Despite his bad boy past, Peterfreund points out, "Edmund . . . seemed [to me] to have pulled it together. He may have been somewhat graver than Peter, but he was still a cheerful guy, overall." In other words, he isn't a brooder.
But that got me thinking. I agree with Peterfreund in principle--brooders are a total cliche and sooo boring! But do I agree with her in fact? I decided to go through shows (and books) that I like and list the brooders:
Brooder #1: Angel
I have to admit, Angel is a brooder, and I like Angel, but I think much of Angel's broodiness is undercut by Whedon's humor, not to mention Boreanaz's interpretation. Personally, Angel always struck me less as brooding guy and more as intensely introverted guy (which, considering Boreanaz's current alter-ego, the totally extroverted Booth, is fairly impressive). Angel doesn't say much, sure, but I mostly put that down to grumpy guy who lived through the Depression syndrome ("I'm not cheap," Angel says on Angel, "I'm old.") There's a scene in "Earshot" where Buffy, who can now hear people's thoughts, comes to Angel's house to see if she can "hear" him. After following Angel around his house for several minutes, he finally says, kindly but bemusedly, "You can't hear my thoughts. Why don't you just ask me?" Not exactly brooder behavior.
Still, he does brood more than Spike, who seems to brood mostly in spurts.
Brooder #2: House
Granted, House is a class-1 brooder. Again, however, the brooding is undercut by the writing. "You don't have Asperger's," Wilson tells him. "You'd like to, but you don't." And House is always exposing his psyche to people who will not take his brooding seriously or, at least, will point out its absurdity. This makes House's brooding tolerable.
Brooder #3: Hamlet
Personally, I've always preferred the Mel Gibson action-hero version to Launcelot Olivier's blond, swooning prince. I can't speak to Branagh's version. The movie is interesting, but I've never been exactly sure what Branagh was trying to do with Hamlet.
Brooders #4: The English Detectives
I quite like Wimsey who, like House, seems to deliberately act against his own broodiness, but--sorry, PBS mystery fans!--I can't stand Morse, and Lynley gives me a headache. So much angst!! So much melancholy!! Just pull out the violins already: *sigh.*
Brooder #5: Sidney Carlton
When I was in high school, us arty types swooned over Sidney Carlton, the sarcastic, brooding anti-hero of Tale of Two Cities. I think I would find him rather tiresome now; I certainly found the hero of A Separate Peace tiresome (maybe it was just the book). However, I did quite like Lord Jim. But not Ethan Frome. So apparently, I'm an all-American girl: sure, my heroes can brood, but they have got to DO STUFF while they are brooding.
Brooders #6: Mulder & Edward Rochester
Who can forget Mulder?! Mulder is definitely a brooder, but he has the happy accident of being a nutsy brooder. Also, like many of the brooders I have already praised, he is both funny and active. He ACTS. Also, like Edward Rochester (Jane Eyre), he spends his time brooding on one particular problem, at least for the time period that we know him. The brooding has purpose and seems to be less "I'm such a jerk" oriented and more "other people have made my life miserable let's get them!" oriented. Watching a man brood about himself is far less interesting than watching a man brood about an issue.
Brooders #7: The Women
Yup, women can brood too! Buffy springs to mind although, overall, Buffy is thankfully upbeat (yes, I'm ignoring Season 6). Seven-of-Nine doesn't brood since she belongs to the "I don't like it, I kill it" mode of dealing with problems. B'Elanna, similar to Seven in make-up, broods but in moderation, and Tom is very good at handling her broods.
So I'm not completely opposed to brooders, but I do have a healthy love of the ordinary guy who doesn't brood at all, such as Xander (Buffy), Dave (News Radio), Charles Parker (Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries), almost the entire cast of both Stargates (especially O'Neill and Sheppard), Greg (Dharma & Greg) and Columbo.
And I like the non-brooding gals too: Cuddy (House) (maybe that's why I like Amber--she doesn't brood); Carter (Stargate); Monk's assistants (yes, I am excusing Monk as a brooder--he does brood, but there's just so much else going on in the guy's life, the brooding kind of gets lost); Dharma (D&G), and of course, Scully (who is allowed her occasional brood, considering her circumstances, such as--eh hem--her partner).
So brooding isn't always a turn-off, so long as the brooder has humor, does something about the brooding, and gets over it (now and again). And the brooding is especially tolerable if the brooder is off-set by healthy, upbeat, kind, cool people.