Ooh. I didn't read the comics yesterday until after posting, so I didn't realize yesterday's four-panel Peanuts Classic featured a rare -- certainly one of the last -- appearances of 5. This kid was one of Charles Schulz's first novelty characters; his defining trait was his dad had been driven mad by all the numbers thrown on people in modern society and changed the family name to their Zip code, 95472. He got named 555 -- 5, for short -- his sisters, 3 and 4. (They're the girls in purple dresses with the weird sideways-head-dance in A Charlie Brown Christmas.) After about a week's worth of jokes on that premise he had nothing to do, and attempts to give him jokes just didn't work. Yet he hung around in the background for a mighty long time; that appearance was from 1969, and he even appears on the cover of 1975's book Peanuts Jubilee. He's kind of the Boba Fett of Peanuts.
Which raises the question; why do some utterly nothing characters -- one-joke folks like 5, or spear-carriers like Boba Fett (in the original Star Wars movies anyway; I've still not seen Revenge of the Sith, so please adjust spoilers to match) or Mister Leslie of Star Trek -- get this cachet of honestly undeserved popularity? Some of it's ironic fun, sure, but ... I'm honestly happy to spot 5, and I don't think all the Boba Fett fans were completely facetious.
Maybe some of it is Boba Fett got introduced as if he were important and the movies fail to follow up on that. 5 and Mister Leslie show up recognizably often enough to suggest there's a story there. They're close to the main characters and there's hints of things we don't get to see ... many people like drawing connections, and these marginal characters seem ready-made to be connected, somehow. Maybe that's it. I wonder when is 5's last verified appearance in the comic strip.
Trivia: Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Eastern suffered four mutinies during its working life. Source: The Uncyclopedia, Gideon Haigh.
Currently Reading: SF: Author's Choice, Edited by Harry Harrison.