My Favourite Fictional Old Men

I don’t mean to offend anyone with my use of the word ‘old’ here, because in fact some of these characters are younger than my own dad, so of course they can’t be old! It just sounds a bit better than ‘elderly’ or ‘slightly more mature than your average protagonist’.

I am sure I have forgotten a few, but here they are – some of my favourite characters who would likely have a bus pass:

[There might be the odd, mild spoiler.]

Harold Fry. The protagonist of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is quite simply a good man. We know he has a mistake he wishes to atone for, by walking from one end of England to the other, but we see over the course of his journey that he has a tolerant, patient, kind heart, and I just think he’s lovely.

Allan Karlsson. The main character of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared turns out to be a bit of a legend when it comes to some of the most important historical events of the 20th century. He’s a bit of a loon, but I liked him from the first page, when he decides to escape his hundredth birthday party. I loved him a couple of pages later, when he decides to steal a suitcase that has been temporarily entrusted to his care, rather than miss his bus.

Otto LairdThe Restoration of Otto Laird. This retired architect might have thought his life was almost over, but there’s time for a final adventure and trip down memory lane – he is going to try to save his masterpiece.

Eddie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. When Eddie dies, he is faced with five people who affected him greatly or whose lives he impacted, sometimes without realising. I thought he was a really sympathetic character.

Otto Witte from If You’re Reading This, I’m Already Dead. This book is hilarious, because it’s narrated by Otto, a circus performer who pretends to be a king.

Mr Peterson from The Universe Versus Alex Woods. He is a grumpy old man, but he becomes a father/grandfather figure to Alex, and I really liked the friendship between them.

A Man Called Ove. Ove is another older gentleman who might be considered simply a grumpy old man. He is a stickler for the rules and might seem like a bit of a killjoy, but of course there is more than meets the eye.

Albus Dumbledore. As if I could write this list without him! His energy makes him seem a lot younger, but his words are wise, his decisions shrewd and he has his flaws, which, somehow, makes him all the more perfect.

‘Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.’

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