Movies are full of sleazy characters that are just as bad, if not worse, than the actual villain. Here are 30 characters that totally deserved to be the bad guy.
Chet in Weird Science
Weird Science is a film about two socially awkward geeks named Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) who create an attractive British genie named Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) using a home computer, an old Barbie doll, and the screenwriter’s adorably childlike understanding of technology, and use her to steal Robert Downey Jr.’s girlfriend. But Wyatt’s older brother Chet (Bill Paxton) constantly tries to thwart their fun by being an obnoxious idiot and at one point making a thinly-veiled threat to murder Wyatt with a shotgun.
The tyranny of Chet is finally broken when Lisa, fed up with Chet’s shenanigans, transforms him into a literal pile of crap, complete with a face and the necessary sentience to comprehend the horror of his predicament. It’s easily the most grotesque display of Lisa’s power that occurs in the film, but she does turn Chet back to normal after he apologizes to Wyatt, and honestly Chet deserved way worse.
The Jesus in Big Lebowski
There are a handful of genuine villains in The Coen Brothers’ cult comedy classic The Big Lebowski, including a gang of nihilist faux kidnappers led by Peter Stormare and Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, so it’s surprising when the child-molesting bowler Jesus (John Turturro) is introduced partway through the film as a bizarre one-off joke character.
A formidable bowling opponent who is decidedly not intimidated by Walter (John Goodman) or Walter’s habit of carrying a gun, Jesus delivers a memorable monologue in which he refers to himself as “the Jesus” before Walter explains to The Dude (Jeff Bridges) and Donnie (Steve Buscemi) that Jesus is a “pederast” and a registered sex offender. It’s a… strange choice for a comedic character.
Freddie Miles in Talented Mr. Ripley
The Talented Mr. Ripley follows a murderous imposter named Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) who befriends Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) and then kills Dickie to take his place. Ripley tries to kill Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett, successfully murders two more people before the credits roll, and yet somehow he’s not the most despicable character in the movie. No, that title goes to Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Dickie’s best friend.
Freddie is an odious slouch of a human being, the personification of sticking your fingers into the queso dip at a Super Bowl party and acting like it isn’t a big deal. He brays his way through the film until Ripley mercifully beats him to death with a stone bust, and while this isn’t exactly a heroic deed, it’s sort of an Alien Vs. Predator situation in that we are obligated to root for the less irritating monster.
Trent in Friday the 13th (2009)
It’s hard to be perceived as approaching villainhood when you’re in a movie featuring cultural icon / habitual murderer of irritating teenagers Jason Vorhees, but Trent (Travis Van Winkle) really gives it the old my-parents-bribed-my-way-through-college try. He spends the majority of the 2009 Friday the 13th remake hiding in well-monied fear in his family’s summer cabin as Jason machetes his way through Trent’s “friends.”
Trent seems more upset that his weekend is being ruined than he is about his companions being murdered, to the point of hurling insults at Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) when Clay briefly inconveniences him by asking about his missing sister. Trent spends his last few moments in the film heroically cheating on his girlfriend and leaving everyone to die in his cabin before getting fatally bodyslammed onto a tow truck by Jason, who by this point in the film has become the protagonist.
Ellis in Die Hard
If the 1980s fell into a vat of chemicals and turned into a human man, that man would be Die Hard’s Ellis (Hart Bochner). A slimy yuppie executive working at the Nakatomi Building alongside John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), Ellis is the equivalent of a police sketch of a man with a massive cocaine debt.
After needlessly endangering John and Holly’s lives by revealing John’s identity to terrorist leader Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), Ellis tries unsuccessfully to parlay his barely-existent relationship with the McClanes into getting preferential treatment from Hans and his men. Ellis’ plan sort of works – Hans gives him a refreshing glass of Coke before shooting him directly in the face.
Tarby in The House With A Clock In Its Walls
The House with a Clock in Its Walls follows newly-minted orphan Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) as he goes to live with his uncle Jonathon (Jack Black), only to discover that Uncle Jonathon is a magic-dispensing warlock, part of a secret society of wizards along with his prickly neighbor Florence (Cate Blanchett). Lewis tries to use his newfound magic to impress a schoolmate named Tarby (Sunny Suljic), because Lewis has never read any books about how popular kids typically respond to expressions of nerdery.
Tarby initially is on board with Lewis’ weird magic tricks, but becomes bored with Lewis once his arm heals and he can return to playing sports. So Lewis invites Tarby over to Jonathon’s house to show him some truly crazy magic, at which point Tarby goads Lewis into performing a forbidden blood magic ritual that brings an evil wizard back to approximate, partially rotting life. It’s a very relatable coming-of-age story about choosing your friends wisely.
Barry in I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer tells the story of four insufferable teens trying to cover up the apparent hit-and-run death of a man they plowed into with a luxury sedan after a night of drunken celebrating. Actually, that sentence needs a quick revision – the only person who is drinking is Barry (Ryan Phillipe), a belligerent trust fund kid who only stops berating his girlfriend Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) when he’s shouting at someone else.
Barry’s overly-enthusiastic drinking binge distracts Ray (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) long enough so that he doesn’t see the unfortunate pedestrian they end up hitting. Barry convinces Ray and the others to push the man’s body into the ocean rather than report the accident, and the man (who wasn’t totally dead) comes back one year later to exact bloody revenge, becomes sometimes the universe has a sense of humor.
Sam Rockwell in Several Films
Sam Rockwell is an actor that manages to be incredibly charming and watchable even when he’s playing repellant scumbags, which he does with some frequency. We should have known to be mistrustful of him ever since he proclaimed his loyalty to the Shreddah in 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Rockwell’s character Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 busts the primary villain Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) out of jail, ultimately endangering the lives of many people, but he’s portrayed as a goofball who gets in over his head because he can’t stand Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) dunking on him all the time. His character Jason Dixon spends the majority of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as a dumb, violent racist before stumbling into a heroic role in the final act of the film (though he remains a dumb, violent racist). However, Rockwell manages to dance in nearly every one of his films, and so we are inclined to overlook his characters’ faults.
Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter Series
The instant Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) gets carried into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on a cloud of whimsy and the back of a hairy mutant’s flying motorcycle, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) instantly singles him out as an undeserving scholarship student who must be destroyed at all costs. He’s the wizarding world equivalent of an angry racist.
Malfoy and his Nazi apologist family dedicate the next seven years of their lives to destroying Harry’s high school career. And even though Malfoy’s dad Lucius (Jason Isaacs) is a part of The Death Eaters, the evil Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) roadie crew that murders half of the cast of beloved characters, after Voldemort is defeated Malfoy himself just kind of gets to go home and quietly raise a bunch of terrible children.
J. Bruce Ismay in Titanic
Everyone knows that the villain of James Cameron’s 1997 boat sex movie Titanic is Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), the cruel, haughty millionaire who wants to marry Rose (Kate Winslet) and keep her forever under his thumb. He’s so evil he chases Rose’s new boyfriend Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) around the sinking ship with a .45, and pretends to be some random kid’s father so he can cheat his way onto a lifeboat.
Even worse than Cal might be the equally pompous yet much more lethally arrogant J. Bruce Ismay (Jonathan Hyde), who essentially causes the Titanic to crash into an iceberg by forcing the captain to travel at reckless speed in order to cross the Atlantic in record time. He insists the Titanic is nothing less than the diamond-sculpted vessel of Odin himself and refuses to entertain the notion that it could possibly sink, which it predictably does, and in spectacular fashion.
Tinker Bell in Peter Pan
Peter Pan’s fairy sidekick Tinker Bell has been a mainstay of bumper stickers and oversized sweatshirts since the early 1990s. Her magic dandruff grants the Darling children the ability to fly to Neverland with Peter, who immediately neglects them as he trolls a pirate captain he previously mutilated and tries to score with a Native princess.
Pretty much as soon as they get to Neverland, the violently jealous Tinker Bell tries to murder Wendy, the eldest Darling child, by tricking the Lost Boys into shooting at her. Fueled by her tiny rage, she later reveals the location of Peter’s secret hideout to Captain Hook, who then bombs the tapdancing bejeebus out of it.
Elton in Clueless
The delightful 1995 comedy Clueless stars Alicia Silverstone as Cher, a high schooler in Beverly Hills trying her best not to fall madly in love with her former stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd). This movie will likely be used as evidence in a future trial to prove Rudd made some sort of Faustian bargain to delay the physical effects of aging felt by normal mortals.
Cher is initially trying to set her friend Tai (Brittany Murphy) up with the handsome, Cranberries-loving Elton (Jeremy Sisto), but is completely oblivious to the fact that Elton is trying as hard as he possibly can to date her instead. When Cher rejects his borderline assault-level advances, Elton leaves her in a liquor store parking lot in the middle of the night, where she is immediately robbed by a mugger who clearly needs the money to pay for his improv classes.
Simon in True Lies
True Lies is a two-and-a-half hour action sitcom written and directed by James Cameron that follows international super spy Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Tasker keeps his awesome life as a covert ops specialist a secret from his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), who believes Harry is just a boring computer salesman.
The movie comes to an abrupt halt halfway through to deal with Simon (Bill Paxton), a used car salesman who engages in elaborate cons to get women to sleep with him. Simon has targeted Helen by pretending to be a spy, and even takes credit for Harry’s exploits to make his story seem believable. It’s unclear whether Simon came up with this con before or after becoming a used car salesman, because those two roads feed directly into each other like an Ouroboros.
Stathis in The Fly
David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly dares to imagine a world in which people are terrified of Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum plays a scientist named Seth Brundle who is working on revolutionary teleportation technology, but accidently fuses himself with a fly during a test and slowly starts turning into a gigantic fly monster. It’s as Cronenbergian as a film can get without becoming the first inanimate object to be thrown in prison for assault.
Brundle’s girlfriend Ronnie (Geena Davis) is a reporter who initially tries to write an article on his work, but her insanely jealous editor and ex-boyfriend Stathis (John Getz) threatens to discredit Brundle’s work just to sabotage Brundle’s relationship with Ronnie. Basically, Stathis spends the whole film being an odious creep and then inexplicably shows up at the very end to heroically rescue Ronnie from the gross fly man Brundle has become. It’s weird.
Mayor Vaughn in Jaws
Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) does his able-bodied best to keep the beaches of Amity Island open while a gigantic shark rampages its way through the surf in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws. Even after being presented with overwhelming evidence, including several dead bodies and a shark tooth the size of which can only be described as “mythological,” Vaughn refuses to even entertain the notion of closing the beaches down for longer than 24 hours.
Mayor Vaughn’s capitalist hubris comes back to bite him (get it?) when the shark attacks on Amity’s 4th of July blowout, an event at which his own children are present. It takes his children almost being eaten by a literal sea monster for him to finally listen to Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and hire Quint (Robert Shaw), the saltiest old fart in the world, to hunt down the shark and kill it.
Freddy Lounds in Red Dragon
Red Dragon follows FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton), hot on the trail of the nefarious serial killer Francis “The Tooth Fairy” Dollarhyde (Ralph Fiennes). To antagonize Dollarhyde out of hiding, Graham has reporter/professional scumbag Freddy Lounds (Philip Seymour Hoffman) write an article about the Tooth Fairy that basically just dunks on him in traditionally sleazy tabloid fashion.
At this point in the film, Freddy has already been sliming around Graham and hounding him for information about the case like a kid trying to sell magazine subscriptions, so we already don’t like him. When Dollarhyde kidnaps Freddy, eats his face, and sets him on fire, we don’t exactly feel that bad about it.
Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite
Uncle Rico (John Gries) shows up partway through Napoleon Dynamite to take care of Napoleon (Jon Heder) and his brother after their grandmother shatters her old person bones falling off of a quad bike. Rico immediately starts harassing Napoleon’s friends and neighbors trying to sell junk door-to-door, because he peaked in high school and his life is in shambles.
In between admittedly hilarious diatribes about throwing a football over the Rocky Mountains, Rico bullies Napoleon and his brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), and subjects us all to an extremely uncomfortable scene wherein he tries to sell Napoleon’s girlfriend Deb (Tina Majorino) a breast pump. In a slightly different film, Rico’s car would be totaled after a series of comeuppance hijinks and/or he’d get wackily arrested before the end credits.
Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street
Director Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street tells the mostly true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a stockbroker who directed his brokerage firm to defraud investors of hundreds of millions of dollars by selling them junk stock. Belfort and his buddies then spend this stolen money on rivers of booze, cocaine, and Quaaludes. This film is a comedy.
Belfort is portrayed as a buffoon, but a likeable buffoon. We’re laughing along with him at the ridiculous situations he finds himself in, including capsizing his yacht in the middle of the ocean and driving drunk and high out of his mind to a country club. And at the end of the film, the real-life Jordan Belfort makes an appearance to advertise his motivational speaking company. It’s gross.
Troy in The Goonies
The Goonies follows a handful of children as they become trapped in an underground adventure tomb trying to find pirate treasure to keep their neighborhood, the Goondocks, from being demolished to make way for a new country club. All the while they’re being chased by the villainous Fratellis, gangsters who want to murder the children and keep the pirate treasure for themselves, as they care naught for the Goondocks.
However, the titular Goonies wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place if it weren’t for Troy (Steve Antin) and his terrible father, who are the ones trying to open the country club. Troy is a potpourri of all things hateable – he’s the product of generational wealth, he has a false sense of superiority because of that wealth, he creeps on the two girl members of the Goonies, and he almost kills Brand (Josh Brolin) for absolutely no reason.
Jack Morris in The Meg
The Meg is a two-hour film about a giant prehistoric shark starring Jason Statham that shamefully only features about 10 minutes of Jason Statham actually fighting a giant prehistoric shark. Statham plays Paul Jonas, who is hired by tech bro CEO Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) to rescue a bunch of dopey scientists from the dino shark’s horrible maw. The shark then proceeds to wreak havoc on a beach full of tourists.
Jack Morris initially comes off as a lame but ultimately harmless billionaire… until we realize that he’s lying to his team of science nerds about calling the military for help with the shark. Morris wants to keep the shark a secret and dispose of it himself to avoid the lawsuits and probable jail time he’d be gifted for his role in unleashing a gigantic murder fish on the world. His nefarious scheme is brought to an abrupt end after he essentially slips on a banana peel and falls right into the shark’s mouth.
The Duke of Weselton in Frozen
Frozen is a film about a snowman suddenly gaining sentience and trying to cope with the horror of his own existence as the product of accidental magic whimsy. Also it follows sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) as Anna struggles to convince Elsa to release their home kingdom Arendelle from the winter spell Elsa has cast on it. Meanwhile the villainous Hans (Santino Fontana) plots to kill Elsa and Anna so he can move into their sweet palace and rule Arendelle.
Hans is backed by the conspicuously named Duke of Weselton (Alan Tudyk), a rickety old coot who spiders mistrustfully around Arendelle like a scarecrow with a dust allergy. He’s the whole reason Elsa runs off into the wilderness in the first place, and stands to profit immensely if Hans is successful in his sister-murdering venture. We spend way more of our time hating Hans for being the face of this operation, but the Duke is spinning some serious cogs behind the scenes.
Flash Thompson in Every Spider-Man Movie
The oldest Spider-Man foe isn’t the Green Goblin or the Sandman or the Octopus Professor – it’s Flash Thompson, a bully so dedicated to his craft that he hounds Peter Parker across time and space, popping up in three different rebooted Spider-Man universes like a pharaoh’s curse.
In Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man, Flash (Joe Manganiello) is a 30-year-old bodybuilder inexplicably enrolled in the 12th grade. In 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Flash (Chris Zylka) returns as a varsity basketball star intent on crushing all nerds attempting to do so much as paint a school spirit banner in his immediate sphere of influence. And in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Flash (Tony Revolori) is on the same math club genius team as Peter (Tom Holland), so he bullies Peter for being… more of a nerd than he is?
The Joker in Suicide Squad
Jared Leto approached his role as the Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad with the bold personal goal of retroactively making everyone who loved Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight feel profoundly embarrassed. The Joker shows up partway through the film to rescue Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) from her titular suicide mission, and then again at the end of the film to bust her out of prison.
Leto’s Joker looks more like a founding member of Crazy Town than Batman’s deadliest adversary. We’re supposed to be rooting for him (or at least entertained by him) when he shows up, but he’s just a lame Livejournal-era edgelord who terrorizes Harley and treats her like property.
The Dursleys in the Harry Potter Series
The Dursleys (Richard Griffiths and Fiona Shaw) are Harry Potter’s muggle aunt and uncle who keep him locked in a closet beneath the staircase like a precocious, bespectacled broom. Clearly inspired by the casual British child abuse appearing in Roald Dahl novels, the Dursleys subject Harry to every kind of neglectful cruelty, including making him sport a hairstyle that could gently be described as “bowl cut-adjacent” in the year 2001.
The Dursleys never really get their comeuppance. Harry never returns to rain down righteous spells of vengeance, or conjure a skeletal demon in their foyer. He doesn’t even turn their car into a pumpkin or anything lame like that. The Dursleys are unrepentantly vicious to Harry for half of his life, and they aren’t even members of the Voldemort fan club. Maybe they’re bitter street magicians.
The Comedian in Watchmen
Watchmen follows the deranged vigilante and founding member of the intellectual dark web Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) as he investigates the murder of a former superhero called The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Rorschach uncovers an intricate plot to stage a series of false flag attacks to unite the U.S. and the Soviet Union and save the world from nuclear war. There is also a spaceship built to look like an owl, on purpose.
Our first introduction to The Comedian shows him violently assaulting a fellow crimefighter, Silk Spectre (Carla Gugino). We also see him assassinate John F. Kennedy, shoot a pregnant woman carrying his child, and launch tear gas grenades at a crowd of peaceful protestors. It’s not entirely clear why we’re supposed to care who murdered him, unless we’re trying to figure out to whom to address the thank-you notes.
Dr. Jonas Miller in Twister
In 1996’s Twister, a group of storm chasers led by Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) are attempting to feed a bunch of prototype equipment to a string of tornados in order to get more accurate readings about what goes on inside them. This will apparently allow them to predict tornados a few minutes earlier, although not a single character in the film ever attempts to explain how. Jo and her team are constantly thwarted by Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes), who is attempting to do the same exact thing, only his equipment is much more shiny and angular.
Dr. Miller used to be on the same team as Jo and the others, but broke off to get his own funding. He’s such an aloof jerk that he makes wildly foolish decisions simply because the other storm chasers told him they were bad ideas, which ultimately results in Miller getting killed in a spectacular tornado explosion. Had he decided to just work with Jo and her team instead of constantly roadblocking them, the movie would’ve been 15 minutes long and nobody would’ve died.
Mr. Hanson the science teacher in Gremlins
In Joe Dante’s Gremlins, developmentally-stunted man child Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) gets a magical creature called a Mogwai as a Christmas gift. When Billy’s Mogwai, named Gizmo, gets some water splashed on him, he spawns a bunch of other furry demons that eventually mutate into reptilian comedy arsonists that proceed to destroy Billy’s hometown with a series of violent pranks.
Billy takes a Mogwai to the high school science teacher, Mr. Hanson (Glynn Turman), at which point the film detours into a brief subplot about the horrors of animal testing. Hanson keeps the Mogwai in a cage, subjects it to cruel poking and prodding, and never attempts to contact the rest of the scientific community about what is clearly a mythological being. When the Mogwai finally mutates, breaks free, and kills Mr. Hanson, it feels more triumphant than anything else, sort of like the ending of The Shawshank Redemption.
Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction
Fatal Attraction tells the story of Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), a wildly successful Manhattan lawyer who is happily married to the gorgeous, supportive Beth (Anne Archer). For reasons that are never adequately explained, Dan has a brief affair with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), who becomes violently obsessed with Dan after he makes it clear their weekend together was a one-time thing.
It cannot be stressed enough that Dan cheats on his wife for absolutely no reason. Everything that happens afterward, including Alex briefly abducting his young daughter and then breaking into the Gallagher home and attempting to murder them all, is kind of Dan’s fault. The film’s climax, in which Dan and Beth team up to kill Alex in the family bathtub, seems particularly egregious when you consider that the film never repudiates Alex’s claim that she is pregnant with Dan’s child. So, yeah – they just killed a pregnant woman together.
The Ghostbusters in Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters tells the story of two weirdos, a hustler, and their employee as they rid New York City of dangerous spirits. Everything goes wrong when EPA official Walter Peck (William Atherton) shows up with a court order to shut down their ghost prison, which has the unfortunate design flaw of exploding when it is turned off. The ghosts are released back into the wild, where they pave the way for the coming of an elder god named Gozer.
When Peck first shows up to question Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) about his suspicions that the Ghostbusters use unlicensed nuclear reactors in the middle of a populous city to do their work, Venkman refuses to give him any information and basically throws him out. And the thing is, Peck is 100% correct – the Ghostbusters literally make a joke about how they’re running around with illegal nuclear accelerators on their backs. If Venkman had just agreed to an inspection, Peck probably wouldn’t have come back to switch off Ghost Jail™, and Gozer would’ve been out of luck.
Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber and Dumb and Dumber To
Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) is one half of the bumbling duo in the Dumb and Dumber movies. Along with his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels), Lloyd goes on a series of slapstick adventures that include robbing a blind kid and nearly getting murdered at least three times.
Lloyd is more than just a bumbling idiot – he’s deliberately cruel and selfish, intentionally causing harm anytime he feels jealousy or scorn. Apart from the aforementioned swindling of a blind kid, Lloyd constantly lies to Harry about why they’re driving to Aspen, steals a bunch of ransom money, poisons Harry with about a gallon of laxative, and provokes a homicidal trucker on Harry’s behalf. In the second film, the only reason Lloyd agrees to help Harry find his long-lost daughter is because he wants to sleep with her. This is after faking a coma and forcing Harry to take care of him for two decades.
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