From Yonatan to Franzen: Ranking Pop Culture’s Jonathans Throughout the Ages

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According to Alexander Nazaryan at The New Republic, Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens is the best novel of 2013. Lethem is already one of America’s most successful literary authors, and whether or not other reviewers will agree with Nazaryan remains to be seen; but the thing is, none of this is important as the fact that he is a Jonathan. This was reaffirmed in a recent interview Lethem gave to Salon, in which he was asked, “I feel as if people describe you in one breath with Jonathan Franzen, and I’m wondering if you ever wish your name was Bob. Not that there’s anything wrong with him, but you guys aren’t necessarily twins.”

Of course he never wished his name was Bob! Jonathan Lethem is a Jonathan of the House Jonathan! He’s proud of his name because Jonathan is more than just a name; it’s a state of mind and cultural birthright that one must embrace from the day he is born, as each of these top 16 famous Jonathans has done.

16. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Columbia graduate, voice of Simba, vegetarian: J.T.T. seems like a pretty good guy; but the Tim Allen association knocks him down to the bottom of the list.

15. Jonathan Levinson

Not really our favorite Buffy character, but he is the show’s Jonathan representation, nonetheless.

14. Jonathan Rhys Meyers

I put the Golden Globe winner so low on this list because he’s so goddamn handsome. He should probably rank a bit higher, but I’m jealous of and bitter about his good looks.

13. Jonathan Ames

I like the author of The Extra Man and the creator of Bored to Death, but having to seen his wang, and the fact that he hasn’t published a new novel since 2004 put him a little lower on this list than I’d have liked. Here’s hoping that 2014 sees this Jonathan moving up in the rankings.

12. Jonathan Knight

Remember when New Kids on the Block’s Jonathan was supposedly dating Tiffany? That alone will keep him on this list for years to come.

11. Jonathan Adler

This Jonathan is married to Simon Doonan and has a dog named Liberace. No other Jonathan can boast those credentials.

10. Jonathan Toewes

This two-time Stanley Cup champion has earned his place among the greats. If The Captain delivers Lord Stanley’s trophy to the Windy City a third time, he might just earn himself an even better ranking.

9. Jonathan Brandis

Pour one out for the greatest Jonathan of the 1990s.

8. Jonathan Safran Foer

That book about not eating animals was a little annoying, but this photo of the Everything is Illuminated author hanging out with Sandra Bernhard helped him maintain his good standing.

7. Jonathan

Son of King Saul, really close friend of David, and the original Jonathan. You can’t have this list without Yonatan, but can we really go on his biblical credentials alone? This Jonathan will forever be ranked at #7 around here unless we find some Dead Sea Scroll type things that give us more to like about him.

6. Jonathan Lethem

Oh how the original dude-writer-from-Brooklyn-named-Jonathan’s stock has risen. Congrats, Mr. Lethem.

5. Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Best seagull named Jonathan ever.

4. Jonathan Franzen

I know, I know: this Jonathan is a sore spot for a lot of literary folks: he’s the great American novelist of the 21st century, he pisses you off, and he is totally a top-five Jonathan no matter how you feel about him.

3. Jonathan Winters

The best Jonathan we lost in 2013 — but it seems likely he’ll continue to rank high on this list for many years to come.

2. Jonathan Richman

He wrote “Roadrunner,” one of the greatest songs ever committed to wax. He will never move from this list’s top three.

1. Jonathan Swift

Not even Jack Black’s cinematic bastardization of Gulliver’s Travels could knock Jonathan Swift from his position as the greatest Jonathan of them all.