239. TMTF’s Top Ten Unstoppable Heroes in Literature

Many works of fiction feature unstoppable heroes. These paragons of excellence may not be immune to defeat, but they sure seem like it!

Take Batman. He has no superpowers; Bruce Wayne is just a man with a high-tech suit and some fancy gadgets… and he’s also nigh-invincible. He excels physically, intellectually and morally as a strong fighter, brilliant strategist and champion of justice. I suppose it’s technically possible to kill Batman, but we all know in our heart of hearts that he’s unstoppable.

Literature is full of characters seem physically, intellectually or morally perfect. These are the characters the reader is sure will never be killed or get caught or suffer defeat. They are not invincible, but they may as well be. Some are nearly invulnerable; others are simply too clever or confident to be held down.

Why must I take an entire blog post to list unstoppable heroes from fiction? I can only echo George Mallory and reply: “Because they’re there.” As long as there are things to be ranked in top ten lists, TMTF shall be delighted to oblige!

My usual rules apply to this list: only one character is allowed per author, and characters can be included only from books I’ve read. (Batman would make the list, but I haven’t actually read any of his comics.) An unstoppable hero is defined as a character whose physical, intellectual or moral excellence make him or her seem utterly impervious to defeat.

Be ye warned, here there be minor spoilers.

Prepare to be amazed, ladies and gentlemen, as TMTF presents…

The TMTF List of Top Ten Unstoppable Heroes in Literature!

10. Phileas Fogg (Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne)

Phileas Fogg

Phileas Fogg is an impassive British gentleman whose life of precision and strict regularity is interrupted by the decision to circumnavigate the world in just eighty days: a feat that seems impossible given the limited technology of the time. Is it even possible to travel so far so fast? The reader must wait for an answer, but one thing is clear from the beginning. If it is humanly possible to travel around Earth in eighty days, Fogg will do it. Nothing—not faulty railways, conniving detectives, Sioux warriors or insufficient fuel—can deter this man.

9. Professor Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

Albus Dumbledore

Gentle, wise, whimsical and rather odd, Professor Albus Dumbledore is the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dumbledore’s seeming frivolity and warm sense of humor belie his shrewd mind, powerful magic and terrifying capacity for anger: “There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off heat.” Despite his age, Dumbledore seems far too clever, strong and wise to be stopped even by death. Right? Right?

8. Tristan Farnon (All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot)

Tristan Farnon

In James Herriot’s fictionalized memoirs, Tristan Farnon is an irresistible force of optimism, charm and good-natured mischief. Not even the tyrannical bossiness and short temper of his older brother Siegfried can dampen his cheerful outlook. Tristan drinks too much, plays practical jokes and flirts with every young female in sight—and he nearly always gets away with it.

7. Mr. Great-heart (The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan)

Mr. Great-heart

Mr. Great-heart is too good to be true. A manservant, Mr. Great-heart is ordered by his master to accompany Christiana and her companions on their journey to the Celestial City. His role for the rest of the story is to slay giants, rescue pilgrims, light dark paths, discuss theology and generally be an impossibly perfect (and mostly uninteresting) blend of warrior, mentor, guide and teacher. Mr. Great-heart is so angelically brave and pure that there’s absolutely no question of getting in his way.

6. Kaito Kid (Detective Conan by Gosho Aoyama)

Kaito Kid

Kaito Kid hails from Detective Conan, a long-running (and ongoing) series of mystery manga (i.e. Japanese comics) also known as Cased Closed. Kid is a gentleman thief, expert magician and master of disguise whose crimes are perfect. Even his habit of announcing heists beforehand never seems to get in his way: no matter how smart the police, Kid is smarter. Kid pulls off tricks that seem supernatural… until Conan, the eponymous detective of the series, figures them out. However, even Conan can’t always stop Kid. It’s fortunate that Kid always returns whatever he steals!

5. Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Sherlock Holmes

As long as we’re discussing detectives, let’s not forget the father of them all: Sherlock Holmes. How many cases has this man solved? How many juggernauts of crime has he brought to justice? No trick is too tricky nor mystery too mysterious for the incomparable Holmes. Besides being, you know, a freaking genius, Holmes is a skilled fencer, actor, sharpshooter, violinist, martial artist and expert on a bewildering range of subjects from poisons to tobacco ash. No criminal stands a chance against Holmes.

4. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)

Gandalf

According to Tolkien’s mythology, Gandalf is basically an angel. A freaking angel. So yeah, he’s unstoppable. This short-tempered wizard is ancient, but his age doesn’t stop him from traveling the world, battling monsters and getting in and out of scrapes. Even death can’t stop this man. When Gandalf dies after dueling a demonic beast, some higher power resurrects him and sends him back to save the world. Gandalf recovers from death the way most people recover from colds, and I’m pretty sure there’s no stopping him.

3. Obelix (The Adventures of Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo)

Obelix

When the ancient Roman Empire conquers Gaul, a vast region of Western Europe, they don’t conquer all of it. One tiny settlement, “the village of the indomitable Gauls,” remains free. The good-natured residents of this tiny town repel the legions of Rome thanks to a potion that gives them temporary surges of superhuman strength. When young Obelix falls into a cauldron of this potion, it has a permanent effect on him. Obelix grows into a pudgy delivery man who can lift anything, cannot be harmed and is literally unstoppable.

2. Jeeves (Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse)

Jeeves

Imagine Socrates, Confucius and Solomon rolled into one person, and then make that person a polite British valet. Congratulations: you’ve just imagined Jeeves, insofar as human imagination can devise a person as brilliant as he. Jeeves doesn’t contend with giants or monsters or criminals—if he did, they would be toast. No, Jeeves turns his colossal genius toward solving social crises and keeping his wayward employer, well-meaning but dimwitted Bertram Wooster, out of trouble. Jeeves’s dry wit, perfect composure and sheer intelligence make him an inexorable force of peace and order.

1. Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

Aslan

Aslan is basically Jesus Christ, and also a lion with huge muscles and sharp teeth. You can’t get any more unstoppable than that. What’s that? Aslan dies? Please. Aslan watches Gandalf conquer death and says, “See here, lad, this is how it’s done.” Able to appear anywhere and do anything with his infinite wisdom and boundless power, Aslan is absolutely the most unstoppable hero in any fiction I have ever read.

O people of the Internet, what unstoppable literary heroes would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

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