It's hard for the average person to understand why anyone wouldn't want to be immortal. Immortality has been a fruitful lens for fiction to examine the human condition. But sometimes there are immortals who completely fail to get the horror of immortality across. Instead, you can't help but think you'd do better. Here are ten of them.
Last week saw the premiere of Forever, which introduced another immortal to the prime time line-up. And like so many before him, Dr. Henry Morgan is an immortal who hates his gift, trying to find out how to live a normal, short life. Time will tell if the show becomes one the classics addressing the issues of living forever and losing loved ones or if Henry angsts so hard and so long that it's impossible to empathize with him. If the latter happens, he'll find himself in the company of this list.
Warning: Spoilers abound from here on out.
1. The Cullens, The Twilight Series
Let's get these guys out of the way from the very start. The Cullens are some of the worst examples of immortality out there. They typify that specific kind of immortal who does nothing but sulk about the burden of immortality. There has been a lot of ink spilled on Twilight by now, but the thing that lands them on this list with a bullet is that Edward et al. have decided to spend eternity attending high school. That's a horrible decision. If you can pass as 18, just skip high school.
2. Adam Monroe, Heroes
Adam Monroe was the main villain of season 2 of Heroes, and he had an origin story that made him a villain because of a love triangle. And then he founded the company and tried to unleash a virulent strain of the Shanti virus because he thinks it'll fix the problem of human destruction. He ends that season buried alive. Actually, Adam spent a lot of time being locked away by others. He could have used his immortality to live a life seeking out everything Earth had to offer. Or become rich and powerful through longevity. And yet, he gets caught up in a love triangle, loses a fight to a man who can multiply himself, and keeps getting caught an locked away. Useless.
3. Anij, Star Trek: Insurrection
There are a lot of problems with the Ba'ku. They live on a planet that has granted them immortality, but they're entirely against letting anyone else using the planet's properties to save lives. They've taken a stand on technology that would make the Luddites go "Dude, that's a little extreme." All of those things are personified in Anij, who takes it a step further by being an immortal who has never bothered to learn to swim.
4. Davy Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean
Granted immortality when he fell in love with the goddess of the sea and was charged with ferrying the dead to afterlife, Jones should have had a relatively simple life. But then his love missed one meeting, and he went off the rails. He couldn't just devote himself to finding her and getting an explanation. No, he decided that "Eldritch sea terror" was more his speed. And even then, you'd think that would make him the big bad of the films. But no, he somehow ends up as a flunky to the milquetoast Cutler Beckett. My god man, have some pride.
5. Alfred Fellig, The X-Files; "Tithonus"
No disrespect to the episode, which is great. But Fellig is tired of immortality after 149 years. Actually, he got tired way before that, since he started devoting himself to photographing death decades before we meet him in the episode. He says he's experienced everything when he was only a little over 100, which isn't that far out from the average lifespan. Compared to the other immortals who have picked up this ennui, that's throwing in the towel very early.
6. Mylie, Charmed ;"A Witch's Tail"
Charmed took on the The Little Mermaid and managed to make their version of Ariel even less logical than the Disney version. Here, instead of trading her voice for legs, Mylie has thirty days to find love on land. If she fails, she'll give her immortality to the sea hag. She bet her immortality on finding love in a month. In a foreign land. She did not deserve it.
7. Arvin Sloane, Alias
This is someone who isn't on this list because he wasted his immortality. No, Arvin Sloane's on this list because once he finally got it, he was immediately caught in a cave-in that trapped him under a mountain for all eternity. Jokes on you, Arvin. Enjoy your completely wasted immortality.
8. Richard Alpert, Lost
Gotta love an indecisive immortal. Richard Alpert first asked Jacob to grant him immortality, which he got. Then, when Jacob died, he felt like he had lost all direction and wanted to die. And then, he gets a gray hair and realizes he's aging like a normal person once more. And this makes him rediscover his will to live. Could have just skipped the immortality, then.
9. Maedhros, The Silmarillion
The House of Feanor are Tolkien's House of Fail. But Maedhros wins the stupid race his family's engaging in. His father Feanor made the whole family swear an oath of vengeance on anyone who would keep the Silmarils from them. Instead of becoming the kind of wise and beautiful elf that we associate with the Tolkien elves, Maglor became so stupidly intent on getting the Silmarils back that he engaged in kinslaying, kidnapping, and theft. He refused to let the Middle Earth equivalent of Angels explain to him that a) he didn't need to follow his father's stupid oath anymore and b) he had done such awful things that he wouldn't be able to hold the Silmarils anymore. Of course the stolen Silmaril burned him so badly that he then killed himself. Which, since he's an elf, isn't actually death. Instead, his soul gets to wait around until someone decides that he's earned a new body. Which he will waste again, probably.
10. Connor MacLeod, Highlander: Endgame
All the movies after the first one do their absolute best to ruin how much we love the first one. Highlander: Endgame reached the peak of this by turning Connor MacLeod into the mopiest mope to ever mope. Instead of being spurred to vengeance when Kell killed people close to him, Connor forced his kinsman to kill him. So, you know, inflicting the same kind of pain on Duncan that had driven him to this point. Excellent character assassination, Highlander: Endgame.