Yeah or Nay; The First Rate Your Characters Poll

And now for something a little different.

As I traverse the interwebs looking for fun Chuck and other TV trivia and discussion I often note how many shows can have a polarizing character or guest star.  Some of them aren’t even played by Brandon Routh,  But recently the idea of a “rate the characters” poll has taken up residence in my head, and that will be coming, but as I thought through it, there are a lot of characters on Chuck.  Sure some are there for the blink of an eye then gone, but Stanley Fitzroy (to name just one) made a mark on the show if you ask me.  Others like Fernando and Skip are around constantly, but seldom heard from.  So, join me after the jump to help me solve the too many characters quandary.

Chuck has featured a lot of characters over the years.  IMDB lists 636 characters under full cast and crew.  I need to narrow that down.  So here’s the idea.  I will take a first cut at the characters in several categories like Good Guy Spies, The Bartowski Extended Family, Bad Guys, etc.  I have several nebulous criteria, such as having a line or an important interaction with one of the main cast.  I will try to be complete, but inevitably will miss some, so if you feel it a great injustice that “Iranian Sargent” didn’t make the cut, you can let me know.  No promises though.

But mostly I want to get an impression of the impression a character made on our little portion of the audience.  I know this is going to be highly subjective in many ways, but I ask you attempt some objective consideration also.  And no, you can’t vote Shaw out of the final poll, he’s too important a character.  So for some characters this is just a fun first impression up or down rating.  For other more minor characters it’ll be an indication they don’t need to be in that more involved poll.  What can I say, we’ll have some fun and adapt as needed.

This was taken from a multiple choice template and I set the “correct” answer to Yeah, but that is just for purposes of my keeping track.

So for today’s assignment we have two.  The extended Bartowski clan and the Buy Morons.  Lets see who sinks or swims.  As usual you can follow links above if the inline doesn’t play well with your browser.

And now for the Buy Morons



About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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51 Responses to Yeah or Nay; The First Rate Your Characters Poll

  1. Summer Cushman says:

    So, the Bartowski clan was super easy. Obviously all yes’s! But I got stuck on the Buy Morons. Am I voting for whether I liked and connected with them or whether I think their charachter was important to the show? (I love all your quizes by the way!!!)

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    Just a note that I am seeing some odd behavior in the inline quiz. Both should have 13 questions but the BuyMorons was getting cut off at 9. I will try to fix things, but follow the links if you see problems.

    • duckman says:

      What links? Gives me 9 buy more characters and says “loading”. Must be a big load as it’s still loading….
      Props to Ernie and all you guys for going to this much effort in the midst of some pretty cranky fans. thanks, guys.

  3. authorguy says:

    I went by likeability, and did I even know who they were. I suppose I should rate Emmet as a yeah since I was polarized in a negative direction. The only people who should get nays are the ones we can’t recognize.

  4. Ernie Davis says:

    Morgan Grimes, Mary Bartowski and both “Honey” and “Woody” Woodcomb getting a lot more Nay than Yeah. First two I sort of expected. But I thought the Awesomes were awesome.

    • Summer Cushman says:

      I hated Morgan at first, but after watching the series about (well, a lot), he’s grown on me. I actually really like him now. I’m surprised folks are giving Mary a Nay though… She’s frustrating and her choices and commitments are odd, but giving her a Nay seems weird to me. Can’t wait to see the results from the entire project. Super fun and interesting!!

    • atcDave says:

      I have to admit I’m not quite sure what you’re asking here, so I’m just answering broadly like/dislike. There’s actually very few I would want to jettison from the show (*Shaw/Hannah*), and some, like Morgan, could go either way.
      But if I’m just taking a stab at which characters I mostly enjoyed vs didn’t; well, Morgan and Mary don’t do so well.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      My basic take would be do you think they (the character) added or detracted from the show and/or your enjoyment of the show. Some people might not think Mary added much, or much that they enjoyed and thus, even though she is central to season 4, give her a nay.

      Make sense?

  5. Ernie Davis says:

    On the Buy Morons side only Big Mike and Anna Wu get unconditional love. Jeffster fairs pretty well, but almost no love for Emmett Milbarge. Sadly Fernando doesn’t do as well as Skip.

    • atcDave says:

      Skip had twice the dialogue!

    • thinkling says:

      I think I mixed them up, but on those two, I went likability, because they didn’t add much to the show. I mean you need some stock background Buymore employees, so I kept the ones I liked/tolerated best. I didn’t like Jeffster, but I grudgingly admit that they were important to the Buymore ecosphere.

      I couldn’t jettison a character that was really central to the show, even if I didn’t like them. Perhaps they weren’t supposed to be likable. Take Mary. Toss her and you toss a huge chunk of canon and much of the impact of the Intersect story and a lot of Chuck’s story. Eventually you completely change the titular character, because his mother contributed hugely to who he was. OK, so I might have wanted her character to come off differently or her story written a little better or played a little better, but to get rid of her … no can do … at least not without completely changing the entire Chuckverse.

      • atcDave says:

        Although I never figured we were tossing anything into the void. I mean stories still must be told. I was thinking more like “which characters could be completely reconstructed and/or recast with positive impact”.
        So even though I really liked a couple of Mary’s appearances; I voted Nay because I think there was so much that could have or should have been rethought about her.
        A character like Morgan I could still vote either way. Obviously he is pretty central to the show we got. But I can easily imagine liking the show just fine without him. As I’ve mentioned before; Morgan often made me laugh, but right from the Pilot I felt like we were seeing too much of him. I spent much of the first two seasons in particular wishing his part would diminish. Especially, as Sarah became bigger in Chuck’s life, I would have been perfectly happy to see Morgan’s part on the show shrink to oblivion. By S3 though, I was mostly resigned to his presence. And I was never one of those who just couldn’t stand Morgan, he just added very little to the show for me.

      • thinkling says:

        That approach would definitely change my voting. I agree about Morgan. I wasn’t as bothered by Mary as many were, though I think they could have done a better job as to why she had to stay gone for 20 years. That’s something a more thoroughly fleshed out conspiracy story could have done.

      • authorguy says:

        The unfortunate thing is that all the elements of a perfectly valid backstory were there, they just never used them, or worse, used them badly. The idea that they could implant a complete personality before Chuck even uploaded a carrier wave is idiotic, but with a little less ambition they could have had a plausible and workable idea. It’s the one I’m using right now.

      • says:

        I agree that you cannot get rid of Mary. She was essential to so much of the Season 4 story and Chuck’s growth. But it did really feel as though her story was not completely told and her actions just not explained well. We saw the whole comparison of Mary to Sarah in the first half of the season when Sarah goes undercover in Volkoff Industries but did not have a good understanding of how Mary got so stuck in that world. Without that, I did not see any real possibility that Sarah would get trapped for very long.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I just realized I forgot Harry Tang. Added him to the end and modified the quiz so people can go back in and vote on Harry.

      I personally thought he was hilarious.

      • thinkling says:

        He’s a keeper. Another example of a dislikable character who had to be there. And he was quite funny, especially when he interrupted the debrief in the home theater room.

      • atcDave says:

        Harry was a great nuisance!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Personally Harry Tang > Emmett Milbarge, but Emmett was great in his own way.

      • atcDave says:

        Emmett was funny sometimes. No doubt I would have loved an Emmett story for after Chuck and Sarah owned the store. Might have been a hoot to see him suddenly trying to suck up to the two of them. Especially assuming no one else knows who the owners are. Pity that was ruled out…

        There could have been a lot of funny side stories for Chuck and Sarah: Buy More Owners that didn’t seem to interest the writers much.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think getting rid of Emmett was the right decision. His purpose was Chuck’s Buy More nemesis, like Harry before him. Chuck’s decision to become a spy necessarily took the emphasis off his Buy More life since he’d outgrown it. I liked the decision to move Morgan in to management and have him have to deal with Jeff and Lester and the others after years as the chief instigator of Buy Moron chicanery was kind of inspired and offered Morgan his first real chance for growth as a character.

      • atcDave says:

        I would have much preferred if Emmett had been “promoted” to a corporate position instead of the way he was removed. That way he could have returned on occasion as an annoyance of one sort or another, but they wouldn’t have to write for him every week.

        I was fine with Morgan’s growth, even if I think less would have been more. But I think pretty much everything about Pink Slip was a mistake, including Emmett’s story.

    • authorguy says:

      The love shouldn’t matter, necessarily. If we’re looking for polarizing figures, we should either hate them or love them. The one thing they can’t be is dull or meaningless. I would drop Devon’s parents from my list (amusing but ultimately irrelevant), and add Emmet and Harry.

  6. resaw says:

    I chose “nay” on the lesser Buy Morons (the “extras”), e.g., Bunny, but felt like I had to affirm Skip and Fernando as it was always a delight to see them show up, even if just to add a little background colour. I’ve decided to interpret your question, Ernie, as about the importance, significance or value of the character, not whether or not they were likeable. With that criteria in mind, I had to vote yeah for Mary Bartowski, even though I didn’t appreciate/like her role in season 4.

  7. Interesting poll, For me jeff and lester never stopped being annoying…one reason i’m limiting them to a cameo in my story…surprised mary and emmit get no love and i will forever be a hry tang fan because of the line “when you go to sleep at night all you’re gonna see is tang in your face”…hilarious!

  8. Ernie Davis says:

    For those interested in the ongoing tally, here are the results. The percentage refers to the percentage of the votes that are Yeah’s.

    Charles Irving Bartowski 100%
    Sarah Lisa Walker-Bartowski 100%
    John Casey 100%
    Morgan Guillermo Grimes 70%
    Ellie Bartowski-Woodcomb 94%
    Devon “Captain Awesome” Woodcomb 97%
    Stephen “Orion” Bartowski 94%
    Mary “Frost” Bartowski 64%
    Alex McHugh (Grimes?) 97%
    Emma (Sarah’s mother) 91%
    Molly (Sarah’s “sister”) 94%
    “Woody” Woodcomb 61%
    “Honey” Woodcomb 59%

    Michael “Big Mike” Tucker 100%
    Emmett Milbarge 50%
    Harold Tiberious Tang 93%
    Thomas Jefferson “Jeff” Barnes 83%
    Lester Patel 82%
    Anna Melinda Wu 91%
    “Skip” Johnson 78%
    Fernando 65%
    Bunny 31%
    “Crazy” Bob 26%
    Stu (Champaign Urbana, prettiest place on earth) 30%
    Linda (can’t keep her face outa the cheeseballs) 30%
    Irv (Irish blood) 30%
    Barclay (of Beverly Hills Buy More) 57%

  9. Naturally the “big three” are 100% what surprised me is Morgan at 70% I was always a fan of his…I know it was not possible but I loved Emma and Molly and wished for more…her exchange with Chuck is a very special moment. because Chuck ended up being the catalyst for the dreams she always saw for her daughter…

    • thinkling says:

      Absolutely, Josh — about Chuck being the one to fulfill what Emma wanted for Sarah. One of the greatest moments. And in a very lovely mirror image, Sarah was the one who was able to protect Chuck in a way that Mary always wanted him protected. We see this at the end of First Fight, when Mary hands Sarah the razor (Protect him). The bookend to that is in Last Details when Mary arrives too late to protect Chuck from Riley but Sarah has already shot him (this after Mary and Casey had been talking about protecting their children), then again in her toast: Sarah, thank you for taking care of my Chuck. … and may you always keep each other safe. That’s one of the many reasons I couldn’t jettison Mary — tweak her a little and round out her story, yes, but not get rid of her.

      So, what more could parents want for their children? Just another way Chuck and Sarah were perfect for each other.

      • Yeah i never understood why people were so down on Mary…Linda Hamilton was a perfect casting choice…or was it that she wasn’t as polished as a character as a lot of people wanted?

      • authorguy says:

        They didn’t spend as much time on her character or plotline as they should have. Far too much time was devoted to the proposal/wedding plot, as if it might not happen. Plus they’d painted themselves into a bit of a corner right from the start with her being gone 20 years, and they couldn’t really come with a good explanation for why that would happen. I’m not sure why, I was able to take what they gave us and put it together, so all the elements were there. The difference being I had access to them all at once and they were making it up as they went along, which is a perfect argument for having the season planned out ahead of time.
        If LH had had as much acting ability as YS it might have worked out better. Frost really needed to be played by someone who could portray several didn’t faces at the same time, or switch from spy to mom at the drop of a hat.

      • thinkling says:

        I think it could be a couple of things, Josh. First, her story wasn’t fleshed out in a very convincing manor. A lot of fans just weren’t convinced that she had to stay gone for 20 years, or that she made the right choice to go in the first place. That’s a story telling gap. The second thing is that she didn’t come across as a very sympathetic character. That’s probably a writing problem, but some if it could be LH’s portrayal. Still, I liked her. I was willing to believe her story, and I really liked the Sarah/Mary dynamic.

        As a parallel/comparison, I look at Sydney Bristow’s mother on Alias. Despite the fact that she was decidedly one of the bad guys (occasional redeeming moments aside), I thought they somehow managed to make her sympathetic.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree, AG, that the elements were there.

      • authorguy says:

        I wish they hadn’t had that scene in Agent X, though, about the artificial personality that took over and became Volkoff. Technologically it makes no sense and throws the rest of their elements off. I had to dial it back a bit (but not cut it out entirely) to make the whole process remotely plausible.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I would disagree entirely with saying “too much” time was spent on proposal or wedding stories, I think that was the emotional heart of the show and very satisfying.

        But no doubt Mary’s story was just too abrupt. They tried to make her ambiguous for several episodes, then suddenly she was supposed to be sympathetic or tragic. So specifically it was the middle part that’s a problem. I thought her introduction was terrific in Aisle of Terror and First Fight. And I thoroughly enjoyed her in Last Details and Cliffhanger.
        But getting from A to C was a problem. She seemed the worst spy in the world to get stuck like she was, not to mention how much pure evil she must have abetted in 20 years with Volkoff; but then she was playing mentor to Sarah.
        I think she needed to be either more Darth Vador, a tragic villain who finds redemption at the very end; or we needed a much better conceived story for how she wound up stuck for 20 years.

        I don’t dislike Mary at all. But like the middle part of the Charah story; the middle part of Mary’s story needs to be re-engineered.

      • authorguy says:

        Any time is too much time when the outcome is certain, although a few humorous bits are okay. All the failed proposal sequences were just more angst for angst’s sake, and very unsatisfying to me. It was never ‘would they’ but merely ‘when’.
        They also spent far too much time and damaged the story contriving ways to put C&S into the same room to smack their lips together when it made no real sense, like in the Gobbler. That sort of thing is far from the ‘heart of the show.’
        Sarah growing into the role of wife, Frost recovering the role of mother, those are the heart of the season, the real story.

      • authorguy says:

        As for Mary, her story was legitimately tragic, even if they didn’t show it. 20 years controlling the world’s most evil criminal, so his empire wouldn’t become larger than it was. 20 years using him to control the growth of others as evil as himself. 20 years hoping to rescue a genuinely good man from an evil dream. 20 years probably with a price on her own head, for failing to take care of Volkoff and cover the CIA’s ass. 20 years chipping away at her own soul to do what she thought was her duty.
        This is where the majority of the time should have been spent.

      • atcDave says:

        As always Marc, I just don’t agree with you on much of anything. I think the uncertainty of an event is a poor indicator of how much screen time it should get. I think it’s far more valuable to focus on what’s fun, funny, inspiring, heartwarming, exciting… Uncertainty is no more worthy than any of those. Especially when it comes to things like the intimacy of Charah on screen, I think it IS important to show us, to remind of what’s on the line, and how things have changed from the first couple seasons.

        For Mary in particular, more time is the last thing I would have wanted for her story. She was a secondary character with secondary story. Well, maybe she could have displaced some Buy More time, but nothing else. But what was there could have been handled differently in a few ways. But I’ve already spent paragraphs on this in other posts, so moving on…

      • authorguy says:

        Mary herself might have been a secondary character, but as a parent to Chuck and a mirror to Sarah she had the primary story. I was just talking with my daughter yesterday about all the different ways Chuck, Sarah, Mary, Hartley, and even Vivian are reflections of each other. It would have been nice to see how some avoided the mistakes others made, some rose as others fell, etc. A very dynamic setup, interesting, inspiring, and exciting.

      • thinkling says:

        I don’t think certainty determines merit at all. I loved all the wedding stuff and character moments … relationship growth. That’s what makes life worth living and stories worth telling. The other stuff is context and vehicle for the character stuff. Having a mystery to solve and an evil villain to defeat and a mom to rescue gave the relationship stuff an intriguing context and put the uncertainty where it belonged. I’m not into forever putting the uncertainty/conflict of a story in the relationship.

        As for Mary, I would have preferred to find out that some evil conspirator inside the CIA had her trapped between a rock and a hard place and was using her family as assurance that she would stay right where she was and insure that Volkoff was protected. Keeping Volkoff in play for the conspirators holding her hostage (in direct conflict with her orders to bring him down) would be the conspiracy rock, and doing her best to mitigate the evil, while trying to figure out how to defeat both Volkoff and the conspiracy, would be the hard place.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree it would have been nice to make a bigger thing of how Chuck and Sarah were not going to repeat the mistakes of the parents. But that was far too underplayed. From Chuck falling for his dad’s scheme to leave Sarah behind, to Sarah getting sucked into the Moscow mission without end. They didn’t do enough to distinguish themselves. But I put that all on the Chuck and Sarah story, not really the Stephen or Mary stories.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah Thinkling, that would have been a nice way to tie in to a conspiracy story. It would have provided more explanation for Mary too.

  10. ChuckFanForever says:

    What about Butterman? Big Mike’s old football friend and the eventual beneficiary of Morgan’s “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” win?

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