GANDALF THE GREY
I picked Gandalf the Grey for this competition primarily as a foil for Gollum, who is my favorite Tolkien character and third favorite fictional character. However, since Gandalf himself is my third favorite Tolkien character and ever a fan favorite, he was still someone I could root for if the readers preferred, well, not-Gollum (which, clearly, you did). A classic character and the quintessential fantasy wizard, given masterful life by a wonderful veteran actor.
As you'll see, there are a few characters that were set up as foils to my particular favorites, but for the most part I made sure it was a character I felt strongly about as well in one way or another so I would feel comfortable if the majority voted against me - which happened often in the preliminaries. While not every character on the list was my absolute favorite in their franchise, only two were thrown in as crowd-pleasers that I did not particularly care for. Gandalf was not one of them - I adore him as much as most of you (I just like Gollum better).
I picked Ariel for this competition because I wanted a character from the "Disney Princess" pantheon represented in this tournament. Of my choices, Ariel is the one that makes the top five favorite Disney characters of all time (well, if we didn't allow villains that is). While I highlighted what could be considered problems with her character, I still feel that she is one of the most interesting and three-dimensional of the "Princess" lineup.
Plus, I'll be honest, when I started getting back into the Animated Canon in my late teens, I kind of developed a minor crush on Ariel. Nothing too weird, I swear!
I'd like to stress that this is the last chance to get a female contestant into the Semi-Finals. However, if you wouldn't vote for Ariel otherwise, you may as well just vote Gandalf. Remember, this is who you like better.
As always, make sure you're viewing the WEB version of the site and vote in the poll on the right-hand side of the screen. Poll closes Friday (slightly earlier than normal because of Erev Yom Kippur), and results posted on Saturday (set up ahead of time, natch). Feel free to discuss your pick in the comments below.