“Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” Homer Simpson may be one of the most famous fictional alcoholics of all time, but he certainly knew how to articulate the world's sentiments on drinking. Alcoholism affects many iconic public figures in the world, from actors like Dean Martin to famous writers like Truman Capote. However, this malady isn't restricted to reality. This real world affliction also affects many fictional characters in books, movies, and television, be it for laughs, serious social commentary, or some combination of both. This list will explore some of the most memorable and famous fictional alcoholics of all time.
Just about every character from the hit period drama Mad Men drinks just an obscene amount of alcohol. Just about every occasion seems to call for a glass or two of hard liquor. Good news? Time to open a new bottle. Bad news? Take a few shots of whisky. Corporate lunches appear to drag on for hours as the ad men and their clients each down three or five martinis. Roger Sterling, on the phone with his wife, assures her that he's drinking his milk, leaving out the fact that he tops the milk off with a hefty pour of vodka. Don Draper is perhaps the worst offender of them all, embarking on week-long benders with a bottle of Canadian Club in hand.
Animated superspy Sterling Archer, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, is the title character of the successful Archer series. According to Archer himself, he is perpetually inebriated. At one point in the series, Archer claims that if he were to stop drinking, the collective hangover would "literally kill" him. Though he enjoys carelessly downing entire bottles of rare, expensive scotch, Archer is not particularly picky. In fact, Archer has been shown to enjoy any number of cocktails on the show, ranging from authentic margaritas to ill-advised recipes like the "Green Russian" (absinthe and milk) and a potentially deadly combination of Tang and isopropyl alcohol.
The Simpsons, the longest running American sitcom of all time, depicts a stereotypical image of a suburban, working-class family. Breadwinner Homer Simpson is one of the most iconic TV dads and one of the most famous fictional alcoholics of all time. For the most part, Homer has a simple life: wake up, go to work, come home, drink beer, go to bed (with frequent snack breaks in between). His love of beer is well documented, and it shows in his beer gut.
Tyrion Lannister is undoubtedly one of the breakout fan favorite characters from the wildly successful television series Game of Thrones. The character also appears, of course, in the Song of Ice and Fire novels from which the television series was adapted. Although in recent seasons he has grown into a much more complex character, Tyrion Lannister's first impression to his television and book audiences was a man who did little but drink wine and court prostitutes.
Stephen King has been publicly open about his own personal battles with drugs and alcoholism. These struggles have manifested in King's writing in a number of ways, such as in the famous book and film Misery, which form a poignant allegory about the prison of addiction within which King felt trapped. Jack Torrance is a main character in another of King's most famous works, The Shining. King's original novel and Stanley Kubrick's famous film adaptation treat the character in different ways, but Torrance's background is the same: a violent alcoholic struggling to stay sober and maintain his sanity.
One of the most famous fictional alcoholics ever to appear on the small screen wasn't a human, but an alcohol-powered robot named, aptly, Bender. Not only does this Futurama character love drinking, he even appears to need alcohol in order for his system to function properly. This is played for laughs in one episode when a depressed Bender goes on a non-drinking binge.
Literally Everyone on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
The five members of "the gang" that run Paddy's Pub on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are all of equal prominence, so they share a spot on this list. Furthermore, the gang is made up of some of the most despicable yet famous fictional alcoholics ever shown on TV. Just about any given episode involves the gang getting mixed up in all sorts of hijinks in tandem with getting completely drunk. In one episode, the gang believes they have all come down with a terrible flu, only to discover that they were actually suffering severe withdrawal symptoms after not drinking for a few hours.
Frank Gallagher is the head of the Gallagher household, which is perhaps the most dysfunctional family on television. Any time Frank isn't drinking, he is searching for his next scheme to bilk his friends and family out of money. These schemes are a primary source of conflict on Shameless, which is simultaneously one of the most hilarious and tragic TV shows you'll ever watch.
Ben Sanderson is the manic-depressive protagonist of Leaving Las Vegas, a film based on the semi-autobiographical novel by John O'Brien. The entire plot of the film revolves around Sanderson's alcoholism, which costs him his job and alienates him from his friends and family. Sanderson decides to drink himself to death in Las Vegas, where most of the movie takes place. This film is particularly poignant as O'Brien, the "real life" Ben Sanderson, killed himself just weeks after signing away the movie rights to his novel.
Lucille Bluth is the matriarch of the Bluth family, which is the focus of Arrested Development. On the show, she spends her days keeping up appearances by going to the country club and frivolously spending money. Most of what she does, however, is drink vodka. In one scene, she asks for a vodka rocks. When informed that it's breakfast time, she quickly adds "...and a piece of toast."