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The Greatest Fictional QBs of All Time

Note: This is part two of our rankings. Part one featured ratings for characters from *Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday, The Longest Yard, Necessary Roughness, and more. You can check that out by clicking here.*

The only thing better than watching football is playing football, and the only thing better than playing football is playing Madden NFL football.

One of the best things about Madden is the game's exhaustive player ratings. Each player's ability is broken down into specific traits -- obvious attributes like strength or acceleration, but also intangible things like personality or toughness -- and from that algorithm, the game determines the player's overall rating. Basically, it's a power ranking for every conceivable skill for every person in the NFL. Imagine if everyone at your workplace received Madden ratings. How would Josh from Marketing react to seeing that he's apparently an 86 in Passive-Aggressive Emails? On the other hand, Shannon from HR could finally be recognized as a 95 in Getting Everyone To Sign The Birthday Card.

About a month ago, we applied that harsh analytical eye to beloved characters from *Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday, Little Giants,* and others, to figure out where they'd fit within the Madden ecosystem. You can see our previous analysis here.

But, as readers noted in the comments, we didn't cover everyone. So this time we're finishing the job to determine which fictional QB is the greatest of all time.

Keep in mind, we're only focusing on fictional quarterbacks here, so you won't see Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass from Remember the Titans or Tami Maida from Quarterback Princess, since those are both real people, but feel free to give your analysis in the comments or let us know on Twitter.


The Night King (Game of Thrones)

Throw Power: 99
Throw Accuracy: 99
Personality: 0
Mobility: 8

Winter is coming, and so far, the otherworldly Night King is our highest rated quarterback.

The highest rated QBs in our previous list were Jason Street from Friday Night Lights, Johnny Utah from Point Break, and Willie Beamen from Any Given Sunday. Of course, both Street and Utah are on Injured Reserve, so Steamin' Beamen was actually the best of the first batch.

In the Madden universe, the Night King's 89 overall rating would make him a top ten quarterback in Madden, tied with Russell Wilson and just below Matt Ryan.

He's demonstrated incredible power with the ability to raise the dead, and inhuman accuracy when he threw his ice spear through the heart of (SPOILER) Viserion, Dany's least cool dragon (END SPOILER).

The Night King would be a terrifying addition for a cold weather team in search of a quarterback -- perhaps the Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers would welcome his services. He might not have the charismatic personality to be the face of a franchise, but he's immortal, so whichever club signs him would be set for at least the duration of The Long Night.

The only weaknesses to the Night King's game is his mobility, as it's taken eight loooooong seasons for the White Walkers to invade Westeros. Also, if opposing defenses have access to Valyrian steel, that could be a problem.

But is the Night King truly the greatest fictional QB of all time? Let's look at some of our other candidates.


Lance Harbor (Varsity Blues)

Throw Power: 94
Throw Accuracy: 88
Durability: 35
Leadership: 99

The original starting quarterback for the West Canaan Coyotes, Lance Harbor was one of the best players at the high school level before a devastating knee injury derailed his career.

Throughout Varsity Blues, we saw Paul Walker's character handle adversity like a true champion: his injury, his treacherous head coach, his girlfriend's attempt to seduce his best friend with a whip cream bikini. All the while, he stood by his teammates, and in the end, helped rally the Coyotes to a second-half comeback win by assuming head coach duties after the entire team literally shamed coach Bud Kilmer into retirement. Pretty dramatic stuff, guys. But, like a golden retriever playing wide receiver, there's nothing in the rule book against it.

The movie's epilogue tells us Harbor goes on to become a coach, but in Madden, Harbor would be a lower-tier starting QB or high-end backup.


Jonathan "Mox" Moxon (Varsity Blues)

Throw Power: 90
Throw Accuracy: 83
Book Smarts: 89
Wants His Father's Life: 0

Jonathan Moxon becomes a starting quarterback due to injury, but he's not particularly interested in a football career; his real goal is to earn an academic scholarship to Brown University and escape his crazy small town. Mox is loyal to his friends, but his intelligence and rebelliousness bring conflict with the intense authority figures in his life: his father and coach Bud Kilmer. Those same tendencies endear him to his teammates and Mox is able to reward their confidence with a strong performance on the field.

I kind of wish there was an Avengers-style shared universe for all of these guys, because I think the Varsity Blues dudes should be friends with the Friday Night Lights cast. Lance Harbor and Jason Street are virtually the same person, and Jonathan Moxon and Matt Saracen could both talk about, I dunno, smart guy stuff.

Mox is pretty solid as a person, but as a Madden QB, his average skillset ranks him as a backup although he could develop into a reliable starter with the right team.


Johnny Walker (Johnny Be Good)

Throw Power: 91
Throw Accuracy: 90
Virtue: 80
Wisdom: 20

Johnny Walker and Jonathan Moxon are pretty similar in a lot of ways. Both are high school quarterbacks in Texas towns obsessed with football, and both have aspirations beyond the game.

Walker is a more talented athlete than Mox, though -- not only is he the starter at his school, he's the top high school prospect in the country. Throughout the film, he receives athletic scholarship offers from every college on the map. Unfortunately for the recruiters, Walker finds their excess to be more alienating than inviting.

Anthony Michael Hall's QB character has strong morals but the same can't be said for his decision making. In the end, he chooses to reject all of the scholarships in favor of the local state college, the one school that didn't make him an offer. That is an infuriatingly poor choice and I wish he knew it but somehow the movie decides it's a happy ending. I want them to make a sequel where Johnny spends the rest of his life going WHY DID I DO THAT???

I hate Johnny Walker. He's dumb and his name is bad. That's like naming a character Jak Daniels or Budd Lyte, and while we're on it, I don't like the movie's title either. It's irritating when a movie uses a popular song as the movie's title but has nothing to do with the song or artist. They kind of stopped doing that, but there are a lot of them, and exactly all of them are bad. This one's no different, it bombed at the box office and holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And you know 99% of those critics' headlines were something horrible like "Actually, Johnny Be Bad" so Johnny's dumb name has several layers of annoying. Anyway. In Madden, Johnny be average.


Bo Callahan (Draft Day)

Throw Power: 97
Throw Accuracy: 90
Likeability: 10
Clutch: 20

Who could forget Bo Callahan besides, well, most people? True, audiences didn't exactly flock to Kevin Costner's return to leading man in Draft Day, but those who did found a decently enjoyable football movie in the vein of Moneyball. Costner played the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, which is kind of ironic now since the Browns are applying the Moneyball approach in real life.

In the movie, Bo Callahan is the consensus pick to be drafted first overall. He's a prototypical QB with the arm strength and size that teams covet at the position, but Costner's GM character has reservations about drafting him when he discovers that none of Callahan's teammates attended his birthday party. Ouch.

The other knock on Callahan is he wilts under pressure, which is obviously not an ideal trait for a quarterback. At the end of film, Callahan is drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in an alternate universe where they don't already have Russell Wilson, so perhaps he'd develop into a similarly effective QB. But I wouldn't bet on it. In Madden, I think Callahan's a 77 overall but with slow development. Sorry, Bo.


Brian Drew (Draft Day)

Throw Power: 87
Throw Accuracy: 89
Memorability: 35
Ability To Have Two First Names: 95

Brian Drew is the other QB from Draft Day, played by former Superman, Tom Welling. In the movie, Drew is the current starter for the Browns, coming off an injury that sidelined him for most of the season, which is what prompts Kevin Costner to consider replacing him with Bo Callahan.

The veteran QB only appears in a few scenes and doesn't make much of an impact, although he does apparently get to keep his starting job in Cleveland. Unfortunately, I don't think that means Drew is necessarily good, even in the alternate universe of Draft Day, and in Madden he's backup level.


Joe Kane (The Program)

Throw Power: 90
Throw Accuracy: 93
Will Power: 70
Motorcycle Driving Ability: 89

There's no doubt about Joe Kane's athletic ability. When he's in the zone, focused on nothing but the field in front of him, he's one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the game. Unfortunately, Kane's weakness is everything that isn't football -- his father, the pressure that comes with success, women, and especially alcohol.

After leaving mid-season during his junior year at ESU, Kane completes a month-long stint in rehab, Kane is able to handle his inner demons well enough to return to the Timberwolves and help lead them to a bowl game. Even assuming that Kane's senior year did lead to a Heisman trophy win, NFL teams would likely still question whether or not Kane's ability to stay clean long-term.

But since this Joe Kane would exist in the Madden video game universe, we can say -- Kane is able. He would be a mid-level starter for most teams.


Joe Pendleton (Heaven Can Wait)

Throw Power: 86
Throw Accuracy: 90
Bicycling Awareness: 15
Adaptability: 98

Our second Joe in a row, Warren Beatty's character begins as a backup for the Los Angeles Rams and ends up a Super Bowl champion -- thanks to a literal act of God.

Joe Pendleton dies in the first few minutes of the film when his bicycle is struck by an oncoming truck, but because it wasn't "his time" to die, he's sent back to Earth in the body of millionaire industrialist Leo Farnsworth. Naturally, Joe/Leo then buys the Rams so that he can play quarterback (after he gets his new body into game shape). That's commitment.

Joe/Leo dies again but comes back one last time, now inhabiting the body of the Rams new QB, Tom Jarrett, literally in the middle of the Super Bowl. Joe/Leo/Tom leads the team to victory, naturally. That would be a long way to go just to lose on a last second field goal.

An overall rating of 81 might seem low for a Super Bowl winning quarterback, but in Madden, Pendleton actually still ranks above Joe Flacco and Eli Manning, so we're being more than fair to Joe/Leo/Tom.


Joe Kingman (The Game Plan)

Throw Power: 98
Throw Accuracy: 96
Charisma: 99
Dancing: 89

As the quarterback of the Boston Rebels, Joe Kingman leads his team through the playoffs with both excellent passing and highlight-worthy scrambles. He's a dominant player, but at the beginning of the film, he's seen as a bit of a bad boy with a selfish streak. His behavior changes when he discovers he has a precocious 8-year-old daughter named Peyton Kelly (not a son named Jim Manning). They do a bunch of things and learn from each other and it goes as you'd expect; it's a Disney family movie, arguably Dwayne Johnson's first true "movie star" type of role. There's a scene where he learns ballet to get to know Peyton, and he's good at it. It's fun. We're all having fun.

Joe Kingman is the highest rated of the Joe QBs, and so far, he's also the best fictional QB that isn't the Night King. It would then be accurate to say that Joe Kingman is the best fictional quarterback who plays on the planet Earth and knows what football is.

Joe's 85 overall rating puts him in the Top 10, tied with Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. Kingman would likely develop even higher over time, judging by how quickly he grew emotionally in the movie.


Reno Hightower (The Best of Times)

Throw Power: 74
Throw Accuracy: 78
Guile: 86
Name Looks Good On A Jersey: 98

Despite Kurt Russell's fun performance, Reno Hightower is probably the least accomplished quarterback on our list. He was a pretty good high school QB (for "around here," as he puts it), but lacked the natural ability to make it in the big leagues.

Still, Hightower did have talent, and more than that, he was crafty. Maybe if receiver Jack Dundee hadn't dropped that fateful pass against archrival Bakersfield, Hightower would've had a better shot at the next level instead of becoming a slightly-less depressed Al Bundy type.

In Madden, a 74 overall rating would make him a potential backup but probably nothing more, even though Reno Hightower is one of the best names out of any of these guys -- the perfect name for any sportscaster to call out.


Stan Gable (Revenge of the Nerds)

Throw Power: 94
Throw Accuracy: 89
Nerd Hate: 84
Nerd Love: 92

To be the villain in Revenge of the Nerds, Stan Gable needed to be the ultimate jock, and as a two-time All-American quarterback, Gable was certainly an impressive athlete.

Although the film focuses more on characters named Booger and Poindexter (sigh), we do get a few glimpses into Gable's abilities. We know that Adams College was in the mix for a bowl game, so the team must have been at least pretty good. We also see Gable throwing a javelin during the homecoming carnival and he's clearly skilled.

Unfortunately for Gable, the nerds ruined him, much like nerds ruin everything. Now that we live in a world where the nerds dominate pop culture, can we admit that the bad guys won? After the most recent iOS update that seems to have done nothing but ruin everyone's phone, I'm ready for Apple CEO Tim Cook to get one of those '80-style wedgies.

By the third and fourth sequels in the Nerds franchise, Stan Gable's life went from "future NFL star" to "disgraced college dean and computer software salesman." A sad trajectory for a bright talent. In the Madden universe, Gable would be a good QB1.


Seth Maxwell (North Dallas Forty)

Throw Power: 90
Throw Accuracy: 86
Carrying: 65
Partying: 97

Seth Maxwell only barely makes this list as a "fictional QB," since he was closely modeled after real-life Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith (the film was based on a semi-autobiographical novel from Peter Gent, a Cowboys receiver in the late 1960s). But Maxwell, played by country star Mac Davis, is too fun to not include.

Maxwell is more focused on living it up with his teammates than studying the game, characteristic of the early pro football era when players were looser, shaggier, and everyone had a mustache.

Maybe that lack of focus is what leads to Maxwell's fumble in their climactic game against Chicago, but I bet it didn't even ruined his night. In Madden, an 81 overall is good for a younger QB who can develop, but for Maxwell's veteran status, he would be in the lower-tier of starters.


Alex Moran (Blue Mountain State)

Throw Power: 85
Throw Accuracy: 89
Responsibility: 62
Partying: 89

Alex Moran is proof that hard-partying quarterbacks aren't limited to the 1960s. If they were to ever cross paths, I think Alex Moran and Seth Maxwell would make good drinking buddies. Their names kind of mesh in a quasi-symmetrical way too, don't you think?

Initially the backup quarterback at Blue Mountain State, Moran was a prolific passer at the high school level, but doesn't see a future for himself in the NFL. Instead, he's content to spend his college days having as much fun as he can before the real world forces him to grow up. But the interesting thing about Moran is that he develops over time. By the third season, he's upgraded from second-string to starting QB, and he's a team captain; as he begins to excel, he also starts to realize he might have a shot at the NFL if he works for it.

So, it's a nice arc, and I'm willing to consider that Moran could earn a spot on an NFL roster. With a 79 overall Madden rating, Alex Moran is a backup, but in the right system, he could grow into a solid starter.


Frank Cushman (Jerry Maguire)

Throw Power: 94
Throw Accuracy: 85
Loyalty: 5
Should Open A Furniture Store Called Frank Cushman's Couches and Cushions: 83

Frank "Cush" Cushman was seen as the best quarterback in college football after a monster senior year at SMU, earning interest from both the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers, with many draft prognosticators thinking Cushman could go first overall in the NFL Draft.

Talent aside, Cush is another version of the "number one draft pick has a bad personality" character type. He agrees to sign with sports agent Jerry Maguire initially, then ditches him just before the draft to go with a bigger agency. Pretty lame, Cushman!

Nonetheless, Cushman was too talented to not get a shot. *Good Morning Football* produced a special episode of *A Football Life* about Cushman, which is worth watching to see how his pro career ended up. In Madden, I think Frank Cushman and Bo Callahan are pretty much the same guy, except I like Frank's name more. Good name, Cushman!


Jimmy Dix (The Last Boy Scout)

Throw Power: 97
Throw Accuracy: 99
Horseback Riding: 90
Role Model: 10

The Last Boy Scout is a '90s action movie that feels like a parody of '90s action movies but it isn't. It's kind of like Con Air with football instead of a Nic Cage prison plane.

Before he was expelled from the league for gambling and drug charges, Jimmy Dix was a star quarterback for the Los Angeles Stallions -- a household name. Dix is pretty down and out by the time he teams up with Bruce Willis (ex-Secret Service) and the two of them get mixed up in each other's lives and a bunch of plot happens and it's all insane none of it matters.

The important thing is the climactic football game, in which disgraced ex-QB Jimmy Dix rides a horse on a football field to interrupt the game, then grabs a loose fumble and throws a perfect spiral 50+ yards to hit a Senator directly in the face, just in time to save him from a sniper's bullet. Phew, that was... a lot, and it's not even the movie's most ludicrous set-piece. Anyway, I'd say Dix is still an an upper-midlevel QB in Madden based on that absurdly heroic centaur pass alone. If your team can provide him with a horse, he'd probably be even better. Broncos? Colts?


Derek McConnell (Playmakers)

Throw Power: 90
Throw Accuracy: 83
Addiction: 75
Memorability: 25

ESPN's Playmakers was infamous for its bleak portrayal of professional football, but while the show wasn't afraid to be controversial, it also wasn't very good. It was basically the XFL version of Friday Night Lights except it came first, and there hadn't been a real attempt at a TV football drama besides the bad episodes of Coach.

Either way, QB Derek McConnell barely registered as a character for the Unnamed City Cougars who played in The League. McConnell has the rare kind of blandness that makes me forget him while I'm looking at him. I think I've already typed more words than he spoke throughout the entire show, so let's move on.


Flash Gordon (Flash Gordon)

Throw Power: 99
Throw Accuracy: 99
Hair: 80
Rocket Cycling: 99

Here he is, the greatest fictional quarterback of all time: Flash Gordon. The one man capable of beating the Night King in a primetime wildcard shootout. Before he's whisked away to the planet Mongo to defeat Emperor Ming, Flash is established as the star quarterback for the New York Jets. So even before he does anything we already know Flash is impressive because the Jets haven't had a star quarterback since Joe Namath in '69.

The movie is like the '60s Batman mixed with Star Wars and Queen music, yet not as good as any of those things. It is less than the sum of its parts, but it's fun as a midnight movie.

Keep in mind Flash Gordon is a quarterback as he barrels through these aliens like a Pro Bowl linebacker.

So he's fast and strong, then at the end of that clip, you see Flash's throw power as he takes down bad guys with football passes to the face. Later, he escapes on a rocket cycle, a device he's never seen before, in an alien atmosphere. So, a fast learner and knows how to make adjustments -- probably a guy who can dissect defenses.

His accuracy is on display when he crashes a rocket ship into a wedding chapel, landing in a way to directly impale Emperor Ming through the heart. Throwing into tight windows on third and long would be a breeze.

Flash Gordon may be the greatest fictional QB of all time, but his 94 overall rating only ranks him third behind Aaron Rodgers (97 OVR) and Tom Brady (98 OVR). Yeah, those guys are pretty good, too.

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