158 – Candy and Spinach

The Mythcreant Podcast

In the ancient days of 2013, Chris coined the terms “candy” and “spinach” to describe the way characters need to be cool but also have problems. This week, in the far future of 2018, we take another look. How much candy should a character have? Can they get by on just spinach? What happens when the balance is off, and how do you get it just right? We might not have all the answers, but hopefully we can get you pointed in the right direction.

Download Episode 158 Subscription Feed 

Have a question or comment for our hosts? Send it to [email protected]

Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Candy and Spinach

Mary Sue Comic

Malcom Reynolds 

Kylo Ren

Blank Characters

Captain Janeway and Ensign Kim

Captain Sheridan

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley

Dawn and Buffy Summers


Pippin and Merry

Prince Sammeth

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

Read more about ,



  1. E S Lavall

    I was very sad to hear that you didn’t enjoy the Farseer Trilogy, it’s my favourite. But I’ve always liked my “spinach”. (I also like literal spinach). I enjoyed crying at Fitz’s failures. (Oh and can you fix the spelling?)
    My example of an over-spinached character would be Shallan from the Stormlight Archive, particularly in the latest book. Her failures were NOT enjoyable to read about.
    Sammeth was so bland and useless that I forgot he existed until you guys reminded me.

  2. Julia

    I love the framing of advantages and disadvantages for characters as ‘candy’ and ‘spinach.’ I think a good example of a character who has a lot of both is Miles Vorkosigan of Lois Bujold’s books. He’s got a lot of spinach (brittle bones and short stature in a world that practically fetishizes the military, a sense of honor that keeps him from breaking his word, and belonging to a family that has some powerful enemies,) and a lot of candy (he’s super intelligent, belongs to a high status family, and tall women practically throw themselves at him – except the one woman he wants.)

  3. Clare

    Interesting to hear you talking about Pippin in LOTR – in the books of Fellowship and The Two Towers he definitely has all the spinach. I think it’s worth looking at his actions in Minas Tirith again though, because there is more deviation from the source material in the film of Return of the King. Tolkien wrote Denethor (the Steward Pippin swears allegiance to) as a formerly great ruler whose mind is poisoned by using the Palantir seeing-stone, but you still see some of that greatness in the book: Denethor is taking charge of things, mustering his army and sending the women and children of the city away for protection. When Pippin offers to serve him, Gandalf praises him afterwards as having done something worthwhile. In the film all this is ignored. Denethor isn’t just useless, but actively a danger to the city. I would argue the fact that because he’s been given so much spinach, it makes Pippin look bad yet again because he chooses to work for him, when that wasn’t what was intended by the author. Peter Jackson really does not seem to like Gondor or most of its people judging by the way they’re portrayed! My best guess is that this was done to make it even clearer they badly needed Aragorn to sort things out – thereby giving him too much candy.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy (updated 03/28/20) and our privacy policy for details on how we moderate comments and who receives your information.