NB: This article contains swearing and spoilers for numerous films. Bear in mind that it may be not safe for work, and if you haven’t seen a film mentioned in a particular entry, do consider skipping to the next one.
Conflict drives drama. Unpleasant people create conflict. Thus, cinema is crammed with huge, provocative arseholes/assholes (we went with the latter on the headline, but now we’re in the article, we’re going more arse than ass). There are obviously too many to list, but we’ve provided you with a thought-provoking array of multi-faceted bell-endery. That said, feel free to copy and paste the phrase, “Nice list, but you forgot x” to save time when placing comments below! The ‘nice’ bit is not compulsory.
Incidentally, if you’re reading this and were expecting a different sort of article entirely, I can only apologise and suggest you go for a long walk or a cold shower or something.
50. Pete – Shaun Of The Dead
Shaun’s flatmate, Peter, is a testament to Peter Serafinowicz’s self-proclaimed ability to be “really good at playing dicks” (see also: Duane. Duane Benzie). Pete is one of the more sympathetic scummers on our list. You can see that he has a point sometimes, even if he is being a massive dick about it.
49. Hitler – Downfall
*Glib statement about Hitler as the staggering death toll of World War Two looms over us all*
Note also that this film version of Hitler seems to have ranted about pretty much everything on YouTube ever since Downfall was released.
48. Buzz McCallister – Home Alone
Buzz calls his brother Kevin ‘Cheese face’ which is rude. He also described him as a ‘little trout sniffer’, which is mean. And somewhat confusing.
On the Home Alone Wiki page for Buzz, under trivia it says ‘Buzz should be a lot nicer to Kevin and not be rude and mean to him.’
47. The Elephant Matriarch – Dumbo
All you have to do to stop this uppity, schlong-septumed snob from constantly disparaging you is develop a totally unique ability – such as flying – and all of a sudden she’s your best friend and always has been. It’s like Radio 2 listeners arguing over who heard Laura Marling first.
46. Harry – In Bruges
Harry has a code of honour, and – in a deleted, Matt Smith featuring scene – will go to great lengths to avenge his friends. But he is also liable to feed you into a combine harvester, one millimetre at a time, while calling your mother something unspeakably pithy. It’s just another of the many reasons for buying an In Bruges DVD.
45. Mal Reynolds – Serenity
Mal – played by the mighty Nathan Fillion, who still hasn’t been cast in the Uncharted movie for some bizarre reason – is probably Joss Whedon’s finest arsehole. Yes, we know he sold out and had feelings, and so widdles on about love before the credits roll, but he still acts as if the ends justify the means, and woe betide your remains if he’s in a pragmatic mood.
Basically, if Mal were nicer, he’d be dead by now.
44. Briony Tallis – Atonement
Young Briony, in a fit of jealousy, casually destroys at least three lives but then tries to make up for two of them by writing a story where they live happily ever after. That’s still like stabbing someone in the lungs but leaving behind a painting of them winning a marathon.
43. Aragorn – The Lord Of The Rings
“Oh hey Boromir, you’re totally dying.”
“Yeah bro, some Orc cut me.”
“Yeah…hey Aragorn, does it ever bother you that I did all the actual work defending Gondor while you mimsied about up North looking pensive?”
“Not really dude.”
“Oh Aragorn, you totally suck.”
“I’ll can’t hear you brah, I’m too busy picturing me getting crowned and having a rad ceremony with trumpets and shit. Toodles.”
42. Kim Jong-Il – Team America: World Police
He will liberally douse your genitals with faeces, and not in a good way. Bit lonely, though.
41. Duncan Malloy – Con Air
There are more despicable people in Con Air, it’s true, but there’s only so glib you can be with these things. Malloy gives Colm Meaney a chance to unleash all his pent up rage from his (lonely) days as Chief O’Brien, stymying John Cusack’s options with a great gushing torrent of dickmoves.
40. Mr Sugden – Kes
At my school, it was usually one of the popular kids who made the refereeing decisions, took all the penalties, and generally played vainglorious god to a playground of sentient obstacles. Here, it’s Brian Glover’s PE Teacher who acts out his footballing fantasies via the medium of kicking small children. Not for nothing did Kes give potential secondary school kids more nightmares than Mr Bronson from Grange Hill.
39. Dennis Nedry – Jurassic Park
So far, no one in America seems to have come down on Jurassic Park for its subtle advocation of trade unionism. If Nedry joins a union, and has support when it comes to his poor pay and increased workload, then he doesn’t accept Biosyn’s offer to steal embryos, and doesn’t unleash all the dinosaurs the end up killing loads of people (including him). Assuming the union does its job, of course. Either way, Nedry would still be an untrustable cleft.
38. King Koopa – Super Mario Bros.
Without a doubt, the most evil person Dennis Hopper has ever played. Find us evidence to prove otherwise.
37. Gaston – Beauty And The Beast
No one persecutes harmless crackpots like Gaston. He might just be the hairiest of all the, erm, arseholes on this list as well. He can’t half belt out a tune, though.
36. The Bling Ring – The Bling Ring
A glaring bastion of rich, tanned, unscrupulous arseholes swagger their swag in Sofia Coppola’s heady, fascinating hatred-generator The Bling Ring. Emma Watson’s Nicki is the most fame hungry and obviously egregious, but Katie Chang’s Rebecca emerges as the most quietly nasty individual within the group. Just to cheer everyone up, The Bling Ring is based on a true story.
See also: Regina George in Mean Girls (‘Fetch’ might have happened).
35. The White Witch – The Chronicles Of Narnia
Arriving in Narnia courtesy of some half-baked arse-fez called Digory, the White Witch is a she-bastard of epic arseholia. Preventing Christmas from ever coming (but not like Sting would), she casts Narnia into an eternal winter, one that can only be reversed by the plucky plum-mouthed Pevensies and a magic lion.
34. President Snow – The Hunger Games
President Snow has a voice like piping hot grape juice combined with the manner and bearing you’d expect from someone called Coriolanus. As a result of his intimidation tactics and violent suppression of the districts of Panem, President Snow indirectly damaged one of the Hemsworths.
An unpopular fan theory states that President Snow is a future version of Jack Bauer.
33. HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
I read something on Twitter about HAL getting put into witness relocation at the end of the film and that’s the start of Malcolm In The Middle. Of course, that clearly doesn’t make sense. Hal in Malcolm In The Middle is very endearing. HAL in 2001 is quite flaky, a cross between Siri and a god and Buster Bluth.
32. Fleshlumpeater – The BFG
In Roald Dahl’s original draft for The BFG book you can see he’s made some handwritten notes. When it comes to the introduction of Fleshlumpeater, the largest and most dangerous of the giants, Dahl has clearly written ‘total arsehole’ and underlined it three times*.
*NB: This is lies.
31. Walter Peck – Ghostbusters
Interesting Anthropological Fact: Until William Atherton was in Ghostbusters and Die Hard, nobody had ever been rude about ginger people.
Debate still rages as to whether it was worth it for the “This man has no dick” line.
30. Bruce Wayne – The Dark Knight trilogy
“Mr Wayne, what is it that you spend your vast wealth on?”
“I put on a gimp suit and beat up the poor.”
“Hey look, Michael Caine is crying.”
29. Mark – The Room
How could you do that to Johnny, Mark? He’s your best friend.
28. Dr Lawrence Gordon – Saw
Imprisoned by Jigsaw for cheating on his wife and not appreciating his life (if more of Saw rhymed then it wouldn’t be a crime), Lawrence is put in a situation where he’ll die unless he saws off his foot. The reason he’s on this list, though, is because he’s played by Cary Elwes, and if Cary Elwes is playing a ballbag then it feels as if Wesley has betrayed us.
Saw is not, apparently, an incredibly miserable sequel to The Princess Bride.
27. Count Tyrone Rugen – The Princess Bride
The Six Fingered Man is interested, nay, intrigued by pain, and has studied it methodically. Some say he survived his duel with Inigo Montoya and got a job in EE’s marketing department.
26. James Potter – Harry Potter
James Potter has limited screen time in the Harry Potter series, but what we do learn about him suggests that it’s not a total mystery why Harry’s such an insufferable nodule at times.
It’s refreshing that, in a hero’s backstory, their Dad is actually a total sphincter with punchable jowls who teaches kids the valuable lesson “Bullying the meek totally pays off”.
25. Bill Lumbergh – Office Space
Purveyor of the blandest cruelty possible, Lumbergh’s dialogue creaks like a pendulum being lowered onto a helpless workforce. Only it’s gift wrapped, and he’s got everyone to sign a card.
24. Cal Hockley – Titanic
Kate Winslet: do not listen to your fiancee, Billy Zane. With his hair like a blowtorched pastry. With his rage like an upturned plug. With his lips like an upturned jezebel.
Also, Kate: try to avoid watching The Phantom.
23. Malcolm Tucker – In The Loop
Endlessly quotable, repeatedly hilarious, so amoral that the alternative never seemed like an option to him: Malcolm Tucker is an unscrupulous, knife-eyed, war-starting arsehole. He will be scaring children from the autumn.
22. Kruger – Elysium
GoldenEye, as conveyed via the N64 gaming system, featured many Russian hench polygons whose job was to turn around just in time for you to shoot them in the face. Before their dead bodies disappeared (Soylent Green bought a transmat) you could shoot them again, blurring their pointy features into an undefined bloody mess. Pure, unnecessary sadism.
Sharlto Copley’s character in Elysium is like that, only he’s not playing a computer game. He does, however, have a +1 Life doohickey on his little spaceship for when part of his face goes missing.
21. Scar – The Lion King
I suppose, given Jeremy Iron’s recent statements, that Simba should feel relieved Scar didn’t try to marry him for tax purposes.
20. Space – Gravity
The original script for Gravity read as follows:
CAPTION: Life in space is impossible.
Because space is an arsehole.
19. Edward Cullen – Twilight
“The more I read the script, the more I hated this guy…” – Robert Pattinson.
“I do not like people who try to exert control in a relationship, when there is an imbalance. This is very wrong and very strange.” – Robert Pattinson.
“Surely there’s another way to get the creepy baby out of her stomach?” – Robert Pattinson
Robert Pattinson there, telling it like it is.
18. Prince Hans – Frozen
With Frozen – which, I don’t know if we mentioned, we rather adore on this site – Disney unexpectedly attack a romantic male lead cliche that they’d previously propped up, and what’s more they make half the cinema audibly gasp at the revelation.
Appropriately enough, “Prince Hans” is an anagram for “Chap sinner”.
17. Angel Eyes – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
Before Tuco is tortured, he looks smug. While Tuco is being tortured, he just looks faintly amused by the whole thing. This is nothing compared with the breakfast scene. Oh my. The breakfast scene. The man can make eating bread look intimidating.
16. Rob Gordon – High Fidelity
Rob is one of the more honest examples of the male lead in a rom-com causing more pain than a Deep Heat soaked skewer to the thighs. Rob is, as with most male leads, a selfish manchild and – as he admits – a “fucking asshole”. He only wins his ex-girlfriend back because her father dies and she’s “too tired not to be with him”.
Narrative necessity is a prick, sometimes.
15. Lotso – Toy Story 3
If Joffrey and Barney the Dinosaur had an illicit liason, Lotso would be the result.
I’m sorry, what mental image?
14. Vera Cosgrove – Braindead
A monster figuratively and literally, Vera is a total bastard, murdering her husband and manipulating her son into perpetual serfdom until the fateful day she is bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey. It all culminates in a scene you can imagine Freud commenting “Well, this isn’t quite what I meant” over.
13. Biff Tannen – Back To The Future
Any iteration of Biff, in any timeline we have seen, tends towards the ‘unpleasant’, though Back To The Future Part II sees him at his worst, warping American history to his own selfish ends and becoming an abusive step-dad to Marty McFly. A classic high school bully for the ages, and a classic asshole. Or ‘classhole’.
12. Scott Pilgrim – Scott Pilgrim
Scott Pilgrim is another lovelorn guy who blithely demolishes people, but unlike Rob Gordon he has no sense of self-awareness. Added to the fact that Movie Ramona Flowers looks about as much fun as being trapped in a deflating bouncy castle, and you’ve got the George W Bush of male romantic leads.
There are many arseholes in romantic comedies. See also: Sitcom Star Writes/Directs Narcissistic “Ooh, I’m so sensitive” Fantasy (Garden Space, Liberal Arts), the Thin Dividing Line Between True Love and Long Term Emotional Abuse (PS. I Love You) or Apparently Adorable Neurotic Man Wrecks Everyone’s Life To Get Laid (Every. Single. Richard Curtis or Woody Allen Film).
11. A-Cup – Orgazmo
Possibly it’s the nepotism. Possibly it’s the snake-like movements and total lack of humanity. Mainly it’s the way he guffs in his hand and then puts his hand really near your face.
10. Ellis – Die Hard
There are other yuppy blow-hards out there, but Ellis is this website’s favourite. Basically, if you don’t want to be in this list, don’t upset Alan Rickman.
See also: Gorden Gekko (Wall Street), Bob Morton (RoboCop).
9. Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Cold, austere, clinical, and lacking in any basic human empathy, it wouldn’t be a total shock if there was a framed picture of Nurse Ratched above the fireplace in the Cabinet Office. If you don’t have time to read Ken Kasey’s novel for your English exam, why not watch the film and marvel at the sight of a young Brad Dourif? Or, if your busy schedule won’t allow, watch the episode of Spaced where Daisy works in a restaurant. Joanna Scanlan gives good Ratched.
8. Lee Woo-jin – Oldboy
As revenge schemes go, Woo-Jin’s could be deemed a tad OTT.
Plus, incest is bad.
7. Bruce Robertson – Filth
A bigoted, violent, sexist, drug-addled, terrified, abusive, racist alcoholic Judas polis romp through depravity and depression. Jon Baird and James McAvoy expertly tread the line between making you feel sorry for him, but not wanting him to have a happy ending.
See also: Begbie (Trainspotting)
6. Percy Wetmore – The Green Mile
Wetmore, as a Death Row prison officer, is another character able to abuse his position of power with acts of grotesque sadism. Untouchable due to nepotism, he deliberately botches an execution so that the prisoner catches fire and dies a slow, horrific death. It’s harder to find a nastier arsehole outside of a undercooked chilli festival.
5. Pinkie – Brighton Rock
As previously mentioned on Den Of Geek, it’s impossible to talk about the career of Richard Attenborough without mentioning his 1947 portrayal of a Brighton gangster. Pinkie’s cover-up of a gang-motivated murder goes to increasingly horrific lengths. Persuasive, ruthless, and devious in the extreme, Pinkie’s legacy taints those who survive his existence. The final sound of his voice saying ‘I love you’ is a bittersweet punch to the soul.
4. Harry Lime – The Third Man
Another Graham Greene script here, this time with the villain portrayed by Orson Welles. Harry Lime holds human life in low regard, and has no scruples about selling stolen and diluted penicillin on the black market, making a tidy profit and not caring about the deaths that ensued.
For such a short amount of screen time, Lime is a hugely memorable villain. Even if you haven’t seen The Third Man, you’ll have some familiarity with its iconic images and speeches, its noir flourishes and Dutch angles, and its complete and total arsehole whose backstory is filled in entirely through dialogue in his absence (because ‘Show, don’t tell’ isn’t always true).
3. Brigadier General Paul Mireau – Paths Of Glory
Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 film depicts French soldiers on a suicidal mission in World War One.
George Macready’s Mireau initially refuses to send his soldiers on the mission, but then a promotion is dangled in front of him and he changes his mind. From then he embarks on an unrelenting insistence for his men to plan and carry out the raid, dismissing the shell shocked, ordering artillery to fire on his own men to drive them into battle, and finally trying to save face by ordering a court martial for a hundred men.
Paths Of Glory is a war film where nobody wins, and being based on a true story lends it another layer of horror.
2. James Bond
The arsehole’s arsehole. Another man who, if he were more pleasant, would be terrible at his chosen career.
If asked to summarise Bond, I would tell you about the time I worked at a cinema that held a late-night screening of Casino Royale for two student halls. Everyone got dressed up in glamorous dresses and tuxedos, and everyone got a free Martini. The allure of Bond’s lifestyle is not matched by a bunch of 20-year olds trying to replicate his alcohol intake, and failing with chunderous results.
The most sobre person in the audience was an American man in shorts and sandals, who would occasionally become excited enough to holler ‘YEAH! ALRIGHT! JAMES BOND!’ at moments such as ‘Bond drinks a ridiculous quantity of whisky because he has just slowly hand-killed some people in a stairwell’, ‘Bond calls the dead women he’s in love with a bitch’, and – with the biggest cheer of all – ‘Bond emerges from the sea in little blue pants’.
In summary: People love James Bond for a variety of reasons, even though he is – like Piers Morgan in a lift – an arsehole on many levels.
1. Captain Vidal – Pan’s Labyrinth
I personally can’t remember having as strong a reaction to a villain as Captain Vidal in Pan’s Labyrinth. A significant point of the film is how utterly loathsome he is when compared with the monsters in the labyrinth. He might be a human being, and not a creature that slips eyeballs into slits on its palms (I mean, look at your palms. Can you imagine putting your eyeballs in them?), but when I worked in a cinema, people often left the screening, unable to stomach his brutality, murmuring something about bottles. Never has a stammer been so uncomfortable to watch.
Vidal is one of the most terrifying, brutal and hate-inspiring figure in the history of cinema; a man so actively hideous that his death is almost punch-the-air joyous.