Quentin Tarantino is one of the most celebrated film directors of our generation. After gaining a small cult following with Reservoir Dogs, which he made for just $1.8 million in 1992, he hit the big time when Pulp Fiction was released in 1994. With a impressive cast of stars (and a return to Hollywood relevance for John Travolta), Pulp Fiction was nominated for seven different Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Tarantino parlayed that success into a incredible movie career, including directing a total of eight official films, but also writing or guest directing in a number of other projects, most often working with friend and fellow director Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino’s movies are often violent and vulgar, and feature some of the most interesting characters every written. Many of them are also prone to cold-blooded murder, regardless of whether you consider them “good” or “bad.” Here are the 19 deadliest characters from Tarantino flicks.
Warning: this article contains plenty of spoilers, so consider yourself warned if you haven’t actually bothered to watch any of these movies yet.
19. Butch Coolidge – Pulp Fiction
We’re starting with someone who isn’t really a bad guy at all. Butch Coolidge, an over-the-hill pro boxer played by Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, is mostly just trying to survive through this thing called life. Along the way, he ends up being surprisingly deadly. Early in the film, Coolidge accepts a bribe from organized crime boss Marsellus Wallace to throw a fight. Then things go haywire.
Coolidge double-crosses Wallace and not only wins the fights, but actually accidently kills his opponent in the ring (which he doesn’t realize until a cab driver mentions it as he escapes). Later, after a series of unfortunate events, Butch and Marsellus are being held captive by Maynard and Zed. Butch escapes and slices up Maynard with a Samurai sword, leaving Zed to the mercy of Wallace.
Finally, in a scene that is completely out of chronological order, Butch returns to his house to retrieve his father’s gold watch, a precious and sentimental family heirloom. After the double-cross of Wallace (but before they make peace in the basement of the pawn shop), a hitman is waiting for him. Luckily, he happens to catch Vincent Vega with his pants down (literally) and Butch shoots the assassin dead with his own gun.
18. Shosanna Dreyfus – Inglorious Basterds
Shosanna is the first female on this list, but hardly the last, as Tarantino loves to write strong characters for the fairer sex. She was initially the victim, as a group of Nazi’s murdered her family while they were hiding under the floorboards in the home of a French dairy farmer. Shosanna escapes and goes on to run a theater in Paris, using a different name.
A few years later, Shosanna’s theater is chosen by the Nazis to host the screening of a propaganda film. She uses this opportunity to hatch a plan of revenge, where she locks all of the high-ranking Nazi officials inside and sets the theater on fire. She even goes so far as to splice a message into the climax of the film, telling the audience they are about to be burned alive by a Jew, which includes a deranged laugh. This fictional history film ends with Adolf Hitler dying at the hands of Shoshana (and the Basterds — more of them later).
17. John “The Hangman” Ruth – The Hateful Eight
Played expertly by Kurt Russel in The Hateful Eight, John Ruth is a ruthless bounty hunter operating in the United States some time after the Civil War. He has earned the colorful nickname “The Hangman” because he brings his bounties in alive, just so he can watch them hang after he collects his reward. While he may not do the majority of the killing himself, but his reputation has already made him a legend.
Unfortunately, the events of the movie don’t go very well for The Hangman. After drinking poisoned coffee, he was gunned down by the very bounty he was trying to bring to justice, who appears further down this list.
16. Major Marquis Warren – The Hateful Eight
It makes sense to put Samuel L. Jackson’s Major Marquis Warren next to John Ruth, since they share a profession. Warren is also a bounty hunter in The Hateful Eight, except when we first meet him, he’s already killed three wanted men and is transporting their bodies into town for the reward.
Later, as the motley crew is trapped inside Minnie’s Haberdashery during a blizzard, Warren provokes Smithers into raising a gun towards him by claiming to have done horrible things to his son. When Smithers finally reacts, Warren shoots him in cold blood. Later, he executes Bob simply because he doesn’t believe his story. Finally, Warren is responsible for the killing of Jody and Daisy Domergue, who are a pair of dangerous outlaws.
15. Marsellus Wallace – Pulp Fiction
We don’t actually see crime boss Warsellua Wallace do a lot of killing in Pulp Fiction, but everyone else is obviously scared of him. Played perfectly by Ving Rhames, the bulky gangster sends hitmen after Butch Coolidge after being double-crossed. Later, he prepares to physically torture Zed by promising to bring some of his cronies down to the pawn shop to “get medieval on his ass.”
Wallace also has serious connections. He is able to summon “The Wolfe,” a man who can clean up any situation. Lastly, Vincent Vega is tasked with entertaining Wallace’s wife Mia. All you need to know about how dangerous Marsellus can be is written on the terrified face of Vincent when Mia accidently overdoses on heroin.
14. Jules and Vincent – Pulp Fiction
Along with the aforementioned Vincent Vega, Jules Winfield is another one of of Marsellus Wallace’s hired guns. Together, they form a deadly pair who are routinely tasked with taking out anyone who crosses their boss. The movie doesn’t show it, but it’s clear that they have a ton of experience in this field.
What the movie does show, however, is also enough to show just how deadly they are. Jules shoots Brett just to prove a point (“Oh I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?”). Later, Vincent “accidently” shoots Marvin in the face. Together, they manage to diffuse a diner robbery at the end of the movie, as Jules apparently has an Epiphany and wants to leave the crime world.
13. Dr. King Schultz – Django Unchained
If you’re a fan of Tarantino’s work, it will come as no suprise to you that Dr. King Shultz, played by the amazing Christoph Waltz, is… a bounty hunter. Yes, another one. In Django Unchained, Shultz is a former dentist who realizes there is more money to be made in tracking down and killing fugitives. He buys Django as a slave, because he can identify the Brittle brothers (his next targets) and promises to free him when the job is finished.
Along the way, Shultz kills Ace Speck, the Brittles, and most of Spencer Bennett’s gang (although Django is the one who kills Bennett himself). Later, the former dentist also kills Calvin Candie (Leonrdo DiCaprio) before finally meeting an untimely death at the wrong end of a shotgun. His killing ways lived on though, in the hands of his protege Django.
12. The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad – Kill Bill
The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad definitely belong on this list. After all, the word “deadly” in their name and their jobs are literally to kill people for money. Comprised of Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Budd (Michael Madsen), and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), the fearsome foursome were trained by the legendary Bill and follow his orders explicitly.
We see them work together once in the tale, taking out the Bride during a wedding rehearsal. Later, we see their individual dangers, although the Bride manages to take them all out on her vengeful killing spree. O-Ren is especially deadly, having risen to become the first female leader of the legendary Yakuza. She brutally decapitates one associate who dares to question her legitimacy as the leader, based on her gender and mixed American/Chinese/Japanese heritage. No one ever questioned it again.
11. Richard Gecko – From Dusk Till Dawn
Okay, so From Dusk Til Dawn isn’t technically a Tarantino movie. It was directed by Robert Rodriquez. But the screenplay was still written by Tarantino, who also stars in the movie alongside George Clooney as Richard Gecko, one half of the infamous Gecko Brothers, who are wanted for a series of murders and robberies in the Southern United States.
Although his brother Seth is pretty deadly in his own right, it’s really Richard who takes the cake. He is prone to rash decisions, unlike his cool and calculated older brother. His actions result in the death of a liquor store clerk and a female hostage. Richard is as dangerous as he is deranged, as the movie shows that he is a sexual predator as well as a violent criminal. And then, just when you think you’re watching a movie about a couple of escaping bank robbers, BOOM — vampires!
10. Mr. Blonde – Reservoir Dogs
Taratino burst onto the scene with the ultra-violent independant film Reservoir Dogs, released in 1992. It was a movie about a diamond heist, except the robbery is never really shown. Just the events leading up to the robbery, and the complex aftermath. The crew involved, all given color-related codenames by the mob boss who organizes the whole thing, includes Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), recently released after a four-year prison sentence. The audience soon discovers that Mr. Blonde is a certifiable psychopath.
During the heist itself (which goes horribly wrong), Blonde murders several innocent bystanders. He also kidnaps a policeman and proceeds to torture him, trying to get information about whether the police knew about the robbery beforehand. In the movie’s most memorable scene, Blonde cuts off the policeman’s ear while “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel plays on the radio. Blonde almost sets the poor cop on fire, before he is shot by Mr. Orange (who is actually an undercover officer).
9. Gogo Yubari – Kill Bill
Gogo Yabari is easily the most dangerous member of the Crazy 88, and acts as O-Ren Ishii’s personal bodyguard. Although she is eventually dispatched at the hands of the Bride, a short flashback reveals just how sadistic and crazy Gogo really is. While still just a teenager, Gogo disembowels a drunken man at a bar who tries to hit on her. Later, when the Bride gives her an opportunity to walk away from the fight (she is just a kid, after all), Gogo refuses and attacks with a meteor hammer.
She almost gets the better of the Bride, almost strangling Uma Thurman’s character to death with a chain, before a conveniently placed piece of broken furniture turns the tide.
8. Stuntman Mike – Death Proof
Death Proof may be a quirky outlier in Tarantino’s filmography, but we happen to really like it. As part of the Grindhouse double bill (which also included Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, as well as a bunch of fake trailers in between the two films), Death Proof stars Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike, an actual serial killer.
Stuntman Mike, a twisted and ruthless character, uses his charm to convince young women to take a ride in his stunt car. He explains to them that because the car is built for performing movie stunts, it is “death proof.” Unfortunately, he later reveals that the safety of the car only extends to the person driving, before purposely crashing the car and killing his poor passenger. He committed an untold number of these murders, before encountering stuntwoman Zoe Bell (playing herself) — a woman just as tough and crazy as he is.
7. Django Freeman – Django Unchained
The title character of Tarantino’s revisionist American Western flick, Django (Jamie Foxx) begins the movie by being the exact opposite of deadly. In fact, he’s a slave who has been separated from his wife Broomhilda. It’s only after he is purchased, and then set free, by bounty hunter Dr. Schultz that he truly starts morph into a dangerous character.
Under the tutelage of Dr. Schultz, Django goes on a bloody rampage to get his wife back, who is owned by the cruel Calvin Candie. By the end of the movie, Shultz is dead but Django has shot or blown up a small army of racist bad guys, as he rides off into the sunset with his now-free wife.
6. The Basterds – Inglorious Basterds
Like the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, the Basterds are actually a group of deadly characters. Headed up by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), the Basterds are a group of Jewish-American soldiers who hunt down and kill Nazis during WWII. They become incredibly feared and almost obtain mythical status in Germany, as Nazi soldiers live in constant fear that the Basterds may come for them.
The Basterds include Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), Staff Sergeant Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz (Eli Roth), Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), Corporal Wilhelm Wicki (Gedeon Burkhard), plus a handful of other killers. Many of them died in the cinema fire, set by Shosanna. Before that, however, they killed many, many Nazis, putting them high on this list of deadliest Tarantino characters.
5. Daisy and the Domergue Gang – The Hateful Eight
For most of The Hateful Eight, Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is nothing more than a handcuffed prisoner, on her way to meet the business end of a noose. It’s not until the film’s climax that the audience realizes just how deadly and dangerous Daisy and the rest of the Domergue Gang is. Her brother Jody (Channing Tatum) and the rest of the gang (Bob, Mobray, and Gage) arrived at the inn earlier in the day and murdered everyone except Smithers. They hide the bodies and plan an ambush to free Daisy.
While they all end up dead by the time the credits role, the Domergue Gang is revealed to have a lucrative bounty on their heads, proving just how deadly the authorities consider them to be. We wonder if anyone showed up to collect the bodies and cash in on those bounties.
4. Hans Landa – Inglorious Basterds
Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a high-ranking member of the Nazi party, is one of the most terrifying villains in movie history. In the epic opening scene of Inglorious Basterds, he subtly intimidates and threatens a French dairy farmer into giving up the Jewish family hiding under his floorboards. He’s so good at tracking down Jewish people hiding from Hitler’s reign of terror, that he is given the nickname “The Jew Hunter.”
Landa is a deadly combination of charm, brilliance, cruelty, and relentlessness. He speaks at least four different languages. But the most dangerous part of him is his arrogant self-interest. He’s willing to make whatever decision will result in the best outcome for himself, including switching sides near the end of the film to avoid being killed by the Basterds. It almost works too, until Lt. Raine carves a swastika into his forehead, marking him for life.
3. Pai Mei – Kill Bill
Pai Mei is a mysterious kung fu master from Kill Bill, the man who trained Bill himself, along with Elle Driver and Beatrix Kiddo. He was a no-nonsense man, who hated Americans and females, which led to some very obvious tension while training the future Deadly Viper Assassin Squad members. Despite his crankiness and seemingly old age, Pai Mei was an incredibly skilled fighter. He had mastered the Three-Inch Punch and the Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart Technique, which he would teach to the Bride during her training.
According to legend (as told by Bill), Pai Mei once slaughtered an entire temple of Shaolin monks because one of them did not give a “slight nod” of acknowledgement while passing the kung fu master on the street. He also snatched out Elle Driver’s right eye when she called him a “miserable, old fool.”
Pai Mei would meet his end when Elle poisoned the Kung Fu master, although the Bride would avenge his death by plucking out Driver’s other eye in a battle in Budd’s trailer.
2. Bill – Kill Bill
With the codename of Snake Charmer, Bill (David Carradine) was the leader of the Deadly Vipers (who all had their own snake-related nicknames). Not only was Bill a proficient killer, having been trained by Pai Mei, he was also a gifted leader and master manipulator. When he couldn’t use violence, charm, or wit to get his own way, he had other tricks up his sleeve — he developed an incredibly effective truth serum, which he used on the Bride at one point.
Although we don’t see the fight, Bill engages Pai Mei in one-on-one combat when he asks the legendary kung fu master to train his new pupil, and lives to tell the tale. Between his own deadly ruthlessness, and the fact that he commanded a team of assassins who would do his every bidding, Bill is easily the most dangerous man is any of the Tarantino universes. Yes, most dangerous man… but not the most dangerous overall. That title belongs too…
1. The Bride aka Beatrix Kiddo – Kill Bill
Who else could it be? The Bride (real name Beatrix Kiddo) discovered she was pregnant, and attempted to flee the world of being a hired killer. That angered Bill, her lover, who then “overreacted” by gunning down Kiddo and her entire wedding party. Unfortunately for Bill, Beatrix survived the attack and would seek her revenge.
In over four hours of screen time between the two volumes, the Bride embarked on a bloody and brutal journey of retribution. She tracked down all the former members of the Deadly Viper Assassins Squad, killing them all by slicing her way through enemies with a custom-made Hattori Hanzo sword.
After dispatching his underlies, the Bride comes for Bill himself. After a brief fight, Beatrix strikes Bill with the Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart Technique. Bill is amazed that Pai Mei actually taught the legendary technique to anyone (Bill never learned it, after all). Bill takes his last five steps before his heart explodes, and that leaves the Bride (Uma Thurman) left as the deadliest character that Tarantino has ever created.