5. River Song (Doctor Who)
Alex Kingston (ER) portrayed this character in the fourth season of the current incarnation of Doctor Who, and it’s safe to say that she’s a character like no other. She knows the Doctor, but he hasn’t met her yet — and she knows A LOT about him, like his name (which no one knows) and things about his TARDIS that even he doesn’t know (for example, the fact that he can open the doors to the time-space vehicle simply by snapping his fingers — something he hasn’t figured out in more than 900 years). It is heavily, heavily hinted in the two-part episode “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” that Song is, in fact, the Doctor’s wife — or at least his lover. Say who?
4. Bernice Summerfield (Doctor Who novels and audio adventures)
It’s entirely possible that the character of River Song in the current generation of the Doctor Who television series (see above) is based on another sassy archaeologist from the future — Bernice “Benny” Summerfield, created by writer Paul Cornell for a line of original novels after the first series ended in 1989. Benny has rather taken on a life of her own, starring in her own range of novels and audio adaptations and original adventures for Big Finish Productions (in which she is played by actress Lisa Bowerman). The end of Virgin Books’ line of Who novels even has an ambiguously worded epilogue that could imply Benny and the Doctor share an intimate encounter.
3. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Introduced in the 1996 Sega Saturn game Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is a more English, sexier female version of Indiana Jones. She was brought to life in 2001’s film adaptation and its sequel by Angina Jolie. Like Indiana Jones, Croft’s work as an archaeologist and adventurer takes her to exotic locations and leads her into confrontations with all manner of dangerous rivals, creatures and supernatural entities. Her influence as a sex symbol in gaming surpasses that of Samus Aran, who isn’t even revealed to be a woman until the end of Metroid (and only if you complete the game in decent time, at that). With Lara Croft, there’s NO mistaking the fact that’s she’s a hefty helping of modern woman.
2. Adam Strange (DC Comics)
DC Comics in the late 1950s wanted a hero like the main character in the sweaty and sensual John Carter of Mars stories by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, but what they got was more like Flash Gordon. Transported from his work as an archaeologist in Peru via a “Zeta Beam,” Adam Strange finds himself the reluctant defender of the planet Rann. He quickly grows protective of the natives and falls in love with a blue-haired beauty who brings him back time and again. Yes, archaeologists got game.
1. Daniel Jackson (Stargate)
When Stargate came out in theaters in 1994, I laughed out loud at the description of Dr. Daniel Jackson as a “renegade archaeologist.” It sounds absurd, since archaeologists are more likely to be doing paperwork or sorting through junk than causing a stir, but the character — played by James Spader in the movie and Michael Shanks (pictured) in the long-running TV spinoff — was an outcast in his profession for insisting that the pyramids of Egypt were built as landing pads for alien spaceships. Jackson is vindicated when a portal connecting Earth to other worlds is discovered, and it is learned that the aliens (parasites called Goa’uld) will one day return to use those landing pads.
Jackson’s explorations through the Stargate yield him new friends and a hot wife, who he then loses tragically. In the course of these journeys he also ascends to a higher plane of existence for one season, then returns to mortal form naked and amnesiac (this happens at least twice, though he doesn’t lose his memory the second time, just his clothes). Waking up confused and naked — the greatest adventure of them all.