Top 100 Movie Characters of all Time

I have a friend who recently posted a list from a website calling itself ‘Premier’ that named ‘The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.’  He was shocked and appalled that Darth Vader was languishing at #84 on the list below such spares as Private Benjamin, Doctor Evil, The Dude, and a host of others.  While I agreed that this was a travesty, I quickly noticed a few notable absences from the list, and the more I looked the more great characters were simply missing from the list, while others, such as Gollum were inexplicably placed near the top of the list.

This is where the obsessive compulsive part of my personality kicked in.  I began to look at their list with a more critical eye.  The fist thing I noticed was that some of the characters seemed to be shoe-horned into the list, and often these characters were female.  I’m not trying to say that there are no great female characters in movie history, but it may be a fair indictment to accuse the industry for not writing strong female roles, especially in the early years of cinema, and perhaps just as much today.  This may well be the case, but I don’t think the cure for it is to falsely elevate existing female roles above their actual station as ir appears that Premier did (Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde and Private Benjamin a two good examples).

I further fed my obsession by attempting to think if all the good characters that they left off their list.  I came up with another 109 examples, some more strong than others and quite a few whose omissions were simply egregious.  Then, I sat down with all 209 names and made my own Top 100 Movie Characters of all Time list.  The biggest deficiency of my list is the fact that I have not seen all of the old classics (though I am currently on a classic movie binge).  Characters like Fred C. Dobbs of Treasure of the Sierra Madre and a few others may suffer unfairly because of this, but I have no regrets about leaving a character like Ninotchka off the list because I, my family and my friends have never heard of her (shoe-horned). 

I tried to take several things into account.  How well the character endures, how much effect the character has had on popular culture, the importance of the character and whether that role or the movie it was associated with received awards while it was out.  Accepting the possible shortcomings and the obvious advantages of my list, I am putting it out, and still argue that it is much better than the list provided by Premier.  Enjoy.

1. Don Michael Corleone of The Godfather: Part II

2. Charles Foster Kane of Citizen Kane

3. Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind

5. Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark

6. William Wallace of Braveheart

7. Darth Vader of Star Wars

8. Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs

9. Robin Hood of The Adventures of Robin Hood

10. Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz

11. Rick Blaine of Casablanca

12. Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List

13. General George S. Patton of Patton

14. Captain William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty

15. Maximus Decimus Meridius of Gladiator

16. Cool Hand Luke of Cool Hand Luke

17. Shane of Shane

18. Marshall Will Kane of High Noon

19. George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life

20. Vito Corleone of The Godfather

21. Tom Joad of The Grapes of Wrath

22. Moses of the Ten Commandments

23. James Bond of Dr. No

24. Andy Dufresne of The Shawshank Redemption

25. Jake La Motta of Raging Bull

26. Forrest Gump of Forrest Gump

27. Sparticus of Sparticus

28. Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

29. Doc Holiday of Tombstone

30. Jefferson Smith of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

31. T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia

32. Ben Hur of Ben Hur

33. Jim Stark of Rebel Without a Cause

34. Rooster Cogburn of True Grit

35. E.T. of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

36. Batman of Batman

37. Randle McMurphy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

38. Frankenstein of Frankenstein

39. Spock of Star Trek

40. Spiderman of Spiderman

41. Dracula of Dracula

42. Superman of Superman

43. Harry Potter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

44. Gordon Gekko of Wall Street

45. Navin Johnson of The Jerk

46. Norman Bates of Psycho

47. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman of Full Metal Jacket

48. Karl Childers of Sling Blade

49. Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

50. Dirty Harry Callahan of Dirty Harry

51. Ferris Bueller of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

52. George Taylor of Planet of the Apes

53. Daniel E. ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger of Rudy

54. Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High

55. Tarzan of Tarzan the Ape Man

56. Jake Blues of The Blues Brothers

57. John Rambo of First Blood

58. Captain Quint of Jaws

59. King Kong of King Kong

60. Willy Wonka of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

61. Mary Poppins of Mary Poppins

62. The Terminator of The Terminator

63. Jules Winnfield of Pulp Fiction

64. Mrs. Robinson of The Graduate

65. Rocky Balboa of Rocky

66. Tommy DeVito of GoodFellas

67. Raymond Babbitt of Rain Man

68. King Arthur of Camelot/Excalibur

69. Annie Wilkes of Misery

70. John McClane of Die Hard

71. Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley of An Officer and a Gentleman

72. Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell of Top Gun

73. Mad Max Rockatansky of Mad Max

74. Sandy Olsson of Grease

75. John “Bluto” Blutarsky of Animal House

76. Jack Torrance of The Shining

77. Baronin Maria von Trapp of The Sound of Music

78. Hedley Lamar of Blazing Saddles

79. William Cutting of Gangs of New York

80. Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street

81. Ralphie Parker of A Christmas Story

82. Max Cady of Cape Fear

83. Regan MacNeil of The Exorcist

84. Jason of Friday the 13th

85. Mrs. Doubtfire of Mrs Doubtfire

86. Carrie White of Carrie

87. Carl Spackler of Caddyshack

88. Captain Marko Ramius of The Hunt for Red October

89. Captain Hook of Peter Pan

90. Norma Rae of Norma Rae

91. Mona Lisa Vito of My Cousin Vinny

92. Sally Albright of When Harry Met Sally

93. Marge Gunderson of Fargo

94. Sergeant Martin Riggs of Lethal Weapon

95. Crash Davis of Bull Durham

96. Marty McFly of Back to the Future

97. Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride

98. Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville of Smokey and the Bandit

99. Lane Meyer of Better Off Dead

100. Curly Washburn of City Slickers

 

Just to prove that I did my homework, here are the other 109 that were considered, but did not make the list in alphabetical order (my friend hates it when I do this):

 

Frank Abignale Jr. of Catch Me If You Can

Gust Avrakotos of Charlie Wilson’s War

Arthur Bach of Arthur

Howard Beale of Network

Hans Beckert of M

Judy Benjamin of Private Benjamin

Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver

Blondie of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Frank Booth of Blue Velvet

Borat of Borat

Erin Brockovich of Erin Brockovich

Oda Mae Brown of Ghost

Truman Burbank of The Truman Show

Truman Capote of Capote

Chance the Gardener of Being There

Margo Channing of All About Eve

Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther

Conan of Conan the Barbarian

Frank Costello of The Departed

Jane Craig of Broadcast News

Paul Crewe of The Longest Yard

David Crockett of The Alamo

Melanie Daniels of The Birds

Daphne/Jerry of Some Like it Hot

Donnie Darko of Donnie Darko

Rick Deckard of Blade Runner

Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange

Norma Desmond of Sunset Boulevard

Phyliss Dietrichson of Double Indemnity

Dil of The Crying Game

Fred C. Dobbs of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Lloyd Dobler of Say Anything

Antoine Doinel of The 400 Blow

Michael Dorsey/Dorthy Michaels of Tootsie

The Dude of The Big Lebowski

Lt. John J. Dunbar of Dances With Wolves

Napoleon Dynamite of Napoleon Dynamite

Wyatt Earp of Gunfight at the OK Corral

Eathan Edwards of The Searchers

Sergeant Elias of Platoon

Dr. Evil of Austin Powers

Irwin ‘Fletch’ Fletcher of Fletch

Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker of Meet the Parents

Fogell or ‘McLovin’ of Superbad

Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop

Alex Forrest of Fatal Attraction

Gandalf Of The Lord of The Rings The Fellowship of the Rings

Ghandi of Ghandi

Happy Gilmore of Happy Gilmore

Jake Gittes of Chinatown

Godzilla of Godzilla

Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Gollum of Lord of the Rings

Joel Goodson of Risky Business

Aurora Greenway of Terms of Endearment

Clark Griswold of Vacation

Annie Hall of Annie Hall

Hawkeye (Nathaniel Poe) of The Last of the Mohicans

Pee Wee Herman of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Sherlock Holmes of The Hound of the Baskervilles

J.J. Hunsecker of Sweet Smell of Success

Mrs. Iselin of The Manchurian Candidate

Paul Kersey of Deathwish

Lt. Kilgore of Apocalypse Now

Ray Kinsella of Field of Dreams

Roger “Verbal” Kint of The Usual Suspects

Stanley Kowalski of A Streetcar Named Desire

Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire

Harry Lime of The Third Man

The Little Tramp of Mabel’s Strange Predicament

Logan 5 of Logan’s Run

Jerry Maguire of Jerry Maguire

John Malkovich of Being John Malkovich

Terry Malloy of On the Waterfront

Jim Malone of The Untouchables

Tony Manero of Saturday Night Fever

Kevin McCallister of Home Alone

Tony Montana of Scarface

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of Amadeus

John Nash of A Beautiful Mind

Captain Marc Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Ninotchka of Ninotchka

Danny Ocean of Ocean’s Eleven

Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere of Papillon

Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde

Rev. Harry Powell of The Night of the Hunter

Tom Powers of The Public Enemy

Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada

Buford Pusser of Walking Tall

Matthew Quigley of Quigley Down Under

Jessica Rabbit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ellen Ripley of Alien

Ratso Rizzo of Midnight Cowboy

Rose Sayer of The African Queen

Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol

Edward Scissorhands of Edward Scissorhands

John Shaft of Shaft

Han Solo of Star Wars

Sam Spade of The Maltese Falcon

Steve Stiffler of American Pie

Willard Stiles of Willard

Dr. Strangelove of Dr. Strangelove

Alan Swann of My Favorite Year

Catherine Tramell of Basic Instinct

Virgil Tibbs of In the Heat of the Night

Susan Vance of Bringing up Baby

Dr. Peter Venkman of Ghostbusters

Ace Ventura of Ace Ventura,: Pet Detective

Vivian Ward of Pretty Woman

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1981

See list criteria here.

20.  America”, Neil Diamond- Neil Diamond was not my favorite artist growing up, but his music has grown on me as I have aged.  Where I would have turned him off in the 80s, now I will listen to his music, and all of his songs have strong choruses.  I like the patriotic aspect of this song also.

19.  “Morning Train (Nine To Five)”, Sheena Easton- This song was huge at the time (maybe to the point if overplay), and it has catchy (almost monotonous) beat.  You could count on hearing this song on the way to work every day for about two years.  “For Your Eyes Only” was also a very good song released by Sheena Easton in this year, and it was hard to choose between the two.

18.  “Young Turks”, Rod Stewart-  I was never a big Rod Stewart fan what with the whole stomach-pumping rumors and all (Yes, I know it was all untrue now, but we did not have Snopes back then, and we were stuck with the rumors we had.  By, the time the truth was revealed, the damage was done).  That all being said, this song has a strong melody, and his voice does not sound so much like sand paper in this song.

17.  “Leader of the Band”, Dan Fogelberg- I always really liked this song, and it was easy for me to apply it to the relationship that I had with my own father.  Since his death, it only seems to apply better.  Same Old Lang Syne” was also a great song that was released in the same year and charted higher than “Leader of the Band”, but I just like “Leader of the Band” more.

16.  “Shake It Up”, The Cars- This is the first great Cars’ song of the 80s.  It has the quirky, syncopated style that eventually style that eventually becomes a staple of Cars’ music.

15.  “Arthur’s Theme”, Christopher Cross- I doesn’t get much more melodic or sing-able than the theme from the movie Arthur, though it is a little on the soft rock side of the scale.  It will always be one of the best movie theme songs.

14.  “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, The Police- This is another upbeat and very good release for the British punk band.  It is the kind of tune that stays in your head in a good way.

13.  “Jessie’s Girl”, Rick Springfield- I have always thought of Rick Springfield as ‘Bruce Springstein without the edge’.  This was a huge hit at the time with a chorus that was easy to sing along with.

12.  “Who Can It Be Now?”, Men at Work- This is the first song released by the quirky group from Australia, and is my second favorite Men at Work song.  I have fond memories of this group because it was my ‘gateway drug’ from Country to Pop music.  I was a big fan right up to the point that I rented their “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” concert video.  My ‘gay-dar’ was not as precisely tuned at that time, but when I saw Colin Hay and the rest of the members of the band prancing around on the stage, I slotted the band with what became an ever growing number of androgynous, quasi-gay 80s bands that put out decent music, but whose concerts I would never go to.

11.  “Urgent”, Foreigner- This was the first hit off of Foreigner’s mega album “4”.  The percussion and keyboards (keyboards supplied by the great Thomas Dolby) has a nice syncopated quality that usually causes the listener to tap his foot or nod his head.

10.  “Our Lips Are Sealed”, The Go Go’s- This was the lead song off The Go Go’s debut album “Beauty and the Beat”.  Belinda Carlisle lent her nice, sexy vocals to the band’s sometimes overly energetic style.  This song stayed on the charts for over a year, an impressive feat for any 80s hit.

9.  “You Make My Dreams”, Daryl Hall and John Oates- This is second song from the early 80s powerhouse Hall and Oates, and is the last single to be released from “Voices”.  Like several of the other songs.  This song almost has a 50s doo-wop feel to it, and I like it better than the Mega-hit “Private Eyes” which was the first song off of the album of the same name.  “Private Eyes” is a little too-cool-for-school for me, and it does not have the staying power of its predecessor.  I chose this song over “Kiss On My List” which I also like a lot.

8.  “The Tide Is High”, Blondie- The main problem that I had with Blondie was Debbie Harry and her ‘Children of the Corn’ eyes.  I found her hard to look at, but she was a beauty compared with that horse-faced Toni Basil.  The Tide is High is a pretty mellow song for this group, but I like it better than anything else that they released.

7.  “Endless Love”, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie- With this song, Lionel Richie began to make a name for himself outside of the Commodores.  It is still Ross’s best selling hit, and the harmonies between Ross and Richie are superb.  The only downside to it is that it was title song of a dreadful movie starring Brooke Shields.

6.  “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, Pat Benatar- Pat Benatar is the best and most prolific rocker-girl of the early 80s, and this song is vintage Benatar, complete with ricochet sounds.  She is one of the few rocker-girls that did not seem screechy to me when she would belt it out.

5.  “The One That You Love”, Air Supply- For some reason, Air Supply decided to confuse all of its fans in 1981 by releasing a song with the very pronounced chorus ‘Here I am, the one that you love’ and another song named “Here I am” that only used these words at the very first of the song, and had a chorus that said, ‘Just when I thought I was over you….”  This was all unnecessarily confusing, though I like both songs.

4.  “Celebration”, Kool and The Gang- This song held the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 100 for six weeks, and charted for over a year.  Its disco-funk chorus, of course, had a great beat and base line.  This song is still a staple at most wedding receptions.

3.  “Don’t Stop Believing”, Journey- This release from the great Journey album ‘Escape’ is the signature song for the band today.  It is another of the harder songs that are more associated with Graham Nash by many Journey fans than Steve Perry.  The song recently received a revival when it was featured prominently in the last episode of The Sopranos.  “Who’s Crying Now” was also released this year.

2.  “Keep On Loving You”, REO Speedwagon- This is a truly great song by a band that would become an 80s power ballad staple.  “Take It On The Run” was also recorded in this year, but for me, there was no question which of the two was the best song.  It was played on MTV’s first day, and still can be heard regularly today.  It was released on the album Hi Fidelity, and was one of two great songs on this album.

1.  “In The Air Tonight”, Phil Collins- This is my favorite Phil Collins song ever, and one of my favorite songs of all time.  It is dark and edgy, and led to one of the greatest urban legends of all time.  Supposedly, Phil had written the song about an evil man who had allowed one of his friends to drown when they were on a trip to the beach.  According to the legend, Phil later invited the evil man to a concert, and sang the song to him.  Of course, when Phil was asked about this, he did not know what the hell the reporter was talking about.  He simply expressed the truth that this song like “Against All Odds” was written during a tough divorce from his wife.  I’m sure that he and Ben Folds could get together and write a song that would force the listener to commit suicide.  True greatness.

Top 20 80s Pop/Rock Songs (Category)

Top 20 1980’s Pop/Rock Songs By Year (Criteria)

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1980

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1982

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1983

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1984

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1985

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1986

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1987

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