It’s National Sorry Charlie Day, a time for people to come together to apologize to all the Charlies they have wronged. Fortunately, we can’t think of any Charlies we’ve wronged, so we will have to settle on feeling sorry for five hapless fictional Charlies. Note to all aspiring authors: if you want to create an unlucky character, we recommend the name “Charlie.” Everyone will be primed to pity your protagonist.
Charles Bingley from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Okay, Charles Bingley does get the girl at the end, but we still feel sorry for him. Why? The guy never grows a backbone. He dumps a girl he likes because his sisters and friend tell him to. What the heck? He lets other people dictate his love life. Also, people still take advantage of him after he marries Jane. We’re sorry, Charles Bingley, that you’re always stepped on.
Charles Foster Kane from Citizen Kane directed by Orson Welles
We don’t think it gets more pathetic than Charles Foster Kane. Sure, he’s rich and successful, but his life is pretty meaningless. The last thing he thinks about on his deathbed is his childhood sled, Rosebud. That is as sad as it gets. We’re sorry, Charles Foster Kane, that your last words were about an inanimate object.
Charles Ryder from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Life is not kind to Charles Ryder. First, his mother passes away, and he is forced to deal with his father who doesn’t understand him. Then he meets his best friend at Oxford, only to eventually lose him to alcoholism and a monastery. Then he gets married, but the marriage is so terrible that he has an affair with his best friend’s sister, Julia. He finally thinks he has a chance of happiness with her, so he divorces his wife only to have Julia back out of the relationship. We are sorry, Charles Ryder, that you lost your best friend and the girl.
Charlie Brown from Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
Oh, Charlie Brown. The boy never gets a break. Lucy always snatches his football when he tries to kick it. His kite always gets tangled in a tree. He never gets cards. People don’t listen when he tries to direct them in a play. None of the neighborhood kids respect him. We are sorry, Charlie Brown, for, well, pretty much everything.
Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
On the surface, it seems like Charlie is a lucky kid. He finds the golden ticket and has a shot to get himself and his family out of poverty. But we ask ourselves . . . at what cost? Not only did he have to suffer some horrific sights as he toured the factory (who wants to see a girl turn purple?), but he must oversee the operation of the factory. Can you imagine dealing with the Oompa Loompas’ union? We are sorry, Charlie Bucket, that you are now responsible for a slightly demonic chocolate factory that violates so many human rights laws.