It truly does take all kinds of people to make this big beautiful world of ours go ‘round. Having said that, it’s a simple fact of life that some of those people naturally possess qualities that other do not; qualities like virility, strength, and a total disregard for the dangers inherent to exploring the great outdoors, to name a few. We describe these types of people, regardless of gender, as “rugged,” “outdoorsy,” or “active.” For the unfortunate others, we usually reserve words like “nerd,” “loser,” or “Milhouse Van Houten.”
Don’t fall too in love with yourself if you’re one of the virile. (Have you seen Grizzly Man? It doesn’t end well.) More importantly, don’t get too down on yourself if you’re one of those proud humans whose constitutions are, shall we say, less predisposed to adventure. Sure, we’d all like to be Ron Swansons — carving couches out of oak trees and hunting raccoons with our bare hands — but sometimes it’s not in the cards.
If you’re one of the weak (like me) and you use TV characters to validate your sense of self (also like me), then you’re in luck because there are tons of classic TV characters who just aren’t up to the challenge of the great outdoors. They have so many other strengths, though! (Except for Milhouse … What a wiener.)
Here are five TV characters who probably wouldn’t survive the wilderness if their lives depended on it (which it usually does when you’re left alone in the wilderness).
1. Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons
Look, I could dump on Milhouse all day (we all could), but let’s give the poor kid a break. Between his parents’ divorce and Nelson’s constant bullying, his self-esteem has been through the ringer. Besides, it’s Lisa whose body literally rejects foreign foliage and dander. Remember when Homer got that job for Hank Scorpio in a beautiful mountain town? Poor little Lisa went for one walk in the woods and suddenly needed an asthma inhaler. And unfortunately, for as smart as she is, her instincts as a survivor aren’t that sharp — as we learned when she was stranded on a desert island and wanted everyone to eat moss to survive instead of delicious boar meat. That’s gross, Lisa! I’d rather eat at Arby’s.
2. David Healy from Roseanne
Oh, who can forget the sensitive and sad David Healy: so much smarter than his brother Mark yet so, so much weaker. Mark not only had a way with the opposite sex that David could never possess but instinctual street smarts that one could easily imagine translating to basic survival skills in nature. You can’t write a poem to ward off a bear attack, David; bears are attracted to the scent of teen angst.
3. Shannon Rutherford from Lost
I’m really not trying to pick on characters with asthma. If anything, it’s TV’s fault for using a legitimate breathing disorder as the stereotypical physical shortcoming for characters lost in the wild. Shannon happened to be one of those characters. To be fair, though, it wasn’t even her asthma that made her completely useless in the jungle: As the token bratty, spoiled, rich girl, she refused to build, hunt, or gather anything for basically the entire first season. Eventually she turned her attitude around and became relatively likable, but she was never exactly what you’d call “useful.” Ironically, it wasn’t even the asthma or lack of practical survival skills that killed her; it was Ana Lucia, with a gun, in the jungle.
4. Buster Bluth from Arrested Development
OK, this list is officially getting a little sad. I’m not sure that anyone could possibly look to Buster Bluth for validation, nor should they. I mean, every time this man-child goes into the ocean he loses a limb (a dangerous predicament considering he’s a studied cartographer who thinks the blue parts on the map are land). He couldn’t even fight off a loose seal, for crying out loud. His only defense in the wild would be the deeply rooted mommy issues that he projects onto all of his relationships; if anyone could convince a pack of wolves to take him in as their baby, it’s Buster.
5. Jeff Winger from Community
Oh sure, Jeff is the picture of suave, but “suave” only gets you so far in the wild. If Winger were kidnapped and left to fend for himself in the Adirondacks, it would take 13 minutes for the lack of Internet, air conditioning, and codependent friendships to drive him completely insane. It’s not that he’s incapable of surviving; after all, he’s smart and fit, even if his muscles are more decorative than utilitarian. Unfortunately, he doesn’t handle silence, introspection, or being alone all that well, particularly when there’s no alcohol around. Within an hour of sobriety in the woods, he’d be arguing out loud with imaginary Brittas about his Daddy issues. Within three hours he’d be sobbing, naked, curled into a fetal position on top of a rock, crying out for his mother. He’d be dead by dawn.
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