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Top 10 Stephen King Movie Characters

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Matthew Thomas This King of Horror sure can create some amazing characters. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 Stephen King movie characters. For this list, we're taking a look at the most memorable and popular movie characters that are based on Stephen King's work. Special thanks to our users Justin Odom for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Matthew Thomas

Top 10 Stephen King Movie Characters


This King of Horror sure can create some amazing characters. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Stephen King movie characters.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable and popular movie characters that are based on Stephen King’s work. We’re limiting our choices to one per release, however. Television mini-series that have subsequently come to be seen as films are up for consideration as well. In order to outline exactly what makes these characters so memorable though, we may have to expose some plot details - so consider this your SPOILER ALERT.

#10: Ben Richards
“The Running Man” (1987)

This sci fi action flick is full of over the top villains like Professor Subzero, Buzzsaw, Fireball and Captain Freedom and the fantastically evil host Damon Killian, who is played the normally kissable Richard Dawson. But it is still the hero that made the final cut. With just plain awesome lines like this, it became an absolute no brainer to choose Ben Richards. Brought to the big screen by Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, Ben dispatches his enemies in unique and creative ways, while throwing out lines with the type of zeal that only Arnold could get away with. In short, he is the man. The Running Man.

#9: Mrs. Carmody
“The Mist” (2007)

Even when holed up in a grocery store surrounded by giant lethal insects, humanity’s dark side can still rear its ugly head. As the danger ratchets up outside, one woman named Mrs Carmody manages to turn the bulk of the populace inside into what’s basically a lynch mob that’s willing to do anything to appease her and their god. Through impassioned speeches that blame the plague that has befallen them on the misdeeds of others, this religious fanatic from the 2007 sci fi horror flick becomes a self-styled cult leader during the town's moment of crisis, with the power of life and death at her fingertips. Follow her or be sacrificed.

#8: Chris Chambers
“Stand by Me”(1986)

Stephen King is best known for his tales of outright terror, but his true fans will know he is equally talented at crafting dramatic stories as well. Chris is one of four boys on the precipice of becoming men at the center of this film that has arguably become the pre-eminent coming of age story. Born on the wrong side of the tracks, he is absolutely loyal to his friends and as such, serves as the heart and soul of the adventure drama. Played perfectly by River Phoenix, Chambers has our full attention throughout - even beside stars like Kiefer Sutherland, John Cusack, and a young Wil Wheaton and Jerry O'Connell.

#7: Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding
“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)
Considered one of the best films of all time, “The Shawshank Redemption”’s greatest strength is arguably its relatable characters. Choosing just one character from this drama was difficult as both Andy Dufresne and Brooks Hatlen could have easily made it. But in the end it was our trusty narrator Red who stole our hearts. In his parole hearings, we first witness a desperate man trying to say what he thinks they want to hear, before we see Red mature into a man at peace with himself. A convicted murderer, who, unlike his peers, readily admitted his misdeeds, Red served as the story’s much needed moral center.

#6: Kurt Dussander / Arthur Denker
“Apt Pupil” (1998)

Somehow this late ‘90s film flew under the radar... and for that we blame David Schwimmer. Just kidding. Those that did see “Apt Pupil” saw a film dominated by the great Ian McKellen, who steps up to the challenge of playing an elderly man who is in fact a Nazi war criminal in hiding. Although we hate him on principle, we still can't help but feel for Kurt-as-Arthur as he is controlled by a teen – played by Brad Renfro - who threatens to expose his horrific Nazi past to the world. Kurt, however, is not a man to be trifled with, which we learn when his inner evil escapes his façade – and this is what makes him truly unforgettable.

#5: Pennywise
“It” (1990)

A lot of people are afraid of clowns – and their rationale for that fear is that they can be creepy as hell. All they gotta do is cite Pennywise to back that up. Made for television, this miniseries may have been largely forgotten if it weren’t for the brilliance of Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Formidable in every moment, he makes the very idea of floating terrifying, before appearing in an old timey photograph only to lunge at some kids in a heart-pounding sequence. One of his best moments has gotta be when he is seen in a sewer and appears to be a kindly clown, all the while convincing a young boy to join him and die, which is typical clown behavior through and through… right?

#4: John Coffey
“The Green Mile”(1999)

The prisoner at the heart of a film that lives in the shadow of another on our list, it would be a tragedy if “The Shawshank Redemption” comparison caused anyone to forget how compelling John Coffey from this fantasy crime drama is. The very definition of a gentle giant, Coffey’s fearsome figure soon gives way when it becomes clear that he couldn’t hurt a fly. On top of that, it turns out that he’s more afraid of the dark than we should be of him. Michael Clarke Duncan earned his one and only Oscar nomination for his heart-rending role of a man who is too good to exist in a world that ultimately kills him.

#3: Annie Wilkes
“Misery” (1990)

The role that helped build her career, we can thank deranged fan Annie Wilkes for the enduring presence of Kathy Bates on our screens – and that’s most definitely a boon for the entertainment industry. Listed by the A.F.I. alongside the likes of Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates as one of the best villains in American cinema, Annie Wilkes' pedigree is without question – and earned Bates an Oscar for Best Actress. Alternatively kind and cruel in equal measure throughout the psychological thriller, Annie's psychosis is best demonstrated with the infamous hobbling scene, though her moment of quiet before the violence may actually be the film’s most recognizable moment.

#2: Carrie White
“Carrie” (1976)
A perpetual victim of both her domineering and dreadful mother as well as her fellow high schoolers, Carrie is a quiet girl who seems totally at odds with the world she inhabits. Brought to life by the supremely talented Sissy Spacek in this supernatural horror movie, her delicate and vulnerable portrayal is likely to make you want to save her from the awful life she leads. At least she is gifted with powerful abilities. But when she is pushed too far, Carrie decides to exact revenge on her tormentors in a climax of pure anger and gore. The act may be visceral and disgusting, but it’s also easy to lose yourself in – and that’s why we’ll always remember Carrie.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Charlene ‘Charlie’ McGee
“Firestarter” (1984)
Thad Beaumont
“The Dark Half” (1993)
Gage Creed
“Pet Sematary” (1989)
Isaac Chroner
“Children of the Corn” (1984)
Kurt Barlow
“Salem’s Lot” (1979)

#1: Jack Torrance
“The Shining” (1980)

Starting out the movie as man who counts himself lucky to have gainful employment, Jack's descent into madness is arguably as magnetic as anything ever put to film. Looking out a window has never seemed so threatening. Ordering a drink has never seemed quite so delightful. And voyeurism never so mortifying. Once the insanity overcomes him and Jack begins to pursue his family with deadly intent, we see him clearly relish in the violence he wreaks - and, if we’re being totally honest, we kinda do too.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite Stephen King movie character? For more compelling Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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