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My Laminated Freebie List: TV Series Edition

This summer, I’ve been working my way through the first three season of STARZ’s Outlander series. I’m absolutely loving it – I’m trying to ration it rather than full-on binge – and find myself thinking that if I knew that Jamie Fraser were waiting for me on the other side, I’d jump through those stones in a heartbeat no matter how bad the plumbing was in the mid-1700s. He has to be, hands-down, one of my top five TV heroes of all times.

Which got me to making mental lists of the other heroes I’d put on my laminated freebie list. If you’ve never done this, it’s a lot of fun because, fantasy! And since it’s still technically summer so a good time to indulge in light and fluffy activities, I figured a post might be in order.

So in no particular order (as in, I adore all of these guys pretty much equally), here are my tops (at present since there are lots of shows out there to watch yet).

WARNING: THERE ARE STORY SPOILERS FOR THE SHOWS MENTIONED. If you haven’t watched these programs and wish to remain unspoiled, please leave now.

James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser (Outlander): As played by Sam Heughan, I have to agree with showrunner Ronald D. Moore that Jamie Fraser is the King of Men. Loyal and true, witty, strong, confident and straight-up hot, Jamie personifies all of the characteristics I love in men jacked to a level of 10. But Jamie also has real flaws, specifically his preference for illegal activities that put him in a constant state of danger. What I find most appealing about him, though, is his complete openness when it comes to his love for Claire. He’s not afraid to be vulnerable and doesn’t even attempt to hide the level of his devotion to her. His grief and despair after losing her hung like a storm cloud over his head for the first episodes of Season 3 which represented literally decades of his life, and I just wanted to wrap him in a giant hug to make it all go away.

Jon “Not Actually a Bastard” Snow (Game of Thrones): I’m one of those folks who was so happy to see Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen get together at long last that I don’t give two hoots that they are related. Incest schmincest. Truly, though, I adore Jon’s continued state of near-innocence, his constant belief that the people of Westeros are worth saving even to the point of sacrificing his own life, despite the outright evil he’s directly experienced time and time again. Like Jamie Fraser, Jon is loyal and noble, strong and straight-up hot (thank you GoT casting for finding lovely Kit Harington). But where Jamie strides through the world certain in his purpose, Jon struggles to figure out where he fits in. He’s a demonstrated leader, but one who questions his own qualifications. He’s got pride, but he’s not prideful and will relinquish his own power for the greater good. Plus, you just know that when he gives his heart, it’s a forever thing.

Brian Kinney (Queer As Folk): I’m guessing most people won’t know Brian Kinney, the out-and-proud gay anti-hero stud of Showtime’s Queer As Folk Pittsburgh LGBTQ scene. But when you want an example of the quintessential bad-boy with a heart of gold, he’s your go-to guy. Brian makes no apologies and takes no prisoners on his quest to remain forever young and beautiful, refusing to commit or capitulate to the institutions of love and marriage that he views as fake constructs invented by straights to “get laid”. That is, until he meets Justin Taylor, who slowly, episode by episode, chisels his way into Brian’s granite heart. Brian is confident to the point of cocky, knows that he’s walking sex-on-a-stick (thank you, Gale Harold), and is usually the smartest guy in the room. On the surface, the things that he does seem only to serve his own desires and needs. But behind the scenes, Brian uses his power and influence to help those he loves, refusing to take credit, almost fearful that people will see that he even has a softer side. Brian is the kind of guy who holds you at arm’s length, but once he lets you get close, he’s devoted to you forever.

Joshua Lyman (The West Wing): I adore Josh Lyman. I love that he’s a big-brained nerd who never gives up on his idealistic dreams. I love that he often puts his foot in it. While Bradley Whitford is cute as a button, Josh isn’t hot in the traditional romantic hero way. But he exudes a confidence that just screams sexiness. He’s the rock star of politics, the example of power as aphrodisiac. But in his heart, he’s still a goof-ball. I imagine being involved with Josh would be tough because his heart and attention would be divided equally between his career and his partner. To that end, he’d afford you a lot of room to be your own person and pursue your own passions. It’s a strong, fiercely independent woman who would match well with him. I’m up to the task.

Dean Winchester (Supernatural): If ever there was a man who has suffered more for those he loves than Dean Winchester, I don’t know who it might be. The guy actually went to Hell to save his brother. Physically and emotionally, Dean is always putting himself at risk to fight the monsters that threaten everyone around him. He’s equal parts confident and vulnerable, the sad puppy who wants more than anything a home and to be loved. Plus, he’s funny. A guy who proudly admits a love for stadium rock and 80s hair bands, wears black and leather like he was born in them, and looks like Jensen Ackles doesn’t need to do much more to attract me. But it’s Dean’s generous heart hidden by layers of tough bravado that cements my love for this guy.

Bonus Entry – Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Firefly). Before he became a famous TV mystery writer, Nathan Fillion charmed the pants off me as the sci-fi/western space pirate Captain Mal Reynolds. All credit given to the stunning dialog written by the incomparable Joss Whedon, but I just hang on every word out of Malcolm Reynold’s mouth. Add to his parched-dry sense of humor his absolute loyalty to his crew and I’m done for. Mal is a loser (he literally lost a war) who will do whatever it takes to provide for those in his care. He refuses to sell out his ideals, cherishing his freedom and autonomy above comfort and security. He’s a champion for the underdog, a hero for the downtrodden, a shield for the powerless. He’s also stubborn as hell, refuses to admit when he’s wrong, and fails to see love when it’s standing right in front of him. Often, he’s his own worst enemy. He doesn’t always win the fight, but he always, always gets back up and keeps fighting. In short, he’s the most human of heroes, short of perfection but always striving to be better.

Addendum: After writing up this list and studying the similarities between these fictional men, I’ve come to see that my ideal hero is loyal to a fault. He holds his heart close, but once given, he’s devoted to the very end. He’s not into flashy displays of altruism, but rather keeps his good deeds under wraps. Earning his love takes work, but it is well worth the effort.

Please share in the comments those heroes (and heroines) you’d put on your Laminated Freebie List and why. I’m always game to start a new list.

~ Jenna Harper

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