12 Most All-American Pop Culture Figures Ever

Photo: Chris Hackett (Getty).

Red, white and blue’s required to make this all-American list. Commie bastards need not apply, as the pop culture figures below are those that you immediately associate with the colors that don’t bleed—the cool, rocking daddy in the U.S.A. kind. The few, the proud, the most undeniably iconic, the ones every human in the world immediately associates with the very word “America,” and then quivers in fear. These are the most all-American pop culture figures of all time.

Evel Knievel

Illustration of Evel Knievel in Skycycle X-2 set against blue sky

Illustration: Dorling Kindersley (Getty).

Donning the toughest name ever, wearing American flag leathers and an American flag helmet, Evel boarded an American flag painted rocket ship and tried to launch himself over the Snake River Canyon, the most ominous sounding canyon in the Lower 48. He failed, miserably. Fortunately, he was submerged instead of flattened, and miraculously lived. But did he do the smart thing and quit attempting insane acts of showmanship? Hell no! Americans don’t quit, not when there’s an even bigger audience to gain, and tanks full of sharks to jump over. Though it may have cost him several broken bones, Evel kept on donning the Old Glorified jump suit and jumping over crazy shit. And in doing such brave, possibly stupid deeds, he cemented his status as an American icon.


Sgt. Slaughter


Photo: shstrng (Flickr).

Not only did he make a living kicking the snot out of that Russian bastard Nikolai Volkoff, but he was the most American dude in the most American fighting unit ever: G.I. Joe. I highly doubt that any of the Joes would disagree with that statement, not even Gung-Ho.


Captain America

MARVEL'S AVENGERS: ULTRON REVOLUTION - "The Kids Are Alright" - Captain America and Iron Man partner with new and young Inhumans - Inferno and Ms. Marvel - to stop another Inhuman, The Ghost, from stealing Friday. This episode of "Marvel's Avengers: Ultron Revolution" airs Sunday, August 07 (8:30 - 9:00 A.M. EDT) on Disney XD. (Photo by Marvel/ABC via Getty Images) TONY STARK, CAPTAIN AMERICA, MS. MARVEL

Photo: Marvel/ABC (Getty).

You don’t see Private America on this list, do you? Actually, why wouldn’t Cap just be General America? Or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff America? Well regardless, our highest ranking guy with America in his name will have to do. After all, Cap is so American, he’s motivated a generation full of generally worthless schlubs to wear t-shirts (or worse!) decorated to look like his shield.


Rocky IV Rocky

Sylvester Stallone after winning in a scene from the film 'Rocky IV', 1985. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)

Photo: United Artists (Getty).

To some degree, being an American means being an underdog, as our forefathers most certainly were. So Rocky–the king of all underdogs–is about as American as it gets. And yet the first “Rocky” is nowhere near as American as “Rocky IV,” for reasons that go far beyond the fact that the Italian Stallion doesn’t wear the red, white, and blue trunks in the first film at all. But you can bet your Everlasts that Rocky donned the stars and stripes when he kicked the shit out of Ivan Drago and ended communism once and for all.


Which Creed?

Are you going to argue with me that in the entire “Rocky” franchise, there’s not room for two icons on this list? I was going to go with Creed’s son, Creed, in order to please a younger audience. But then I realized I’d be doing you kids a disservice by choosing the Creed who didn’t crush it as James Brown’s hype man on “Living in America.” Of course, Apollo does get beaten dead right after that, so maybe I should go with the younger Creed, who’s at least still with us. Nope, not until he wears the Uncle Sam hat.


Wonder Woman (Preferably Lynda Carter)

WONDER WOMAN - "Formula 407" - Airdate: January 22, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)LYNDA CARTER

Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC (Getty).

I’ll admit it: Lynda’s perfect iteration of Wonder Woman was the first image to pop in my mind when I associated red, white with blue-vinyl-short shorts. And yes, I know she’s an Amazonian, or some shit like that, but you don’t wear stars on your skivvies, and then wear your skivvies out in public, and then inspire the greatest Halloween costume of all time without being some kind of a great American. And yes, I may be objectifying women again, but I’m gloriously objectifying the flag, first and foremost. And patriotism supersedes women’s rights, right?


Born in the USA Boss

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Nils LOFGREN and Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, with Nils Lofgren behind, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Photo: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns (Getty).

Though it was intended to be more of a protest song than an anthem, there’s no denying that the Boss’s “Born in the U.S.A.” has become the go-to song for proud Americans everywhere, even more so than “Rocking in the Free World,” another protest song, ostensibly. Just try and think of America without thinking of Bruce’s blue-jeaned ass in front of proud red stripes.



(GERMANY OUT) Tom Cruise, Schauspieler, USA, - als Pete Mitchell im Film `Top Gun'; R: Tony Scott, - USA 1985 (Photo by R?hnert/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Photo: Röhnert/ullstein bild (Getty).

Though one could make the argument that Goose is decidedly more American than his Top Gun partner Mav, it would be hard to give this honor to a dead guy. Sorry, as much as I wept over Goose’s sacrifice, and the great ball of fire in the sky he is to me now, I can’t give him the honor here. Because Americans, the iconic kind, save the day in the end. And Mav didn’t just save Iceman, he saved the popularity of the military-industrial complex for years to come.


Katy Perry

Singer Katy Perry performs onstage during "VH1 Divas Salute the Troops" presented by the USO at the MCAS Miramar on December 3, 2010 in Miramar, California. "VH1 Divas Salute the Troops" concert event will be televised on Sunday, December 5 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on VH1.

Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty).

Not only does she sing “Firework,” a song that most pundits agree should replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem, but she also strips down from her starred and striped jammies to her all-American birthday suit in order to get others to exercise our most precious right: which is apparently voting, not masturbation. In these divisive times, naked Katy is something I think we can all get behind.


Pick an American Gladiator

Unlike picking the most American G.I. Joe, picking the most American American Gladiator is an exercise in futility. I have spent the last four hours failing to determine, using a previously-developed scoring system, who is more American: Malibu, with his cosmically feathered dome sculpted by driving very fast in a red C3 Corvette convertible; or Zap, the first woman I ever wanted to get beat up by; or Gemini, who would give this list a bit more racial equality.


John Wayne

American actor John Wayne (1907 - 1979) as Colonel Cord McNally in 'Rio Lobo', directed by Howard Hawks, 1970. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Photo: Silver Screen Collection (Getty).

Listen hear, Pilgrim. If only the Natives hanging out near Plymouth Rock would have said that–with the Duke’s inflection of course–then this list would look a lot different. Actually, come to think of it, Spirit might have had a pretty good argument about which G.I. Joe was the most American. Regardless, John Wayne the actor may be dead–God bless his commie-hating soul–but he remains the spitting image of the typical American cowboy, the righteous and capable one, who made Manifest Destiny possible.



SHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 20: (CHINA OUT) Actor Henry Cavill attends 'Man of Steel' press conference during the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival at Peninsula Hotel on June 20, 2013 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Photo: VCG/VCG (Getty).

I didn’t want to include three comic book characters on this list, because I’m a little upset with the ridiculously high percentage of new films currently being made in that genre, as I believe that money could be far better spent on stupid comedies with lots of gratuitous nudity. But that ubiquity is the very reason all three figures must be included. And can I really talk about the most American pop culture icons and not include the very embodiment of truth, justice, and the American way? Even now, nearly 85-years later, he still represents something most of us Americans can only hope to be: a gorgeous British gentleman with a stark jawline.