Media--whether in the form of books, movies, tv, plays, lithographs, or what have you--has been creating unrealistic expectations of human awesomeness for centuries. You don’t think that people were slavering over Romeo in Shakespeare’s time*? And for good reason: made-up guys are just better on paper (talk about storybook romance!) So, forget real-life dudes. Imagine happy days with the following fictional fellows!
(Light spoilers throughout; ye be warned.)
Mr. Darcy & Mr. Bingley (Pride & Prejudice)
“I believe I thought only of you."
I’m getting the number one literary boyfriend of all time out of the way right off the bat. But I’m also going to include young Mr. Bingley, who's a little less popular. The way I figure it, you’re either a Darcy girl or a Bingley girl. (A Lizzie or a Jane perhaps?) Darcy has the darkness and angst, underneath which beats the heart of the quintessential gentleman. He may not have the happy manners of other young gentry, but once in, he’s beyond loyal and loves without question (until you cross him...then you are done-zo). On the other hand, Bingley wears his heart on his sleeve, and while not as clever as Darcy, is simple and true in his affections from the get go. He’d offer you a simple, but fantastically happy home where you'd never have to fear any dark or gothic moods descending.
Young Neil (Scott Pilgrim series)
“He’s an asshole.”
“So are you.”
“I’m young. I’ll grow out of it.”
Let’s be honest, Scott Pilgrim is a terrible boyfriend to Knives and Ramona. And Stephen Stills, oh man. Worst boyfriend ever to Julie. (For spoilery reasons that I won’t go into here). But Young Neil? Young Neil is earnest. Young Neil believes. Eventually, Young Neil will become Neil and he will be amazing. He wants to be a boyfriend, so he will be a good boyfriend. The biggest fan of his roommate’s band Sex Bob-omb, he’s initially pretty meek and not very talented. But we see his entire growth cycle through the series, from the energetic fanboy (which I think we nerd-girls can appreciate), to the dark angry youth-phase (which he knows he will “grow out of”), to the well-adjusted Neil who is going to make a lucky lady very happy.
Ford Prefect (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
“Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."
Okay, so maybe Ford wouldn’t be the most stable paramour. But he’d sure as heck be the most interesting! Not the best at prep-work (hence, Ford Prefect), he’s incredibly spontaneous and adventurous. He’s a published journalist (“Mostly harmless”), he knows the importance of a good towel, and definitely has connections in the highest places. He would take you all over the universe! You might even learn to fly. Stranger things have happened to Mr. Prefect, that is for sure. And while it’s not exactly savory, one of his major life goals is to get drunk and dance with girls you. Homeboy knows how to party. Full disclosure: He might leave you at said party and run for his own life if any danger comes your way.
Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars)
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
A more recent addition to some From-the-Page-to-My-Heart-Boyfriend Lists, Augustus Waters is one for the ages. He is a serious teen-aged dream. Other than the sad thing. (It is a bi-i-i-i-g sad thing.) Along with Peeta Mallark (The Hunger Games), I think Augustus may be one of my favorite one-legged teenagers in all literature. A cancer survivor with a crooked smile, Augustus is charming and seemingly carefree. To get the girl, he lets her borrow a book, and writes his number at the end. He’s all about the moment, and living in it. He’s clever, but still a very typical nerdy teen with his love of video games (… and video game novelizations, which are awesome in their own right). And his love-confession, jeez louise. Y’all, I can’t handle it. Just go pick this book up and let your teen-self fall in love with this boy.
Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter series)
“The thing is, it helps when people stand up to them [death eaters], it gives everyone hope.”
Poor, old bumbling Neville Longbottom. With the Englishest of English names. Neville, while he starts out simple and slow, grows into one of the strongest characters in Harry Potter. The 7th book? Woo, hook a sister up with that scarred and battle-ready revolutionary. While the unseen students are living in a nightmarish version of Hogwarts ruled by the whim of Death eaters, Neville is the reason many of them are able to stay sane. He was almost the chosen one, and despite his angsty past, grows into a caring and brave character. You know Neville treats Hannah Abbott like a queen, and who wouldn’t want that?
Laurie (Little Women)
"You've got me, anyhow. I'm not good for much, I know; but I'll stand by you, Jo, all the days of my life; upon my word I will."
Little Women was my all-time favorite book when I was in fourth grade (I identified heavily with Jo March). Nowadays, though, I cannot bring myself to read it. Why? Because it is a goddamn travesty that Laurie ended up with the worst little sister of all time ever, Amy March. And even though that sort of speaks to his taste in women, I like to think that he had to settle for Amy so he could still be close to Jo. He’s definitely the charming boy-next-door, and so is a bit of a stereotype. He starts out as a rather moody and angry young man until the March’s move in. He then meets Jo and hits it off and seriously, they-should-have-ended-up-together. She helps him become the lovely young man that he ends up being. AND AMY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
So there you have it. The list could definitely go on, but these are some of my favorite fellows. Sound off on your own!
*Romeo’s speech to Juliet was copied in a book called The Academy of Complements…And Elegant Expressions of Love and Courtship. (BRB while I go try and find the whole thing because it is amazing.) But yes, so any way, in 1639, John Gough picks up a speech Romeo makes about Juliet as a way to get the ladies.
Preeti Chhibber usually spends her time reading a ridiculous amount of Young Adult (for work, she swears!), but is also ready to jump into most fandoms at a moment's notice. You can follow her on Twitter @runwithskizzers.