The List: Loveable losers

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive
Bill Murray

Columbus hosts “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage” this weekend, welcoming a character that is the modern definition of a “loveable loser.” Sure, it's a trope, but it draws on everything from the socially challenged bumbler to the purposefully checked-out dropout and from the Sisyphean laborer to the outright dope. Here's a list of some of our favorites.

Bill Murray's early canon

It's been so long since he reinvented himself as a multifaceted actor with depth and chops (this started as far back as “The Razor's Edge,” continued in “Rushmore” and was cemented with “Lost in Translation”) that moviegoers might forget (probably not) that Murray made his name in madcap comedies playing embraceable dopes in “Caddyshack” and “Stripes.”

The Chicago Cubs

Speaking of Bill Murray, the Cubs were tagged as the official (in sports, anyway) Loveable Losers for many of the 108 years the team went between winning the World Series titles. Pretty much everyone has given up using the moniker since the Cubs won the Series in 2016. In fact, like the Boston Red Sox, who ended an 86-year World Series drought in 2004, most people hate the Cubs now.

Rob Gordon

Speaking of Chicago… John Cusack's sad-sack record store owner in “High Fidelity” can't seem to get out of his own way. The inclusion of this character and film allows me to mention Cusack co-star Jack Black, one of a host of actors who's taken the mantle for the trope from Murray (Steve Carell, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell) in the years since.

Wile E. Coyote

The fact that he's not a good guy and often paints himself as possessing heightened mental acumen don't help the Looney Tunes character and Road Runner foil become loveable, but the fact that he so marvelously fails every single time does.

Steve Urkel

“Did I do that?” As archetypes go, Urkel's probably more the classic 1980s geek, but there's no doubt audiences loved him.

Sega Dreamcast

Perhaps it's hard to see the product of a gazillion-dollar multinational corporation as a loser (or, for that matter, loveable), but there's still some fondness in the gaming community for this console, which was tossed aside in favor of the still-dominant PlayStation and Xbox.


Every coming-of-age film has one, right? For a generation, Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Fogell (best-remembered as McLovin, the name on his fake ID) in “Superbad” was the height of loveable loser. He also points to one of the difficulties of identifying the loveable loser, in that, while Fogell is fairly perceived as a “loser,” he does not always lose.

Homer Simpson

We see Charlie Brown only ever as a kid, which means we have hope for him despite his loser status. But let's say he never overcomes and turns first bitter and then resigned, opting out of whatever brain power he has left. Who does that sound like?