Our literature is full of them, Dr. Leonard McCoy from Star Trek, Dr. Gregory House from House, Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies, and countless others from books, movies, tv shows, and plays from antiquity to today.
Even our children’s literature has prominent examples of them: Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, as well as Waldorf and Statler from The Muppet Show.
The lovable curmudgeon displays traits that, on the surface, seem that they would alienate that person from the group. Yet, the lovable curmudgeon is completely distinct from the total jerk. We love them in fiction, and even in real life. Though they annoy us, we find ourselves strangely endeared to them.
The lovable curmudgeon genuinely cares for people, often despite their gruff exterior and stated desire to not care. Their quick, sarcastic wit makes us laugh when we need it most. They are not afraid to voice a contrary opinion and avoid going along with groupthink. They will gladly play the devil’s advocate when we need to test our ideas.
The thing is, this character trope is not just in fiction. Real life is full of lovable curmudgeons. They gripe, grouse, and grumble their way into our hearts and we love them for it.
Every now and then, when I’m watching some futuristic scifi show or another, I wonder how the people with all this amazing tech don’t just have their brain melt at the amazing times they live in. I know they’re fictional, but why are they able to be normal?
Then I remember the above photo, taken from the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn. Our brains don’t melt. We just accept stuff and go on.
Life goes on. Humans go on. We adapt. It’s what we do. We’reSpace Orcs, Space Australians. We adapt just like our ancestors adapted to electricity and the printing press and the wheel and fire.
Some day, our descendants may adapt to artificial gravity and hyperdrives and extraterrestrial life.