The 50 Most Badass Movie Characters Of All Time

It’s difficult to define the word “badass”—it’s not a tangible, measurable attribute, but you absolutely know it when you see it. To me, a badass is a rebel. A guy who plays by his own rules. A baller, shot caller, twenty-inch blades on the Impala type cat. If a character lights up a cigarette and then throws in on some gasoline, causing a car or, perhaps, a fucking building to blow up, there’s a pretty good chance he’s a badass. If he’s as rugged as the Brawny lumberjack, you’ve got a badass on your hands. If he rocks sunglasses, a leather jacket and he’s not in The Village People? Sounds like a badass to me, kemosabe.

And that leads us to following countdown of 50 badasses that all stand alone (but, like, together, I guess) in the cinematic canon of pure, unadulterated ass-kickery. They shave their faces with bowie knifes, have balls the size of watermelons and live life like they’re in a Whitesnake music video. Let's begin the countdown before someone gets the shit beat out of them.

Matt Rimer is a writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter here.

  • Michael

    this list is v weird, v long

  • Philip Oudshoorn

    “The scene at the end of the film when he’s covered in mud, standing up in his perch with a flare and he gives out that battle cry = Boner city.”Not reading past that.

  • Robert Florance

    “The X# Most Y Z’s of All Time” :'(

  • Krystian

    Where the fuck is Joe Pesci as Nicky Santoro…? ” Get this through your head you Jew motherfucker, you! You only exist out here because of me! That’s the only reason! Without *me*, you, personally, every fuckin’ wise guy skell around’ll take a piece of your fuckin’ Jew ass! Then where you gonna go? You’re fuckin’ warned! Don’t ever go over my fuckin’ head again! You motherfucker, you.”

  • jy

    Bruce Lee?

  • An

    Ed Norton beats Jared Leto, not Brad Pitt.

  • Harri Ulysses Smith IV

    Fired you are effin Fired how in the hell are you going to leave out Steve McQueen? and Paul Newman? McQueen is and always will be the pinnacle of “cool”

  • GH

    Indy, James Bond, you’ve got the Bear Jew but not Hugo Stiglitz? And then Darth Maul? How about Cool Hand Luke, or Capt. Hilts? maybe Juror number 8?

  • Hector

    Where is El Mariachi?

  • shaunk4life

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  • Gage

    I always thought that Marine general guy from Avatar was pretty bad ass. He didn’t give a flying fuck about anything else but getting what he wanted.

  • Gage

    I always thought that Marine general guy from Avatar was pretty bad ass. He didn’t give a flying fuck about anything else but getting what he wanted.

  • MovieMan

    Tommy in Warrior? Most badass in my opinion. Bane maybe?

  • gms0033

    what about george clooney in dusk til dawn, or mathew macaunegey in reign of fire?

  • The Internet

    This page only works in IE? Get fucked, refuse to read.

  • Mik


  • Asdfg


  • Gregory Stanford

    The second in command from We were soldiers. And seriously that dude at number 2? There is no fucking way he’s more badass than Liam Neeson in Taken, who sould have been higher.

  • Gmeyen

    How about “Animal Mother” from Full metal jacket? He was the biggest badass throughout the whole movie, with “I am become death” on his helmet and everything. Or the sniper in saving private ryan who recited verses of the bible as he picked off enemies one by one. Even though they weren’t main characters, I expected to see them on the list for sure.

  • Eric Mack

    o dog or bishop?????? Damn SMDREADS

  • Vincent

    Ryan Gosling more bad ass than Scarface……

    • Jeremy Flanders

      Id say bump him off for Steve McQueen in the Great Escape.

  • Hiren Khant

    Where in the hell is “The Captain Jack Sparrow”???

  • Jeremy Flanders

    How did Hilts “The Cooler King’ not make the list or Forest from Lawless??? Seriously The Great Escape… Out side of that I agree with 90% of these, maybe not the order.

  • EbinGuy

    You forgot about Batman, Wolverine, Magneto, Jason Bourne (or David Webb) and many more from modern movies.

  • Manny

    I absolutely cannot believe that Bruce Lee is not #1 on this list, let alone within these 50 characters. He was the absolutely ultimate badass both in and out of movies.

  • Jonathan

    General Hummel form the rock? ed harris is such a badass in that film

  • Wooby


  • Sean

    Joe pecci in goodfellas is 10x harder than all them combined

  • Lucas

    Love the Milner. “Yeah Toad…we’ll take ’em all.”

  • Lucas

    I googled “Movie Badasses”, to see how Cha Tae-sik from Man From Nowhere would stack up on someone’s list. Idk if you’ve seen the movie (Korean subtitles), idk if he fits “your” criteria. Give it a look if you haven’t seen it : )

  • Lucas

    Wonderful list though.

  • vex&siolence

    Ok. Brad pitt hit the list twice. But what about Mickey from snatch. Or Woody Harrelson from zombieland. For a list of badasses this is one weak list

  • Derek Vineyard


  • Eric Schneider

    how is Rambo not number one?

    • Eric Schneider

      I mean, he is the image that comes to my mind when I think of the word badass

  • Eric Schneider

    Where the hell is Rocky?

  • Eric Schneider

    The Rock on Fast and Furious?