What you’ll find below, is not just a list of fictional characters who performed some sort of lawn care duties. You’ll find leading roles in big-budget, major-motion pictures, scene-stealing peripheral characters and supporting players that held together great stories. You’ll also find two Sean Austin references.
What you won’t find is any reference to the film The Lawnmower Man, because it’s about beloved characters, not the name of a movie. Plus, that movie and its premise sounds stupid.
There’s no way I could have ranked these characters, so the list is in no particular.
Carl Spackler (Caddyshack)
“A Cinderella Story… outta nowhere”
Certain roles were created for only one person and Carl Spackler could only have been played by the legendary, hilarious actor Bill Murray. Not everyone knows that all of his lines - from the Dalai Lama rant above to the Cinderella story - were improvised on-the-spot. The screenwriter, who was the illustrious Harold Ramis (same guy who wrote Ghostbusters, Animal House, Groundhog Day, Stripes, etc.), basically just wrote a character description and stage direction for the role. Meaning everything that came out of Carl’s mouth came from Bill’s dome and not words on paper. That’s the cherry on top of a character cemented in comedy history.
Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)
“My name's Forrest, Forrest Gump”
Most only remember Gump participating or influencing every defining event of the 20th century - overlooking the fact that one of the most lovable cinematic characters mowed lines straight as an arrow, in his later years. After returning to Greenbow, Alabama from his historic run he spends his days mowing and waiting for Jenny (read in Forrest’s voice). Even though, his time spent on a mower is probably the most uneventful thing he does (next to sitting at that bus stop for way too long). Merely including it in such a sequence of events propels cutting grass into the ranks of history’s greatest moments. The man basically experienced everything the 20th century had to offer and decided to spend his twilight years on a Snapper Hi-Vac 8/28. That speaks volumes. So there’s an open seat on this bus for Mr. Gump.
Groundskeeper Willie (The Simpsons)
Glass of Scotch for the Scotsman
I mean, c’mon man, who doesn’t love Groundskeeper Willie? Or even more importantly, who doesn’t love The Simpsons? Face-hurting funny, smarter than expected and groundbreaking - it’s the longest-running sitcom in American history. Enshrined in the canon of adolescents, the show has raised three generations of youngsters. And sitting at the border between the nucleus and periphery is William MacDougal, the heavy-drinking, quick-to-anger, lawn-caring Scotsman.
Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings Trilogy)
Samwise the Brave
In my opinion Samwise the Brave is one of the most underrated fictional characters of all time. He’s my personal favorite from Tolkien’s Legendarium. And yes, for those of you splitting hairs, he’s actually a gardener. But he’s also the only one that isn’t corrupted by the ring. Let it be known, Frail Frodo wouldn’t have even gotten close to Mordor and Mount Doom if it wasn’t for him. He puts the team (and Frodo) on his back so he gets put on the list.
Rudy’s a lie, Fortune’s the truth
If you've never seen it or it's been a while, Fortune is the character that’s constantly encouraging Rudy Ruettiger. He’s a heck of a guy, who’s always there to pick up Rudy when he’s down. It’s the role that needs to be played well for an underdog movie to be successful.
[Tangent Alert:] Now, I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family with a father who had 15 siblings. They all only agreed on two things: Notre Dame Football and Guinness (in that order). So saturdays were and are for Irish Football, the world's most iconic program.
The thing you might not realize about ND fans, is we have an unique relationship with the film Rudy. On one hand you have a film that’s about Irish Football. They love that part. Only a handful of college programs have lived on the big screen (we’ve done it twice). On the other hand, not only do you have a story held together by fabrications, the movie doesn’t always put the football team in the best light, particularly the head coach, Dan Devine. He’s painted as a prick throughout the whole movie. He’s the antagonist keeping the underdog from his dream. You might think this isn’t a big deal, it’s a movie. But Golden Domers treasure Dan Devine and his 1977 National Championship. How much so, you ask? My dad named my older brother after him… my last name is Devine.
Ray Kinsella (Field of Dreams)
Kevin Costner with daddy-issues
Okay, technically he’s a farmer but he builds and maintains a not-too-shabby baseball field that summons ghosts. Not only does the story tug on the father-son emotions shared by many, it also shows Iowa is a place of magic. And I think that’s the most important takeaway.
Errol Childress (True Detective)
The Yellow King
A good character doesn’t have to be good. Some of the best ones are terrible, psychotic people. From Hannibal Lecter to Darth Vader to Suron to Keyser Söze, the most evil antagonist make for great entertainment. And one of the most chilling characters of recent memories spent his free time on a lawn mower while Rust Cohle and Marty Hart ran around the bayou piecing together a disturbing conspiracy. Every collection of characters needs a villain and The Yellow King is perfect for the part.
Boothby (Star Trek)
One for the Trekkies
I haven’t seen a second of Star Trek. The Original Series, the films or any of the reboots - none of it. But once this dude came up during research I knew I had to include him incase a Trekkie ever stumbled onto this page. That said, as I read about this peripheral character started to dig his vibe more and more. So, there’s no compromise adding this character, in fact, it’s an honor.
Rubeus Hagrid (Harry Potter)
“I would trust Hagrid with my life.” - Dumbledore
I’m not a Harry Potter zealot but the one character I always liked was Hagrid. He’s like a grizzly bear that won't claw off your face. I also always liked his half-shack, half-cottage place of residence. Not sure how much of his job consisted of lawn care but it’s groundskeeper is in his title so for all you Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs here he is.
Alvin Straight (The Straight Story)
370 miles, On a MOWER!!
You’ve probably never seen this Oscar-Nominated film from 1999, me either. But I’m not going to exclude a guy who road a lawn mower 370 miles to fix his relationship with an ill brother. Not to mention it’s directed by Twins Peak creator, David Lynch. That kind of effort will put you on this list a 110% of the time.