Top 10 Most Parodied Movie CharactersVOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp Top 10 Most Parodied Movie Characters
Even if you haven't seen their films, you know these characters. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Parodied Movie Characters.
For this list, we'll be looking at famous big screen characters who are often parodied in other films. The parodies can be any aspect of the original character, including their lines, appearances, and voices, among others.
#10: Travis Bickle
“Taxi Driver” (1976)
Travis Bickle is the unhinged protagonist of “Taxi Driver,” and his legacy has remained sturdy since the movie's release in 1976. Perhaps its most famous scene is when Travis talks to himself in a mirror, a sequence that has been parodied in countless media throughout the years. The famous “You talkin' to me?” line is referenced in literally hundreds of movies and TV shows, from “The Office” all the way to “WrestleMania” promotions. Travis's signature mohawk has also been parodied, although it isn't nearly as common. Some people may not know who Travis Bickle is, but they certainly recognize his likeness and lines.
#9: Norman Bates
“Psycho” contains one of the most famous sequences in cinematic history, so of course it's been parodied to death. For the, like, three of you who might not know, Norman murders Bates Motel guest Marion in the shower, and it comes complete with lots of violin screeches. While you could argue it's the scene itself that is parodied and not the character of Norman, he and his jerky arm movements are still an integral part of the scene. However, other aspects of his character are parodied as well, such as his spying on Marion through a peephole and his physical appearance as Mother.
#8: Dr. Hannibal Lecter
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Hannibal Lecter is another horror icon that has been endlessly parodied throughout the years. Perhaps most parodied are his stilted mannerisms and style of speech, especially the way he talks about eating human liver. Others parody the statuesque manner in which he stands in his glass cell and the famous moment that sees him adorned with a protective face mask. Even a simple line like “Good evening, Clarice” is enough to generate endless references and parodies, even though the actual line is often misquoted. Such is the acting prowess of Anthony Hopkins, we suppose.
#7: Harry Callahan
“Dirty Harry” franchise (1971-88)
Harry Callahan is the famous SFPD Homicide inspector portrayed by Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry.” And while his loose cannon personality trait and unorthodox policing style have been endlessly copied, there's one specific scene in the franchise that has been parodied to death – the famous “Do I feel lucky?” speech. It's another famous line that is often misquoted, usually said as “Do YOU feel lucky” rather than “I.” Regardless, this moment has been copied in the likes of “Borat,” “Scary Movie 2,” and “Bruce Almighty.” Even if you've never seen “Dirty Harry,” you could probably replicate it pretty accurately, as that's how firmly ingrained into the zeitgeist it is.
#6: Tony Montana
Tony Montana is kind of a parody himself, but he's just so ridiculous and over-the-top that subsequent filmmakers couldn't help but make fun of him. Al Pacino's Cuban accent is obviously a major point of contention, and it has been ceaselessly parodied by comedians throughout the years. But perhaps the most famous quote of the movie is “Say hello to my little friend,” which is yelled right before Montana blasts away some goons with a grenade launcher. This specific line has been parodied from comedies like “Ace Ventura” and “Epic Movie” to family flicks like “Shark Tale.” The imitations are truly boundless.
#5: The Terminator
“Terminator” franchise (1984-)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most imitated celebrities in existence, but despite his dozens of starring roles, it always comes back to The Terminator. Whether it's the first “Terminator” or its beloved sequel, Schwarzenegger's T-800 has been spoofed numerous times. Various aspects of his character are played upon, including his robot vision, his voice, and his expressions, such as “I'll be back” and “Hasta la vista, baby.” Those specific quotes have appeared in a wide variety of multimedia formats, including “Futurama,” “The Golden Girls,” and “Seinfeld.” Hell, even Schwarzenegger himself has referenced his quotes in some of his other movies. Now that's just next level spoofing.
#4: James Bond
“James Bond” franchise (1962-)
“Bond… James Bond.” Now how many times have you heard that? This is easily one of the most oft-repeated lines in movie history, but when it's being referenced or made fun of in other films, then characters swap out “Bond” with their own names. Ferris Bueller does just this while talking to Cameron as he walks into the kitchen looking suave and sophisticated. The James Bond character and franchise formula are also the subject of numerous movie and TV spy spoofs, including the “Austin Powers” series, “Get Smart,” “Archer,” and “Johnny English.” James Bond wasn't the first spy in fiction, but he's certainly the most popular and parodied.
#3: Rocky Balboa
“Rocky” franchise (1976-)
Many of the characters on this list have been larger-than-life, highly fictitious characters that lend themselves perfectly to parody. Not so with Rocky Balboa. And yet despite his everyman personality and characterization, nearly every aspect of his character has been parodied. Many comedians have done Sylvester Stallone imitations, with Rocky often being the go-to character. The series' famous training montages have also been the subjects of parody, as is the scene where Rocky downs some raw eggs as well as when he punches a slab of meat in a freezer. Perhaps it's his very everyman nature that makes him so relatable and spoofable - that and his instantly recognizable voice.
#2: Vito Corleone
“The Godfather” franchise (1972-90)
Talk about instantly recognizable voices. Marlon Brando's performance of Vito Corleone is arguably one of the finest performances in film history, as the actor completely transformed himself to become the character. This includes putting on that recognizably soft and accented voice that is so often parodied in film and TV. His likeness and voice have been spoofed in hundreds of pieces of pop culture, all the way from “Family Guy” (of course) to “Zootopia,” a movie meant for children who have most certainly not seen “The Godfather.” Yep, kids are still being subjected to “Godfather” spoofs nearly 50 years later. That's how you spot a timeless character.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
“Forrest Gump” (1994)
Neo / Thomas A. Anderson
“The Matrix” franchise (1999-2003)
“A Few Good Men” (1992)
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)
#1: Darth Vader
“Star Wars” franchise (1977-)
(xref) Many “Star Wars” characters have become iconic, and while Yoda's speech pattern is endlessly spoofable, we must give the top spot to Darth Vader. Darth Vader references have appeared in hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of entertainment, which have spoofed everything from his outfit, to his deep voice and breathing, to his famous line, “No, I am your father.” The latter has been humorously and erroneously imitated so many times that many people believe the line to be “Luke, I am your father,” which is yet another instance of legacy and spoof overshadowing the real thing. Not only is he arguably cinema's most iconic villain, but he's also easily one of the most parodied movie characters of all time.