Unluckiest Fictional Characters

Posted by Sarah Fox

[Movie still from Romeo + Juliet, 20th Century Fox & Bazmark Films]

Tomorrow marks that dreaded date, Friday the 13th—a day where you may want to call in sick in order to avoid bad luck. But have no fear! Even if you accidentally trip or butt-dial an ex, your luck won’t be as bad as the luck of the characters we list below. Schadenfreude at work!


[Movie still from Troy, Warner Bros]

Odysseus from The Odyssey by Homer

You think your road trips have been nightmarish? Odysseus has you beat. He runs into every potential problem on his way home to Ithaca from Troy: his companions get turned into pigs, he gets stuck with a Cyclops, he has to resist temptation from sirens, and he gets blown off course from vicious winds held in a freakin’ magical bag. To make matters worse, he has to fight off men trying to marry his wife as soon as he gets home…and just when he’s taken care of all that, his dog dies. Odysseus definitely has the worst luck when it comes to traveling.


[Movie still from Romeo + Juliet, 20th Century Fox & Bazmark Films]

Romeo from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

If you think your love life is unlucky, look at Romeo Montague’s to feel better. Not only does his first love, Rosaline, not return his feelings, but his next love, Juliet, is a Capulet – his family’s sworn enemies! As if that weren’t enough, he gets exiled halfway through the play (because he killed a guy, but still, exile sucks). Just when you think his luck can’t get worse, he kills himself because he thinks Juliet is dead. It turns out that she was faking her death – Romeo never got the memo because a plague stopped the messenger from delivering it. Juliet wakes up from her deep sleep a few minutes after he kills himself. Ouch. Talk about bad timing.


Nell Trent from The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

Nell’s luck is bad from the beginning. First, her parents are dead, so she has to live with her grandfather. The guy wants her to have a good life, so he comes up with the “brilliant” plan of gambling to help them become wealthy. His luck is rotten, and he loses all the money (bet you didn’t see that one coming!). They lose their home and become beggars, which causes Nell’s grandfather to go crazy. Nell goes on a journey to get her grandfather to safety, which ultimately kills her. Sadly, all this happens before her only friend, Kit, can save her.

Nell may be good, but sometimes good people can have the worst luck.


[Movie still from Matilda, TriStar Picutres]

Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda has terrible luck when it comes to authority figures in her life. Her parents are neglectful, and she has the worst headmistress of all time: Miss Trunchbull. This formidable woman often places students who have offended her in the Chokey—a cupboard full of glass and nails—is the stuff of nightmares. She also manages to ruin something everyone loves—chocolate cake—by making a child eat so much of it at once that he gets sick. Can you imagine putting up with Miss Trunchbull every day?

Fortunately for Matilda, her luck changes, and she goes to live with her favorite teacher, Miss Honey. (If only we could all live with our favorite teachers…)


[Movie still from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Paramount Picutres and DreamWorks]

The Baudelaire Children from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The title of the series should give you a hint that the Baudelaire children have really, truly, horribly, violently terrible luck. When their parents are killed in a fire (an event that is unfortunate by itself), they are sent to live with Count Olaf. If his name sounds ominous, it’s because Count Olaf is definition of evil: he tries to steal the children’s substantial inheritance over and over again, including through an icky plot in which he attempts to marry Violet. And that’s just the first book – there are thirteen in all!

The whole series is one unfortunate event after the other, making the Baudelaire children the unluckiest of them all.

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at www.thebookishfox.com.