We like to cheer on the underdogs because their fortune is a kind of reassurance that there is, in fact, a way to beat the odds and succeed. The Pattersons encounter a few underdogs and it’s not always obvious who they are. Here are five of the most loved characters who we either didn’t expect to succeed, or whom we didn’t really think of as underdogs right away.
The article starts from #1 and works its way down, but I think I am going to do them as is typically done on the internet, in reverse order. I will quote Lynn’s text and then add my comment. After the cut it’s number Five:#5. Agnes Dingle
Mrs. Dingle features in very few strips but where she does make an appearance, she embodies a kind of mother-figure to Michael and his friend Josef ‘Weed’ Weeder. At first, she seems stern and unapproachable, but we learn that she can be fun loving as well.
My comment: Agnes Dingle is in 51 comic strips. Of the surrogate mother characters in the comic strip including Aunt Ruby, Vivian Crane, etc., only Lovey Saltzman can match her for number of comic strips. I would give the slight edge to Lovey because she actually appears in a few Sundays, which Agnes Dingle never did.
Weed and Mrs. Dingle are dancing, Mike!
My comment: You know who is not dancing? Mike and Deanna. They are content to sit back and laugh at Weed and Mrs. Dingle dancing. Typical Pattersons.
Mrs. Dingle becomes such an integral part of the story that later on, even after the boys have left college and moved on, it is as if she is still a part of the family. Mike remembers her, and tries to call and say hello and finds she doesn’t answer the phone. He then asks a neighbour to check in on her and learns that she had fallen ill.
My comment: This is what Lynn remembers for the underdog category – one of the stupidest stories she ever wrote.
Mrs. Dingle has a stroke and then a stroke of good luck
My comment: Unfortunately for this story, this is the lead-in. Yes, folks, Ned Tanner is what led to Mike’s fateful call to Mrs. Dingle. Otherwise she would have ended up being one of those old folks that died and got eaten by her cat.
As much as Mrs. Dingle had always seemed like a cranky landlady who was best avoided, Michael and Weed learned her life story, discovered she was a kind person under her gruff exterior, and the three ended up as friends.
My comment: Not exactly. They exploited her so they could write a story about her life. Of course, since it was written by a Patterson, she feels honored and not exploited.
However, they did end up friendly and Mrs. Dingle did come to Michael’s wedding as you see in Panel 1.
That’s a pretty weak underdog story and probably why Agnes Dingle is rated by Lynn as only Number 5 on the list of underdogs.