Even when we narrow it down to just one year, it’s hard for lovers of media to pick out their favorite characters. In 2022, especially, fans of nerdy properties experienced a veritable buffet of offerings when it came to content. This year we experienced a ton of thrilling series and awe-inspiring movies that captured our imaginations. These stories made us laugh, made us sob, made us think and took us on adventures across space, time, and a multitude of universes. But when we truly connect with a narrative, there’s usually a special character or two behind that bond. Even though it pained us greatly to each choose just one, Nerdist‘s staff came together to offer you our final list of the best characters of 2022. Take a look at who came out on top for us.
Blackbeard From Our Flag Means Death
Selected by Amy Ratcliffe
Whether he’s making Izzy eat his own toe or teaching Stede about the art of f**kery, Taika Waititi’s Blackbeard was one of the best characters to grace our screens in 2022. The deuteragonist in Our Flag Means Death, Blackbeard was searching for something different. He found it in Stede Bonnet. We watched Blackbeard, a.k.a. Edward Teach, peel away layers of self-loathing and past traumas to open up to Stede. The fearsome pirate with an impeccable fashion sense realized he could be something different, and it hit him like a wave.
Of course, Blackbeard has committed atrocities. He has the kind of past he can’t really make up for. He was the Kraken. But he took a big step by shaving his beard and becoming Edward, a man who loves Stede Bonnet and wants to have a new, probably way less murder-y life. He, albeit briefly, shed his Blackbeard persona and showed us the power of love. We believe in Edward and his ability to transform… eventually.
Pearl From X and Pearl
Selected by Kyle Anderson
It’s incredibly rare for a brand new horror “villain” to feel so fully formed and get so much history and agency as writer-director Ti West gave to Pearl, the elderly murderer in his ’70s-set X and the 1913-set Pearl. Mia Goth’s performance gives the character so much depth, which makes her murderous rage all the scarier. Scarier because we understand her. We know she’s had a tough go of it, we know she never got to live out her dreams, and we know how easily we could have been in a position like that. Pearl isn’t just an ax murderer; she’s an ax murderer we really like. And if that doesn’t qualify her to be one of the best characters of 2022, we don’t know what does.
Eddie Munson From Stranger Things
Selected by Rotem Rusak
Being a new character introduced toward the, truly, end of a franchise can be a daunting prospect. Fans already have their favorites in place and know which relationship dynamics they feel excited about. When a new character comes along, it can often be hard to win over the love of many. But Eddie Munson took the Stranger Things world by storm in Stranger Things 4.
Although he did not know this about himself and, perhaps, the show does not even know it about him, Eddie Munson is remarkable. Though shunned, he remained kind. Though hurt, he remained generous. And though scared, he remained brave. More than anything, he never hesitated to be himself and to help others feel comfortable in their own skins as well. Eddie Munson became a beacon of hope for anyone who has felt othered in their lives, in the world of the show, and beyond. And as such, he became universally loved. Even now, months after the end of the season, it’s not uncommon to see a Hellfire Club shirt in the wild. Though Eddie met an untimely and unnecessary end in Stranger Things, he lives on in everyone who he touched. And that’s why Eddie Munson is one of the best characters of 2022.
Wednesday Addams From Wednesday
Selected by Tai Gooden
She’s creepy, kooky, and a superpowered teenage sleuth with unflinching determination. Wednesday Addams is the prototype for the modern macabre goth girl, with her trademark blank stare, scathing clap backs, and penchant for beheading dolls and torturing boys.
As an icon whose impact spans generations, it was hard to imagine how Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday could bring anything novel to her beloved legacy. But that’s exactly what she did on Wednesday, capturing her cold eyes, mysterious aura, and deadpan reactions with ease while also infusing her with a fresh undercurrent of vulnerability and valor as she strives to solve an enigma that’s bigger than herself. From her instantly iconic dance moves to her upgraded fashion sense to her clutch powers, this version of Wednesday captures the heart of longtime fans and newcomers alike. Only an effortlessly cool legendary character of her magnitude could swoop in at the end of 2022 and snag a spot on this best-of list.
Anya From The Midnight Club
Selected by Michael Walsh
I knew a Mike Flanagan show about a group of teenagers in hospice care who gather every evening to tell ghost stories would have some memorable characters. How could it not? And yet I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer power of The Midnight Club‘s Anya. Ruth Codd was the best part of a great cast. She was an undeniable force of will who was also human and vulnerable. That dynamic—explored through her own past, her own tales, and her desire to live—allowed her to create a character that was equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking, all while being absolutely hysterical. Anya was the heart and soul of a series full of both, and I’ll think of her journey as the group’s most fearsome character to its most vulnerable member every time I see a ballet dancer.
Captain Christopher Pike From Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Selected by Eric Diaz
Although there were many intriguing characters on various series this year, it was the forthright earnestness and all-encompassing decency of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Captain Christopher Pike that stood above the rest for me. (Also, his fabulous Johnny Bravo hair stood above everyone too.)
Portrayed by Anson Mount, Captain Pike had the sexy swagger of young Captain Kirk, the measured diplomatic skills and big brain of Captain Picard, the forthrightness of Captain Sisko, and the intellectual curiosity of Captain Janeway. It was like someone Frankensteined together the perfect Starfleet commander. I loved seeing him lead the way for his Enterprise crew each week and also cook for them, like the galaxy’s best Space Dad. In a landscape of morally ambiguous leads on so many shows, Pike was a welcome reminder that just being an all-around good person can also be compelling to watch on TV. We need more of those kinds of characters—in 2022 and beyond.
Young Leia From Obi-Wan Kenobi
Selected by Melissa Miller
Young Leia’s appearance in Obi-Wan Kenobi was my favorite surprise of the year. Of course, we need more Leia content! It was all perfect—from Leia’s introduction as a rogue princess who would rather play in the woods to the hair and outfits that match her iconic looks from the original trilogy, everything worked.
Actress Vivien Lyra Blair does both Leia’s and Carrie Fisher’s legacies proud. She sasses authority figures and bullies, even holding her own under interrogation from Reva. I don’t care what anyone else thinks—Leia saying, “Is this a staring contest?” when the Inquisitor is trying to break her is both a powerful and hilarious moment. As a bonus, young Leia makes the other characters more interesting and nuanced. She gives Kenobi a new hope. And we also get great moments with her L0-LA droid and see Bail Organa as a loving father. Leia has always been an incredible character, but in 2022, she did it all before the age of 11.
Princess and Black Panther Shuri From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Selected by the Editorial Team; Entry by Tai Gooden
The Princess of Wakanda elevates to a new plane of personal power in Wakanda Forever. She expands her reach beyond being the country’s royal tech genius after the crushing realization that not even her calculations can prevent one inevitable certainty of life: death. Watching her go from being the comedic relief to a young person coming into the next stage of her life while parsing through unspeakable grief and tragedy is perhaps one of the most powerful MCU origin stories.
We experience her raging fire, her mercurial ebb and flow of pain, and her adept mentorship and leadership as she takes on the coveted Black Panther mantle. Through it all, she emerges like a phoenix from the ashes, with Wakanda’s indomitable foundation of sisterhood anchoring her journey. Shuri earns full respect for her innovative spirit and a place in our hearts as one of the best characters in existence and of 2022.
2022’s Best Characters
Of course, there were many characters we loved in 2022 that didn’t make this list. Honorable mentions for Nerdist staff go to the villainous Homelander from The Boys and to the tragic Adar from The Rings of Power (fated to only exist in his original form this year). The dwarven power couple, Durin and Disa, were, too, incredibly beloved, as were the whole casts of Our Flag Means Death and Andor. We also couldn’t get the effervescent Kamala Khan out of our minds. Ultimately though, we could debate the best characters of 2022, or any other year, forever. At the end of the day, whoever is on your list, we hope they made your year better in whichever way they could. May 2023 treat them kindly.
Featured Image: HBO/Marvel Studios/Netflix
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