Yes, the # 1 spot is taken up by my favorite agent of the British Crown. He's a globetrotting, alcohol-slugging, troublemaking and yes, of course, womanizing scoundrel responsible for saving the world and often shaping its history in the name of Queen and Country.
So, enough background on the man. Just why does he make this list?
And did I mention he was married during all this? No? Well, he is. While stationed in Scotland he seduces the less-than-bright daughter of a powerful merchant, Elspeth, and is forced into a shotgun marriage with her. It was either that, or dueling, and since he doesn't want to chance getting hurt in a duel... well, you get the picture.
If he was just an irredeemable cad like this, I wouldn't be able to stand him as a character, but here's the thing that makes Flashman so entertaining for me (especially when it comes to love): whenever he does something awful, something at least two or three times as awful happens to him in retaliation. His lust for Lola Montez leads to him being blackmailed by Otto von Bismarck into pretending he's actually a member of Danish royalty (for a coup, of course). His jealousy over his wife's flirtations with a mysterious businessman (ignoring his own affairs, of course) leads to her being kidnapped by pirates and his being kidnapped by the mad queen of Madagascar, Ranavalona.
And of course, his biggest romance gone horribly awry happened when falling in with a traveling band of prostitutes on their way to the California gold rush. One quite fell for him, and he enjoyed his time with. However, wanting to escape the situation and needing the money, he sold her for $2,000 dollars. Decades later, she came for her revenge by kidnapping him and selling him to the Sioux for torture and execution. While he escaped before the last part could happen, he was partially scalped and nearly killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
He is an anti-hero in the extreme, in that any heroism on his part is purely incidental, and for that he will never cease to make me laugh.
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-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)