20 Greatest Anti-Heroes of All Time

An anti hero could be described as a flawed hero. He or she is not the traditional good guy and are often morally weak, flawed character which make him or her a lot more human than the traditional film heroes. Anti heroes might often be dark, disturbing portraits of human beings but we often empathize with them, understanding their flaws and the tragedy of their situations. They are far more interesting than traditional heroes as we get to see the dark, negative side inherent in every human being. Cinema has produced some truly great antiheroes and many great anti hero movies. Let’s look at the list of top 20 greatest anti heroes of all time.


20. John “Scottie” Ferguson – Vertigo (1958)

James Stewart was real treat to watch on screen. The man had just had everything. The talent, charisma, flair, style. His collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock remains one of cinema’s most iconic ever and they’ve produced some of the greatest cinematic works of all time but nothing would ever top this one. In ‘Vertigo’, Stewart plays a detective who suffers from acrophobia, fear of heights. John is a deeply torn, complex character with fears and obsessions that perennially disrupt his mind. And there’s something so delicately complex and understated about his performance that makes his character look so human, real and painfully flawed. This has to be one of the most honest, beautifully tragic onscreen performances ever. A truly unforgettable anti-hero.


19. William “D-FENS” Foster – Falling Down (1993)

This Joel Schumacher gem explores the pain and agony of a divorced, unemployed man who has had enough of the world around him and decides to vent his frustration out on the society through acts of cathartic violence. Foster is such a sad soul but like any individual would do, he just bursts out when pushed to the corners. He is the underdog. He is the oppressed. He is one among us. And that’s what makes his character so relatable and gives that heroic quality despite him committing the most brutal and despicable acts of violence. There’s a certain universality in his character that resonates for most people despite the seeming American-ness of it. Most people have had complaints against the film for its distorted representation of an ordinary American man but this is far from an archetypal character. William Foster is a dark side that is inherent in all of us. And the film made us realize that.


18. Lou Bloom – Nightcrawler (2014)

A sharp, edgy thriller and at the helm of it is the ever reliable Jake Gyllenhaal who may have just delivered the ‘Taxi Driver’ of his life here. Lou Bloom is an intensely creepy, seductively mysterious character who’d slit the throat of anyone who gets in the way of his ambitions. If one were to think of a frightening combination of Daniel Plainview and Travis Bickle, Lou Bloom is whom you’d get. He is highly competitive, bizarrely charming and cleverly uses people for his own needs. Apart from those creepy smiles, the man certainly does not have any kind of human emotions. Bloom lacks empathy and that makes him pretty much of a psychopath too. The character is bigger than the film and we couldn’t help but think of him and the frightening possibilities his character represents.


17. Mark Zuckerberg – The Social Network (2010)

Fincher fanatics might slaughter me if I were to say that ‘The Social Network’ isn’t among the greatest biopics ever made. I am generally in favor of this film but I personally wouldn’t consider it to be among the greatest films made this decade. However, it’s still an incredibly riveting character study that explores the tumultuous journey of a 19 year old Harvard University student named Mark Zuckerberg who would go on to become one of the richest men as the co-founder of the social networking phenomenon Facebook. Zuckerberg has stated that the film portrayed his motivations for creating Facebook inaccurately and was pretty distorted in its representation of his character. However, that doesn’t detract the film from being one of the more fascinating character explorations in American cinema. It’s a wickedly funny, wildly twisted exploration of human morality and Zuckerberg would remain one of the great antiheroes of American cinema.


16. Johnny Fletcher – Naked (1993)

Mike Leigh’s harrowing masterpiece explores the darkest corners of the human psyche and shatters you with its unflinching honesty and raw brutality. Johnny Fletcher is an obnoxious individual who commits the most heinous acts of violence on strangers as he lets his repressed range and angst on to them in a very disturbing catharsis. What’s truly amazing here is that Leigh portrays him in a very unapologetic manner. He is who he is and we are left to either hate or empathize with this despicable human being. But the most brilliant thing about it is that he manages to gain our sympathy because somewhere underneath all the brutalities he seems to revel in, lies a human being that might well be you. It’s so profoundly disturbing even when you could remotely relate to it.

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