Greatest Film Characters
Greatest Film Characters
of All-Time


Greatest Film Characters of All-Time
(alphabetical, by character name)
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Greatest Movie Characters: Criteria for Selection

What are the greatest or most memorable film roles or characters in the history of cinema? What criteria have been used to choose from the thousands of candidates? These selections are:
  • unique, fully-realized character roles that made a strong cultural impact in feature films (either live-action or animated)
  • award-winning, enduring, multi-dimensional and memorable characterizations
  • iconic individuals highlighted with notable characteristics (often instantly recognizable), or with identifiable phrases or lines of dialogue and behaviors
  • classic roles from both Hollywood's Golden Era and more recent roles, and some roles from non-English language films
  • sometimes a pair or group of characters who often appeared in a long-running film series or franchise
  • equally representative of heroes, anti-heroes, villains, heroines, super-heroes, killers, saints, as well as historical figures (non-fiction) and fictional individuals, and even a few monsters or creatures
  • inclusive of a wide range of genres (biopics, horror, westerns, action, war, comedy, etc.) and some animated characters too

Some of these great character roles were:

  • Career-making
  • Inspired casting choices that brought Oscar-winning performances
  • Responsible for typecasting an actor forever
  • Derived from the lives of real-life characters
  • Roles that summed up entire acting careers
  • Responsible for jump-starting a sagging or failing career
  • Pairings or teamings of two performers who went on to repeat their roles
    • Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in The Thin Man films
    • or Astaire/Rogers in their many films together
  • Often not the performers' best role or even very well-acted
    • The Sheik (Rudolph Valentino) in The Sheik (1925)
    • Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) in the Tarzan films
    • the Bandit (Burt Reynolds) in Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
    • Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman (1990)

Filmsite doesn't believe in ranking one character against another, so they are organized here alphabetically by character name. Also, the list has more than a select number, such as 100, since this list should be inclusive, not exclusionary.

Additionally Recommended:

Greatest Film Characters of All-Time
(alphabetical, by character's last name - usually)
Intro | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q-R | S | T | U-V | W | X-Z

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