10 Fictional Men Who Have Ruined Me For Actual Men

Jane Eyre

Pity the poor boys in my life from 1996 on, few as they may have been. That was the adolescent year I first started reading novels by Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, and even though at the time I had precious little real-world boyfriend experience, I still knew deep down that an actual teenaged male couldn’t hold a candle to the slow burn of Mr. Darcy, the smoldering heat of Mr. Rochester, and the roaring inferno of Heathcliff.

Uh…is it hot in here? Ahem-hem.

So damn you, fictional men! You ruined me for real men! And at such an innocent, tender age! I would hate you, you hunky unattainable dreamboats of literature—if you weren’t so perfect and passionate and devoted, and didn’t look exactly how I want you to look in my mind!

Even worse, modern fictional boyfriends continue to ruin me! I’m convinced Edward Cullen would sit patiently on a bench for hours while I tried on shoes at the mall. And I’ll bet Augustus Waters would never dream of taking me to Wendy’s on my birthday. Their only flaw is existing only in books—and I’m sure someday technology will remedy that. It’s just got to.

In the meantime, to tide us all over, here’s a list of swoon-worthy fictional men who have ruined things for everyone.

Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
Because he matches Elizabeth so perfectly, wit for wit, and learns from his mistakes and owns up to them, and also you just know he looks like Colin Firth meets a young Laurence Olivier meets Captain America, with a chin cleft for days.

Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R. R. Martin)
Sure, he’s not your standard cookie-cutter hottie, but Tyrion’s got smarts, he’s got wit, he’s got style—plus he’s brave, and loyal, and he really loves the ladies. What’s not to like?

Edward Cullen (The Twilight saga, by Stephanie Meyer)
Ever since the arrival of handsome, refined, passionate Edward, being watched while you sleep never seemed so borderline acceptable.

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë,)
Before reading this novel, if you’d asked me whether I would want any of my exes to dig up my grave years after my death and passionately embrace my moldering bones, I might have hesitated. But not anymore.

Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery)
I’ve hated on Gilbert in the past, but I have to admit, there was always something about him that drew me in. His quiet confidence, his gentle adoration of Anne, and the way he was always there for her. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good childhood-adversary-turned-admirer story.

Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green)
Oh, Augustus. So beautiful, so loving, so fearless. So perfect! I know you must exist in real life—and that someday, I will meet someone like you, and it will be incredibly awkward, due to our 20-year age difference. But still—I’m sure we’ll enjoy some witty banter as I volunteer tutor you or lecture your Boy Scout troop or something. And no, I won’t buy you and your friends alcohol, but nice try, you adorable little scamp. Call me when you’re 25.

Ned Nickerson (The Nancy Drew Series, by Carolyn Keene)
Dear Ned; I’ve historically mocked you as well—but now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that in some ways, you were Nancy’s rock. She didn’t have a lot of time for you, what with her incessant sleuthing, but still you were always there, waiting patiently on the sidelines, being supportive and reminding her to wear galoshes and bring a flashlight to the Haunted Swamp and whatnot. You bland, handsome wet blanket, you.

Rhett Butler (Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell)
Rhett was such a smooth-talking, arrogant, self-serving scoundrel; no wonder I was head over heels for him. Still, I’d imagine that a real life Rhett Butler would manage to deftly steal both my heart and my inheritance during the first five minutes of a speed-dating session, so it’s probably just as well that he remain fictional.

Odysseus (The Odyssey, by Homer)
It took him ten years, but after a long, difficult separation and an arduous struggle, Odysseus made the journey back to his faithful wife. Now that’s the kind of love and devotion you rarely see in real life these days. I’ll bet he and Penelope never had a screaming match in a video store, either.

Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë)
Oh, Mr. Rochester, you I love the most. You knew that Jane was just a plain, poor governess, but you saw through to her inner beauty and you prized her wit, her intelligence, and her gentle humanity. Just like if we had met when I was in tenth grade, you would have looked past my terrible glasses, my braces, and my obsession with the The X-Files, to see the sensitive, misunderstood poet hiding within. And then you would have taken me to prom on horseback, through a fragrant field of lilies…What? Are y’all still there? Talk amongst yourselves, guys. I’m busy.

What fictional heartthrob ruined you for real live romance?

  • Michele Mansfield Twiss

    James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser

    • Christie Loveless

      ^^ That’s who I was going to say!

      • Karen Hahn Bukaty

        We all agree! James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser
        has ruined me forever . . . wonder if my husband would consider changing his name! LOL!

    • Tara Bonestell Dobnak

      Love Jamie. Probably the biggest book crush I have ever had.

    • Jani

      Best answer EVER! If it were possible to die of jealousy Claire would have killed me long ago.

    • Jody Scagliotti

      My thoughts exactly!
      How does Edward Cullen make the list and Jaime doesn’t? Jaime has ruined real life romance for more women than Edward ever could and he’s immortal.

  • Gwen Bass Davis

    Me too! Jamie!!

  • Angie Meltser

    Anne Rice’s Lestat.

    • N3k0

      My god lady!!! The name alone makes waterfalls!!!

  • Jean Elizabeth Anderson

    Don’t forget Will Ladislaw from “Middlemarch.” He’s artistic and sensitive and passionate, and he always seems to be overshadowed by Rochester and Darcy when it comes to fictional crushes. Poor, neglected Will.

    • Gretchen Leech

      I was going to say Will Ladislaw as well! He does it for me way more than Rochester and Darcy!

  • Brandi Martin

    I was fine with the list until I read Edward Cullen. Who in the heck wants a whiny, full-of-himself, stalker, 17-year-old, won’t-listen-to-anyone-else, and thinks he is always right brat?

  • Merilee Kerr Nickerson

    Dirk Pitt. He’s handsome, reckless, romantic, daring, has fabulously interesting job and a hangar full of antique cars.

  • BlackCat29

    Professor Bhaer. Sure he’s older, but he’s so smart and just wants to make the world better by making everyone around him smarter, too.

  • Debbie Smith-Clarke

    Jamie Fraser! The ultimate man!

  • Sarah Blundell Weatherington

    The first three men who come to mind are all from Pern. F’Lar, The weyr leader of Benden wins me with his brooding looks, his enduring patience, that lock of hair always in his eyes, and his quiet control of an entire planet. Jaxom of Ruatha attracts the youthful heart in me. He is sweet, honest, humble, and when he falls in love with and has to rescue Sharra I swoon. Last, but by no means least, is Robinton, best known as THE Masterharper. Every darn time I read his story I cry my heart out. I cry at his raising, I cry when he falls in love, I cry when he loses his one and only true love, and I morn deeply when he dies (usually for several days, my husband wants to hide the books). An entire planet knows his name, and most of them adore him.
    There are other fictional men who make me sigh, but these three make me cry, and that is the mark of a true heartthrob hero.

  • Katie

    Dimitri Belikov, Peeta Mellark, Jack Stark, Heath Luck just to name a few.

  • pairaka

    Radcliffe Emerson

  • Jadi

    Okay, mine are going to be really weird.
    Howl Jenkins (from Howl’s Moving Castle) by Diana Wynne Jones – just because, Howl!
    Richard Merril (Mairelon) from Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede
    Valek from The Study Series by Maria V. Snyder
    Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher
    And just about any Stephanie Laurens hero. Devil Cynster, Vane Cynster, Tristan Wemyss… But really, any one of those men would do.

  • Kirsten Zidon

    Roake from the “In Death” books by J. D. Robb

  • Ace

    Screw Edward. Where’s Atticus? Now that’s a fine man right thur.

  • Samantha

    Richard Rahl (aka Richard Cypher/Lord Rahl) from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.

  • A. B. Davis

    Hilarious. Could not agree more with an actual male being unable to hold a candle “to the slow burn of Mr. Darcy, the smoldering heat of Mr. Rochester, and the roaring inferno of Heathcliff”.

  • BC Thompson

    Instead of Edward Cullen, William Herondale from the infernal devices should be up there. :)

  • Karoline Godoy

    I’ll agree with Tyrion Lannister – even though he’s not your typical poster boy, he has some very attractive qualities to him, I’d have a little crush on him too lol. And Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • Katherine D. Traver

    Oh my goodness. Where is Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility???? What a caring and generous soul. A perfect gentleman…and very sexy for a man five and thirty years!

    • Brittany BeBe Gwynn

      I was looking for someone to say Colonel Brandon! He’s amazing!!

  • Katherine D. Traver

    I also would have put Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series! Come on ladies.. wouldn’t you want a man that loyal and deeply in love with you. Always….

  • Brittany BeBe Gwynn

    As far as modern fictional guys go, I love Ian from The Host and Roran from Inheritance. And Michael Hosea from Redeeming Love, ladies I cannot stress enough how amazing he is!! I mean he married a prostitute and then loved and cared for her no matter how messed up she was/how many times she betrayed him/through her hurt and bitterness and oh, now I’ve gotta read the book again!

  • Gemma Leitz

    The first few come from my tween years when I was reading Dragon Lance and The Vampire Chronicles so I would have to say Lestat (for sure) and Raistlin Majere (Twins trilogy).

  • Sabiha Obaid

    Augustus Waters, Percy Jackson, Ron Weasley, Jace Lightwood, Tobias Eaton, Mr. Darcy, and so on…

  • Allie

    Where’s Mr. Knightley???

  • Lookingforreasoneddiscussion

    But what’s wrong with Mr. Rochester’s left hand in that drawing? THAT’s what’s important here! LOL

  • me

    Jacob from Twilight

  • Etta Wagner

    Spartacus as played by Andy Whitfield