Some of our favorite fictional characters are so wonderful and relatable because they represent a very specific part of the US. The best fictional characters from every state speak to American truths at large while simultaneously embodying the quirks, mannerisms, and twangs of certain regions. Whether the most famous fictional character in every state is from a book, movie, or TV show, they entertain us and make us proud (or sometimes embarrassed) to call our state of residence "home."
From characters like Dwight Schrute of Pennsylvania serving up a twisted take on farm life to Ace Ventura acting crazy like Floridians are wont to do, these famous fictional characters from every state do a fantastic job of reppin' their state while contributing significantly to the melting pot that is American fiction.
Forrest Gump lived in a beautiful farmhouse with his Mama on a plantation located in the fictional town of Greenbow, AL. The endearing ping-pong champion embodies American optimism and the hardships of growing up in rural Alabama.
Gump reminds his audience that life is filled with a variety of choices, and each decision we make takes our lives on a different path that should be celebrated. Forrest Gump is a movie about acceptance, and Gump tells his remarkable story through the eyes of someone whom no one accepted as typical; it's also about a person who manned a shrimp boat and told the POTUS he had to pee.
In 1995, Forrest Gump won several Academy Awards, and there is seldom a person who doesn't know that life is like a box of chocolates.
Peter Griffin is the classic Irish-American Catholic guy from Rhode Island. He lives in the fictional town of Quahog with his family in a traditional Cape Cod style home. Peter's unfiltered style and endless desire to prove his masculinity is emblematic of his home state. The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council has created a tour in honor of Family Guy - an honor no other Rhode Island fictional character can claim to have.
The teacher turned crystal meth maker found a way to make the exorbitant amount of money needed for his cancer treatments. And while he often finds himself in some sticky situations, he also finds himself... that is, as a formidable drug lord. New Mexico is known as "The Land Of Enchantment," and we quickly find ourselves disenchanted with a man who goes from family man to an egomaniac of a drug lord. Also, many folks from Albuquerque, NM, say the show does an excellent job of portraying the city in a realistic manner.
Eric Theodore Cartman of South Park, CO, is a South Park fan favorite, though the uninitiated may not understand why; after all, Cartman is vulgar, racist, and has a lengthy criminal record. Still, he has some pretty unforgettable catchphrases which have seeped into the American lexicon at large, like "Respect my authoritah!" and "Screw you guys, I'm going home."
Cartman managed to work his way into the hearts of '90s kids everywhere and he followed them into adulthood. Those same former '90s kids could share Cartman's affections for "cheesy poofs" with their children, and they could also teach their children everything they need to know about sweet revenge through Eric Cartman (like when Cartman fed Scott Tenorman chili, which turned out to be made from Scott's parents). Cartman is a born leader, and is so famous he even made a cameo on Futurama. Colorado should be proud of their angry, murderous, scheming adorable sociopath son.
Have you ever wondered where Scooby-Doo and the gang solve all of their mysteries? It's in Coolsville, a fictional town in Ohio located in Erie County.
Kids love Scooby-Doo. This trend hasn't slowed down, and it doesn't matter that the vast majority of the original Scooby-Doo episodes were created even before the parents of young kids today were born. The Scooby gang hangs out in Coolsville, OH, and while the viewers know roughly how every Scooby-Doo episode will end, the process of getting there remains a mystery. And it's this formula that appeals to young children, older kids, and even adults who try to beat those meddling kids to the denouement. Scooby has gone through many iterations, and the hungry pup's movies picked up a Teen Choice Award and a Kid's Choice Award in 2002 and 2003.
He's the most famous bear in Jellystone Park and an American legend to boot. Everyone who picnics at a national park may check their surroundings twice to make sure someone "smarter than the av-er-age bear" doesn't steal their food. Some would argue Yogi's fame rivals that of another national park bear, Smokey.
Known for his skills, sick dance moves, and letting Deb realize it's okay to drink whole milk, Napoleon dominates Idaho. No one can hold back this liger artist, not even his pet Llama, Tina. He's more of a legend than his Uncle Rico, the former high school football star. Napoleon, the original hipster, made it cool to be yourself, no matter how awkward. He embodied the awkwardness of growing up in the Mountain States in the early aughts. Napoleon managed to gain a cult following and endear himself to an audience despite his quirks and eccentricities.
He might never catch the Roadrunner, but that doesn't mean that he won't kill himself trying. Fortunately, this coyote appears to have more lives than a cat. And there is rarely a child or adult who doesn't recognize this hapless predator.
The main character of the Peanuts comic, Charlie Brown, hails from Minnesota. It makes sense when you think about how much snow with which the Peanuts characters have to deal.
Charlie Brown is the loveable nerd to whom every child could relate. He's important because he's one of the first characters in comics to explore life through the eyes of an awkward child, and while he could get gloomy sometimes (he once said, "I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time"), the Peanuts comic is ultimately a message about accepting friends for who they are and taking life one day at a time. And we get to hear this message from a little boy who wears the same yellow shirt every day.
Talladega Nights may take place in a variety of NASCAR stadiums, but the film's protagonist Ricky Bobby calls North Carolina home. Ricky Bobby embodies the passion for NASCAR that fills states like North Carolina and the southern United States. Charlotte, NC is an area that is popular with NASCAR drivers and announcers alike. In November 2017, Ricky Bobby's $4.2 million mansion went up for sale, so now hardcore fans can drink all the Gatorade and eat all the Domino's Pizza they want just like one of North Carolina's finest.
Dwight resides on Schrute Farms in Honesdale, PA, a town neighboring Scranton. Dwight is an effective salesman for Dunder Mifflin Paper, despite his nonexistent interpersonal skills. Dwight is by far one of the best characters on The Office, and he was the only character who almost got his own spinoff series, The Farm.
Not only is Dwight an excellent salesperson, but he lives his life simply and directly. He takes a pragmatic approach to life, such as thinking (see: plotting) before he acts. For instance, Dwight stated that he would never do something "an idiot would do." Despite Dwight's many apparent character flaws, he is a loyal and genuine friend.
In the suburbs of Chicago lives a man so unmotivated he still speaks to males across America years after his show went off-air. Al Bundy of Married... With Children is an unambitious shoe salesman. He's best known for kicking back on the couch and drinking a beer with his hand in the safest spot... down his pants.
Married... With Children is significant to American television in that it ran contrary to earlier shows like Leave It To Beaver, where home life was portrayed as perfect. Al Bundy and his family made it "okay" to show a dysfunctional American family on primetime television. Fans watched the Bundys struggle financially, emotionally, and even with annoying neighbors. Somehow, though, the under-motivated Al Bundy held his family together.
Tony Soprano, from Newark, NJ, was associated with the DiMeo crime family. He played an important role in the North Jersey area to keep this criminal organization running smoothly. The Sopranos changed television for American networks. While interest in the Irish and Italian mobs have dominated the northeast coast of the United States for decades, Tony Soprano's character brought mob life into homes across America, and he made his ill-dealings likable. Through Tony Soprano, networks learned what audiences would tolerate and learned how to endear a rancid character to television fans. As for all of his problematic behaviors? Forgeddaboutit!
High school student Marty McFly attended Hill Valley High School in Hill Valley, CA, in the mid '80s. He meets up with Doc Brown after hearing about Brown's experiments and lunacy. The two hit it off and as a result, the most epic trilogy of the '80s was born.
The film redefined the science fiction genre, and with the help of Mary McFly, the "everyday teenager," turned science fiction into something mainstream and trendy. Marty's success in Back To The Future led to not only two additional films, but also a ride at Universal Studio, which unfortunately closed in 2007.
He's not Dr. Doolittle, but he can talk to dolphins. The Florida based pet detective can solve any animal mystery, and he'll do it while entertaining us all. He'll even take on the Miami Dolphins to do so. His bat-crazy antics are on par with all of the crazy crimes that happen in the Sunshine State. Jim Carey won the Kids Choice Award for 'Favorite Movie Actor,' and for the better part of the '90s, whenever a kid or teenager said, "All righty then," no explanation was needed.
He's a one-man army. Even though John Rambo hates killing, he's a decorated special forces vet who will protect his loved ones at whatever the cost. Rambo is a significant character because he set the scene for the one-man action movie hero. Not only was Rambo a commentary on the Vietnam War, but his movie led to other action-packed hero movies that continue until today. Arizona gun control laws are among the least-restrictive in the US, so Rambo and his arsenal represent the state somewhat perfectly.
Penny Hofstadter was born in Omaha, NE, but she moves to California to pursue her acting career. In Season 1 of The Big Bang Theory, Penny moved into Apartment B across from Leonard and Sheldon.
Fans of The Big Bang Theory note Penny is often the catalyst for a lot of personal growth among the nerdy group of friends, and her underappreciated dynamic makes her the star player. And while her people in Nebraska might not appreciate her topless role in the film "Serial Ape-ist," they no doubt appreciate her Midwest work ethic and mannerisms.
Huckleberry Finn is a classic American character created by American author Mark Twain. While only a child, he manages to escape life with his drunkard father. He sets out on many adventures, which makes him a quintessential figure of early America.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn defined the American novel. Ernest Hemingway once said of the book "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn." Twain examined life through his character's eyes in a way that was simple, straightforward, and typical of rural Missourah. Twain famously wrote in the book, "Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better." In many ways, Huck Finn remains what America was intended to be in its early years.
Yes, Dorothy is technically the star of The Wizard of Oz, but Toto steals the show in nearly every scene. He's adorable, knows trouble when he smells it, and his existence gave American cinema one of its most revered lines: "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!"
Toto has a lot of competition from the other Oz characters, but he truly embodies the ideals Wizard of Oz fights so hard to portray: loyalty, bravery, and love.
What would wasting time on the internet be without cats? Well before the world could kill time googling kittens, it could "tune in" to watch Garfield, the cat who loves lasagna and calls Indiana home. Garfield is known for driving his owner nuts, but he means well. He also set the scene for the world's entertainment obsession with cats.
The most famous alter-ego of alter-egos, Tyler Durden, is the narrator for Chuck Palahniuk's novel and subsequent film Fight Club. Durden pushes Joe, the main character, to his personal limits. Durden personified the general angst surrounding the capitalist agenda and captured the hearts of many upper-middle-class suburban white boys. After the release of the film, life appeared to imitate art as real-life organized fight clubs began popping up all over Delaware.
Sure, Jay Gatsby takes advantage of prohibition to make his fortune, but that doesn't make him any less of a literary treasure. James Gatz starts his life dirt poor in early 20th century North Dakota before reemerging on the East Coast as the posh and stylish Jay Gatsby of Long Island. Through Gatsby, Fitzgerald waxes philosophical on the attainment of the American Dream.
With his trademark red shirt and white and navy sailor's hat, Gilligan is best known as "little buddy." He's a hapless hero hailing from Hawaii but shipwrecked with the rest of the crew on Gilligan's Island. The show was filmed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and many fan tours are available - but be warned, some of them are not a three hour tour (a three hour tour), but rather a NINE hour one.
You have to feel for this author and teacher from Vermont, who just wanted to take a couple of months finish his book. He didn't know the Overlook Hotel would be haunted when he agreed to be its caretaker, but it didn't take long for him and his family to figure it out. Everyone knows you're quoting Jack Torrance when you leave cryptic notes around that say, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
An authentic southern bell, Ms. O'Hara epitomizes the struggle between class, title, and love in the late 1800s in Gone with the Wind. She is a complicated heroine who may be selfish at times but also didn't give a damn when it came to gender expectations. The film is problematic in the way it portrays slavery during the Civil War era, which filmmakers have since acknowledged. Despite its massive shortcomings, Gone with the Wind is still considered a classic in America cinema, and Scarlett is - frankly - an unforgettable character who you should give a damn about.