Do You Find Me Sadistic: Ranking Every Single Quentin Tarantino Character (Part Three)

Here we are: the grand finale of the ridiculous endeavor to rank all 122 significant characters in Quentin Tarantino's filmography. In case you missed them, you can find Part One and Part Two of every Quentin Tarantino character rankedby clicking on those links. And now it's time to end this.

If you've decided to skip parts two and three of this series (and if so, what are you doing here?), here are the rules that I followed to assemble this list:

  • In order to be included, the character must play a role in the plot of the film or interact with a major character.
  • In order to be included, a character must have a name. If the character doesn't have a name, they must have enough screen time or be significant enough to overrule this command.
  • In order to be eligible, characters had to be in a feature film directed by Quentin Tarantino. This means characters from True Romance and From Dusk Till Dawn are ineligible. Since it's not a full feature, I also disqualified Tarantino's segment from Four Rooms.
  • Any of those rules can be broken at any time, for any reason, if it means making this list worth reading.

And now: the grand finale, the final part of this three part series, which brings us to the top 25 Quentin Tarantino characters. Place your bets...

ranking tarantino characters archie hicox

25. Lt. Archie Hicox

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Michael Fassbender

Noteworthy Quote: "Well, if this is it, old boy, I hope you don't mind if I go out speaking the King's."

Inglourious Basterds cast Michael Fassbender as British soldier and spy Archie Hicox before it was cool to cast Michael Fassbender in everything. Although the role was originally intended for Simon Pegg, it's hard to imagine anyone else as Hicox, a steely military man who is impossibly good at blending in... until he's not. Fassbender recognizes that he's playing a variation on a specific type – the upper-crust, confident, unbowed British officer from so many World War II movies – and makes him mortal. His final moments, where he breaks from his German character to enjoy his glass of scotch and speak his native language one more time, are simultaneously badass and shattering.

ranking tarantino characters o-ren ishii

24. O-Ren Ishii

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1

The Actor: Lucy Liu

Noteworthy Quote: "As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you're unconvinced that a particular plan of action I've decided is the wisest, tell me so, but allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is... I collect your f***ing head. Just like this f***er here. Now, if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, now's the f***ing time!"

No film director has ever utilized Lucy Liu as well as Tarantino. O-Ren Ishii is one of the most spectacular villains in his filmography and Liu is obviously having a great time with the part. Rather than chomp on the scenery, she plays this master swordsman and Yakuza boss as fairly level-headed and soft-spoken... which only makes her one big outburst all the funnier and more shocking.

ranking tarantino characters fredrick zoller

23. Fredrick Zoller

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Daniel Brühl

Noteworthy Quote: "Who wants to send a message to Germany?"

If Fredrick Zoller was an American living in the United States in the year 2015, he'd be the kind of guy who grumbles about "SJWs" and puts a GamerGate hashtag on everything. The kind of "nice guy" who turns violent when a woman tells him no, Fredrick Zoller is one of Inglourious Basterd's greatest monsters. He enters with a smile, shrugging under a veil of humility, but he's actually as selfish and monstrous as the political party he represents in "Nation's Pride." Daniel Brühl's performance perfectly captures the most toxic form of masculinity – the guy who thinks he deserves the attention of a woman.

ranking tarantino characters zoe bell

22. Zoë Bell

The Movie: Death Proof

The Actor: Zoë Bell

Noteworthy Quote: "You wanna go get him?"

As an actress, Zoë Bell is perfectly adequate and a likable enough screen presence. As a fearless stuntwoman and walking special effect, she's spectacular. After stepping in for Uma Thurman when things got dangerous in both Kill Bill movies, Bell was given the spotlight in Death Proof, playing a version of herself who gets menaced by a deranged killer in a deadly car... while she's strapped herself to the hood of a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Watching this seasoned pro risk her life for our amusement is terrifying and a total rush instantly makes Zoë Bell one of the most memorable characters in the entire Tarantino canon.

ranking tarantino characters aldo raine

21. Lt. Aldo Raine

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Brad Pitt

Noteworthy Quote: "When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y'all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die trying."

Brad Pitt has always been a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star and Aldo Raine lets both halves of his acting persona fly. Grizzled and nasty and capable of inspiring true loyalty amongst his men, Raine is the kind of guy who probably deserves to go before a military tribunal for crimes against humanity... but you can't argue with his results, especially since his targets are Nazis. Pitt chews into his southern accent with aplomb and makes the most out of his surprisingly limited screen time. Much like how Hans Landa's nature is hidden behind European tact, Raine wears his good ol' boy charms like a mask. This is a perversion of the kind of character Lee Marvin would have played a few decades ago and it is perfect.

ranking tarantino characters marsellus wallace

20. Marsellus Wallace

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Ving Rhames

Noteworthy Quote: "The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride f***ing with you. F*** pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps."

You feel Marsellus Wallace long before you actually see him. Tarantino keeps Ving Rhames' powerful crime boss off camera as long as possible, treating him powerful, mythological even. Someone to be feared. Rhames' deep voice and bulk only feed into that illusion. And then we meet him face-to-face... nd Butch runs him over with a car. Far worse things happen to Marsellus in the aftermath of this attempted hit-and-run, but the point has been made: the god of Pulp Fiction's criminal underworld bleeds. Tarantino invites us to see how low he can fall and Rhames fearlessly takes us along for the ride.

ranking tarantino characters elle driver

19. Elle Driver

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2

The Actor: Daryl Hannah

Noteworthy Quote: "Now in these last agonizing minutes of life you have left, let me answer the question you asked earlier more thoroughly. Right at this moment, the biggest 'R' I feel is Regret. Regret that maybe the greatest warrior I have ever known, met her end at the hands of a bushwhackin', scrub, alky piece of s*** like you. That woman deserved better."

Kill Bill didn't trigger a grand second coming for Daryl Hannah roles, but you know what? It should have. Elle Driver is the second strongest villain in the Kill Bill movies (which is really saying something), a merciless force of nature whose personal code is defined solely by "how does this benefit me?" There's not a lot to Elle on paper, but that's the joy of the character. Unlike the other members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, there is no pathos here and nothing human to latch onto. She's just a merciless killer. And oh, man, is she fun to watch.

ranking tarantino characters mr. orange

18. Mr. Orange

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Tim Roth

Noteworthy Quote: "We'll make the move when they get back, so don't pussy out on me now, Marvin. We're just gonna sit here and bleed until Joe Cabot sticks his f***ing head through that door."

The iconic opening credits of Reservoir Dogs set you up for a movie about effortlessly cool criminals. The smash cut to Mr. Orange bleeding out in the backseat of a car, the bullet in his gut causing him to scream bloody murder, tells you what you're actually getting. Tim Roth spends the bulk of Reservoir Dogs dying and he dies well – his crying, his yelps of pain, his addled attempted to come to grip with what's happening to him, are genuinely horrifying. That he's actually an undercover cop is another awful wrinkle to an already FUBAR'd situation.

ranking tarantino characters ordell robbie

17. Ordell Robbie

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Samuel L. Jackson

Noteworthy Quote: "AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherf***er in the room, accept no substitutes."

Ordell Robbie is an insecure dummy and he knows it. Upon first glance, this low-level arms dealer is Samuel L. Jackson doing his Samuel L. Jackson thing. But look closer. His desperation if evident from his first scene, where he cloaks himself in bravado and speaks in cliches. It's telling that Jackie Brown revolves around Ordell's desire to leave his business behind – how much longer can he keep at the facade? Jackson is fun when he's playing with full-on braggadocio, but Ordell becomes next level when he's backed into a corner and starts making mistakes. As the mask of confidence slips, Ordell the desperate murderer emerges.

ranking tarantino characters calvin candie

16. Calvin Candie

The Movie: Django Unchained

The Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Noteworthy Quote: "Gentleman, you had my curiosity. Now you have my attention."

The greatest trick Django Unchained pulls is convincing you that Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin Candie is the main villain. Everything you need to know about him is said before you even meet him: he's a Francophile who doesn't speak French and will be embarrassed if you attempt to communicate with him in that way. Candie, despite lording over a massive planation and commanding a personal army, is an idiot. To be more specific, he's a grotesque, racist idiot with zero redeeming qualities who relies on his house slave, Stephen (see below) to keep him apprised of whatever mess he's walked into. To see an actor DiCaprio's caliber play such a buffoon is incredible.

ranking tarantino characters mia wallace

15. Mia Wallace

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Uma Thurman

Noteworthy Quote: "I do believe Marsellus Wallace, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted. Now I wanna dance, I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good."

Mia Wallace was the only character on the Pulp Fiction poster for a damn good reason. Marsellus Wallace's bored wife feels like a big middle finger to the concept of the "manic pixie dream girl" a decade before that was even a thing. Here is the disarmingly sexy, infinitely fascinating wife of the biggest crime boss in Los Angeles. She likes tacky theme restaurants. She's a pretty good dancer. She mistakes Vincent Vega's heroin for cocaine and almost dies for her troubles. The "seductive wife of the powerful criminal" was a tired archetype in 1994 and it's tired today, but the offbeat, trouble-seeking Mia is one of Tarantino's most fleshed-out characters. You really do want to sit down and share a five-dollar milkshake with her.

ranking tarantino characters butch coolidge

14. Butch Coolidge

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Bruce Willis

Noteworthy Quote: "I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean s***."

Butch Coolidge is a cool. guy. Any by cool, I mean icy. During our time with him in Pulp Fiction, he lies to the face of crime boss, kills one man in the boxing ring, executes one unarmed man with a machine gun, and runs another one through with a samurai sword. After shooting Vincent Vega full of lead, he cheerfully sings along with his radio. Pulp Fiction is a movie where many of the characters are professional murderers, but Bruce Willis is the generally ordinary guy who learns just how easy it is to take a life. And he's okay with that.

ranking tarantino characters django

13. Django

The Movie: Django Unchained

The Actor: Jamie Foxx

Noteworthy Quote: "Kill white people and get paid for it? What's not to like?"

Of all the characters in Tarantino's filmography, Django is the easiest to sum up in a single sentence: "Former slave turned bounty hunter embarks on a mission of vengeance to rescue his wife." Django is a fairly straightforward character, but that's necessary because he carries so much additional baggage with him. Django is a furious attempt to strike back at the sins of a past century and a furious vessel for the racial tension that still simmers every single day across the United States. He's simple because he needs to be. We can't change the past, but we might as well fill it full of bullets on the movie screen.

ranking tarantino characters stephen

12. Stephen

The Movie: Django Unchained

The Actor: Samuel L. Jackson

Noteworthy Quote: "Your black ass is what all them motherf***ers at the Big House could talk about for the last few hours. Seem like white folk ain't never had a bright idea in they life was coming up with all kinds of ways to kill your ass."

Stephen is true villain of Django Unchained and one of the best characters Samuel L. Jackson has ever played. The "house slave" who actually runs the house, Stephen acts like a bumbling buffoon in public, playing into the common white preconception of what a black man is. Behind closed doors, he's a Machiavellian monster, maintaining his place on the top of the food chain by being smarter and craftier than his white masters... and letting them oh-so-graciously hear his thoughts on matters. To Django, he's the ultimate symbol of evil: a man who has betrayed his entire race for position in the big house. For us, he's one of the best villains in recent movie history.

ranking tarantino characters mr. blonde

11. Mr. Blonde

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Michael Madsen

Noteworthy Quote: "Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?"

The most surprising thing about my recent re-watch of Reservoir Dogs was how little Mr. Blonde is actually in it. He looms so large over the movie that we think he has more screen time that he actually does. Tarantino's first cinematic psychopath makes the most of his screen time – when he's not calmly defending himself against accusations from Mr. White and Mr. Pink, he's putting on the '70s station so he can have a soundtrack while he tortures a cop to death. He's an unrepentant lunatic, the only truly unforgivable character in a movie filled with murderers. It's a shame Michael Madsen has yet to find a role this good again.

ranking tarantino characters max cherry

10. Max Cherry

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Robert Forster

Noteworthy Quote: "I'm 56 years old. I can't blame anybody for anything I do."

Max Cherry is getting old and he's getting weary and he's terrified that he's running out of life to live. When a woman named Jackie Brown ropes him into a scheme to rob her arms dealer employer out of $500,000, a goes along with it. He has a thing for Jackie, but he's also surely attracted to the excitement of the situation. It's a chance for this seasoned bail bondsman to feel young again. You can feel the melancholy of actor Robert Forster pumping through Max. Here an actor who has been working for decades, but what does he have to show for it beyond an appreciation from a few serious film nerds? In Tarantino, Forster found a film nerd willing to let him strut his stuff again. In Max Cherry, Forster found the role of a lifetime.

ranking tarantino characters vincent vega

9. Vincent Vega

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: John Travolta

Noteworthy Quote: "And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?"

Much has been written about how Pulp Fiction pulled John Travolta about the Hollywood gutter and how the film gave him the second wind that is still continuing to this day. But the specific truth is that Pulp Fiction didn't save John Travolta – John Travolta saved Travolta, because his performance as Vincent Vega is wonderful. He's just a bit dim, but charmingly so. He's an addict, but he doesn't let it get in the way of his daily life. He's not nearly as cool as he thinks he is, but that's why we like him. Vincent Vega is just another guy, a regular dude full of trivia about Europe and opinions about foot massages. So what if he kills people for a living?

ranking tarantino characters stuntman mike

8. Stuntman Mike

The Movie: Death Proof

The Actor: Kurt Russell

Noteworthy Quote: "Hey, Pam, remember when I said this car was death proof? Well, that wasn't a lie. This car is 100% death proof. Only to get the benefit of it, honey, you really need to be sitting in my seat."

As far as living portraits of American masculinity go, Kurt Russell probably ranks in top five. That's why his casting as Stuntman Mike is so crafty – here is one of Hollywood's great leading men subverting everything we know about him. This character is more than just Kurt Russell playing against type, though. He's a fantastic psychopath and a unique riff on the horror movie slasher (a character type that's been running on fumes for years). Russell's easygoing menace, his Texas charm, his desire to meet his victims before he stages care accidents with them in his "death proof" car, all feel fresh. Death Proof may be the weakest Tarantino movie, but Stuntman Mike is one of his best characters.

ranking tarantino characters bill

7. Bill

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2

The Actor: David Carradine

Noteworthy Quote: "Do you find me sadistic? You know, I bet I could fry an egg on your head right now if I wanted to. You know, Kiddo, I'd like to believe that you're aware enough even now to know that there's nothing sadistic in my actions. Well, maybe towards those other... jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, at this moment, this is me at my most masochistic."

Only Quentin Tarantino would have entrusted B-movie actor extraordinaire David Carradine to pull off a performance like this. Bill is hard to sum up. A loving father and martial arts aficionado. A trained killer and merciless leader of assassins. A guy who can monologue about Superman and murder a room full of people without thinking twice. After hours of build-up, hours of hiding his face and keeping him offscreen, Tarantino reveals that the titular Bill in Kill Bill is a fairly ordinary guy, a laid-back older gentleman who is basking in the rewards of fatherhood. That is so much more impressive than another cackling villain.

ranking tarantino characters shoshanna

6. Shosanna Dreyfys

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Mélanie Laurent

Noteworthy Quote: "My name is Shosanna Dreyfus and this is the face of Jewish vengeance!"

Shoannah is a Jewish girl who murders a movie palace full of Nazis using the unmatched (and explosive) power of film stock. It is literally impossible to imagine a heroine who better captures what Tarantino is all about.

ranking tarantino characters jackie brown

5. Jackie Brown

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Pam Grier

Noteworthy Quote: "Well, I've flown seven million miles. And I've been waiting on people almost 20 years. The best job I could get after my bust was Cabo Air, which is the worst job you can get in this industry. I make about sixteen thousand, with retirement benefits that ain't worth a damn. And now with this arrest hanging over my head, I'm scared. If I lose my job I gotta start all over again, but I got nothing to start over with. I'll be stuck with whatever I can get. And that s*** is scarier than Ordell."

Pam Grier's legacy as female face of '70s "blaxploitation" was secure long before Tarantino cast her as the title character in Jackie Brown, but this role offered her the chance to look back and reflect. Jackie is not a woman of action, like Coffey or Foxy Brown. She's a middle-aged flight attendant who is barely scraping by. With nothing to look forward to, all she can do look to the past... until she decides to take action, to take control of her destiny and leave her world in the rearview mirror. You can see a lifetime of experience in Grier's eyes – this isn't some starlet pretending to be tough. This is one of the film industry's toughest ladies showing us what she's made of. This is Pam Grier refusing to let us forget about her or think of her as a relic. Grier and Jackie have that in common – they're done taking s*** from anyone.

ranking tarantino characters mr white

4. Mr. White

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Harvey Keitel

Noteworthy Quote: "Now if it's a manager, that's a different story. Managers know better than to f*** around, so if you get one that's giving you static, he probably thinks he's a real cowboy, so you gotta break that son of a bitch in two. If you want to know something and he won't tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb's next. After that he'll tell you if he wears ladies underwear. I'm hungry. Let's get a taco."

Do you know what's pretty good? The great Harvey Keitel playing a tough-as-nails veteran thief. Do you know what's great? Harvey Keitel playing a tough-as-nails veteran thief who forms a fatherly attachment to a dying comrade, who is actually an undercover cop. Mr. White has has fair share of action beats. He yells and swears and threatens with the best of 'em. He is perfectly entertaining. He achieves near-perfect status anytime he interacts with Mr. Orange. In their relationship, you see Mr. White's paternal side come out. You see this professional killer soften and you see him put his life and word on the line for someone else. When the smoke clears in the final moments, after Mr. White has killed to defend Mr. Orange only to learn that he saved the life of a cop, the moans of anguish that follow are unreal. He trusted someone. He murdered friends for someone. The final moments of his life are filled with a pain that is unlike anything we've seen.

ranking tarantino characters jules

3. Jules Winnfield

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Samuel L. Jackson

Noteworthy Quote: "But that s*** ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd."

Jules Winnfield is a performer. He "gets into character" before he goes on a job. He has a big, scary speech memorized to terrorize his victims. He's a terrifying force of nature who likes to put on a show. Jules is already iconic before an act of, well, something saves him and Vincent from a barrage of bullets fired at close range. Faced with a crisis of faith, forced to confront who he is, what he does, and where he's going, Jules must come to terms with the seemingly divine second chance he's been given. We only see the first step of his journey, which concludes with him recognizing what he is and deciding to make a change (see that Noteworthy Quote, possibly the most famous line Tarantino will ever write). Long after the credits roll on Pulp Fiction, you wonder what Jules did and where he went. Did he stay true to his word and lay down his arms for a life of peace? Who knows. But the fact that we care to wonder says everything.

Film Title: Inglourious Basterds

2. Col. Hans Landa

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Christoph Waltz

Noteworthy Quote: "Oooh, that's a bingo! Is that the way you say it? 'That's a bingo?'"

There exists a quick way of explaining who Hans Landa is: what if a Sherlock Holmes-level genius detective was tasked with hunting down Jews who have gone into hiding during World War II? While accurate, this brief description doesn't get into how Landa wields language as a weapon and how his overwhelming intellect can be seen behind his fake smile in every single scene. It doesn't delve into his selfishness and his ego and how he's more than ready to drop his loyalties to Germany if it means getting to live another day. Because Hans Landa takes no pleasure in serving the Nazi regime – he takes pleasure in being able to hunt, in being respected, in inspiring fear in everyone around him. Christoph Waltz plays Landa was a disquieting jolliness. He's happy to be here, thank you very much. It's the kind of performance where you can watch his face and realize when he's catching other characters in lies and filing away the information for future use. It's the kind of performance where you catch more details every single time you watch it. This is Quentin Tarantino's greatest villain.

ranking tarantino characters the bride

1. The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2

The Actor: Uma Thurman

Noteworthy Quote: "It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that I'm sorry. But you can take my word for it, your mother had it coming. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting."

Beatrix Kiddo, a.k.a. the Bride, feels like the past and future culmination of everything that makes a Quentin Tarantino movie special. She is a collection of familiar film tropes given new life... but she also does things we have never seen before. She's a walking cartoon character, an absurd action hero torn straight out of the wildest genre movies... but she's also a scorned mother who weeps with raw joy when she's reunited with her daughter. She's a warrior and a mother, a hero and a villain, a sinner and a saint, a bundle of contradictions wrapped in movie references, all to protect a human core. The Kill Bill movies are nothing if not a love letter to the seemingly unlimited range of Uma Thurman. It is literally impossible to imagine anyone else in this role.