ranking tarantino characters melanie ralston

47. Melanie Ralston

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Bridget Fonda

Noteworthy Quote: “Jesus, but if you two are not the biggest pair of fuck-ups I’ve ever met in my entire life. How did you ever rob a bank? When you robbed banks, did you forget where your car was then too? No wonder you went to jail.”

Bridget Fonda isn’t the first person that comes to mind when you think about casting a scheming, beach bum stoner, but she provides strong and frequently hilarious support to Jackie Brown. She’s the closest thing the film has to a femme fatale, but like the other characters in the movie, she refuses to remain within a familiar box.

ranking tarantino characters hattori hanzo

46. Hattori Hanzo

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1

The Actor: Sonny Chiba

Noteworthy Quote: “Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest. And like a forest, it’s easy to lose your way. To get lost. To forget where you came in.”

Tarantino the master of casting recognizable actors, breaking them into their component parts, and utilizing them to fit his specific needs. As the Hattori Hanzo, the master smith who has retired from a life of making weapons of death to run a sushi bar, marital arts legend Sonny Chiba brings the weight of an entire career to his limited screen time. When talks about the dangers of revenge and violence, you listen. The man has been there and you can see it in his eyes.

ranking tarantino characters rachtman

45. Sgt. Werner Rachtman

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Richard Sammel

Noteworthy Quote: [“Did you get that cross for killing Jews?”] “Bravery.”

As discussed back in part one, the nastiest trick Inglourious Basterds pulls is that it often treats its “villains” with human decency. While the American “Basterds” are gleefully committing atrocities to strike fear in the hearts of their enemies, Sgt. Werner Rachtman is allowed to stare death in the face, refuse to cooperate with the enemy, and die horribly… but with his honor secure. That the film also makes it clear that he’s an anti-Semitic prick only makes him all the more complicated, and the mixture of emotions we feel as we watch him die all the more troubling.

ranking tarantino characters ringo

44. Pumpkin/Ringo

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Tim Roth

Noteworthy Quote: “Why not? Nobody ever robs restaurants. Bars, liquor stores, gas stations… you get your head blown off sticking up one of them. Restaurants on the other hand, you catch with their pants down. They’re not expecting to get robbed. Not as expectant anyway.”

Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer have one job in Pulp Fiction: establish the film’s seemingly impossible tone. Although the film eventually does bounce back to their low-level crooks in the final scene, it’s their hilarious, casual conversation about the inherent difficulties of modern armed robbery that gets the audience prepared for what’s to come. Roth, a Tarantino veteran by this point, makes all of that dialogue feel effortless.

ranking tarantino characters yolanda

43. Honey Bunny/Yolanda

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Amanda Plummer

Noteworthy Quote: “Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of ya!”

Everything written about Roth applies here, too, but Plummer has the slightly trickier role. When her partner/boyfriend find himself staring down the barrel of a gun, her tough facade cracks. Watching this casually violent woman reveal her humanity is as enthralling as anything else in the movie.

ranking tarantino characters esmarelda

42. Esmerelda Villalobos

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Angela Jones

Noteworthy Quote: “So what does it feel like to kill a man with your bare hands? It’s a topic I’m very interested in.”

Tarantino take a quick trip into David Lynch territory with the introduction of Esmerelda, a taxi driver whose fascination with death makes her a natural verbal sparring partner for Bruce Willis’ newly-minted murder, Butch Coolidge. Angela Jones’ over-the-top performance perfectly complements Willis’ subdued exhaustion – she’s a memorable weirdo, the devil on Butch’s shoulder obsession with death only drives home how little Butch cares about the man he killed in the boxing ring.

ranking tarantino characters dieter hellstrom

41. Major Dieter Hellstrom

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: August Diehl

Noteworthy Quote: “Too bad about Sergeant Wilhelm and his famous friends. If any of you expect to live, you’ll have to shoot them too. Looks like little Max will grow up an orphan. How sad.”

We don’t know who Major Dieter Hellstrom is. We do now know where he came from. All we know is that he’s a Nazi S.S. officer and in the world of Inglourious Basterds, that’s all you need to know. The important thing is that he stumbles across the members of Operation Kino when they’re trying to have a not-so-secret secret meeting in basement tavern. In the excruciating, heart-pounding sequence that follows, he ingratiates himself amongst the disguised group, plays party games and slowly reveals that he knows exactly who they are. August Diehl’s poker face is a thing of evil beauty – you don’t know what this guy is thinking or what he will do next and being in any social situation with him is a cause for serious alarm.

ranking tarantino characters fabienne

40. Fabienne

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Maria de Medeiros

Noteworthy Quote: “I don’t give a damn what men find attractive. It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.”

Fabienne is an odd character because she’s almost too real. Butch Coolidge’s girlfriend is incredibly human, bouncing between annoyed and loving and playful in any given conversation. Her speech about wanting a potbelly is disarming and weird… until you realize that this is the exact kind of oddball discussion committed couples have in the privacy of their bedroom. Fabienne is the heart of Pulp Fiction’s middle half, the flawed but truly lovely better half of her chapter’s leading character.

ranking tarantino characters pai mei

39. Pai Mei

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 2

The Actor: Gordon Liu

Noteworthy Quote: “It’s the wood that should fear your hand, not the other way around. No wonder you can’t do it. You acquiesce to defeat before you even begin.”

Actor and martial artist Gordon Liu pulls double duty in the Kill Bill movies, playing Johnny Mo in Vol. 1 and legendary kung fu master Pai Mei in Vol. 2. The latter is the superior role. Joyfully subverting the tropes of the “wizened old master” archetype, Liu’s ancient mentor is a total dick, a sexist, and a nightmare to be around. Learning to be the best possible fighter means putting up with one of the most infuriating and intentionally obnoxious characters in the Tarantino canon. That’s brilliant.

ranking tarantino characters abernathy

38. Abernathy

The Movie: Death Proof

The Actor: Rosario Dawson

Noteworthy Quote: “Fuck that shit! Let’s kill this bastard.”

Watching Rosario Dawson slowly and steadily transform from an apprehensive (i.e., normal) woman concerned about the dangerous stunts her buddies are attempting on a lonely country road into an ecstatic and bloodthirsty vessel for feminine justice is one of the chief reasons the back half of Death Proof is so damn satisfying.

ranking tarantino characters kim

37. Kim

The Movie: Death Proof

The Actor: Tracie Thoms

Noteworthy Quote: “Look, I don’t know what futuristic utopia you live in, but the world I live in, a bitch need a gun.”

While Zoe Bell provides the final act of Death Proof with the insane stunts, it’s Tracie Thoms who provides it with heart. Like all of the ladies in the movie, she gets a whole bunch of killer dialogue, but it’s her concern for Zoe’s safety and the professionalism she showcases behind the wheel of 1970 Dodge Challenger that make her so much more than a collection of witty lines.

ranking tarantino characters winston wolf

36. Winston Wolf

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Harvey Keitel

Noteworthy Quote: “If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you want to get out of this. So, pretty please. With sugar on top. Clean the fucking car.”

Winston Wolf is an effortlessly cool man who walks into exceptionally uncool situations and fixes them. Played with suave, Rat Pack bravura by Harvey Keitel, he’s inspired far too many pale imitations to count. Pulp Fiction is filled with so many messy characters, so many people who are questioning their existence or circling the drain, so it’s only appropriate that the confident Winston is treated like a superhero in the eyes of everyone around him. And then he leaves as quickly as he arrived.

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