Quentin Tarantino’s Greatest Characters

5 minute read

By Jonny Hughes

In addition to his storylines, pop culture references, stylized films, and brilliant scripts, a huge reason why Quentin Tarantino’s films are adored is because of his characters. He writes intriguing, unhinged, heroic, evil, hilarious, and characters. Moreover, he always finds the best actors to play these roles.

While there are plenty to choose from, here are the eight greatest characters created by Quentin Tarantino.

8. Calvin Candie

Kicking things off at number eight is the antagonist from Django Unchained, plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Candie does not appear until halfway through the film, but the entire focus and tone shifts as soon as we are introduced to his despicable yet charming character. He forces slaves to fight to the death, sets dogs on them and locks them in boxes in the heat. In fact, Tarantino has stated that Calvin Candie is the first antagonist he’s written that he didn’t like.

Although this was DiCaprio’s first villainous role, he excelled as the horrifying Calvin Candie.

Source: Screenshot via Columbia Pictures

7. Mr. Blonde

Perhaps the most iconic scene of Tarantino’s career occurs in his feature-length debut, 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. This scene is where the incredibly unstable Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) tortures and cuts off the ear of a policeman before dousing him in gasoline, all whilst listening to “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel.

What makes Mr. Blonde so brilliant is the character’s duality. At the start of the film, he appears cool and charming. However, upon arriving at the warehouse, it quickly becomes apparent that he is a complete maniac. Michael Madsen brilliantly brings out both sides of the character.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2014/jan/29/clip-joint-soundtrack-dissonance Source: Theguardian.comSource: Screenshot via Miramax Films

6. Daisy Domergue

There are many great characters from The Hateful Eight, However, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a.k.a “The Prisoner”, steals the show.

Daisy has been captured by bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell). Ruth is escorting her to Red Rock to hang. She is a terrible prisoner to escort and irritates the other characters to no end. Consequently, she’s responsible for much of the humor in the film.

http://theconversation.com/elaborately-justified-misogyny-the-hateful-eight-and-daisy-domergue-53046 Source: The ConversationSource: Screenshot via The Weinstein Company

5. Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is often the forgotten Tarantino film. That’s a shame since it is a terrific movie with a stellar cast. A cast that includes stars like Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson. Despite all that star power, it’s the titular character, played by Pam Grier, that outshines them all.

Jackie Brown is a flight attendant struggling to make ends meet. In order to change her fortunes, she decides to smuggle money from Mexico to the United States. When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives get involved, Brown is thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Her solution to this problem is to double-cross everyone.

As an extremely likable and relatable character, Brown is one that you root for from start to finish. Her likability is furthered by Grier’s excellent performance.

Source: Screenshot via Miramax Films

4. Dr. King Schultz

After a stunning performance in Inglourious Basterds, it was not much of a surprise to see Tarantino cast Christoph Waltz for 2012’s Django Unchained. This time, Waltz would play a supporting role as opposed to the primary antagonist.

Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz. Shultz is an English speaking German bounty hunter who poses as a traveling dentist. He buys Django, then trains him and helps him to locate and free his long lost wife.

Shultz’s selflessness, hate for slavery, equal treatment of Django and humor make him one of Tarantino’s most likable and respected characters.

http://genius.com/2125762 Source: Genius.comSource: Screenshot via Columbia Pictures

3. The Bride

There are several fantastic female characters throughout Tarantino’s films. However, none are as awesome as The Bride (Uma Thurman), a.k.a. Beatrix Kiddo.

As the main focus across the two Kill Bill films, we explore the character of The Bride more than any other. She goes to hell and back to get revenge on those who would try to kill her.

Beatrix is one person you do not want to get on the wrong side of. For instance, plucking out Elle’s eye. Despite being incredibly dangerous, Beatrix has a caring and maternal side to her.

Vengeful, able to kick butt, heroic and awesome, The Bride is the character that you just want to cheer on.

Source: Screenshot via Miramax Films

2. Colonel Hans Landa

The character of Colonel Hans Landa, along with the excellent performance by Waltz, is what makes Inglourious Basterds some of Tarantino’s finest work.

Cunning, evil, and sadistic yet equally charming, eloquent, and funny, Landa makes every scene he’s in unbearably tense. Most notable is the very first scene where he interrogates a French dairy farmer who he correctly believes is hiding a Jewish family.

Tarantino believes that Hans Landa is the greatest character he’s written. In fact, casting Waltz kept Tarantino from pulling the plug on Inglourious Basterds as he originally feared the part was unplayable.

Source: Screenshot via Universal Pictures

1. Jules Winnfield

The truth is that this list could have been very Samuel. L Jackson heavy. Instead, we opted for a healthy mix of performers.

Jackson’s standout character — and many would agree Tarantino’s greatest — is Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction. Jules provides many of the greatest quotes, often relating to burgers. At the same time, he is equally terrifying and a killer who likes to deliver Bible passages before killing just to sound cold-blooded. This also results in major character development, as he gives up on a life of crime after an immensely tense scene in the diner at the end.

The script from Pulp Fiction is pure gold. Jules benefits from this the most as he commands every scene he appears in. Additionally, Jackson’s iconic performance ensures that this is Tarantino’s greatest character.

Source: Screenshot via Miramax Films

Jonny Hughes


Jonny Hughes has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2015.