The Top 20 Quentin Tarantino Characters of All-Time

Counting down the best heroes and villains from the nine films by QT.


Across his thirty-plus-year career in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino has become a master of creating complex, iconic, and quotable characters. The Tarantinoverse is rife with authentic personalities and Oscar-worthy performances. What better way to celebrate the lore than with a ranking? One caveat with this ranking is we’ll only include figures from films written and directed by Tarantino. Meaning characters from Natural Born Killers, From Dusk til Dawn, and True Romance will not be considered. With that being said, let’s dive into the list!

20. Rick Dalton

Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Film: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Tarantino’s take on a famed cowboy actor well past his prime tackles several side-effects of showbusiness. Dalton struggles with fading relevancy and the toll it takes on his psyche, identity, and self-worth. He craves validation, whether it be from his longtime stuntman slash driver or a child actress on set. Dalton represents a lot of actors who found themselves going out of style as the 1960s ushered in a new era of Hollywood stars. 

19. Lieutenant Aldo Raine

Actor: Brad Pitt

Film: Inglourious Basterds

Much like his German counterpart Hans Landa, Aldo Raine is ruthless and unforgiving. He’s an intelligent, charismatic leader with a very simple passion: killing Nazis. Pitt brings his natural charm to the patriotic Raine as he proudly scalps dead Nazis and carves swastikas in the foreheads of the living ones. The Tennessee hillbilly also bears a massive scar around his neck from an untempted lynching while fighting the Klan.

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18. Mr. Blonde / Vic Vega

Actor: Michael Madsen

Film: Reservoir Dogs

As the most confident guy in Joe Cabot’s heist crew, Mr. Blonde is also the most ruthless. He doesn’t hesitate to get back in the heist game fresh off a four-year stint in prison. Off-camera, Mr. Blonde slaughters bystanders during the diamond robbery. On camera, he casually tortures a captured cop, severing his ear with a straight razor to the tune of “Stuck in the Middle With You.” Yeah, this is an evil dude. Madsen’s chilling laid back delivery is one of the standout performances in Reservoir Dogs, leaving a stern mark on cinema. Interestingly enough, Mr. Blonde’s brother in the Tarantinoverse is Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction. This is the most famous example of Tarantino characters related.

17. Mr. White / Larry Dimmick

Actor: Harvey Keitel

Film: Reservoir Dogs

Mr. White is the truest professional there is in the heist business, a seasoned veteran of his craft. He’s a distinguished man of common sense and above-average intelligence. However, he’s also trusting and compassionate to a fault. In the dog-eat-dog world of Reservoir Dogs, Mr. White is a bit of an enigma. Is he good? Is he bad? It’s quite tough to tell, but in a way, that’s what makes the character so genuine. He’s also one of the few characters in the Tarantino universe who believes you can reach your goal without drawing any blood. However, he’s not afraid to gain further experience in taking lives.

16. Cliff Booth

Actor: Brad Pitt

Film: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Had this been a ranking of the best Tarantino characters costumes, Booth’s eclectic style would have earned him a spot in the top five. Regardless, Booth’s laid-back persona as Rick Dalton’s stuntman is a joy to watch. Despite this chill demeanor, Booth is still more than willing to throw hands and, if he has to, kill. Once Upon a Time is a much looser, comedic flick than what Tarantino usually puts forth, with Booth often being the driving force over Rick Dalton. Booth’s role in the extremely wicked, acid-fueled climax while under attack by members of the Manson family makes for one of the best sequences in Tarantino’s illustrious career.

15. Dr. King Schultz

Actor: Christoph Waltz

Film: Django Unchained

Waltz’s second feature in the Tarantinoverse came as this quirky German dentist-turned-bounty hunter. Schultz treats Django with the utmost respect as his partner – a rare relationship in the Antebellum South. He’s well-mannered, extremely intelligent, and strikingly charismatic. Whether he’s murdering a town sheriff or tricking a foolish plantation owner, Schultz is able to impressively talk his way out of any situation. Well, almost. 

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14. Major Marquis Warren

Actor: Samuel L. Jackson

Film: The Hateful Eight

As the protagonist of Tarantino’s snowy, isolated murder mystery, Jackson brings a hellish charm to the Civil War veteran turned bounty hunter. The Major’s enigmatic persona balances comedic relief with merciless violence, complete with a chilling cackle as he unravels the film’s elaborate conspiracy. Jackson’s signature assertive delivery as the quick-witted executioner blurs the line between hero and villain as the compelling lead in a wildly intense western.

13. Shosanna Dreyfus / Emmanuelle Mimieux 

Actress: Mélanie Laurent

Film: Inglourious Basterds

Despite all the gripes with Tarantino, he does sort of have a knack for writing badass female leads. Shosanna Dreyfus is the first of several to be featured on this ranking. She’s a rather serious personality with awe-inspiring bravery, hating Nazis with a passion after they murdered her family. Shosanna is willing to do whatever it takes to bring their regime to its knees, including burning down her theater during a Nazi-filled premiere. The image of her cackling face as flames engulf the theater is a cinematic masterpiece, leaving her as one of the favorite protagonists in Tarantino lore.

12. Butch Coolidge

Actor: Bruce Willis

Film: Pulp Fiction

Though he isn’t a far cry from Bruce Willis’ typical roles, Butch is a much more layered character. He’ll do anything for his family, including risking death to retrieve his father’s precious watch. Like his profession indicates, he’s a fighter by nature. In less than 24 hours, he kills a man in a boxing ring, then two more with an automatic weapon and a sword. All while settling his debt to Marsellus Wallace and getting his life back. When his name is called, Butch isn’t afraid to answer. He may be the closest thing to a hero amidst the plethora of characters in Pulp Fiction.

11. Calvin Candie

Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Film: Django Unchained

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most likable, empathetic actors in Hollywood. Naturally, it came as a surprise to see him cast as a greasy, racist plantation owner. Candie is a vile, unforgiving character devoid of a single redeeming quality. Someone of DiCaprio’s caliber playing such a repulsive character speaks volumes of his dedication to the craft. Unsurprisingly, he lives up to the challenge exceptionally, playing the part with a wicked poise, sleazy charisma, and captivating screen presence. DiCaprio’s handsome features and natural charm do an excellent job of showing how good manners and gentility can mask hatred and evil. 

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10. O-Ren Ishii

Actress: Lucy Liu

Film: Kill Bill Volume 1; Kill Bill Volume 2

Each member of the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad is unique in their own way, but the Queen of the Tokyo underworld is the most fleshed-out of the bunch. She’s the first name on The Bride’s death list, with her rise to world-class assassin is chronicled with a ten-minute anime sequence in the first film. In many ways, her story is as intriguing as The Bride’s and more than deserving of its own feature. She’s completely composed and unnervingly calm opposite Uma Thurman’s intensity as The Bride.

9. Stuntman Mike

Actor: Kurt Russell

Film: Death Proof

As the homicidal stuntman in Tarantino’s cult-classic vehicular horror flick, Kurt Russell delivers a striking performance instilling unpredictable danger every step of the way. Though the picture he occupies might be the weakest entry in Tarantino’s filmography, Russell’s berserk charisma as the psychotic driver is more than enough reason to watch. At first, Mike appears to be a suave ladies’ man. That is until he reveals his kink for murdering unsuspecting beautiful women with his death-proof car. This extreme road rage makes Stuntman Mike one of Tarantino’s most shockingly disturbed villains.

8. Vincent Vega

Actor: John Travolta

Film: Pulp Fiction

Honestly, Vincent is an enigmatic figure whose tough to put a finger on. When he’s not mellowed out on heroin, Vincent stresses over everything from an accidental murder in his car to sexual advances from his boss’s wife. Travolta’s Vincent is the perfect counter to Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules. Vincent isn’t one of Tarantino’s typically cool personas in the leading role, but that’s exactly what makes his nuance so fascinating.

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7. Bill

Actor: David Carradine

Film: Kill Bill Volume 1; Kill Bill Volume 2

There’s a certain mystique surrounding Bill as he goes largely unseen in Volume 1. We know he’s a cold-blooded villain as the top name on The Bride’s hit list. However, when he does finally greet The Bride face to face, we see an unexpected side to Bill. Despite his gruff tone, Carradine brings a softness to Bill, like a peaceful hippie dad meets an aged cowboy as he makes their daughter a sandwich. It’s a sequence that makes you understand how The Bride fell for him in the first place. But don’t get it twisted, this is a bad dude. He’s extremely worthy of the heartbreaking death The Bride eventually delivers.

6. Jackie Brown

Actress: Pam Grier

Film: Jackie Brown

In Jackie Brown, Tarantino combines his knack for writing badass female leads with his keen ability to highlight underappreciated actors. As the titular small-time crime stewardess, blaxploitation icon Pam Grier delivers a strong, grounded performance. On the surface, she’s calm and collected – a sort of resilient hero and vulnerable mess. Grier’s performance is bafflingly underrated in Tarantino lore, though Jackie Brown is easily one of crime’s boldest heroines.

5. Django Freeman

Actor: Jamie Foxx

Film: Django Unchained

Django combines the idea of rewriting history a la Inglourious Basterds with the bloodthirsty revenge of Kill Bill. Jamie Foxx delivers an incredible performance as the former slave turned quippy bounty hunter on a mission to rescue his wife. Foxx expertly balances the mild-mannered slave and unforgiving action hero sides of the character, offering a nuanced depth and swagger. Django is the epitome of a perfect hero if there ever was one.

4. Mia Wallace

Actress: Uma Thurman

Film: Pulp Fiction

The eccentric wife of notorious mob boss Marcellus Wallace is a fun-loving, untethered spirit with a serious cocaine addiction. Thurman delivers a delicate balance of elegance and chaos to elevate Mia into a fully fleshed-out mess. It’s this unique duality of Mia Wallace that makes the role so interesting. Thurman makes Mia multi-dimensional, living in the crime-ridden world of Pulp Fiction as a self-destructive wreck yet enchanting divinity. With reckless abandon and an iconic bob haircut, Mia radiates through the gritty atmosphere of the gangster classic.

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3. SS Colonel Hans Landa

Actor: Christoph Waltz

Film: Inglourious Basterds

Much like Calvin Candie, Hans Landa is one of the most despicable bad guys in the Tarantino universe. However, Christoph Waltz brings a strange naturalistic charm to the ruthless Nazi, almost to the point where you forget his true intentions. As much as you hate him, his sharp wit and deceptive smile mask the darkness in his soul. He commands every scene with an imposing mental prowess, hiding cruelty with ersatz friendliness. That is, only until his politeness has outlived its usefulness. A master manipulator, Landa is fully brought to life by a career-defining, Oscar-winning performance from Waltz. 

2. The Bride / Beatrix Kiddo

Actress: Uma Thurman

Film: Kill Bill Volume 1; Kill Bill Volume 2

Armed with her signature yellow jumpsuit and Hattori Hanzo sword, The Bride is arguably the most badass one-woman-army to grace the screen. She lets you know what she’s about early on, saying “It’s mercy, compassion, and forgiveness I lack, not rationality.” The Bride is a cold-blooded killer, leaving a trail of bodies behind as she exacts revenge on the people who’ve wronged her. However, it’s the compassionate soul that makes her such an endearing hero as she struggles to escape her gruesome past. Thurman adds a touching, sympathetic layer to an already complex character. It’s no wonder why The Bride is now engraved in the illustrious history of pop culture. She’s not only one of the many iconic Tarantino characters but one of the best and baddest action heroes of all time.

1. Jules Winnfield

Actor: Samuel L. Jackson

Film: Pulp Fiction

In a film chock full of colorful characters, none shines brighter than Jules Winnfield. After realizing the error in his murderous ways, the tyrannical hitman chooses a different path as a more benevolent shepherd. He looks to grow from his past mistakes and reshape his future by getting out of the murder-for-hire business. Jackson’s powerful line delivery is once again on full display, including the famous recitation of Ezekiel 25:17. Tarantino’s decision to tell Pulp Fiction out of chronological order allows Jules’ revelatory monologue to take center stage in the final moments. At his core, Jules is a contradiction. Sure, he’s the guy with Bad Motherfucker written on his wallet – but he doesn’t want to be. His decision to let robbers Honey Bunny and Pumpkin live in the final scene serves as his first step to righteousness. This caliber of performance can only be mastered by Samuel L. Jackson.

We hope you enjoyed our ranking of the twenty best characters from the mind of Quentin Tarantino. As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below! Lastly, The Top 10 Best Anime Villains of All-Time.

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