ranking tarantino characters joe cabot

35. Joe Cabot

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Lawrence Tierney

Noteworthy Quote: “All right, ramblers. Let’s get rambling.”

Watching Lawrence Tierney in Reservoir Dogs is like observing a classic car at an auto show. He may be old, he may be surrounded by younger actors doing a completely different thing, but you can’t take your eyes off him. Joe Cabot radiates danger. When Tierney raises his voice, you stop breathing because you can’t escape the thought that he’s not acting. He’s actually angry and he’s actually going to strangle someone on set.

ranking tarantino characters vernita green

34. Vernita Green

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1

The Actor: Vivica A. Fox

Noteworthy Quote: “Black Mamba. I shoulda been motherfuckin’ Black Mamba.”

Vernita Green is the shadow of Beatrix Kiddo. Like the heroine of Kill Bill, she is a warrior and a mother who only wants to leave a life of violence behind and settle down with a family. But unlike the woman who kills her (in front of her daughter, no less), Vernita’s motherly instincts make her into a protector, a defender. She’s no match for a mother scorned.

ranking tarantino characters perrier lapadite

33. Perrier LaPadite

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Denis Ménochet

Upon first watch, the lengthy conversation that opens Inglourious Basterds is all about Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa. Upon second watch, you realize that Denis Ménochet says just as much with his eyes as Waltz does with page after page of dialogue. Watching Perrier LaPadite weigh his options in the face of confident, charismatic evil is chilling. He’s not a bad man. He’s just an ordinary fellow, a simple farmer, who tried to do a good thing and found himself breaking in the face of pressure. To watch him is to wonder how you would hold up in similar circumstances.

ranking tarantino characters louis gara

32. Louis Gara

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Robert De Niro

Noteworthy Quote: “Fuck you and your chill pill!”

A few years before he gave himself over almost entirely to broad comedies, Robert De Niro showcased real comedic chops as Louis Gara. Recently released from prison and deeply uncomfortable in his own skin, Louis is the perfect deadpan partner for Samuel L. Jackson’s Ordell. Watching his slightly bumbling, high-strung goofball turn violent in his final scenes feels like a genuine betrayal. It’s impossible to not understand Ordell’s decision to put a bullet in him.

ranking tarantino characters captain koons

31. Captain Koons

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Christopher Walken

Noteworthy Quote: “Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.”

The speedy descent into hell that is Pulp Fiction’s middle chapter is dependent on one thing: we have to believe that Bruce Willis’ Butch Coolidge would literally risk life, limb and, uh, you know to retrieve his father’s golden watch. In steps Christopher Walken’s Captain Koons, whose lengthy monologue about how that watch only escaped a Vietnamese prison camp because it was smuggled in not one, but two butts is just pitch perfect. Simultaneously gross and sweet and moving, this brief flashback is a near perfect portrait of friendship, legacy, and the unexpected bonds that unite people. Most importantly, it makes Butch’s drastic and dangerous decisions to retrieve the watch make total sense – that watch didn’t travel so far to get abandoned on a ceramic kangaroo.

ranking tarantino characters reservoir dogs

30. Mr. Pink

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Steve Buscemi

Noteworthy Quote: “Yeah, that’s easy for your to say, you’re Mr. White. You have a cool-sounding name. Alright look, if it’s no big deal to be Mr. Pink, you wanna trade?”

Reservoir Dogs is such a fast and filthy movie that you quickly grow thankful for Mr. Pink, the film’s number one source of comic relief. However, the real power of Steve Buscemi’s performance isn’t that he’s funny (Buscemi has made a career out of playing fast-talking wise guys), it’s that he’s thoroughly competent. Mr. Pink gets the funniest lines in the movie, but you never once doubt that this obnoxious weasel of a man is a dangerous criminal who is damn good at this job.

ranking tarantino characters king schultz

29. Dr. King Schultz

The Movie: Django Unchained

The Actor: Christoph Waltz

Noteworthy Quote: “I couldn’t resist.”

The noble, doomed Dr. King Schultz is the audience surrogate character of Django Unchained. As a German outsider who has relocated to the United States to get in on the bounty hunting business, we see the evils of slavery through his eyes. He gets to be appalled while so many other characters, who are used to the horror, just shrug it off. Schultz is more than that, though. This eloquent, verbose former dentist is as hilarious as he is righteous. He’s also stubborn as hell, dying because he’d rather shoot a slaver in the chest than shake his hand. Watching him exit the movie so early is painful (he’s so likable!), but it’s necessary. Django needs to face those final trials alone.

ranking tarantino characters ray nicolette

28. Ray Nicolette

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Michael Keaton

Noteworthy Quote: “You ever see him sell guns? Then how do you know he sells guns?”

You can instantly elevate any movie or any role simply by placing Michael Keaton in it. That is undisputed. That is a fact. In the case of Ray Nicolette, Keaton takes the most straightforward character in Jackie Brown and gives him inner life. He’s a straight-shooting ATF agent, but he’s a chill guy. He’s relaxed and patient. Unlike the other figures of authority in the movie (and that includes cops and criminals), you feel like you can actually trust him. Watching him navigate the machinations of this plot, where he only knows about one-third of the story, is a blast.

ranking tarantino characters bridget von hammersmark

27. Bridget von Hammersmark

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Diane Kruger

Noteworthy Quote: “I know this is a silly question before I ask it, but can you Americans speak any other language besides English?”

Diane Kruger is a beautiful woman and those good looks inform so much about Bridget von Hammersmark. A German movie star working in league with the Americans and the British to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Bridget is more competent and intelligent than most of her military counterparts. But because she’s a movie star and because she’s gorgeous, she’s capable of hiding in plain sight. Watching this confident spy roll with the punches thrown by enemies and allies alike is thrilling. Her death at the hands of Hans Landa is one of the most unsettling and painful demises in any Tarantino movie.

ranking tarantino characters nice guy eddie

26. “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Chris Penn

Noteworthy Quote: “Larry, stop pointing that fucking gun at my dad!”

It’s hard to watch Chris Penn in Reservoir Dogs and not wonder what could have been. Although he continued to steadily act until his untimely death in 2005, Penn has never been better than he is right here, matching wits with the likes of Harvey Keitel and Lawrence Tierney. There’s an alternate universe where he went on to be one of the most respected actors of the past few decades. You can see that in this performance, where he elevates this hot-headed, tracksuit-earing crook into something strangely tragic. His tears of rage over the death of Mr. Blonde are as powerful as anything in the movie.

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