Ok, based on the list Empire Online put together (actually the readers of the magazine put together - I think) I have decided to come up with my own list of Top 100 movie characters. Know that I did this without a lot of thought or research, and also know that I'm fully aware a list like this can't be definitive. But I will also argue it's better than Empire's.
The criteria I used was a little vague. I tried to balance a lot of characteristics to come up with the rankings, but it's very much subjective. But here's what I used:
Notoriety - If you say the character's name, will people recognize it?
Memorable - Did the character have an influence on the movie?
Remembrance - Will this character live long after the movie?
Significance - Did this character leave a mark on pop culture/culture?
Excellence - Did the actor/actress flat out give a great performance?
These three things will certainly skew slightly toward older films, only because I can't say if movie characters from the last 10 years will be remembered 10 years from now. I can make educated guesses, which I have done in some cases, but after that, it's up to history.
I also tried to stay away from foreign films - not because those characters aren't deserving, but because I don't have the education or depth in foreign language films.
I also stayed away from characters based on real people. That's why you won't see:
on this list. All fantastic performances, but a little more difficult to judge as the people were real.
Anyway, enough of this chatter. On to the list...
UPDATE: No one is going to argue that I'm an idiot. Because I inadvertently added a number of real characters after saying I wasn't going to, I've revised the list slightly, to include Norma Rae, Jake LaMotta, and Patton. And yes, I fixed two glaring errors. After the list, I address some of the comments that have been left.
100. Norma Rae (Sally Field)
99. Otter (Tim Matheson, Animal House)
98. Col. Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now)
97. Patton (George C. Scott)
96. Factory Worker (Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times)
95. Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey)
94. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, Psycho)
93. Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patankin, Princess Bride)
92. William Wallace (Mel Gibson, Braveheart)
91. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, The Terminator)
90. Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton)
89. Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen, The Naked Gun)
88. Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman)
87. Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone)
86. Willie Wonka (Gene Wilder)
85. Mike Damone (Robert Romanus, Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
84. Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire)
83. Micky (Woody Harrelson, Natural Born Killers)
82. Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone, Clueless)
81. Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore)
80. Ty Webb (Chevy Chase, Caddyshack)
79. Tony Manero (John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever)
78. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft, The Graduate)
77. Captain Hilts (Steve McQueen, The Great Escape)
76. Alvy Singer (Woody Allen, Annie Hall)
75. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront)
74. John Merrick (John Hurt, The Elephant Man)
73. Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio, Full Metal Jacket)
72. Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men)
71. Raymond Babbit (Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man)
70. Spock (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek)
69. Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford, The Natural)
68. Margo Channing (Bette Davis, All About Eve)
67. Frank Serpico (Al Pacino, Serpico)
66. Sundance Kid (Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
65. Major Reisman (Lee Marvin, The Dirty Dozen)
64. Igor (Mary Feldman, Young Frankenstein)
63. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone)
62. John McClane (Bruce Willis, Diehard)
61. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird)
60. Scarlett O'Hara (Vivian Leigh, Gone With the Wind)
59. Lee (Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon)
58. Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas, Wall Street)
57. Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack, Say Anything)
56. Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn, African Queen)
55. Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate)
54. Henry Gondorf (Paul Newman, The Sting)
53. Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein)
52. Catherine Trammel (Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct)
51. Frank White (Christopher Walken, King of New York)
50. Eddie Felson (Paul Newman, The Hustler)
49. Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy)
48. Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop)
47. The Dude (Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski)
46. Carl Spackler (Bill Murray, Caddyshack)
45. Royal Tennebaum (Gene Hackman, The Royal Tennebaums)
44. Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
43. James T. Kirk (William Shatner, Star Trek)
42. TE Lawrence (Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia)
41. Superman (Christopher Reeve)
40. Irwin M. Fletcher (Chevy Chase, Fletch)
39. Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson, Chinatown)
38. Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer, Tombstone)
37. Annie Hall (Diane Keaton)
36. Dorothy (Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz)
35. Blake (Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross)
34. Bart (Clevon Little, Blazing Saddles)
33. R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
32. Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon)
31. Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry)
30. Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction)
29. Regan (Linda Blair, The Exorcist)
28. Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro, Raging Bull)
27. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino, The Godfather)
26. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, Star Wars)
25. Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles, Citizen Kane)
24. Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws)
23. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson, The Shining)
22. Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray, Ghostbusters)
21. Martin Brody (Roy Scheider, Jaws)
20. Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin, The Jerk)
19. John Shaft (Richard Roundtree, Shaft)
18. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, Alien)
17. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman, Diehard)
16. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas)
15. Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, Misery)
14. Tony Montana (Al Pacino, Scarface)
13. Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn, Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
12. Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman, The French Connection)
11. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs)
10. Bluto (John Belushi, Animal House)
9. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver)
8. Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando, The Godfather)
7. Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers, The Pink Panther)
6. Darth Vader (Star Wars)
5. Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Star Wars)
4. Quint (Robert Shaw, Jaws)
3. James Bond (Sean Connery, et al)
2. Robin Hood (Errol Flynn, The Adventures of Robin Hood)
1. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Many of you have left your opinions about the list, which I treasure. This certainly wasn't supposed to be the definitive list with no questions asked. In fact, I'm certain of 100 people asked, we'd have 100 different lists. It's impossible to agree on something so objective.
That said, I did have a major problem with the Empire Online list, because it left off so many memorable characters, put on some real head scratchers, and for me, personally, skewed way too current.
Did I go overboard skewing back to the 70s/80s? I don't think so - you might disagree. And the dance continues. I will say I can't really put anyone within the last 10 years on a list of the greatest characters until we see how history treats them. Think of it as a grace period. It's not to say they aren't one of the top 100, let's just wait and see.
Tyler Durden? I think he was more a product of the movie than a great character. Does he belong on the top 100? It's a decent argument and I'd listen to it. I don't think he's in the top 50 though.
Captain Jack Sparrow? I'm sorry I don't think he's that great a character. I think he's one note, (a great note at that) and he doesn't do much of anything memorable or great. Jesus - that second pirates movie was terrible. Again, it's my opinion.
Anyway, please keep leaving your comments and pointing out the characters I missed. Perhaps this becomes an annual thing. And keep an eye out for my personal 100 movie characters, which will vary wildly with both lists. And I also welcome you to check out the rest of the blog - there might even be something you enjoy reading on it.
Agree with it? Good. I'd expect nothing else. Seriously though, please feel free to tell me who I missed and how stupid I am in the comments below.
And stay tuned for tomorrow's list - my personal top 100 movie characters. Feel free to subscribe here so you don't miss it!