Ranking musical protagonists, from the nicest to meanest.
1. Jean Valjean, “Les Misérables” — Saves lives, wins wars, raises orphans, unites lovers, steals bread.
2. Charlie Brown, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” — Even on his worst day, he’s only slightly grumpy.
3. Simba, “The Lion King” — Mildly ungrateful and he did cause that wildebeest stampede, but mostly a swell guy/lion.
4. Oliver, “Oliver” — Thieving somewhat mitigated by being able to hit those crystalline high notes?
5. Sky Masterson, “Guys and Dolls” — A gambler and a ladies’ man but his heart’s in the right place.
6. The King, “The King and I” — His main sin is misogyny and the actual guy on whom the character is based was pretty decent.
7. Evan Hansen, “Dear Evan Hansen” — His sins are mostly sins of omission.
8. Henry Higgins, “My Fair Lady” — Come for the sexism, stay for the even-worse classism.
9. George, “Sunday in the Park With George” — Now, we might say that he’s on the spectrum, but a guy who can’t look up from his easel to watch his lover and child walk out of his life forever is tough to forgive.
10. Harold Hill, “The Music Man” — Con man who lies to, and intends to rob, an entire Iowa town.
11. Billy Bigelow, “Carousel” — Wife-beater and robber who has to die to figure out how much he sucks.
12. The Beast, “Beauty and the Beast” — Bottom line: Kidnapping is not a romantic gesture.
13. Bruce Bechdel, “Fun Home” — Child molester.
14. Curly, “Oklahoma” — Maybe it’s self-defense but, no matter what, he’s a killer.
15. Tony, “West Side Story” — Killing his beloved’s brother makes him one of musical theater’s Ten Most Wanted.
16. The Phantom, “The Phantom of the Opera” — Worse things are hinted at but no matter what, he grooms and kidnaps Christine.
17. John Wilkes Booth, “Assassins” — President killer and, possibly, bad actor.
18. Patrick Bateman, “American Psycho” — Yes, he’s a mass murderer. But it’s also possible that all of his behavior is only in his (twisted) head.
19. Sweeney Todd, “Sweeney Todd” — Not only is he a serial killer, but he participates in feeding victims to their friends and neighbors. And sings a show tune about it!