The 23 Most Iconic Fictional Characters of All Time

Les 23 personnages de fiction les plus emblématiques de tous les temps

It's almost impossible to decide who the most famous fictional characters of all time are. Hundreds of unforgettable characters have become icons, and favorites will always be subjective. Rather than making a list or ranking, here are some of the most iconic fictional characters of all time, whether cartoons, comics, films or series. Try to find your favorite character in this list and learn something new about them, which you might not have discovered before.

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1. Atticus Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has had the privilege of being one of the most widely read literary works in the world, thanks to many students who had to study it as part of tutorials in different high school classes.

Although most of us have studied it, if you're like me you've skipped the labs, so here's a quick overview.

Atticus Finch is a lawyer who defends the rights of a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a young white girl in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. I know we're off to a flying start.

Although the book itself is riddled with racism, it tells the story of standing up for what is right despite what society may say about a particular minority group, whether racial, sexist, or religious.

Although his efforts helped prove Tom's innocence, his work was in vain since the latter was still found guilty. No matter what others said, Atticus stood his ground and did everything he could for what was right, and worked to prove that Tom was innocent, despite society's prejudices against him.

2. Barbie

With the excitement surrounding Barbie's upcoming move, it's no surprise that Barbie is and remains one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

Her case is rare: she was first a toy, created by Mattel in the 1950s, and although people doubted her success (because “what child would want to play with a toy that is an adult?”) , she did it and created an empire. There's a version of Barbie for almost everything, representing her many professional exploits: designer, equestrian, astronaut, doctor and hundreds of others.

With over a billion dolls sold since its creation, Barbie is one of Mattel's most profitable lines. Its popularity has only grown with its inclusion in media such as animated films, books, comics and more.

Since Barbie's appearance in The Nutcracker in 2001, this iconic fictional character has been seen in more than 30 animated films and series like Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse. The 2023 film is the first live-action depiction of the character, bringing the iconic toy that many of us played with as children into the adult world with a healthy dose of nostalgia.

Fans can also join in Barbie's adventures with countless games like Barbie Super Sports, Barbie Pet Rescue, Secret Agent Barbie, Barbie Riding Club and more.

Barbie became an iconic fictional character not only because she is beautiful, but also because she quickly showed children that their kindness or their dreams need not be limited.

3. Batman

Iconic fictional characters

The infamous protector of Gotham City was created in 1939 in issue #27 of Detective Comics. Not many people know this, but Detective Comics is where DC Comics got its name, as the company was originally called National Allied Publications (the ring is different).

The iconic dark superhero Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. He quickly became one of the world's best-known comic book characters and superheroes, always in the public's mind.

Bruce Wayne almost needs no introduction, after his story has been explored numerous times through different media such as video games, board games, films and series (in live action). live or animated views) and, of course, its original medium, comics.

Batman was orphaned when his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, were killed in a mugging before his eyes. From there, his story blossomed: he used his money and influence to become a playboy by day as a cover for his nighttime vigilante activities.

With an extreme sense of justice and a desire to protect his city from scum and crime, Gotham's Caped Crusader has encountered countless superheroes along his journey. His story gave rise to the family of supporting characters we know and love, like Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, and Catwoman, as well as many of the enemies he's faced over the decades.

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4. Betty Boop

Betty Boop

Created by Max Fleischer and first appearing in the Talkatoon series published by Fleischer Studios, Betty Boop has been around since 1930. Her first appearance in the Talkatoon series was in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes, the seventh episode.

Betty Boop's appearance has been the subject of much speculation, with some calling her a sex symbol, others finding her simply adorable, with her cartoon face and big doe eyes. Her appearance was initially inspired by a Jazz Age flapper, a caricature of singer Helen Kane, and an “anthropomorphic French poodle.” However, due to the Hays Code, her revealing appearance was toned down for the media.

Her original name was Nancy Lee, and sometimes Nan McGrew, derived from the Helen Kane film Dangerous Nan McGrew (also 1930). Throughout the 1930s, Betty Boop was considered “the queen of the animated screen,” a title that may have been lost over time. However, the character has always retained his place at the forefront.

5. Bilbo Baggins

Iconic fictional characters

In J.R.R. Tolkien's universe, almost every character he created is among the most iconic fictional characters of all time. Still, for the purposes of this list, I had to pick a few favorites.

Bilbo Baggins is known for being the title character of The Hobbit (1937), a young hobbit at the time who was called by Gandalf to aid Thorin and his intrepid band of dwarven adventurers in their quest to retake their ancestral home from the terrifying and formidable dragon Smaug.

During the journey, Bilbo tastes adventure and discovers the Ring for the first time, which instantly makes him smile. Despite the power he wields over Bilbo, he is the first ring-bearer to willingly abandon it and hand it over to Frodo for his ring-destroying journey in the Lord of the Rings adventure.

English actor Sir Ian Holm Cuthbert was the first to bring Bilbo Baggins to life in the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and reprized his role for the remainder of the film series, followed by Martin Freeman in The Hobbit film series from 2012.

The Lord of the Rings and the universe of J.R.R. Tolkien have spawned numerous films, video games and other media, but the book remains king. Bilbo Baggins remains one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

6. Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny

A prominent member of the Looney Tunes collection, Bugs Bunny first appeared in the late 1930s. His jaunty personality and anthropomorphic look at gray and white hair became popular, as did his iconic phrase “Hey… What's up?” new, doc?”

Created by Warner Bros. Cartoons, he has appeared in the beloved Looney Tunes as well as animated series like Merrie Melodies. Bugs did not exist as a named character until after 1940, and the character's creation is credited to Bob Givens, Chuck Jones, and Robert McKimson.

Thanks to his eccentric personality, the character's popularity grew. Bugs quickly became a cultural icon and was even the official mascot of Warner Bros. for a certain time. Most of his media appearances were considered “guest” or short appearances. Yet he is so well known around the world and considered an icon that he has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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7. Captain America

Iconic fictional characters

Of course, this would just be a list of the most iconic fictional characters of all time, including one of many unique heroes from Marvel Comics over the decades.

Captain America debuted in 1940 in Captain America Comics #1, published by Timely Comics, the predecessor to Marvel Comics at the time. Steve Rogers was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and his story is one of the “American dream” (or one of them), going from a skinny young soldier to the perfect human super-soldier.

Steve Rogers, an ordinary American, enlisted in the US Army during the events of World War II and quickly proved himself to be a moral and good man. That's why he was chosen to undergo an experiment where he was injected with a “super-soldier serum” and he became the hero we know and love.

After confronting Red Skull, he was frozen in ice, but luckily it didn't harm him, just left him in a state of suspended animation, and once he was thawed, he continued to form the Avengers, and to protect the world, not just America, from all threats that sought to do it harm.

Steve Rogers first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011, portrayed by Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger. Although the mantle may have been passed down recently, no one can imagine anyone. However, Chris Evans brings this iconic character to life. The character continues to live on in many forms, such as the comics, films, animations, and video games that we enjoy.

8. Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time. He is known for performing ridiculous feats while acting a bit silly and generally a bit tipsy on rum. The character is either incredibly lucky or terribly unlucky. Anyway, we can follow his fantastic adventures as the main character in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

Like Barbie, the film was born from something other than a book or a concept. It is indeed a Walt Disney theme park attraction that opened at Disneyland in 1967 and was one of the last Disneyland attractions to be personally supervised by Walt Disney himself. Although the attraction is not directly inspired by a work, it is based on pirate legends, maritime folklore and the novels of Emilio Salgari.

Played by Johnny Depp throughout his time on screen, Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the nine pirate lords of the Court of Brothers. He often flees dangerous situations and only confronts them when necessary.

What few people know about him is that he was never intended to be the main character in the film. Yet the character managed to find his way into the plot as he did into all of our hearts.

9. Charlie Brown

Iconic fictional characters

Charlie Brown, the main character of Peanuts, was first mentioned in 1948, after which he waited two years to make his debut. For those who weren't around at the time (like me), Peanuts was a comic strip that quickly became a part of the Sunday newspaper in countries around the world and was loved by most of them.

Thanks to his incredibly friendly behavior, little Charlie Brown quickly made a name for himself as an iconic fictional character. He was just a little boy, sometimes nervous, a little pessimistic, sometimes optimistic.

His endearing attitude towards life and the way he sometimes goes through situations that could have been easily avoided, and sometimes just plain bad luck, Charles M. Schulz created him to be a relatable little boy who copes with life and the human experience.

Although not heroic, he and his loyal best friend Snoopy are among the most recognizable comic book characters in the world and have survived as one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

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10. The world is changing

dark Vador

Like many characters on this list, this Star Wars character barely needs any introduction. It's not often that a franchise's main antagonist becomes one of the franchise's most iconic fictional characters of all time. However, in the case of Darth Vader, it was practically inevitable.

George Lucas created the Star Wars universe, and fans were introduced to Darth Vader as a terrifying antagonist and leader of the Imperial forces in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Darth Vader remained the leader of the Imperial forces and a menacing threat until his true identity, Anakin Skywalker, was revealed.

Although released in a somewhat chaotic order, the prequel trilogy, starting with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), first introduced Anakin Skywalker as a bright and adventurous little boy, gifted with the ability to manipulate the Force.

Subsequent films in the Prequel Trilogy told the story of his corruption and how he would become one of the films' most important antagonists, turning to the dark side and changing from the handsome and enigmatic Anakin to the Dark Lord, Dark Vader.

11. Dumbledore

Iconic fictional characters

Like many of the fantasy franchises on this list, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is complex because there are many unique characters to choose from. While you might have expected to see characters like the main three, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley, let's focus a little on a character who often doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was first introduced in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series, starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997. He is depicted as a wise old man, who in knows more than he should and is a powerful wizard.

After studying at Hogwarts as a youth, Dumbledore became the headmaster of the school and plays a vital role in Harry Potter's story as a protector, mentor and friend. After giving advice and help to Harry and his gang throughout the series (books and films), Dumbledore established himself as an integral part of the story and quickly became one of the main characters most iconic fiction novels of all time.

Many incredible actors have come to play the zany character of Professor Albus Dumbledore, including Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in the Harry Potter film series and Jude Law and Toby Regbo in the Fantastic Beasts film series.

12. Elizabeth Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett

Few people are unfamiliar with the prolific writer of the 1800s, Jane Austen. One of his most beloved novels, Pride and Prejudice, features the female protagonist Elizabeth Bennet, often nicknamed Eliza or Lizzy by her family and closest friends.

Elizabeth is a rare woman, born in a time when society and family recommend that women marry for convenience and an economically secure future, but Elizabeth has other things in mind. Instead of bowing to the whims of society, she wishes to marry for love.

When her father died, neither she nor her four sisters would inherit his magnificent heritage. She will still go to the nearest male relative, which prompts Mrs. Bennet to implore her daughters to marry to earn money.

Eventually, everyone gets what they want, as Elizabeth Bennet ends up falling in love with Mr. Darcy, a wealthy young man whose income is more than enough to support her.

Elizabeth Bennet has been portrayed by many actresses over the years, including Greer Garson in the 1940 film version, Celia Bannerman in the 1967 version, Elizabeth Garvie in the 1980 version, Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 version, Kiera Knightley in the 2005 version and Lily James in the 2016 version, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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13. Gandalf

Iconic fictional characters

Gandalf, another iconic character from the universe of the Hobbit saga and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series, is a name and character that many love. Commonly known as Gandalf the Gray (and later Gandalf the White), he is a powerful wizard of the Istari Order and one of the few wizards to be part of Middle-earth.

Gandalf is a member of the Maia race of Middle-earth. This supernatural and angelic group has been a part of Middle-earth since the beginning of time and comes from Valinor. Known to be a semi-divine being, his people often embark on grueling quests against the evil that threatens to tip the balance of the world. This explains his role in the fight against the Dark Lord Sauron.

Few people know the true age of Gandalf, who has been around at least since the Third Age, when he was given one of Círdan's rings of power. He is known as the last bearer of the Ring of Fire, also known as the Red Ring or Narya. The ring, and his profession as a sorcerer, is the reason he has existed for so long, because it gives him “resistance to the wear and tear of time”.

Gandalf is considered the leader of the Fellowship of the Ring, as he encourages those around him with his wisdom and the power of persuasion of his ring of power. He is also the protector of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins during their journeys in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

14. James Bond

James Bond

The story of the iconic James Bond, or Agent 007, began in 1953 with the James Bond series written by Ian Fleming. The phenomenon of this fantastic fictional character was so great and loved around the world that Fleming's 12 novels and two short stories were simply not enough. It was taken up by eight other authors after the death of the original author.

With countless novels telling its tales of saving the world, broken hearts, and every escapade imaginable, it's no surprise that the series has been adapted for television, radio, comic books, films, and even video games.

Many actors have tried their hand at the role, from Sean Connery in 1962 to the latest Bond film with Daniel Craig in 2021.

Commander James Bond (did you know he had that title? Because I didn't) is a London secret service agent. Yet his missions have him traveling around the world to save the day, often against a backdrop of betrayal and espionage. His title of commander comes from his time in the Royal Naval Reserve.

Bond is always portrayed as a handsome character who enjoys drinking, cigarettes and women, and who sometimes even passes the time by using drugs and enjoying fast cars. His story has been told and repeated by countless authors. Yet his character remains the same, admired as one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

15. Jane Eyre

Iconic fictional characters

At this point, everyone knows who the Brontë sisters are, but in 1847, when Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, Charlotte Brontë published her story under the male pen name of “Currer Bell.” The novel follows the iconic fictional character Jane Eyre, the heroine of her story.

The book was first published as an autobiography because it follows the life of Jane, a strong-willed woman, from childhood to adulthood, including her childhood as a her orphanage, her first job as a teacher, then as a governess, and even the love stories she experienced throughout her life.

Faced with incredible trauma and neglect in her childhood, the death of her friend from consumption, and a typhoid epidemic when she was a student, Jane manages to survive despite all her ordeals. She decides to make her way in the world. Finding a job and finding love, however tumultuous it may have been, Jane Eyre is considered the beginning of an era where novels focused on women as the protagonists of the story.

Having been written by a woman and not a man, Jane Eyre is not only a beautiful young girl who is seduced by a handsome hero, but she was strong and independent and represented an icon for women of the time who were learning that a man was not all they needed in their life and that they could make their own way in a world that was so clearly dominated by men.

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16. Jay Gatsby

Jay Gatsby

Written in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby is set on Long Island during the Jazz Age and tells the story from the point of view of Nick Carraway and his interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

Many actors have brought him to life on the big screen over the last century, including Alan Ladd, Robert Ryan, Rober Redford, Toby Stephens, Warner Baxter and, arguably most notable, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Living in a luxurious mansion on Long Island, Jay Gatsby often threw even more luxurious and extravagant parties, having amassed a fortune through illicit means such as bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition.

Despite his worldly demeanor and immense wealth, Jay Gatsby was born James Gatsby in rural North Dakota. He found ways to cope throughout his life until he met Daisy Fay, with whom he fell hopelessly in love, and who would later marry Thomas Buchanan, a wealthy Chicago businessman .

His love for Daisy never faded, despite his marriage, and he decided to become a rich and influential man to conquer her again, which he did and seduced her.

The Great Gatsby is unfortunately not a story with a happy ending. Jay Gatsby is often used as a testament to what can happen when someone spends their life chasing wealth for the wrong reasons. Yet there is no denying that he is one of the most famous figures in the literary world and one of the most iconic fictional characters ever written.

17. Joker

Iconic fictional characters

Does the Clown Prince of Crime need an introduction? No. Am I going to make one for him? Yes.

The Joker is one of DC Comics' most famous supervillains. He has been a part of Batman history since the first issue of the Batman comics in 1940. The character was created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and Bob Kane. He is often one of the most important antagonists in any Gotham City story.

The Joker is known for being a psychopathic criminal with a twisted sense of humor who is the source of many of Batman's problems. As his main nemesis, Batman only seems to defeat the Joker on occasion, except in rare circumstances and in alternate timelines.

There are many ideas about how the Joker became who he is. However, most revolve around the fact that he fell into a vat of chemicals, causing his appearance and warping his mind. Although he does not have superhuman abilities, like Batman, he often uses his expertise with chemicals, pranks, and humor to get Gotham's protector into trouble.

Appearing in games, comics, series (animated or not), and films (animated or not), the Joker is considered one of the most iconic characters in pop culture and one of the fictional characters the most iconic of all time. He has been played by actors such as Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, the voice of Mark Hamill and, undoubtedly, the most iconic interpretation, that of Heath Ledger.

18. Jon Snow

Jon Snow

There are many great writers in the world, and those who have “R.R.” in their name are oddly considered among the best fantasy authors of all time. For example, J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, on which Game of Thrones is inspired.

Like other excellent fantasy novel series, it is difficult to choose a single iconic character to highlight, as there are so many. However, this article is so long that we're going to focus on a fan favorite character, Jon Snow. Played by Kit Harington in the HBO adaptation, Jon Snow is considered by the New York Times as one of Martin's best creations.

Jon Snow is introduced in the novel series in 1996 as the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, hence his surname Snow (used to clarify that someone does not have an inheritance or birth rite because it is illegitimate). Despite being raised as an outsider, Jon is a kind character who joins the Night's Watch and eventually becomes Lord Commander of the Watch.

The series takes all of this and continues his story, revealing that he is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen, named Aegon Targaryen. I won't spoil the rest for you if you haven't seen the series finale, but Jon is considered one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time because he always stayed true to himself- even, performing incredible heroic feats even when everyone treated him like an illegitimate Snow.

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19. Katniss Everdeen

Iconic fictional characters

Suzanne Collins' series of dystopian young adult novels, The Hunger Games, took the world by storm, so much so that it was quickly turned into a film series that fans loved. While the novels and films have many memorable characters, Katniss Everdeen, the main protagonist, is widely considered one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

Katniss Everdeen was just a young girl trying to get by in humble District 12 when the time came to choose the participants for the 74th Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a battle royale-style fight to the death in which one man and one woman from the first twelve out of thirteen districts had to participate and which was televised for all of Panem, the dystopian city, to witness.

Katniss' younger sister, Primrose Everdeen, was chosen as the female tribute, and rather than see her little sister die, Katniss volunteered to take her place. Despite her lack of courage and her meager skills as a hunter, due to the poverty of her neighborhood, Katniss manages to make it to the end of the death match and even outsmart the rich people in the capitol, whom she spies on. the slightest actions and gestures.

Katniss has grown into her role as a leader and inspiration to people who want to rise up against the powers that control them, although she was reluctant to play their game at first. Jennifer Lawrence did a great job bringing Katniss to life, becoming the face of the Hunger Games film series.

20. Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Bringing together two of the most iconic fictional characters of all time is cheating. However, we cannot have one character in this tragic duo without the other.

As you may know, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by a man considered one of the greatest writers of all time, William Shakespeare. While this prolific author wrote many stories, plays and poems, as well as many iconic fictional characters, none are as well known as this unhappy couple.

The story is set in Verona, Italy, and is about star-crossed lovers who cannot be together because of the rivalry between their two families, with Romeo being from House Montague and Juliet from House Capulet.

In the many recreations that have taken place over the years, Romeo is depicted as a dashing young man, capable of dueling, who even accidentally kills Juliet's cousin before being exiled.

Juliet is a beautiful young woman who instantly conquers Romeo's heart. Despite the war between their houses, the two secretly marry before a series of tragic events separates them forever, ending in a double suicide.

Although the story may not have been written by Shakespeare (there is much speculation about his inspirations), the tale of the two star-crossed lovers has survived through his work and recreations, to the point where almost all of Everyone knows who Romeo and Juliet are, making them two of the most iconic fictional characters of all time, and one of the most famous duos of all time.

21. Sherlock Holmes

Iconic fictional characters

Known to everyone thanks to the film adaptations with Robert Downey Jr and Henry Cavill and the television adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective who appears as the protagonist of many novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sherlock first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in 1887 and quickly became a beloved and iconic fictional character thanks to his sense of observation, deduction, logic and his strange fascination with forensics before it became a global phenomenon.

In his stories, many dislike his honest outlook on life, his inability to keep his observations to himself, and the very clinical way he conducts himself, but readers seem to like him more than the people around him.

Sherlock had his vices, including alcohol and opium, which he sometimes used to calm his noisy, hyperactive mind. Despite his flaws, no one can dispute that he is one of the most famous fictional detectives and one of the most iconic characters of all time.

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22. Spider-Man


Spider-Man is not only one of the most iconic Marvel comic book heroes ever created, but he has also earned his title as the most iconic fictional character of all time.

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man first appeared in 1962, and to say he blew up from there would be an understatement.

Little is known about the character's biological parents, other than their names and their deaths, but we do know that Peter Benjamin Parker was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York. Peter gains his superhuman powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider (in some versions this happens at a science fair, but in most cases it happens during a school field trip to a laboratory).

Suddenly, Peter must face his adolescence and the responsibility of his new powers, confronting the sudden resurgence of superhuman threats like the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Venom.

Loved for his witty remarks, general likeability, and kindness to all (Spider-Man often chooses to apprehend villains rather than harm them), Spider-Man is one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel comics and one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

23. Superman

Iconic fictional characters

Last but not least, we have Kal-El, the last son of Krypton, also known as Superman. This DC Comics superhero was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and little did they know that they would create one of the most iconic superheroes of all time.

Superman, or Kal-El, is an alien born to loving parents on the dying planet Krypton. His parents managed to send him into space as a baby, in a tiny spaceship, just before the destruction took place, and he landed in the city's countryside fictional Smallville.

Jonathan and Martha Kent were trying in vain to have a child. When they found a spaceship on their property with a baby inside, they decided to treat him as a gift from heaven and not an alien, naming him Clark Kent and raising him as their own child.

It doesn't take long for Clark's powers to manifest, as his Kryptonian body blossoms under the radiation of the yellow sun. His parents taught him to respect his powers, encouraging him to only use them to help humanity and not to harm them. This is how he acquired a strong sense of justice and decided to use his powers to fight crime.

Throughout the many comic books, television adaptations, films, and games, Superman has experienced enough heartbreak to call his hope for humanity into question, but he never gives up. With his powers, his will, his character and his fantastic sense of justice, Superman is easily one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time.

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Who is your favorite iconic fictional character of all time?