Our favorite pop-culture universes are full of colorful heroes with courageous souls and amazing abilities.
But that doesn’t always include book smarts, or even basic reading skills. Which fictional characters are most likely functionally illiterate?
Reasoning: Some kind of animal; lives in a box.
2. Peter Pan
Reasoning: Kidnaps Wendy so she can read to the Lost Boys; lives in lawless, postapocalyptic society.
3. Big Bird
Reasoning: Canonically 5 years old; suspended in state of perpetual partial-literacy to act as surrogate for preliterate children learning to read at home.
4. Luke Skywalker
Reasoning: Lives in a universe seemingly devoid of books, printed materials, or written language of any kind; spends half of his life on a sand farm and the other half in a swamp.
5. The Flintstones
Reasoning: Set in era that predates writing; also stupid.
Reasoning: Is relatively new to life; struggles with language and basic concepts. Abandons studies almost immediately.
7. Clifford the Big Red Dog
Reasoning: Is dog.
8. Harry Potter
Reasoning: Raised in neglect by unloving surrogate parents, before transferring to a school where traditional academics weren’t taught; basically a rich kid on an athletic scholarship (quidditch). Only has two or three spells memorized; always delegates library research to Hermione.
9. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Reasoning: Mutated animals raised in the sewer by another mutated animal, Splinter; accelerated aging also suggests the “teenage” turtles might be — in real time — as young as 2–3 years old.
Reasoning: Nonverbal creature primarily raised for companionship and blood sports.
Reasoning: Visibly abandoned.
12. Approximately half the people in Game of Thrones
Reasoning: Characters live in old-timey kingdoms with different survival skills and priorities; books received as wedding gifts are especially ignored or destroyed.
13. Winnie The Pooh
Reasoning: Explicitly stated.
14. Black Beauty
Reasoning: Just a horse.
Reasoning: Just an ocean horse.
16. The Hulk
Reasoning: No demonstrated ability; learned scientist Doctor Banner reverts to brute force and base instincts in Hulk-form.
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