Quentin Tarantino celebrated his birthday over the weekend. As a fan of his highly quotable genre mashups, I feel obligated to celebrate. One of my favorite things to do after seeing a Tarantino film is to ask my friends which character was their favorite. Each film has a wealth of impossibly badass characters. Here’s my list of the ten coolest Quentin Tarantino characters:
Winston Wolfe, Pulp Fiction
He’s Winston Wolfe, and he’s here to solve problems like skull and brain bits all over your car. He can make a thirty minute drive in ten. He keeps all the Lash LaRues of the world from jingling and jangling their spurs. And he does all of it in a tuxedo. I don’t care about that guy from the Dos Equis ads- Winston Wolfe is the true “Most Interesting Man in the World”.
Pai Mei, Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Call him an old fool if you must but you’re liable to lose an eye. He’s the Chinese equivalent of Ralphie’s Red Rider b.b. gun. Worse yet, you might just be the recipient of the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart technique or the Three Inch Punch.
Jackie Brown, Jackie Brown
She’s smart on her feet and can get out of one jam after another. And like her blaxploitation film ancestors, she is very clearly a woman you don’t want to mess with.
Hugo Stiglitz, Inglourious Basterds
He possesses a frightful reputation throughout the Nazi army. He uses impossibly hilarious dialogue like, “Say auf wiedersehen to your Nazi balls”. He’s borderline unstoppable. And his introduction to the film- complete with loud guitar riff- is one of my favorite character introductions ever.
Jules Winfield, Pulp Fiction
Jules Winfield is one of the coolest characters in film history for many reasons, whether it’s his sinister use of Biblical verses; his very descriptive wallet; some strong feelings about pork consumption or the importance of foot massage; or his penchant for going out on top.
O-Ren Ishii, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2
At an early age, O-Ren lost both of her parents in a horrific way. Her reaction to the tragedy was to become an internationally feared assassin and head of the Tokyo Yakuza. May God have mercy on your soul if you dared to question her ethnic heritage or her gender.
Vic Vega, a.k.a. Mr. Blonde, Reservoir Dogs
Nobody embodied the Rat Pack cool of the Reservoir Dogs gang more than Vega. On the brink of torturing a cop, his main concern wasn’t getting caught. It wasn’t getting information from the cop. It was K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the 70’s” weekend.
Sgt. Donny Donowitz, a.k.a. The Bear Jew, Inglourious Basterds
The Bear Jew was a red-blooded patriotic American. How patriotic was he? He liked baseball. A lot. If not for Stiglitz’s character introduction, I’d be talking about the ominous build-up to our first meeting of Donowitz, with the bat languidly clicking closer and closer on the tunnel wall.
Beatrix Kiddo, a.k.a. The Bride, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2
Her badass credentials are rock solid. She survived a coma; survived being buried alive; was trained by Pai Mei; took down four of the world’s most vicious assassins; rocked Hattori Hanzo steel like no other; demolished the Crazy 88’s, including Gogo Yubari; and drove The Pussy Wagon. Her drive for vengeance was unparalleled.
Shosanna Drefus, Inglourious Basterds
Unlike her peers on this list, Shosanna didn’t typically possess samurai swords or guns or even a baseball bat. No, she successfully avenged her family’s death with film reels, a few locks, and a match. And she laughed maniacally at her victims from above, on a gigantic screen. Now that’s how you get revenge.
22 responses to “The Ten Coolest Quentin Tarantino Characters”
Ha! As soon as I saw the title of this post, The Wolf came to mind. How cool was Keitel in this small role? The tuxedo, the Acura NSX, and of course the “Pretty please. With sugar on it”. Awesome character!
Jules Winfield is a close second. Samuel L. Jackson was priceless in this film. If only he would “dig on swine”. 🙂
There were a few on this list that I really, really, really had to think about- should I include them, should I include certain other characters, etc… But Jules and The Wolf were never in play. There was no way I’d take either of them out.
Yes on Soshana and The Bride! IB is just phenomenal. Kudos for Tarantino for making such strong female characters in movies.
He really does, doesn’t he? I came thisclose to including Gogo Yubari, too. It was either Gogo or Pai Mei. There’s also Mrs. Mia Wallace, who would’ve been a fine addition.
+1. One of the best things about Tarantino’s movies is that the women in it are no pushovers.
Can you make it 11 and add Dennis Hopper’s character from True Romance? He’s not in a ton of the movie, but his soliloquy on Sicilians, delivered to mob boss Walken, is a wonderfully Tarantinan film moment.
I never know what to do with True Romance as it pertains to QT. He wrote it. It’s really obviously a QT film (case in point: that scene you’re referencing). But he didn’t direct it.
I agree. Tarantino wrote the original story for Natural Born Killers (one of my favourite movies), but do we think of it as a Tarantino movie? No.
If he wrote it, he created the character. If Alabama could weigh in, she’d say that, next to Clarence, Mr. Worley was the coolest of the cool.
No Hans Landa? I know he’s not a badass in the traditional sense, but he’s still probably the best written character QT has ever created.
The Bridge, Shoshana, Mr. Blonde & Pei Mei are especially awesome choices, but I also love the three girls from the second half of DEATH PROOF (including and especially Zoe Bell as herself – if I had to pick one, it’d be her).
I don’t count TRUE ROMANCE or NATURAL BORN KILLERS as Tarantino films either, but if we were including characters he wrote, what about Seth Gecko and Earl McGraw from FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. Actually McGraw could be included regardless, seeing as he also appears in KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF
Hans Landa was incredibly close to making this list. Really, there were a few films that I felt obligated to list somebody just to rep. as many QT films as I could, and that’s what kept people like Hans Landa and Gogo Yubari out of the list.
I agree on no Hans Landa. The character itself wasn’t cool, but Christoph Waltz was UNBELIEVABLE in the role. Would that character have been as memorable with another actor who breathed less life into it? You might make the same argument for Mr. Blonde, but he was written to be cool and Michael Madsen was just the perfect guy (really, can you picture anyone else playing John Travolta’s brother?) for the part.
It’s time… so totally time… for a Vega Brothers movie. I doubt it’ll ever happen but how great would it be?
No props for Floyd from “True Romance”?
On a more serious note, add another vote for Earl McGraw.
There are too many cool Tarantino characters to pick and choose from. If I made a list, it’d end up being a top 25, at least. Jackie Brown is one of my favorite films, and is based on one of my favorite books.
Ten more that need to be on the list: Hans Landa, Marsellus Wallace, Mia Wallace, Bill, The Gimp, Vincent Vega, Stuntman Mike, Marvin, Elle Driver, and Mr. Pink.
Also, another idea: top 11 inanimate objects from Tarantino films: Jules’s Bad Motherfucker wallet, the briefcase, the watch, Hans Landa’s pipe, the Deathproof car, the Bride’s sword, the $5 milkshake, the Big Kahuna burger, Elle Driver’s eye patch, the Band Aid on Marsellus’s head, and the Pussy Wagon.
Bill? The Gimp? Marvin? Mr. Pink? Were they really cool? Memorable without a doubt but cool? Stuntman Mike was lame.
I’ll give you the Gimp and Marvin but Bill, Mia and Marsellus Wallace, and Vincent Vega definitely were pretty cool. Bill is the ultimate cool old guy. Also, have you given any thought to the best inanimate objects in Tarantino’s films?
Bill was in… what, 5 scenes over two movies? One where he becomes a corpse? Meh. I don’t know. I guess I can see how someone would say he’s cool, but I’d disagree.
Mia, Marsellus, and Vincent were definitely cool, but I felt like they took a big backseat to the others. Just my opinion. Hans Landa was reaaaaally hard to exclude.
The inanimate object thing is a great idea and I’ll probably revisit it down the line.
Stuntman Mike is a big favourite of mine, but I definitely wouldn’t consider him cool. I just think it’s great how articulate and funny he starts out, then is revealed as a murderous sychopath, before finally being revealed as a blubbering coward. A great character, and great performance by Kurt Russell
Stuntman Mike was an asshole.
Silly Rabbit, it’s O-Ren.