Five Fictional Characters You Didn't Know Are From Kansas


When most people think of Kansas, they tend to gloss over cities like Wichita and Kansas City and go straight to "rural midwest." Portrayals of fictional characters from Kansas often follow this pattern as well. Here are five fictional characters that you probably did not know hail from the Sunflower State.

Honorable Mention: Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz) and the Kent Family (Superman)

No list of fictional characters from Kansas would be complete without Dorothy Gale and Clark Kent. When people from Kansas travel, they are met with the "You're not in Kansas!" joke at least once on every trip. However, this is a list of characters you don't realize are from Kansas, so let's move past these world famous ones.

1. Cousin Eddie (National Lampoon's Vacation series)

Cousin Eddie, the brother-in-law of Griswold patriarch Clark, is portrayed in the series by Randy Quaid. He is the stereotypical dumb hillbilly whose "heart is bigger than his brain." He drives a beat down RV, regularly wears too-tight leisure suits, and generally brings destruction and frustration wherever he goes. However, he does have a sense of pride and loyalty, and regularly puts his family before himself. Eddie and his family live on a farm outside the real life town of Coolidge, Kansas, population 95. Yes, 95.

2. Mary Ann Summers (Gilligan's Island)

Mary Ann Summers, portrayed by Dawn Wells, was the antithesis to the movie-star personality of Ginger Grant. She was a simple, "girl next door" type who brought an air of common sense and domestic tranquility to the otherwise chaotic island. She hails from Winfield, Kansas (which is a little bigger than Coolidge, with a 2010 population of 12,301), and she won the trip on the cruise ship through a contest. Dawn Wells even released an in-character cookbook in 1993, entitled Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook, and another book entitled What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life to coincide with the show's 50th anniversary.

3. Dennis the Menace

Although it is not mentioned throughout the history of the comic strip (on which the television shows and movies were based), Dennis Mitchell and his neighbors, the Wilsons, live on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. Cartoonist and creator Hank Ketcham stated this as fact in his illustrated autobiography, The Mechant of Dennis the Menace. Dennis and his dog Ruff have been running around Wichita, driving George Wilson insane, since 1951.

4. Courage the Cowardly Dog

Courage, who absolutely does not live up to his name, is a pink beagle who lives in the fictional rural town of Nowhere, Kansas. He was adopted by Muriel and Eustache Bagge after his parents were sent to outer space by an evil veterinarian. Since Courage was unable to save his biological parents, he feels responsible to be the sole protector of his adoptive parents, even though he is constantly terrified of doing so. The monsters of Nowhere, Kansas routinely threaten his family and his life, but Courage always manages to save the day. Even though Nowhere is no longer a real town, it used to be a stop along the Midland Railway, near Baldwin City, Kansas.

5. Dean and Sam Winchester (Supernatural)

The last on our list of fictional characters hailing from Kansas are the Winchester siblings from the CW horror/fantasy series Supernatural. The two brothers were born in Lawrence, Kansas, home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks. The brothers began investigating and hunting demons due to, of course, their parents being attacked and killed by a demon when the boys were young. Show creator Eric Kripke picked Lawrence because it is nearby Stull, Kansas. Stull is a source of many local legends, the most prominent being that it is one of the seven "gateways to Hell" across the world. In particular, the cemetery in Stull is a point of interest, but be wary: the police in this small town are vigilant in keeping amateur paranormal investigators at bay. People are regularly fined for trying to channel their own Winchester-themed curiosity.

Any other fictional characters from Kansas that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Jordan Baranowski is a writer and teacher in Kansas City. He loves the food, drink, and culture of the city. You can check out his Top Five New Restaurants in Kansas City here and Top Five Places to Act Like a Kid in KC here. He is co-owner of the food blog levelupyourdining.com.