Top Ten Miraculous Fictional Head Injuries

Top Ten Miraculous Fictional Head Injuries

Fiction is full of miracles caused by hitting people on the head. Reality is still catching up.

#3. Chazz, Charles in Charge

When the man known only as Charles left their suburban lives rudderless and their weekly problems intractable by transforming into the sharp-tongued, irresponsible greaser Chazz in the fourth season of Charles in Charge, the Powell family knew there was only one step they could take to restore their lives — only one blow to strike that might bring the prodigal au pair back home.

Just look at how much fun everyone else is having!

Just look at how much fun everyone else is having!

They needed to bonk Chazz on the head. No doubt familiar with the centuries-old rule that the only thing sure to reverse the effects of a head injury is a second head injury (hair of the dog and all that), the Powells took it upon themselves to save Charles, reunite him with his beloved Jocelyn, and restore their microcosmic society, pulling him back into the fold as a lamb that has lost its way.

Sure enough, when they bonk him on the head, he returns to normal. The circle of concussion is complete. And thankfully, the Chazz and the bad influence, Tiffani Kovac (seriously, between Charles becoming “more Italian” as Chazz and Tiffani being a Polish-American skank, there is some really weird racism in these episodes), turned out to have been married by an officiant with fraudulent credentials, the marriage was annulled, and Charles was “free” to return to Jocelyn.

The controversy continues today in academic circles: Which is closer to the Good? Charles as Chazz, or Chazz as Charles? If we were afforded the opportunity to change our own lives, memories, loves, or level of fondness for Newark, New Jersey (where Chazz chooses to spend his honeymoon, years before grounbreaking on the beautiful NJPAC), would we do so?

This is particularly relevant to Back to the Future Week, by the way, which is still going on way back on our homepage.

If we were Charles, would we be more fully actualized, emotionally, morally, and spiritually, within the constraints of our lives as they are, or liberated into brasher, more confident, more daring Chazzes of our own? Or do we all have Powells of our own in our lives to whom we owe the duty of restraint — and of not hitting ourselves in the head and drastically changing our personalities?

If we were the Powells, would we be justified in cranially thwomping this Chazz to save our own way of life? Does Chazz have a negative right not to be struck in the skull? Or does Charles have a positive right to be protected by his countrypersons from his baser instincts? Can we even begin to make meaningful distinctions between those motives that are “base” and those that are “elevated?”

Charles in Charge would wrestle with these complex questions through Seasons 4 and 5. Charles would be struck on the head no fewer than six times, in no fewer than four episodes, each time oscillating from the Apollonian to the Dionesian, from the assimilated to the ethnicized, the “good Charles” to the “evil Charles.”

If this were a top ten of “Moral ambiguities presented by split personalities on family sitcoms,” Charles/Chazz would rank at the very top, just edging out Stefan Urquelle.

But in the context of this countdown, blows to the head #2, #4 and #6 to Chazz outrank blows to the head #1, #3 and #5 to Charles, because, especially on this week when we remember the late great Ricardo Montalban, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few . . . or the one.

Charles is in his basement, and all is right with the world.

Charles is in his basement, all's right with the world.

11 Comments on “Top Ten Miraculous Fictional Head Injuries”

  1. Ryan #

    The most miraculous thing about Leonard’s injury in Memento is that he is able to remember that he has amnesia. How is it that his head injury stops him from forming new memories, but the doctors were able to inform him of his condition? I haven’t been able to watch the movie since I noticed that inconsistency.
    I think that there’s actually a chapter in the Sacks book that deals with anterograde amnesia. The man with the affliction, when confronted with his reality, becomes horrified for ten or fifteen minutes, then slips back into the time ten or fifteen years in the past just before he developed the brain damage. Great read, btw.


  2. fenzel #

    Yeah, Leonard talks about this discrepancy at some point in _Memento_ – about if his condition is what he tends to think it is, he shouldn’t be able to remember the actual accident, and how therefore it might not be brain damage – he might just have psychological blocks. A software rather than a hardware problem, as it were.

    If that’s true, it potentially changes a lot of the moral implications of what Leonard has done over the course of the movie. But it’s left a bit open-ended.


  3. Gab #

    Oh snap.

    I just remembered _50 First Dates_. Similar memory loss to _Memento_. Imagine being a woman and waking up with no idea why you’re clearly multiple months pregnant…


  4. fenzel #

    If I wake up being a woman, do I have to like _Moulin Rouge_?

    Because that would be a dealbreaker.


  5. Lanthanide #

    I remember Guy Pearce from The Adventures of Prascilla! Queen of the Desert.


  6. Amy #

    It wasn’t Naruto that caused Gaara’s ego death and subsequent alliance with the light side of the force…it was that toad Gamabunta. I think he secretes a hallucinogenic substance from his glands. Gaara embraced his shadow side (Shukaku) and went on to become the Hero. Yep. That’s what happened. Or should have anyway. Most people I know who have experienced head trauma end up worse for the wear. But the toad juice on the other hand…


  7. fenzel #


    Not _To Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar_?

    It’s so weird that that kind of movie also has a movie pair – like you’ve got Armageddon and Deep Impact, Volcano and Dante’s Peak, Valkyrie and Defiance, and a whole bunch of action stars in drag.


    I frickin’ love Gamabunta. All fictional characters should get to drink sake with the giant toad boss of the Yakuza.


  8. Ingrid #

    Very entertaining!!


  9. Ambelina #

    Is this about serious head injuries or just when people bump their heads? Because if it is non seriuos injuries, the scene in Stir of Echoes where Kevin Bacon’s wife goes into the basement to check if the water heater is lit then gets up and bangs her head on…something above her, that really got me i felt it.


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