Charisma is an intangible quality of character that allows people to command attention and influence others. Charismatic people may not always be good or liked by everyone, but no one can deny their magnetic ability to draw people to them. Not everyone is born with Charisma. It is not taught in schools and self-help books are for chumps. Lucky for most of us, there’s television to teach us everything we need to learn about life. Charisma is a difficult quality to capture on screen, but some characters manage to exude it with perfection. Whether it is through manner of dressing, leadership, or a cult following, these characters can give us tips and tricks to becoming more charismatic. If your resolution for the New Year is to get that hot girl working at the burrito shop, or to bend the will of others, or total world domination, you will need charisma. You can start by learning from the best…
7. Be More Mysterious – John Locke (Lost)
Lost was an exciting, thrilling show that managed to draw large audiences despite occasionally shoddy writing and over-the-top acting. Although the show’s main protagonist was Jack, it was John Locke that saved the show from becoming a bad mash-up of The Love Boat and Survivor. John Locke brought an element of mystery from the very first episode. His cunning, knowing smile further added to his enigmatic presence. His scenes were always the most interesting because he always seemed to know more than he was giving up. Ultimately (and it is still unsure if the show’s writers intended this from the beginning), Locke turned out to be very ordinary. This makes us respect the enigma around his character even more and reminds us that Charisma can sometimes come about just from being quiet, insightful and mysterious.
6. Become an Urban Legend: Omar Little (The Wire)
Society loathes criminals, but we are also in awe of them. They inspire fear and yet at times are respected for their ability to challenge authority. Many criminals, such as Capone, Gotti or Dillinger, have become celebrities in their own right. However, no one gets more respect than outlaws who outwit other criminals, especially if they do so for good ends (for example Robin Hood). Omar Little is exactly this kind of character. Even the most sophisticated street gangs are frightened of him. Omar becomes an urban legend in the projects because of his ability to elude capture, to have ghostlike stealth, and to know how his enemies think. Omar’s story proves how reputation based on mystery, fearlessness, and altruistic goals can create a legend that is bigger than the man.
5. Be a Great Negotiator – Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)
Tony Soprano is overweight, paranoid and, at times, an emotional basket-case. However, no one can deny Tony’s ability to be a good leader to his crime family or to be a powerful negotiator in business. He frequently steps in as a mediator between sparring captains and negotiates business deals with ease (through any means necessary). Whether out of fear or awe, the other characters around Tony respect him and listen to him. It is this magnetic presence that carries the show from episode to episode and makes us loyal fans.
5. Be an Entrepreneur – Stringer Bell (The Wire)
The Wire’s criminal mastermind, Stringer Bell, shows us that even petty street crime can be turned into an organized and sophisticated outfit. While many around him, including his boss, are mired in tradition, Stringer Bell thinks like an entrepreneur scheming of new ways to expand his operations and avoid police disruption. Ultimately, it is Stringer’s over-achieving attitude that “get’s him got”, but not before he teaches us how to be smart, sophisticated, and forward-thinking.
4. Mask your True Feelings – Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Breaking Bad)
If you always walk around wearing your intentions and emotions on your sleeve, some people will take advantage of you, while you fail to impress others. One important characteristic of charismatic people is their ability to mask their feelings behind a veil of contentment. They smile even in the face of challenge. They never lose their cool. Their anger, if ever expressed, is more a show of wrath than a sign of weakness. Breaking Bad’s Gus Fring does this to perfection. He puts up an illusion of the nice guy with a polite demeanour, while he quietly plots his rise through the ranks of the drug world. Gus’s ice cold mannerism garnished with his quiet smile makes him one of the most interesting villains TV has ever seen.
3. Stay True to your Values – Al Swearengen (Deadwood)
People who don’t believe in anything wander aimlessly through life without purpose. Charismatic people may not always reveal their beliefs but they always have a set of values which keeps them grounded. Al Swearengen is a charismatic character who constantly surprises us with his ability to be narcissistic and altruistic at the same time. He isn’t afraid to intimidate or kill anyone for his own selfish gain, and yet, he has the ability to show compassion towards certain people. A philosopher at heart, Swearengen impresses us and forces us to respect him not just with his eloquent soliloquies, but also his vehement struggle to fight against the changing times.
2. Be Debonair – Don Draper (Madmen)
Don Draper can be arrogant, selfish and vile. Yet, no one can deny how charismatic he is. Don never stops being suave and classy. He always dresses well, he conducts himself in a professional manner and he knows how to gauge everyone’s attention. Don knows when to steal the spotlight, and when to step back from it. Despite his domestic imperfections, Don is a master of the public life. In all manners of style and manner, Don is the kind of man every man wants to be.
1. Be a Great Guy – Coach Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
No man in TV drama is as inspiring as Coach Taylor. Taylor reminds us that in order to be charismatic you don’t necessarily have to be complex, cunning, or mysterious; you can just be a nice guy. Coach Taylor is a great role-model for every young man. He is a kingmaker: a master at honing football skills in teenagers. He is a great family man: a good father and husband. He is a great friend: his players and other people in town frequently seek him out for help because he listens and offers sincere advice. The best thing about Coach Taylor is that he is not perfect. He makes mistakes and at times he loses his cool. However, he shows his ability to impress others with his intelligence, his smile and through simple acts of kindness.