Supporting characters who should be protagonists

As Mad Max: Fury Road's Furiosa finally gets the headline slot she deserves, our website editor suggests supporting characters from books also worthy of a starring role.

We came for the post-apocalyptic adrenaline hit and Tom Hardy in a weird mask (again), we stayed for Charlize Theron's riveting, clever, feminist Imperator Furiosa and her formidable action heroics. Inspired by her rightful move to star of the show in new film Furiosa (played this time by Anya Taylor-Joy), here are the supporting characters from books I wish we got to spend more time with.

June, Nora and Princess Beatrice from Red, White and Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

Yes, we are heavily invested in Alex and Prince Henry and their for-the-cameras-friendship turned secret romance which could derail the US Presidency and the British Royal Family BUT, this is a book with such engaging characters around the leads, I'd read any number of their standalone stories. I want more of the women in The Whitehouse Trio. I want to know if Princess Beatrice is alright. How's Deputy Chief of Staff's Zahra's own secret romance going? Over to you, Casey.  

Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

Whilst I am very much here for Romeo and Juliet's poetic pining and impulsive acts of romantic love, I also really enjoy Mercutio's popping of Romeo's bubble and general sowing of cynical doubt. Never mind nominative determinism, what actually made Mercutio so temperamental? Has he a difficult past, or is he just a realist? Is he off being the life and soul of other parties when he's not at a Capulet ball? The people need more time with Mercutio. A plague o' both your houses, indeed.

Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." Never mind giving Mr Bennet his own novel, he needs a stand-up special on the nineteenth-century equivalent of Netflix and an accompanying tour round the country estates of Hertfordshire. Whilst he's somewhat gentler with it, you can see where Elizabeth gets her frank wit. I'd love to see a bit of the world through Mr Bennet's eyes: dry, logical, weary of his wife's desperation to marry off his daughters but also beholden to her success for the sake of his family. Also, some readers sharply dislike him, so there's a lot to explore here. 

Lord Henry "Harry" Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

The man who leads beautiful Dorian astray with his hedonistic lifestyle and emphasis on beauty and what might be referred to as 'sensual fulfillment' deserves more page time. He's witty, he's manipulative, he's all that's wrong with Victorian society at the end of the nineteenth century and I want to see inside his head. I imagine it'll be somewhat grotesque, but it'll also be a riot. 

Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


by Percival Everett

The good news is that Percival Everett has already had and brilliantly executed this idea. Huck Finn's Jim here becomes James, who escapes enslavement when he hears he is to be sold, and is formulating a plan to save his wife and daughter when Huck turns up. With James, Everett does much more than give the sidekick the star role, he gives Jim a chance to reclaim his voice and defy the archetypes that kept him on the sidelines in the first place. 

While you're here: if you like Mad Max, we think you'll also love. . .


by Tim Winton

Exhausted, traumatised and desperate, two fugitives drive across a stony desert. Arriving at an abandoned mine site, the man and child decide to take refuge. The problem is, they're not alone. So begins a searing, epic journey through a life where the challenge is not only to survive; it’s keeping your humanity if you do.

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

A post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible, Cormac McCarthy’s classic dystopian novel The Road is one of the most shocking, harrowing and bleak visions of the future ever created. The book was adapted into a BAFTA-nominated film starring Viggo Mortensen in 2009.