisiana: Johnnie B. Goode of the Chuck Berry song of the same title.

Maine: Dr. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce of M*A*S*H. No, not Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows. Nor Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote. Nor any character created by Stephen King.

Maryland: Flash Gordon from the comic strip and film franchise of the same name. Although the 1980 film has him introduce himself as the quarterback of the New York Jets, and a comic book series that began in 1995 made him a former Boston Celtic, the original version, a polo player at Yale University, was from Maryland.

Massachusetts: Sam "Mayday" Malone of Cheers. Ahead of Chief Martin Brody of Jaws (who may not have originally been from the Bay State), and if you want to say Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter is the most famous native, well, maybe that was true until 1982, but Sammy not only surpassed her, but, if it were possible for them to meet, he might have tried to intensify that letter. Jo March of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women novels might also be a candidate, but no film version made her fame as widespread as Cheers did Sammy's.

Michigan: Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor of Home Improvement.

Minnesota: Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sorry, Coach Hayden Fox.

Mississippi: Quentin Compson of William Faulkner's novels. Ahead of Billie Joe McCallister of the song "Ode to Billie Joe."

Missouri: Huckleberry Finn of Mark Twain's novels.

Montana: Catherine Willows of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Nebraska: Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, of The X-Men.

Nevada: Ben Cartwright of Bonanza.

New Hampshire: President Josiah Edward "Jed" Bartlet of The West Wing.

New Jersey: Bruce Wayne of the Batman stories, if you believe that DC Comics map I mentioned earlier and showed above. Ahead of Tony Soprano of The Sopranos. Batman would appreciate beating (out) a crime boss.

New Mexico: Walter White of Breaking Bad.

New York: Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. Ahead of such legendary New York-based sitcom characters as Lucy Ricardo of I Love Lucy, Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners, Rob Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Captain Barney Miller of the show of the same name, Dr. Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show, and the fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld of Seinfeld. Also ahead of Rick Blaine of Casablanca and the entire Corleone family of The Godfather films.

Marvel Comics placed most of their heroes in New York City, as opposed to DC, who placed theirs all over the fictional map. Besides Superman and Batman, they place the Flash in Central City (probably based on Chicago), Green Lantern in Coast City (Los Angeles), Green Arrow in Star City (San Francisco), and the Atom in Ivy Town (somewhere in New England, possibly a suburb of Boston).

But Spidey grew up in Queens, while the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building, Iron Man's Stark Tower, the X-Men's X-Mansion and Thor's medical practice as Dr. Don Blake are all said to be in Manhattan. Bruce Banner worked on a military base somewhere in the American West, so that's where most Hulk stories were set.

North Carolina: Andy Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show.

North Dakota: James Gatz, a.k.a. Jay Gatsby, of The Great Gatsby.

Ohio: Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. I didn't say "best" or "most virtuous," I said "most famous." If you want a good guy, you'll have to settle for a flamboyant but essentially good woman, Stella Johnson of the song "Harper Valley PTA" and the movie and TV series based on it. WKRP in Cincinnati was an ensemble show, so it's hard to put any of its characters ahead of any of the others, much less ahead of Freddy. And don't even think about putting the fictional version of Drew Carey from The Drew Carey Show ahead of Freddy.

Oklahoma: Mike Doonesbury of Doonesbury.

Oregon: Ramona Quimby of Beverly Clearly's novels.

Pennsylvania: Rocky Balboa of the Rocky films. Ahead of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS, whose hometown of Stillwater does exist, about 140 miles northwest of Philadelphia, 160 miles west of New York, and 210 miles north of the show's base in D.C.

Rhode Island: Peter Griffin of Family Guy.

South Carolina: Frank Underwood of House of Cards.

South Dakota: Desmond Miles of Assassin's Creed.

Tennessee: Miley Stewart of Hannah Montana. It is a sad state of affairs that a State with such a rich history of real people hasn't produced a character with a higher profile. Granted, most of the stories about Davy Crockett were were baloney, but he was a real person. And, as far as I know, neither DC nor Marvel has ever put a superhero in Memphis or Nashville.

Texas: J.R. Ewing of Dallas.

Utah: Dean Moriarty of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Kerouac based him on his friend Neal Casady.

Vermont: Jack Torrance of The Shining. No, not Larry, nor his brother Darrell, nor his other brother Darrell from Newhart.

Virginia: John Carter of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels of Mars. Don't even think about putting John-Boy Walton, Thomas Magnum or Nicholas Brody of Homeland ahead of him.

Washington: Dr. Frasier Crane of Cheers and Frasier.

West Virginia: Special Agent Clarice Starling of the Hannibal Lecter films.

Wisconsin: Arthur Fonzarelli of Happy Days.

Wyoming: Yogi Bear of the cartoon of the same name. His home of Jellystone Park is considered an analogue of Yellowstone National Park, most of which is in Wyoming.

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