The Characters That Got Us Through 2022

The Characters That Got Us Through 2022

Thank you to the monsters, the heroes, and the fantasy-British girls with wings on their heads that made 2022 manageable.

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Image: Nintendo, 20th Century Studios, Marvel, Firaxis, AMC, Netflix, and Webtoon

Another year’s end is nearly upon us—we’ve almost made it to the next 12 months of trials and tribulations! But for now, the io9 staff is rejoicing at mostly getting through the last 12 months in one piece, thanks to a few of our favorite new characters of the year. Here’s who we want to thank for getting us through 2022.

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Eddie Munson, Stranger Things

Eddie Munson, Stranger Things

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Image: Netflix

No list of standout characters of 2022 would be complete without Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). A metalhead Dungeon Master, he’s an outcast who fans know is actually the coolest guy at Hawkins High School. While his impact was minimal in the first half of Stranger Things’ fourth installment, the series’ supersized second half left no confusion about the real MVP of this particular apocalypse-averting adventure. He may have paid for his heroism with his life (although, as with all things Upside Down, there’s a chance he’ll return in some form), but his presence will never be forgotten—and you need only take note of the ocean of Hellfire Club t-shirts now in existence to remember his legacy. Horns up! - Cheryl Eddy

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The Feral Predator, Prey

The Feral Predator, Prey

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Image: 20th Century Studios

20th Century Studios’ Prey came out of nowhere and stole the hearts of many who watched it, including my own. Much of the praise on the acting side has been rightfully thrown as Amber Midthunder’s Naru and Dakota Beavers as her brother Taabe, and they are both killer in this film. But the movie wouldn’t work nearly as well without a Predator to truly challenge them, and Prey’s Feral Predator (played by ex-basketball player Dane DiLegro) is the best kind of enemy the siblings could’ve gotten. His massacre against the French fur traders is a highlight of the film, but honestly, the scenes we get of him working his way up the food chain before meeting Naru are fun enough to warrant a film from his perspective. He’s big, he’s way faster than his size would suggest, and he’s a bit of a prick—which makes it all the more fun to watch him slaughter his way around the Great Plains. - Justin Carter

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Izzy Hands, Our Flag Means Death

Izzy Hands, Our Flag Means Death

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Image: HBO

My skrungly little self hating homosexual, I loved you more than you deserved and I will stand by you no matter what. This character from Our Flag Means Death was the best antagonist a pirate could ask for—the kind of man who starts fires in his own ship and wonders why people are running. I love this absolute asshole and I can’t wait to see him return in 2023. - Linda Codega

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Suletta Mercury, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

Suletta Mercury, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

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Image: Sunrise/Crunchyroll

Part and parcel of being a Gundam protagonist is a certain level of horrifying trauma brought on by the conflicts around them and the fact that they pilot a war crime for a living, but Suletta’s relative innocence—at least, in what we’ve seen of Witch From Mercury so far, there’s plenty of time for it to do as Gundam often wonts to do—has made her one of the endearing, iconic new heroes of the year. Her compassion for everyone around her, her earnest desire to help and live the life of a normal teenager transferring to a new school, the fact that when her back is against the wall she can and will get into her walking war crime sister and savage the shit out of you, she’s a revitalizing jolt to the franchise’s usual approach to protagonists, for many more reasons beyond her status as Gundam’s first primary female heroine. We could never forgetta Suletta. - James Whitbrook

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Marcel, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

Marcel, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

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Image: A24

Voiced by Jenny Slate, Marcel is the adorable, innocent, clueless but incredibly thoughtful best friend you’ve always wanted. He just so happens to be a seashell with eyes and teeny tiny shoes. His journey to find his missing family using social media is one of this year’s most heartwarming, and hilarious stories, and once you see it, you’ll never forget Marcel. - Germain Lussier

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She-Hulk, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

She-Hulk, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

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Image: Marvel

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always dabbled in comedy, but the She-Hulk series absolutely took the piss out of MCU and not a moment too soon, Played by the brilliant and wickedly funny Tatiana Maslany, Jennifer Walters Hulk-smashed the fourth wall to take down workplace sexism, misogynist trolls, and Marvel’s own addiction to ending stories with giant CG brawls. I don’t know that She-Hulk was the hero we deserved, but she was absolute the jade giantess we needed this year. - Rob Bricken

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Ram and Bheem, RRR

Ram and Bheem, RRR

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Image: Netflix

S. S. Rajamouli’s Tollywood epic rocked the state of cinema on the shoulders of these two, who with guns and arrows and a whole damn zoo stole our hearts. The unlikely friendship between men destined to be foes had us deeply invested in their story and pure bromance. Their meet-cute was saving a child from a train explosion with a horse, a bike, and some rope. And they did it, they really did it. Of course there’s also the Nattu Nattu dance sequence which bonded them even further. Bheem’s earnest and sincere energy didn’t only attract don’t-call-me-memsaab-it’s-just-jenny but melted Ram’s walls of brute strength and charismatic swagger to find kinship in brotherhood. It was only fate that had them on paths that would brutally tear them apart, which is crushing as you spend the rest of the movie hoping they get back together. It’s worth sitting through the three hour movie (with an intermission) to find out if they do. - Sabina Graves

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Jean Jacket, Nope

Jean Jacket, Nope

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Image: Universal

By now, horror fans know Jordan Peele excels at—and delights in—subverting any genre expectations you might have when you sit down to watch one of his movies. Nope shifted into the sci-fi realm with an alien-invasion story that was both familiar and completely startling and shocking, thanks in no small part to its extraordinary extraterrestrial. At first mistaken for a ship rather than a ship-shaped (and shape-shifting) organism, Jean Jacket plays very neatly into the film’s take on “spectacle” by targeting people who gaze at it, but any complaints about the theme feeling too heavy-handed are easily forgiven when you see the gruesome way Jean Jacket slurps up and digests its prey. Keep watching the skies… but don’t you dare stare too long. - Cheryl Eddy

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Robbie Reyes, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Robbie Reyes, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

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Image: Firaxis

The recently released Marvel’s Midnight Suns from Firaxis and 2K Games places an emphasis on relationships between Marvel heroes and the game’s OC the Hunter, but only platonically. There’s no romance between the Hunter and their squadmates, and given the way superhero romances can sometimes ruin the lives of both parties involved, it’s understandable. And yet I want one, if only because Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider is so damn cute and charming that he’s so easy to fall for. Considering the Hunter’s mother is a powerful demon sorceress, it would be on brand to date a guy whose alter ego has a flaming skull for a face. - Justin Carter

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Daniel Molloy, Interview With the Vampire

Daniel Molloy, Interview With the Vampire

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Image: AMC

This mean old man is truly who I want to be when I grow up. Aggressive, no-holds barred, snarky, obsessively good at his job, and with a frankly unhinged latent homoerotic energy, Molloy is the kind of character that I make a part of my personality immediately. His character’s arc in Interview With the Vampire elevated the show and proved that even when surrounded by a bunch of immortal, absurdly hot twinks, the mean old man is the one I want to see more of. - Linda Codega

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Eunie, Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Eunie, Xenoblade Chronicles 3

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Image: Nintendo

Every character in the main crew of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is excellent, either standing alone or voltron’d into one of the strongest JRPG parties in decades, but a particular highlight in its incredibly likeable cast is the rough-and-ready Eunie. Initially one of the team’s healers, the fact that she has a penchant for either wanting to take the piss out of, or bite the head off of, anyone who comes near her is hilarious, but as you get to sit with her more, and as she navigates the trauma of everything she thought she knew about her and her friends’ lives as the cogs of an endless war between two nations, she blossoms into a compellingly sensitive figure. One that also remains bitingly hilarious, her curse-laden dialogue delivered by Kitty Archer in a fantastically cheesy and endearing approximation of a London cockney accent—the last thing you’d expect to hear out of most RPG heroes, let alone a petite girl with wings growing out of her head. - James Whitbrook

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Naru, Prey

Naru, Prey

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Image: 20th Century Studios

Obviously, the fact that Prey stars this amazingly awesome heroine named Naru (Amber Midthunder) who beats a damned Predator with nothing but a rope, knife, and her wits is remarkable on its own. But what really stuck with me about Naru this year is what she represents to this world of neverending intellectual property has become: change and originality. Here we have a young woman of color, in a period piece, telling a story of self-discovery. Oh, and it just so happens to be in the same universe as huge, well-known piece of intellectual property that was once starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. That a movie like Prey can even exist, let alone be as excellent as it is, is both inspirational and aspirational. And it all comes down to Naru. - Germain Lussier

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Denji, Chainsaw Man

Denji, Chainsaw Man

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Image: MAPPA/Crunchyroll

Tatsuki Fujimoto’s hit manga Chainsaw Man first debuted in 2018, but didn’t make the leap to anime until this year. As brilliant as Fujimoto’s art has been, there’s something about Kikunosuke Toya’s voice acting as Denji, the utterly impoverished teen who makes a deal with a devil to become a man literally made of chainsaws, that perfectly captures the character. Denji is both a furious cry against the cold inhumanity of modern society and a celebration of life’s simplest pleasures, and one of 2022’s (and 2018’s) most compelling characters. - Rob Bricken

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Persephone, Lore Olympus

Persephone, Lore Olympus

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Image: Rachel Smythe/Webtoon

At the end of season two of Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus webtoon, we finally got to see Kore go all God-Ender, unleashing her pestilence over Kronos who has a hold on her love Hades. Our sweet girl saves the realm and gets her man back by taking a bite of the pomegranate in a re-imagining that gives her agency and the choice to hold the power we all knew she had in her. Look, when she became a giant goddess and has a Kaiju fight with Kronos in the Underworld to claim it as her realm, I was screaming. And we’ve been rapt all season three to see if Persephone and Hades finally make it official. - Sabina Graves

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