Long before first-person shooters took over and online multiplayer games collected fees, millions of entertainment seekers were enveloped by a genre known as “graphic adventure.” The next logical step from text-based adventures, the graphic adventure invented the open-world concept in gaming, testing wits and attentiveness over impulses; meaning that, once upon a time, videogamers had to (brace yourself) think before acting.

Whether in first-person or third-person, the point-and-click emphasis and inventory-based gameplay meant tools and conversation skills trumped firepower and platforming, and no great adventure was had without a satisfying plot that rivaled most of the movies playing at your local cinema. With that, these are 10 of the most significant graphic adventure games.

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As early as 1984, Roberta Williams was known for her bold and innovative approach to the adventure game, with the medieval themed King’s Quest. Often cited as the first successful graphic adventure title, King’s Quest introduced a captivating sword and sorcery universe that would spawn over a dozen sequels and collections, the biggest fan favorite often cited as 1992′s King’s Quest VI.

The game is a love story at heart, following the path of Prince Alex in his pursuit of the captivating Princess Cassima. In true graphic adventure fashion, wild personalities are introduced and players are rewarded with story and new areas to explore through each solved puzzle. This installment was notable for its leap forward in graphics and aesthetics from its predecessors, let alone alternate endings, achieved through wildly different gameplay paths and branches in storyline.

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Originally released in 1993, the most acclaimed Sam & Max title is also a source of true nostalgia for a lot of gamers in childhood during its heyday. In a similar aesthetic to Roger Rabbit, private detectives Sam (the hound dog) and Max (the rabbit) first debuted in a comic book series in the late 1980s, before starring in their most memorable PC title to date.

Hit the Road took the pair across the United States in the efforts of recovering a stolen carnival sideshow attraction (who else but Bigfoot, right?). Complete with mini-games and smart-aleck comments from the protagonists, the game’s offbeat humor may have overshadowed even the exploits of its technical influencer, The Secret of Monkey Island. The pair appeared in a couple of sequels before being given the “episodic” treatment with a few digital download games in recent years.

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Long before themes of sex were unnerving parents in polygonal form, Leisure Suit Larry was finding itself knocked off retail shelves and practically admonished even by its own publisher, who refused to heavily advertise the game. Therefore, the 1987 title became a top seller largely by word of mouth, placing mature gamers in the role of a wannabe lothario whose entire life revolves around one thing: getting laid.

The 40-something hopeful is guided by the player, trotting around the city and picking up on a variety of women, mostly high maintenance elitists only impressed with Larry’s ability to adorn with gifts and boast a substantial income. Call it dirty, call it degrading, but the Leisure Suit franchise spawned five sequels during the 1990s, not including a remake of the original that was designed primarily to enhance the graphics of the women depicted.

After a few under-performing sequels in the 2000s, a Kickstarter fund was started by a new developer to revive Larry on mobile devices and produce a new HD entry into the series. Larry is the graphic adventure of choice for any player’s inner deviant, and pushed the meaning of “graphic” in the genre to another level more times than once.

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Somehow, when it comes to true horror – the type that really makes you wince and fear – artists from the far East are some of the most talented. Setting the stage for terrifying exports like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, the original Clock Tower in 1995 was exclusive to its native Japan for a long time, but that didn’t stop the game from garnering worldwide attention once the internet was commonplace.

Despite being a point-and-click adventure game at its core, there is a looming survival horror aspect, as the player is constantly stalked by a non-playable psychopath known as Scissorman. This means, at any time, a player must abandon their puzzle and run for their life if the killer in fact enters the same room and attacks them. This was a big departure from the typical “take your time” mood of most graphic adventures. Popularized by a PlayStation port, the game’s construct shifted over its sequels, but the initial version was undoubtedly praised for its genre-bending take on the graphic adventure template.

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Fans of the original Myst in 1993 had to wait four years until the multi-million selling classic would finally be given its first sequel, Riven. The 1997 installment tested the wits of gamers unlike ever before, and pushed the sanity of its developers to the edge. It was not without reward — the title sold tremendously well, was critically acclaimed upon release, and is still considered by the majority of fans to be the best in the series.

Picking up where Myst left off, players assumes a role that is essentially themselves, never named specifically beyond “Stranger.” Set in a universe where talented authors can materialize actual worlds with mere writings, the player is tasked with rescuing a man’s wife from his totalitarian father who uses said writing talent for self-serving purposes. The game’s beautiful scenery yet dark undertones provided commentary on responsibility versus wrath.

Riven was not produced without several technical challenges due to its frame-by-frame gameplay, which meant even the slightest change in circumstances required every single angle and place in time to be reconsidered for each frame. The puzzle-based difficulty is notoriously brutal without outside help, including false leads and one-time-only clues (see: fire marble domes), not to mention a custom numerical system players must ascertain during gameplay.

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Regarded as the single title responsible for the boom in CD-ROM gaming, the 1993 hit The 7th Guest was a campy yet engaging first-person adventure set in a haunted mansion. The premise may owe a debt to the Mac OS classic Uninvited, but made its own niche with the use of real actors portrayed as ghostly apparitions, fleshing out the backstory and making the player feel like a clairvoyant, let alone investigator.

The plot was morbid, but presented in a TV horror aesthetic that mitigated the heaviness of themes concerning murder and betrayal. A maniacal antagonist teased the player’s performance and offered an unprecedented form of narrative in gaming (think the Haunted Mansion attraction gone wild). In a clever way to aid lost players, a hint system under the guise of a library exists, offering tips on how to solve a majority of the puzzles and aiding the title’s accessibility.

Although met with a less successful sequel, The 11th Hour, the original retains a strong fan base and re-releases have been produced, for formats as recent as the iPad and iPhone. A third installment is still in production at time of this writing, assumed to arrive no sooner than the original’s 20th anniversary.

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Regarded by many as the “lost” Indiana Jones film in spirit (harsher critics recommending this game over the fourth movie), the 1992 hit Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis introduced a new mythology, new villains, and new damsel testing the patience of everyone’s favorite whip-cracking archaeologist.

Inspired by Plato and his writings of Atlantis, the story concerns Indy in a search for proof of the fabled city, but not without crossing mysterious temples, characters of all cultures, and of course, Nazis begging for a beatdown. Rated “perfect” by various publications during its prime, Fate of Atlantis was lauded for a subliminal educational aspect, let alone having one of the best story arcs among all graphic adventure games. A revamp not long after the original release introduced voice talent, although not of any actors from the film series.

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Take Pirates of the Caribbean and mix it with a Saturday morning cartoon (and maybe just a pinch of acid) and you’d come up with the wacky yet revered classic, The Secret of Monkey Island. Released in 1990, this title is likely the one that proved to the world that graphic adventures could be all-ages fun while providing elements of tongue-in-cheek parody and taxing abstract thinking unlike ever before.

As Guybrush Threepwood (don’t worry, plenty of in-game characters already mock the name), you embark on the naive journey to become a pirate; in fact, it’s the first full sentence out of the young man’s mouth. However, when the town mayor is kidnapped, your bravery is put to the test and you must rescue her while adopting the pirate lifestyle, all done in a classic graphic adventure style (sword fighting is not won by real time actions, for example, but through witty insults and comebacks).

Complete with a hilarious cast of characters (including drunken skeletons, and tribal cannibals who speak articulately about their dietary concerns), the world of Monkey Island spawned a few sequels all the way up through the 2000s, including remakes of the first two installments with modern graphics. A movie was even planned at one point, but eventually canceled.

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Before moving on to his most successful creation – the Metal Gear Solid franchise – Japanese writer and developer Hideo Kojima started out with adventure games. The most revered and celebrated of these was the Blade Runner-meets-Terminator epic, Snatcher, released in the late 1980s for home computers and the Sega CD in 1993.

The adventure game platform was likely attractive to Kojima due to his knack for grandiose storytelling, rivaling even Hollywood films. Snatcher combines conversations, relationship dynamics, stationary shootouts, and evidence examination, all supported by a twisting plot concerning body-snatching robots and identity crises (not to mention the most blindsiding paternal twist since Darth Vader and Luke). To top things off, the player can be detoured severely if they abuse or misappropriate their interactions with some of the game’s supporting characters.

Hard at work on the latest announcement in the Metal Gear series, Ground Zeroes, Kojima has his plate full and the outcry from gamers for a Snatcher remake may go unfulfilled, at least for a while.

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In the greater perspective of graphic adventure games, it seems almost a crime to feature only one title spearheaded by Tim Schafer, adorned by many as one of the most visionary writers and developers in the entertainment industry. However, to keep a balance, this spot goes to Schafer’s most intriguing and technically-advancing accomplishment in the genre thus far.

After getting his feet wet on Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, Schafer co-designed the former’s sequel, Day of the Tentacle. This opened the door for his first solo project, Full Throttle, a biker-themed cult classic featuring the voices of Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons), and the late Roy Conrad. Following Full Throttle’s success, Schafer was ready for his masterpiece of the decade, and entered the Land of the Dead (creatively speaking) with 1998′s Grim Fandango.

Players control the skeletal Manny Calavera, a “travel agent” for the newly deceased who accommodates his clients based on their goodness in life. Eventually Manny finds his business is corrupted from the top down, and perfectly good souls are being cheated out of good tickets by a crime lord finagling the agency. Upon discovering his love interest, Mercedes, a victim of this corruption, Manny becomes involved in a noir-style epic to save his woman and find a better life (or, afterlife) for the two of them.

The timing of Grim Fandango’s release marred its commercial success – it arrived at the end of the graphic adventure glory days, and when console gaming started to overshadow PCs in the mainstream. Coupled with the fact the game ran almost exclusively on Windows 98 (later systems requiring patches and tweaks), the title remains elusive for common gamers. None of this hindered the game’s legacy, however, as critics applauded the title with “Best of the Year” awards and fans remain faithful adherents. A glimpse online also reveals urging from numerous gamers to get a working port on download services such as Steam.

In the meantime, Schafer has embarked on a new high exposure venture; his Kickstarter fund in 2012 garnered over $3 million from the public when it was announced he intended to independently produce a new graphic adventure, reintroducing the genre to the masses. At time of writing, the details are unknown, but if history is any indication, the project will be a must-buy for anyone passionate about pristine storytelling and contextual gameplay.

Notable Extras: The fun doesn’t stop there. For those intrigued by this article, other worthy classics to explore that didn’t make the top 10 include: Maniac Mansion, The Journeyman Project, Myst, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Policenauts, King’s Quest, Full Throttle, and The Dig. A few modern blockbusters such as Heavy Rain borrow heavily from graphic adventures, and independent developers are frequently churning out new graphic adventures on the indie games market.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/09/15/top-10-captivating-graphic-adventures/

Top 10 Classic Toys

With Christmas rapidly approaching like a wind-whipped storm front, it’s apparent that the toy purchasing season is in full swing. Stores have been decked out in Christmas trimming since before Halloween promoting wares to consumers as manufacturers have vomited their product across several aisles. And with that colorful image, we present ten of the most classic, though not necessarily requested, toys ever. Some have been around since the dawn of commercialism in this country, and others have slowly clawed their way to the top of the heap just by being noisy. You’ll agree, though perhaps not with the list as a whole, that these bits of childhood imagery are truly nostalgic and look to go nowhere anytime soon.

10. Lincoln Logs (Invented 1916-17)

I think it’s fair to say that everyone, at one time or another, has owned that giant cardboard tube full of timber. Lincoln Logs are likely a staple for early childhood development as they teach youngsters how to build, how to use eye-hand coordination, and how to fashion weapons out of notched wood. Good times.

9. Slinky (1943)

Richard James, a Philadelphia native was evidently bored one day at the fabrication plant he worked in and noticed that the coiled cut-off from certain machines looked like something that could be a lot of fun. Or else possible slice someone’s hands to ribbons. Well, the rest is history as the fellow took a load home and watched it wriggle down the stairs. Smart guy.

8. Building Blocks (1798)

Maria and R.L. Edgeworth’s Practical Education manual –according to Wikipedia– is the first formal mention of the use of toy and building blocks for children. Since then it has become apparent that this toy, perhaps directly responsible for kids wanting to be architects and even demolition experts, shows children how to create constructs with patience and skill. And the corners hurt, too. Be careful!
In the video the part about how useful blocks are for development is at the end.

7. Artist Supplies (1903)

I cited the date for Crayons in the header since it seems that Binney and Smith jumped on the colorful bandwagon quite a bit before markers or other media found its way into the mainstream. Oh sure, cave drawings have been around for a bit of time, and I guess that counts, but I’m pretty sure children weren’t involved in drawing naked cavemen hunting bison. At least I hope not.

6. Sports Equipment

According to the ever-knowledgeable Wikipedia, the first use of the word ball was in 1205! Wow, it’s come such a long way since then to mean lots of other, ahem, unfortunate things. Anyway, children playing with any number of sports item is typical of everyone and what kid doesn’t like waking up on Christmas morning with a new baseball set under the tree! Then he can go to work smashing stuff with the bat. Good boy!

5. Toy Guns

Toy guns in any form have been around for as long as I can remember, and, apparently as long as anyone else as well since I couldn’t find a date specifying when they were first mass-produced. Oh well, we’ve all used them at one time; shooting away at our siblings and friends. Now, though, the popularity of AirSoft guns and Paintball Guns have really cornered the market. Keep on shooting, it can’t possibly do any long-term damage, right?

4. Play-Doh (1956)

Invented by Noah and Joseph McVicker, the non-toxic colorful compound allows children to create absolutely anything their little minds can concoct. And to help those children out who have little imagination, why not purchase any number of useful pieces of equipment including barber shops, restaurants, molding stations, and farm animal limbs. Play-Doh is brilliant and can be made at home, just don’t use food coloring like I did. Stains galore!

3. Lego (1934)

Ole Kirk Christiansen from Denmark took the basic idea of building blocks and made them a million times cooler. Meaning, “play well”, LEGO has gone from its humble, simple beginnings to a monster of a toy acquiring such licenses as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and NASA! Not just square pegs by any means, the variety of shapes and sizes available now can allow you to build nearly anything! Oh, and a video game based on the Star Wars sets is far too much fun.

2. Action Figures/Dolls (2000 BC)

Ok, so that’s a bit of a stretch on the date, but apparently ancient tombs have been discovered featuring bits of human-shaped rags made to look like the person buried within. Creepy. Anyway, the mass production of dolls and dolls for boys (later action figures) began in the USA somewhere in the 1860′s when kids got bored of staring at ‘the plains’ for hours on end.

1. Video Games (1947)

I don’t normally do this, but what follows is the exact text from Wikipedia on the invention of the video game. There was so darn much to use in this little blurb that I decided to use it all. So blame them if it’s wrong.

The early formulative years consist of basic games that made use of interactive electronic devices with various display formats. The earliest example was in 1948, where the idea for a “Cathod Ray Tube Amusement Device” was conceived by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. The two filed for a patent on January 25, 1947, which was issued on December 14, 1948 as US Patent 2455992. Inspired by radar displays, it consisted of an analog device that allowed a user to control a vector drawn dot on the screen to simulate a missile being fired at targets represented by drawings fixed to the screen. Other examples included the NIMROD computer at the 1951 Festival of Britain, Alexander S. Douglas’s OXO for the EDSAC in 1952, William Higinbotham’s interactive game called Tennis for Two in 1958, and MIT students Martin Graetz, Steve Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen’s Spacewar! on a DEC PDP-1 computer in 1961. Each game used different means of displaying the game: NIMROD used a panel of lights to play the game of Nim, OXO used a graphical display to play Tic-tac-toe, Tennis for Two used an oscilloscope to display a side view of a tennis court, and Spacewar! used the DEC PDP-1′s vector display to have two spaceships battle each other.

In 1971, Computer Space was released and was the first commercially sold, coin-operated video game. Created by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, it used a standard television and game generated video signal for display. It was followed in 1972 by the Magnavox Odyssey, the very first home console. Modeled after Ralph H. Baer’s late 60′s Brown Box, it also used a standard television and game generated video signal. These system were followed by two versions of Atari’s Pong; an arcade version in 1972 and a home version in 1975. The commercial success of the arcade and home consoles versions of Pong spawned numerous Pong-clones and caused other companies to develop their own systems, spawning the video game industry.

Now you know who to blame.

Notable Omissions: Meccano

Contributor: StewWriter

Read more: http://listverse.com/2007/11/11/top-10-classic-toys/

Batman is one of America’s most beloved superheroes, and comic book’s first anti-heroes. Over the years he’s been in movies, video games and television and has gone through many changes. While virtually everyone knows something about Batman, there’s a lot that many don’t know. Here’s a list of some things you probably never heard about the Caped Crusader.

It took a little time for Bob Kane to refine the Batman character. Nowadays, Batman not only refuses to use guns, but hates them completely. This is logical, considering a gun killed his parents, and ever since he has stalwartly refused to use firearms in his crime fighting. However, in early issues Batman was something of a costumed Sherlock Homes, doing more detective work than fighting, but still carrying a six-gun at his side on his night patrols. Bob Kane soon changed this,  saying that Batman wearing a gun didn’t “Feel Right”.


In 1954, Dr. Frederic Wertham a German-American Psychiatrist published the infamous “Seduction of the Innocent” A book that claimed comic books, with their violent imagery, were contributing to juvenile delinquency. Most of the book focused on crime and horror comics, but superhero comics were targeted in a few instances. One notorious account claimed that Batman and Robin were a depiction of a gay couple. Of course, this is ridiculous, but many think this claim is what inspired writers to make Batman (or more accurately, Bruce Wayne) a shameless womanizer to help chase off the rumor.


If there’s anything that Hugh Hefner is passionate about, aside from lovely ladies, it’s comic books. Hefner admits that, aside from publishing, one of his early projects was cartooning. Much later in life, he still liked to throw comic-book themed parties. In 1965, at the Chicago Playboy club, the Hef decided to have a Batman themed party that celebrated the campiness of the comic. He had actors dressed as Batman and Robin at the party, using the goofy “Golly gee whiz” lines from the comic, and the old Batman movie serials were screened. Little did Hef know, Yale Udoff , an ABC executive was attending. When he saw the crowd’s positive reaction to the goofy Batman and Robin, he immediately ran to a pay phone and called ABC with an idea for a new Batman TV show. So was born the campy but lovable 1960′s Batman series.

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Everybody knows batman’s real name is Bruce Wayne. Robin is, of course, Dick Grayson. But there were other Robins, namely Jason Todd, Tim Drake and briefly, Stephanie Brown. The main villains are fairly well know: Catwoman is Selena Kyle, the Penguin’s name is Oswald Cobblepot, and The Riddler is Edward Nigma (E-Nigma . . .get it?) Two-Face’s name was Harvey Dent (that one’s obvious thanks to the recent movie), and Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred’s full name is “Alfred Pennyworth”. The name of the thug who originally murdered Batman’s parents was Joe Chill. More mysterious is the real name of The Joker, who for many years was a character without a real origin, and his real identity (if he could be said to have one) was never revealed. Only recently The Joker got an origin story, and thereby a real name: Jack Napier – named after Alan Napier who played Alfred in the Batman TV series.

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What was Batman’s first movie, ever? Well, casual fans will point out Tim Burton’s 1990 “Batman” but more savvy fans will no doubt point out that Adam West starred in a Batman movie in 1966 that was theatrically released. In truth, they’re both wrong. The first time Batman that was ever depicted in a movie that had any kind of release was “Batman, Dracula” in 1964, directed and produced by none other than Andy Warhol. Few people have seen it, and all prints are thought to be long gone, but what we do know is that the detective was played by longtime Warhol collaborator, Gregory Battcock, and it was completely unauthorized by DC Comics. Some surviving footage appeared in a later Warhol film “Jack Smith and the destruction of Atlantis”

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The story of Batman is one that’s easy to identify with. Any one of us who is angered by crime and the strong preying on the weak would love to do like good ol’ Bruce, put on a costume and clean up the streets. Oddly enough, in the town of Jackson, Michigan, one guy did exactly that. While his identity has never been revealed (like any good superhero, I suppose) “Captain Jackson” one day got fed up with street crime in his neighborhood, and decided to don a cape and cowl and patrol the streets to help out local law enforcement. While it seems a little crazy, the crime rate has dropped sharply since Captain Jackson took to the streets. He works closely with local law enforcement, and never confronts criminals directly, opting instead to report anything suspicious to the proper authorities, as well as fighting crime via a number of community service projects and awareness programs. Fight the good fight, Captain Jackson!


Originally, Batman took place is New York city, like many comic books of the time. Later, the writers decided to have it take place in a fictional city with a fictional history, so they could give the comic its own world. A writer opened a New York phone book randomly, saw “Gotham Jewlers” and so the name was born. The location of Gotham city has always been a bit hazy, sometimes it was depicted on the East Coast, and a few times it was located in the Midwest, near Superman’s hometown of Metropolis. However, popular canon now states that Gotham is located on the East Coast, specifically in the state of New Jersey. This has never been specifically stated in the comic, but in a few cases readers have spotted “Gotham City, New Jersey” on license plates, and once on a character’s driver’s licence.


In Tim Burton’s 1989 film “Batman” there is a scene where a savvy Gotham City reporter is being ribbed by his co-workers about his obsession with Batman, thought by most to be an urban legend. At one point he’s handed a sketch of a silly-looking anthropomorphic bat in a tuxedo, with the words “Have you seen this man?”, much to the reporter’s chagrin. Next time you watch the movie, pause for a second and check the signature, this sketch was drawn by none other than Batman creator Bob Kane. I’m sure that one would fetch a bit on E-bay.


In 1991, Batman co-star Burt Ward, who played Robin alongside Adam West’s Batman, wrote a smutty tell-all book called “Burt Ward: My life in tights.” The book has been universally panned as poorly written, poorly published and full of outrageous lies. Burt Ward depicts himself as a genius super-athlete and an infamous lady’s man, and recounts endless sexual escapades of himself and Adam West. He claims there were always women on the set of the show, ready to rip off their clothing and do the deed with the dynamic duo. He depicts himself as a world-class lover and Adam West as totally unable to satisfy a woman in numerous near-pornographic passages. Adam West later revealed he read the book and took no offense, believing that no one could possibly believe half of it, saying that “Burt probably just needed the money”. Later Burt Ward admitted he was goaded by the publishers to make the book “More Interesting” and ‘fessed up to fabricating most of it. Shame on you, Boy Wonder.


Over the years man big names in Hollywood have played Batman, but who’s played him the longest? That title goes to Kevin Conroy, who voiced the animated batman in Seven cartoon series, six video games and five animated movies – in total spanning 12 years. Many have named him as “The Voice of Batman” without question, and he brought some originality to the role with his unique take on the character. While in the comic it’s said Batman disguises everything about him when he dons the cape and cowl, before Conroy’s portrayal most people played Batman and Bruce Wayne as very similar. Conroy had the idea of noticeably altering the tone of his voice when he goes from crime fighter to millionaire playboy.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2011/08/22/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-batman/

Top 10 Comedians Turned Serious

Comedians are a rare breed of people. They are quick on their feet and can provoke laughter while giving insight and truth or just acting plain dumb. It’s the rare comedian that pushes themselves and decides to try something new. Instead of laughter, why not evoke sadness? Or anger? Or transform themselves into something we never thought they could be. Below are the top 10 comedians who’ve gone beyond comedy and given us a new side of themselves. (A small note here: I hope this list doesn’t give the impression I hate comedies. Far from it. I’m just not a fan of repetition or second-best.)


Punch-Drunk Love is a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler. Hold on, hold on. It’s directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will be Blood) and Sandler portrays his character as a realistic version of his Happy Gilmore self. Instead of the whole world being his playground and accepting of his reckless and selfless behavior he’s now a mentally-unstable man who’s desperately alone and afraid. We’ve seen Sandler act mean before this but never in such a spiteful and hurtful way. It’s this side to him that makes the later part of the film work, where he meets a woman who balances him out and he finds something to care about and fight for. Sandler gives a performance that surprised everybody and makes his current film roles even more of a disappointment.


While not a strict drama, it’s Wilson’s performance that has a lot of depth too it. It’s also not his first ‘serious’ role, as he’s been in Behind Enemy Lines and The Haunting, but those were before he became typecast as the reliable funny man. Wilson plays one of three brothers (the other two being Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman) on a train traveling across India. Along the way the estranged brothers grow closer and begin to bond, opening up old wounds and burying various hatchets. The most interesting thing about Francis, Wilson’s character, is (spoiler alert) that his character is wearing bandages because of a suicide attempt and this film came out after Wilson himself had attempted suicide. It adds a certain sadness to the character, who wants to atone for opportunities and has a new appreciation of life. Wilson plays it much more quiet than usual and gives the character meaning.

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Alright, this may be considered cheating, because Louis C.K.’s Louie is a reflection of Louis’ real life and is intended as a comedy. The thing is though, anyone who’s watched the show knows that it’s more than that. It does have many funny moments (Louis’ deconstruction of a heckler and the numerous standup segments that open and close the show) but there are just as many serious moments (Louis’ conversation with a friend who’s made up his mind about killing himself, and protecting his daughters from two Halloween thugs) so it’s a definite genre mix. We’ve seen in Louis’ standup he’s a man of deep thought and honesty but seeing him portray a character, even one based off himself, who’s such an everyday man with the same hopes and despairs and wants and needs of the average person is refreshing because we don’t get the lighthearted fictional worlds of happiness and sunshine we see in normal shows.


Patton Oswalt is an overweight nerd. That’s not an insult, because I’m pretty sure that’s how Oswalt would describe himself. He has numerous routines on Star Wars and video games and he’s always happy and jovial. That’s what makes Big Fan so shocking. In it, Oswalt is a lonely, massive sports nut who spots his favorite player and ends up following him into a night club. When he finally approaches him, the sports star is violent and angry, and thinking Oswalt is stalking him, beats him half to death. What follows is Oswalt’s mental health slowly slipping, as he refuses to sue the player and takes the blame for the incident. His few friends ostracize him as he begins to have outbursts and eventually heads to a rival teams sports-bar where he confronts another huge sports nut and this is where we see him fully break down. I won’t say what happens but the character is given a lot of depth and we’re able to easily sympathize with somebody who we shouldn’t much care for. It’s a remarkable performance by a comedian who spends a lot of time providing voices for silly cartoons.

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Will Ferrel, for most of his career previous and post this film, has played a petulant man-child. It’s this odd role of his that stands out after a series of comedies where he largely played the same character. In this film by Marc Forster, Ferrel plays an IRS agent whose life begins to be narrated by an author played by Emma Thompson. In the midst of this existential crisis, Ferrel falls for a woman who he’s audited, Maggie Gyllenhaal and finding that Thompson’s characters are always killed in the end, decides to live life to the fullest. There’s a gravity to Ferrel’s performance that we don’t see often, in comedians or elsewhere. He’s a man of routine that seems hollow, but once given a reason to live, is shown to be full of heart and hope.

Buried Review Article Story Main

Again, this could be argued as cheating, due to Reynolds not strictly being a comedian, but largely his roles are of a funny, fast-talking wise guy. Buried, an experimental film by Rodrigo Cortés, places Reynolds in a coffin for an hour and a half. That is the entire movie. One actor, one location. It would take a great actor to really pull us in and keep us engrossed, and when thinking of that actor, Van Wilder does not come to mind. Yet Reynolds pulls it off. He’s able to emote easily though bodily language and his eyes, and we hear the desperation and strain in his voice as the movie continues and we find out more about why he was buried alive. It’s a very different movie, not just for him but as a whole, with its focus on camera shots and atmosphere. Reynolds is not a hero, a badass, a funny man, or anything like we’ve seen of him before. He’s a man who’s in a very dangerous situation, scared, confused, and alone, and we’re able to feel this.


Michael Keaton, before Batman, did have some dramatic roles. None of them were a huge success, though, and it was the comedies he starred in that really put him on the map. Maybe that was why, when he was announced as Batman, that fans were very upset. They didn’t think Beetlejuice or Mr. Mom could ever be the dark, brooding protector of Gotham. Yet, like Heath Ledger many years later, their mouths were shut. Keaton and director Tim Burton brought something new to the Dark Knight. Instead of the camp and lighthearted silliness of the Adam West era, this new Batman was full of dark imagery and adult themes, and drove home the villainy of his foes and the heroism of the Batman. Keaton, as Bruce Wayne, played the role similar to Christian Bale – he was a womanizer and a partier, but unlike Bale, who’s Wayne was over the top and loud, Keaton’s was more easily seen as a projection and a show when looked upon closely. As Batman, he had the right sense of confidence, anger, and vengeance needed to make a convincing hero full of confliction and mixed emotion.

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Robin Williams started out as a comedian who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and say whatever the hell he wanted to say. This confidence added with his manic comedic ability landed him various parts in film and television, where he began to be used for the same role over and over. Unlike other actors, he took offense to this. He was an actor and he would prove it. Williams began taking heavier roles in dramas, going from Mork and Mindy to Deat Poets Society, from Popeye to Awakenings. More and more, this type of work began to balance his equally large comedic background. That’s why I found it hard to choose one film to showcase his dramatic talent. One Hour Photo, directed by Mark Romanek, is the role that Williams fully loses himself in. It’s a complete transformation and that’s why I chose it. In it, he plays a depressed, lonely, mentally-ill photo technician who, over the years, develops film rolls for a growing family. He sees the young couple grow from naive young adults to full fledged parents, all in a large span of pictures. Growing attached to them, he begins to wish to be a part of their family and becomes obsessed with them. Williams completely embodies this character. We don’t know if he’ll implode or explode, but we know he’s on the edge. We still feel feel for him, though. He’s an old man who we can tell has been hurt and all he wants is acceptance. It’s a mesmerizing role by an actor who seems to have infinite range.


Jim Carrey, much like Will Ferrel and Adam Sandler, is popular for a certain type of role. A goofy, over-the-top, scenery chewing madman. It was completely surprising when The Truman Show hit, and we saw a whole new side of him. There was potential. Man on the Moon came out and we saw even more. Eventually The Majestic was released, and while not a perfect movie, showed even more of the Jim Carrey hiding behind a mask of tomfoolery. It wasn’t until the Michael Gondry-directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind hit theaters that we saw Carrey’s full potential. Playing a man who comes out of a disastrous relationship and goes through an operation to have the girl erased from his memory only to find, at the last moment, that he wishes to keep these memories, Carrey is unlike we’ve ever seen him. His character is a shell of his former self, a former self who was never that happy in the first place. He’s socially awkward, alone, weird, and prone to puppy love. He’s needy but he’s been hurt, leaving him a constant state of relationship paranoia. We feel everything Carrey does as he travels through his memories and we see snippets of his best moments and his worst. We root for him, because in some way or another, we can all relate. Even in the end, and spoiler alerts here, where Clementine (Kate Winslet) and him realize their relationship will never work, his shrug and words of “OK…” are heartbreaking, because we know they’ll try again and fail, but even with that knowledge, we hope it’ll work, because they only have each other. Carrey shows all of this in his performance with a sense of innocence and humanity. It’s a very subtle role, a far cry from his early days as an attention seeking clown.


Was there really any other choice? Bill Murray, along with Robin Williams, are the two actors who comes to mind when you think of a comedian playing it serious. Murray has a long list of comedic vehicles, and his typecast, while growing more droll in recent years, has been that of a sarcastic, bitter, asshole. The most obvious choice for a serious role of his is Lost in Translation, but while Murray is excellent in it, there isn’t much range shown. Broken Flowers, I feel, shows more of what Murray is capable of. After getting a letter informing he has a son, Murray travels across the country to find former lovers to see who sent the letter. The character is a womanizer who’s found himself solitary, with few friends and a pessimistic outlook on everything. As he visits various past flames we see him realize that the common denominator is him. He’s not a good guy and he wrestles with this, and eventually decides that the idea of being a father might be exactly what he was looking for. At the end of the film, his search is fruitless and when he comes home, he has a conversation with a drifter who he thinks is his son, but comes on too strong and the young man flees. Murray chases after him but ends up in the middle of a literal crossroads, where he sees another teenager drive by listening to the music Murray listens to. A vivid emotion of acceptance and hopelessness crosses his face as his past has caught up to him and the bridges he’s burnt leave him nowhere. It’s a role that seems to reflect Murray’s own personal life, and it comes across as semi-biographical. There’s a ton of emotion in his performance and we see the gradual changes in his perspective and feeling. It’s a marvelous job by one of the funniest, most genuine, hard-working men in Hollywood.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/04/10/top-10-comedians-turned-serious/