Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Popcorn Trick's Top 100 Movie Characters - REVISED

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:

Norma Rae
Jake LaMotta

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!


hendge said...

Much better list. A couple of my immediate thoughts yesterday were Roy Hobbs, Jake Gittes, Fletch, and Jake LaMotta -- so glad to see those ackowledged. Regarding LaMotta ... you did include William Wallace and Doc Holliday who are both real ... but perhaps so fictionalized in their respective movies that you decided to include them?

Couple others that I thought of immediately:

Bill The Butcher (Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs Of New York) ... one of the most memorable characters of the last decade in my opinion.

Phil Connors (Bill Murray in Groundhog Day)

Guy Pearce in Memento.

Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men

I wish I kept track of all the moviews I've seen as well as I've kept track of all the concerts I go to. Very tough list to put together -- excellent work.

Goose said...

I knew the actual characters would mess me up. You're right obviously, they're real. I'll give them the cred then that they completely made the character their own. Technically they should be off the list then. I'll think about it.

Goose said...

Oh, and I thought about Pearce in Memento and Butcher Bill.

For Memento, I thought the "gimmick" of the movie made the character and not the other way around.

For Butcher Bill, admittedly haven't seen the film, but Daniel Day Lewis characters seems to always have the stigma of Daniel Day Lewis. It's hard to explain, but I wonder if the character is so memorable (not to you, in general) because of the Daniel Day Lewis hype. So I left all his characters off.

I know that sounds like weird rationale, and I would have no problem had I included him, but I figured I'd explain the thinking.

Fonda I admittedly didn't think about.

hendge said...

Point taken regarding Memento ... you're probably right.

I'm actually largely unfamiliar with Day-Lewis' body of work. I mean, I know he's mega-accalimed, but I've never seen Mohicans or There Will Be Blood or any of his other "huge" roles. I thought Bill The Butcher stood on his own regardless, but I get the reasoning. You should check out the movie though.

Goose said...

My Left Foot is absurd. Ridiculously absurd. There Will Be Blood seems overrated to me - he was good, but not heart stopping. Last of the Mohicans is decent. That's all I've seen.

Anonymous said...

what no dirk digler?

Goose said...

Actually, the more I think about it, the character from that movie that I missed was Roller Girl.

khop said...

You're never going to make everyone happy with one of these things, but i have to give a hearty bravo for doing hand over fist (or any other relavent cliche) better than the other guy.

I agree with the John Cusack mishap, as the only thing i remember about Grosse Point Blank is that I saw it, whereas most of Say Anything is commited to memory. The Navin R. Johnson omission on the first list was a sin.

Some I thought of as notably absent (perhaps i missed them) that I wonder if you considered?
1. Penny Lane (almost famous)
2. Carrie (Carrie) I don't remember too much about the performance itself, but surely the character fits the rest of your criteria?
3. Some mention of Will Ferrell: I know opinions vary as to whether he is talented or annoying, but you gotta love a character you can quote by saying, "I'm too drunk to taste this chicken."


Anonymous said...

Steve Railsback should be top 10 for his work in Helter Skelter.

Mark Harmon 51-100 as the Deliberate Stranger?

NRJ: Someone hates these cans!!!

Goose said...


Both Helter Skelter and Deliberate Stranger were TV movies. C'mon, that's rookie stuff you should know. Helen would be so mad at you right now.

Carrie is a great call. She should definitely get consideration. I love Will Ferrell but don't know if he should make the list yet. We need to see if Anchorman holds up.

Penny Lane - I've never seen the movie, and I'm not sure her character has that much cache. I don't know though...I do know Almost Famous didn't get much love when it came out. Does it still hold up? Did it ever hold up?

Mr. Placebo said...

Regarding Empire's list, I'm going to have to agree that Heath's Joker does deserve a significant placement on such a list. I'd probably put him somewhere in the top 20 insteard of the top 3, but up high on the list all the same.

Besides that, I think your list is indeed better. There were only a handful of characters I didn't recognize, and Indy is certainly more memorable than Tyler Durden.

Unknown said...

How about Captain Jack Sparrow? I mean by your ratings system I'd think that this character, possibly one of the more iconic characters of the 00's, deserves a spot on the list, even if it's a high one.

Unknown said...

I thought you were staying away from real people - so what's with all the real people on the list? Frank Serpico? William Wallace? TE Lawrence? Even Popeye Doyle is just like the real detective Eddie "Popeye" Egan.

ajnrules said...

Great list, but I didn't know Jules Winfield was in Resevoir Dogs. :p

Anonymous said...

Henry Hill
TE Lawrence
Butch Cassidy
Sundance Kid
Frank Serpico
John Merrick
William Wallace

That is 7 people who really did exist yet you included in this list. I believe you need to redo your list, and either eliminate them, or include others.

Anonymous said...

Why was there nobody from Lord of the Rings? Atleast gollum, if not Aragorn and Gandalf too...

Caillan said...

I like the list, even if it is a little bit heavy on the late 70s/early 80s blockbuster characters.

One thing I feel like I should correct is that Jules Winnfield played by Samuel L. Jackson was in Pulp Fiction and not Reservoir dogs as this list says.

Otherwise, well done.

Anonymous said...

I counted at least 7 real people, and that was without realizing that Serpico was real and giving the benefit of the doubt on reality-based Henry Hill. If Hill counts though, C.F. Kane prob has to go as does "Popeye" Doyle. You play a dangerous game lol.


Random Stranger said...

Both Doc Holliday (Tombstone) and The Dude (Big Lebowski) are real people. And any great characters list that doesn't include Tyler Durden is suspect.

Anonymous said...

Using your criteria I would have the following in there somewhere...

Kaiser Soze/Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects)

Forest Gump (Tom Hanks, Forest Gump)

Maria (Julie Andrews, Sound of Music) **I know, sort of real person, you can have Mary Poppins instead then :)**

Dr. Frank-n-furter (Tim Curry, Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Hanson Brothers (misc, Slap Shot)

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick, *'s day off)

Jack Burton (Kurt Russel, Big Trouble in Little China)

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, Blade Runner)

I would personally add a few more, but "definitely" think these should be on anyones list...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pink?
Mr. White?
John Doe from 7 ?
Tyler Durden ?

Anonymous said...

Where's Keyser Soze?

Anonymous said...

Good list, though I'd exchange Darth Vader's ranking with Quint's. I'd replace the 7 non-fictional characters with Napoleon Dynamite, Jack Nicholson's joker, Clark Griswold, The Terminator, Luke Skywalker, Kevin Mcallister and Boris Karloff's frankenstein monster.

Anonymous said...

Jules Winnfield was in Pulp Fiction not reservoir dogs

what about Alex de Large (clockwork orange!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Anonymous said...

your list has way too many that were on empires list...

pretty lame just like empires

Anonymous said...

how about Bogart's legendary private eye Philip Marlowe??

Anonymous said...

First of all, the list mentions only character names, except for christopher reeves (superman). It should be Superman (christopher reeves). Then, too much 70's and 80's, because The Joker (heath ledger) and Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) are much bigger and memorable characters then for instance Steve Martin in any of his films. As extra, i would put in: - Daniel Day Lewis in There Will be Blood, Will Ferrel as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, Forrest Gump, Red (Morgan Freeman) in Shawshank Redemption,

Anonymous said...

Jules Winfield wasn't a character in Reservoir Dogs, he was in PULP FICTION.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but this list is pretty terrible, the Empire list was much better, but seriously what is with the lack of modern day characters,

and i'm sorry if you're going to put some superhero characters in then Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman and the Joker are much much better then Superman.

i'm also going to have to agree with someone ahead of me, this list seems to have too many 70's/80's characters, and Jack Sparrow? Why the hell is he not on the list? Johnny Depp was nominated for a freakin Oscar and it was probably one of the sole reasons for it's success, (not being a Pirates fan at all)

Better lists can be made

Anonymous said...

It is somewhat better than Empire's list...but a couple things i feel are so odd.

First, i can't agree with Scarlett O'Hara being so low on the list. She is larger than life, and as compared to most female roles, she is often seen as one of the best. Another is Margo Channing, and for the same reasons.

Anonymous said...

Pretty good list, and spans a lot of genres and styles which is nice to see--too many film critics ignore utterly iconic stuff like Rambo and Caddyshack because it didn't have enough prestige for their tastes.

Anonymous said...

I'd add Dr. Frank-n-furter (Tim Curry, The Rocky horror Picture Show)

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure robin hood was not a ficitonal character

Goose said...

As I've stated earlier, I'm an idiot when it comes to real characters - so I obviously have to amend that. With so many on here, I'm going to have to obviously go with including them. A new list would probably have to include Norma Rae at the very least.

As for Captain Jack - I need way more time to see how iconic his character becomes. I really think he's going to fade into the ether. The same for Tyler Durden. I think the movie was more memorable than the actual character - he had great lines and a cool plan and was an anarchist and that's awesome and all, but I don't think it was a great "performance."

Anyway, look for a revised list sometime today.

Anonymous said...

Good List. However you listed:
"30. Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson, Reservoir Dogs)"

When its pulp fiction. Also there was no Gollum on the list. Fianlly you included Henry Hill (Goodfellas) after saying at the begining you wouldnt include real people. Henry Hill I beileve was a real person.

Anonymous said...

Where's Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove? Or Dan Akyroyd/John Belushi from the Blues Brothers?

I'm sorry to say but the Empire list was better in my opinion.

At least you had the common sense to include Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket.

Anonymous said...

.....Frau Blucker (Young Frankenstein)

....Arthur (Arthur)

....Serge (Beverly Hills Cop)

....Eunice Burns (What's Up Doc?)

Anonymous said...

Characters that I think of as memorable that are excluded from your list:
Kit from Badlands
Nurse Ratchet(sp?) from One Flew... odd you have McMurphy and not her.
Doc Brown from Back to the Future.
Anton Chigurh(sp?) from No Country. you have to be crazy if you dont thin hes a memorable character,

I could also get into dozens of foreign language film characters but you seem to have left them off your list. As well as animated characters. You may want to retitle your compilation

khop said...

Wow, you haven't seen Almost Famous? Pretty sure its right up your ally, especially since the central character is a high school boy who gets to tour with a rock band as a journalist reporting for Rolling Stone. It passes my litmus test of holding up over time, which is that i actually want to watch it more than once and is one of the few moview i actually own. I will send my copy to you through the Media Pony Express. Once you see it, you may disagree on my pick of Penny Lane as the most important character in the movie, but for the purposes of your criteria, she was who i went with.

Also, i agree on Will Ferrell, but know that others vehemently disagree. My favorite performance of his was from Stranger Than Fiction, but would not meet your criteria. The quote was from my close second favorite, the legendary Ricky Bobby.

Anonymous said...

Neither of your lists had Sam Spade on them. And no Dr. Strangelove or Buck Turgidson?

Anonymous said...

Has everyone forgotten Norma Desmond?

Anonymous said...

Despite the supposed attempt at not using characters based on real people, Henry Hill is still on this list. Love the performance, completely agree, just pointing that out.

Anonymous said...

As you said, no list like this can ever be 100% definitive. So I can't argue with it, even if there are a few entries that had me raising an eyebrow (Han solo is NOT a better character than Darth Vader!)...

That said, my only suggestion would be to go back and check your spelling and consistency in format. For example, you spelled Hannibal Lecter wrong; Christopher Reeve was the actor, not the character, and there's no 's'.
These small things will give your list much more credibility.

Good work!

Goose said...


You're absolutely right on all counts. I've tried to clean it up. It's what happens when you try to throw something together too quickly.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that people remember Errol Flynn's Robin Hood so much as they generally remember the legend of Robin Hood itself.

His Lordship said...

While this is far, far better than the Empire list, which was almost all characters from the last 10 or 15 year, and had an only slightly memorable character from a movie that isn't even that good at number one, I still feel that it fails to include enough characters from the Golden Age. No Norma Desmond? No Frankenstein? No Dracula? No one from Casablanca, which is the most oft-quoted movie of all time? No Rhett Butler? Cowardly Lion? Not a single character played by Audrey Hepburn? No Sugar from Some Like it Hot?

I also feel that you missed a few from other era's as well, like Rex Harrison's Henry Higgins, Katherine Hepburn's Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Liza Minelli's Sally Bowles.

Anonymous said...

What about Charlie Chaplin's character The Tramp? The greatest character of the screen.

Anonymous said...

I am really disappointed with the lack of female characters on this list. Out of 100, there are 13.

Female Characters Who Should At Least Be Considered For a Place on the List:

-- Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn, The Philadephia Story)
-- Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd)
-- Elizabeth (Cate Blanchette, Elizabeth)
-- Sugar Kane (Marilyn Munroe, Some Like It Hot)
-- Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's)
-- Elizabeth Bennett (from any of the Pride and Prejudice adaptations)
-- Rose DeWitt-Bukater (Kate Winslet, Titanic)
-- Emma (Gwenyth Paltrow, Emma)
-- Eliza Dolittle (Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady)
-- Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins)

This all being said, part of the problem is that female characters aren't as revered in popular culture as male characters, nor are there as many great roles written for women as there are for men. That's just the way it's been.

So while, for example, Gwenyth Paltrow's turn as Emma is one of the best female roles I've seen on film, it loses big in the notoriety category, and probably belongs more so on a list of personal faves rather than an all-time list.

Oh, and two asides:

1) Why wasn't Capt. Renault from Casablanca on the list???

2) Scarlett O'Hara should be way up higher on the list (in the top 10), and Rhett Butler should at least be on there somewhere -- seeing as he has the #1 movie quote of all time as voted by the AFI... ("Frankly me dear, etc")

Anonymous said...

I've seen multiple posts, where the creator of this list has said, oh I've never seen this movie or that movie. Kinda strikes into the credibility, I would think.

How can one person create a list of the 100 greatest film characters of all time, without actually seeing a number of these films?

That may be the only reason why I like Empires better, while I don't agree with Durden being number 1, I know that a lot of research has probably been done to post each character on the list, including watching the film.

Goose said...

@anonymous -

The Empire list was apparently created by fans votes - people nominated their favorite characters...I doubt many saw every movie those characters were in.

I actually think knowing a character without seeing the film lends more credence to the inclusion; obviously the character is memorable and has made it into the zeitgeist.

Anonymous said...

Good list. Like you said, it's subjective so not all will agree. I am no different.

No Rick Blaine? No Sam Spade? No Bogardt at all? Travesty!

The list seems really Jaws-heavy. It contains 3 characters from the movie, none of which are the main character. I don't expect a list like this to mention a fish, but that is what Jaws is about.

You also seem to be giving Chevy Chase more credit than he's due. In Caddyshack Rodney Dangerfield's Al Czervik is more memorable than Ty Webb. (Good call including Carl though.) Also, have you seen Fletch lately? It's a terrible, unfunny movie. But if you must have Chevy Chase, why not Clark Griswold? Who's more iconic than that?

Full Metal Jacket is a great movie, but when you think of it what character comes to mind, Private Pyle or Gunnery Sergeant Hartman?

Nicholson is a great actor, but Jessep? Does a one-liner really warrant mention in this list?

Venkman? Seriously?

Dowens said...

Wow, a lot of hating going on here. I think it's a good list. Obviously some omissions are made, but that is going to happen. This list is far better than Empire's. I appreciated you using many of the older characters that have stood the test of time.

I agree with the comment about Errol Flynn's Robin Hood not standing out as much as the legend of Robin Hood.

Keeping in mind your guidelines, a few omissions that I have noticed on both lists and that no one has mentioned are Genie from Aladdin (I know this is an animated character, but I think Robin Williams really made him memorable. But maybe that's ridiculous to include an animated character (granted Empire included a few)), Leon (Jean Reno) from Leon (or The Professional), and Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) from Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, and possibly Dr Evil (I know, that one might be a stretch). Again, this is getting picky.

I liked seeing the inclusion of William Wallace, Col Jessup, Irwin Fletcher (I obviously disagree with the previous poster on these last two), Doc Holliday, and especially Navin R. Johnson.

Unknown said...

How can you leave John Mcclain off after putting on Hans Gruber?

How about Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs?

Goose said...


McClane is at 62. Also, I contend a great villain trumps a hero all the time.

Anonymous said...

Amen to Quint at #4. Robert Shaw's performance as Quint is one of the most underrated in film history - still hard to believe he did not get an Oscar nomination for it.

And while people may not remember the character's name all the time... they certainly remember the character, his grumbles and his lines.

Anonymous said...

Funninest character of all time.

Anonymous said...

I think you've built a great list. Many of the characters are such iconic pop culture references that even if I haven't seen the movie I know the character. I think the challenge is that the list is limited to 100 characters and there are more than 100 great characters.
I don't think the real person vs. character issue is really an issue. So what if the character is based on a real person. I saw Ali and wasn't impressed, but "real people" performances you've listed were excellent and stand on their own merits.
A few characters to consider:
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) - First Blood
McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) - Airplane
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) - The Shawshank Redemption
George Bailey (James Stewart) - It's a Wonderful Life

While I agree that current characters have not stood the test of time, I do think you need to consider Heath Ledger's Joker, too.

Good list overall.

Unknown said...

I think you should drop the entire real person/fictitious person thing. If your list is the 100 greatest movie characters, that's all you need to say. It should not matter if the characters were/are real people.

Anonymous said...

You ever see a list like one of these and you are so baffled by one of the choices that it makes you not want to read the rest of the list because it loses all credibility in your mind?

Michael Corleone at #27 is that one for me. No movie character has been quoted more often than him, but Steve Martin in The Jerk, is ranked higher. Yea right.

Anonymous said...

George Bailey -- only the best man who never lived. Should have been in top 10.

Anonymous said...

william wallace, John Merrick, The Sundance Kid, Butch Cassidy, T.E Lawrence, Doc Holliday, Sonny Wortzik and Henry Hill

are all real people

Unknown said...

Great list. Though I would substitute Alex Forrest (Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction) for Royal Tennenbaum (Gene Hackman, The Royal Tennenbaums). Though I love that movie, his character is no where near as memorable as Close's character... I mean, she scared cheating men straight for a while.

I find no problem with you using characters based on real people. If you remember, they said that George C. Scott played Patton better than Patton played himself. George S. Patton was a larger than life character in his own right.
And with actors as real-life characters, they immortalize their counterparts.

P.S. The Elephant Man's name is Joseph Merrick, not John Merrick. It's always bothered me that the name is wrong in the movie.

Goose said...

Great call on Alex Forrest - I agree she's a great character and should be on the list.

SLAGMAN said...

you are an idiot, you don't know anything

Anonymous said...

How about these, which I feel at least deserve honorable mention...

Red (Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption)
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins, Shawshank)
Snake Plisken (Kurt Russell, Escape from New York)
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon)
Robocop (Peter Weller, Robocop)

There are more, but I can't think of them at the moment. These ones may even already be on your list, but I thought I'd voice them anyway.

S.D. said...

Although I'd definitely debate several of the positions, I agree wholeheartedly that this is a MUCH better list. Kudos on the effort, and for remembering Sally Field's phenomenal perf in "Norma Rae".

Has anyone figured out what was going through the minds of the editors of Empire Online that they thought Tyler Durden was the greatest of all film characters?

Anyway, a few of my own suggestions:

-I'd include Johnny Hooker along with Henry Gondorff from "The Sting"

-I'd add Mitchum's Harry Powell from "Night of the Hunter" somewhere around the middle of the list.

-If animated characters are permitted, I'd include Dumbo, Dori the Bluefish from "Finding Nemo", and Jeremy from "Yellow Submarine"

-If mechanical characters aren't too much of a stretch, I'd add Bruce from "Jaws".

Unknown said...

For your consideration:
I really liked the list, but I think it's a shame that no-one from the Breakfast Club made the cut.

Anonymous said...

I will not squabble over possible omissions (there are too many characters), I have trouble with your rankings:

85.Mike Damone (Robert Romanus, Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
*Who is this guy? you're crazy!
51. Frank White (Christopher Walken, King of New York)
* - no one knows who this is. By your own standard - Ask 10 random people who he is - 1 MIGHT know
12. Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman, The French Connection)
*#12? He was ok - pretty one-dimensional.
2. Robin Hood (Errol Flynn, The Adventures of Robin Hood)
*#2? Maybe top 25.

Unknown said...

Reading this list has been great, as well as your reactions to the Empire list. I agree with others that I'd like to see George Bailey and Red or Dufrane from Shawshank on the list.

Also, based on your Empire comments from the other entry - I really, really suggest you give V for Vendetta another thought. I agree that it was tempting to boycott Wachowski productions after the horror that was Matrix III, but I am SO GLAD I didn't. Not only have I seen the movie, but about half of my friends have (since you said you thought no one had seen it). Natalie Portman gives one of the best female performances I've ever seen, and Hugo Weaving as V...never in my life have I seen so much emotion coming from a masked man. This movie may not stand the test of time, but there's a reason I take the time every November 5th to watch this film. Give it a try, I don't think you'll regret it.


Anonymous said...

What? no Ash from the Evil Dead?
Sorry, FAIL.

Anonymous said...

I also stayed away from characters based on real people. That's why you won't see:

Norma Rae
Jake LaMotta

on this list. All fantastic performances, but a little more difficult to judge as the people were real.

100. Norma Rae (Sally Field)

Anonymous said...

Nothing from Bogart? I know that some others have referenced his character, Phillip Marlowe, from 'The Big Sleep' (although one attributed that performance to 'The Maltese Falcon', where he played Sam Spade), but where is Rick Blaine from 'Casablanca'? He is certainly more recognizable than many on this list. And if you include Rose from 'The African Queen', why leave out Charlie?

Wow, that's a long rant. Sorry.

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

The Empire list was put together according to popular online vote, which is why it skews towards newer characters too much.
Yours is indeed too 80's, with characters that I suspect are more personal favorites than actually memorable.
Also, 'The Royal Tenenbaums' is a 7-year-old film, which would make the character 'ineligible'.

Goose said...

@ Carlos

I roughly count about 20 characters from the 80s - in a list where the majority comes from 60s/70s/80s/90s, I don't see that as an inordinate amount.

As for Royal Tennebaum being 7 years old, touche, but I'd be willing to make the bet he stands the test of time.

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

Not that memorable:
87. Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone)
2. Robin Hood (Errol Flynn, The Adventures of Robin Hood) The lengend of these characters is what lives on and not their film portrayals.
93. Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patankin, Princess Bride)
72. Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men) He had a great line, and that's basically it.
70. Spock (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek)
43. James T. Kirk (William Shatner, Star Trek) I think people thinks of Star Trek and its characters as part of the TV realm.
69. Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford, The Natural)
38. Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer, Tombstone)

Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange)
Alex Forrest (Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction)
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca)
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks)
Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci in GoodFellas)
Keyser Söze (You know who in The Usual Suspects)
Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde)
Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde)
Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire)
Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential)
Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito in LA Confidential)
Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito in LA Confidential)
Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns)
Léon (Jean Reno)
Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus)
Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega (Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs)
Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs)
Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand in Fargo)
Howard Beale (Peter Finch in Network)

Just to name a few. Also, there are lots of memorable animated characters in the history of cinema. And I would throw in HAL 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain in 2001: A Space Odissey.

Anonymous said...

Edward Scissorhands, Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Forrest Gump, Bill the Butcher, & Rick Blaine should all be included imho. But it's tough to make a list like this & not be biased towards your own personal favs (movies & actors). Interesting list nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Plainview is a huge omission here. Sorry, I just don't like the list.

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

LOL, but we're not betting, remember? Otherwise, you should bet on Lester Burnham from American Beauty, The Joker from The Dark Knight, Jack Twist/Ennis Del Mar from Brokeback Mountain, Truman Capote from Capote, Andy Stitzer from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and yes, Tyler Durden.

Goose said...

@ Carlos
I grant you it's a fun debate and I'll reiterate there's no definitive list. I will support some of the names you came up with.

Holmes - Rathbone is pretty much known as being the definitive Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie is making his Holmes film right now. I'd be willing to bet Rathbone's name will come up when critics make the comparison. I understand that today's movie viewers don't watch b&W films, but he's a good character.

Robin Hood (Errol Flynn) - Same thing. He's THE Robin Hood. He made the legend of the character in his performance.

Spock and Kirk - they might have started on television, but they also starred in a popular movie series. You can't simply discount them. They're pretty popular.

Jessup - Nicholson was up for an Academy Award as Jessup, so I think the character has a little more depth than just a popular line.

Roy Hobbs - You can't play baseball as a child without invoking Hobbs.

As for the others and the ones you mentioned, yeah, they're all good choices, and could fit here and there. But there's only room for 100.

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

I completely agree that there's no definitive list. However, I think yours is very, very personal.

Anonymous said...

Jack Burton, great character. Fun, charasmatic. Especially if 80's films are to be tapped I would recommend him on the list.

But I very much agree that Empire's list was far fetched. Hans Gruber in the top 20????

Anonymous said...


Goose said...

@ Carlos

Every list that one person does without external debate and argument is going to be personal. Just like your examples were personal.

I'd also argue that there may be one character on that list that might be more of a personal choice than any other, and only one person here has called me on it. I'd argue that the performance is amazing, but few people have seen it. Most others on the list I bet I can find people to argue either way for them.

My point was that Empire's list didn't take into account some great performances, and skewed way too much toward recent movies. Did I make my point? I can't answer that. It's up to everyone who reads both of them to personally decide. (there's that word again.)

Please stay tuned however, for my personal list, which will be a four part series. First part has been put up today, right here.

Matthewwave said...

Just wanted to point out a typo/error in the list. Somehow a "6" got added to the beginning of Atticus Finch's entry, knocking him down from the #1 spot to the 61st.


Anonymous said...

Dude......Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz...or the Wicked Witch......I pretty much liked your list.....it's hard to be objective when it's also based on personal preferance....I've never seen The Fight Club so therefore don't care about the charecter......I've been a trekkie since birth adn so Spock and Kirk are WAY up on my list....so good on you for putting yourself out there for the scathing remarks that we the internet like to give!

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

"Every list that one person does without external debate and argument is going to be personal."

Exactly my point. This is a (in my opinion, very) personal list and should billed as such. Which in turn would make your list of 'personal favorites' a little unnecessary.

Also, we're totally on the same page about Empire's list being off-the-mark. But again, it was put together according to popular vote and when you do that, that's what usually happens. The same thing has been said of IMDb's Top 250.

By the way, I'm checking their 500 Greatest Films of All Time right now and it's just awful. But apparently it "was selected by over 10,000 Empire readers, 150 film makers and 50 film critic". So, again, popular vote.

Goose said...

@ Carlos

But the Empire list is even more personal, since it's basically "vote for your favorite character" and not take a look at cinematic history and try to come up with a list of 100 performers. My favorite performances will vary differently from the list I came up with because I tried to inject objectivity into it. The "personal" aspect finds its way into the list in a number of different ways, including movies I've seen, haven't seen, seen multiple times, etc. Ex. I hate The Wizard of Oz. But I can still respect the performance of Judy Garland. That's why she's on the list.

If I had to objectively look at my list, it doesn't include enough pre 60s. And that's because I'm not well versed in those movies, and therefore can't recall the performances very easily. I tried to compensate, but probably didn't do a great job.

However, I would contend that Empire didn't even care to address this in any way whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm assuming Quint is on here, but what about some love for Jame Gumb? C'mon! Buffalo Bill's scene with the business cards? Gold!

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

I happen to believe that Empire's list should have been titled "Most Popular Movie Characters". But you can't possibly contend their list is more personal because it was based on popular vote, while yours is an arbitrary one-man list.

Seriously man, you have 3 'Jaws' characters in the Top 25 alone, but Edward Scissorhands, Det. Virgil Tibbs from In the Heat of the Night or Mary Poppins are nowhere in your list.

Goose said...


It's personal because they asked people to give them their favorite characters. How isn't that personal? That they then collected the data into a list doesn't make it objective.

And I would argue that those 3 characters are better than the three you listed.

And you would apparently argue that they are not.

You continue to bring up characters on the list. I get it you think the list isn't complete without your additions. Just like I would look at a list that you come up with and say the same.

It's impossible to satisfy the entire population. Thank goodness. Because if you could, the world would be a better place.

The point is to look at the list and ask yourself whether it's more comprehensive than the Empire list. That was my goal. If you think it was cool. If not, I'll get over it.

I'm just glad it sparked a fun, spicy debate.

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

LOL, you're getting mad, aren't you? It's because you're too stubborn and very unwilling to concede. And it so happens that so am I.

Anyway, I didn't say it wasn't personal. I said it's not 'more personal' than yours, like you said.

In fact, I say it again: Empire's list is in absolutely no way more personal than your list.

Anonymous said...

This following here is an excellent list. After looking at yours, looking at it, and then looking at yours, your rankings and exclusions seem terribly arbitrary in many cases. Your rankings seem very uneven. A look at your personal favorites list seems less so.

Compiled by the staff of Premiere Magazine:


Goose said...

@ Carlos
Not mad at all.

And the reason I would say the Empire list is more personal is because when people were asked to put it together, they were asked to choose their favorite actors. Whether it was 3 or 5 or whatever, it certainly wasn't 100 - and so they couldn't objectively make choices. Favorite actors don't mean the top characters.

When I did my list, I had the luxury of realizing I had 100 spots to fill. I had a much bigger list. I chose who went on and who went off. There was an objectivity to putting an character up against another and trying to figure out which one was better. Again, or course personal taste came into play, but it wasn't the only thing that came into play. For the Empire list, you could argue that personal preference was the only thing that came into play.

Goose said...


Of course it's more or less arbitrary - I took roughly 2 hours to put it together. I'm hoping Premiere took a little bit more time and research and put some effort into it. Otherwise, why would anyone pay for it?

On second thought, scratch that.

My point was I could come up with a better list than Empire. And again, whether or not I did, is ultimately up for you to decide for yourself. I will say I have no idea what you mean when you say looking at my list of personal favorites is "less so." Less uneven? Is that a compliment?

Anonymous said...

You say we won't see Jake LaMotta because he is real...so what is up with #28...and no Joker from the Dark Knight...you must have shit for brains

Prospero said...

Regan McNeil
Homer Simpson
Bruce Wayne
Clark Kent
Peter Parker
Clarice Starling

Anonymous said...

Charles Bronson in Death Wish

Carlos Balbás Espín said...

I'm getting a little bored already, but you keep coming back, even when you're flat out wrong.

Look, this is practically an oxymoron. You write: "I chose who went on and who went off. There was an objectivity...".

Dude, you may have TRIED to be objective, but ultimately, you ranked the characters in whatever way YOU felt was best.

Moreover, I'll say this once again: it's impossible for Empire's list to be more personal than your list, simply because yours is an arbitrary, one-man list and theirs was voted by lots of people.

Anyway, you say you point was that you could come up with a better list than Empire. So, bottom line is: your list is LESS BAD than theirs. Is it a good list? Not really.

Anonymous said...

What about Batman?? Christian Bale from the Dark Knight? Jack and Rose from Titanic?

Goose said...

@Dark Knight Fan
I see your reading comprehension leaves a lot to be desired.


Now who's getting mad?

While I can appreciate you continuing the dialog, I see that we are at an impasse. It's no longer about movie characters and more about semantics, but I can see you're getting frustrated, so I'll just say I can agree to disagree. I did enjoy the debate, and hope you understand that no matter how poor or great the list is, it's completely subjective at the end of the day. And the other thing? It's entertainment - about entertainment.

There is no black and white. Only shades of grey.

Anonymous said...

I think Goose tried to be more objective and it's true that he has the ability to look at it from a broad perspective as a whole list. I'm confident I could make a better list than Empire. They may have had movie experts look at the list and go "crap, this isn't good, but it's what the people voted!"

And I'm sick of people saying HOW CAN YOU OMIT SO-AND-SO when it's from a movie that is less than 5 year old. I liked your original criteria for selection.

And when most (and I mean most) of the population have no clue who Tyler Durden is, then there is no way it should be near the top, let alone first. I would put Bond as #1 mainly due to the generations and decades he has spread across.

Unknown said...


I live my life like that man every day. Most memorable character. Ever.

Anonymous said...

What about Clint Eastwood as Blondie from the Dollars Trilogy, in particular The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly? The name may not be so recognizable, but the character certainly is!

Oh well, can't please everybody I suppose.

Anonymous said...

This is probably the worst list i hav seen!! The Empire's is so much better!!

Anonymous said...

Carlos is right - you're a tool.

Stop taking everything so personal. We can see the smoke coming out of your ears.

Every other list I've ever seen is better than this personalized, sentimental, arrangement of characters

Goose said...



Anonymous said...

to Goose:
It was a compliment in a way. Whereas your "objective" list to me doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in many of the rankings, in terms of relative quality of characters, your personal list shows a sequence that is a lot easier to see the reasoning behind. I wonder if that was due to you trying to place characters you thought were popular or important but not personally favorable.

HuyenPham said...

Meeting the demand of watching movies without theaters, Showbox app helps people to install advanced on many good systems currently showboxvpn is a sponsor!

GlobalEmployees said...

Great post. I loved reading it.