America's 100 Greatest Heroes & Villains

The Top 50 Virtuous Heroes and Top 50 Wicked Villains

by American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute in Los Angeles conducted their sixth polling, 100 Heroes and Villains. AFI again celebrated American cinema, and revealed America’s 100 greatest good and bad guys/gals (50 of each), either fact-based or fantastically-fictional, as chosen by voters - a jury of 1,500 directors, actors, screenwriters, critics, historians and others.

[Compare to the list of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) that in 2002 had polled their own membership of Internet-based cinema journalists for the top 100 greatest screen villains of all time, accessible here.] The list of 400 nominated films was made available before the final voting. The AFI left the judgment calls to jurors about the categorization of virtuous heroes and wicked villains, advising them only to not vote for a character as both.

The results were unveiled in a three-hour television special broadcast by CBS in June 2003.

Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the films that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the 100 Greatest Films

Top 20 Heroes

  1. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  2. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  3. James Bond (Sean Connery) in Dr. No (1962)
  4. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca (1942)
  5. Will Kane (Gary Cooper) in High Noon (1952)
  6. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  7. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in Rocky (1976)
  8. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Aliens (1986)
  9. George Bailey (James Stewart) in It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
  10. T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  11. Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  12. Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) in The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  13. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) in Schindler's List (1993)
  14. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Star Wars (1977)
  15. Norma Rae Webster (Sally Field) in Norma Rae (1979)
  16. Shane (Alan Ladd) in Shane (1953)
  17. Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in Dirty Harry (1971)
  18. Robin Hood (Errol Flynn) in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  19. Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) in In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  20. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Top 20 Villains

  1. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  2. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in Psycho (1960)
  3. Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  4. The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  5. Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  6. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) in It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
  7. Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in Fatal Attraction (1987)
  8. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) in Double Indemnity (1944)
  9. Regan MacNeil (Satan) (Linda Blair) in The Exorcist (1973)
  10. The Queen (voice of Lucille LaVerne) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  11. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in The Godfather, Part II (1974)
  12. Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) in A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  13. HAL 9000 (voice of Douglas Rain) in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  14. The Alien (Bolaji Badejo) in Alien (1979)
  15. Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) in Schindler's List (1993)
  16. Noah Cross (John Huston) in Chinatown (1974)
  17. Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) in Misery (1990)
  18. The Shark in Jaws (1975)
  19. Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  20. Man in Bambi (1942)

Facts (and Commentary) About the Top 50 Heroes and Top 50 Villains List:

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