The character is the key to Quentin Tarantino’s universe. On the contrary, the characters are more important than the stories they serve. In an interview with Vulture, Tarantino said, “It’s all about my characters. I actually think my characters will be one of my greatest legacies after I’m gone.
From Mr. Orange, the (spoiler alert!) undercover cop in reservoir dogsto Sharon Tate, the waypoint of Tarantino’s examination of ’60s Los Angeles in Once upon a time in Hollywoodthere are many important characters in the Tarantino canon.
9 Reservoir Dogs – Mr. Orange
Although Tarantino’s feature debut reservoir dogs is an ensemble piece, some characters are more important than others. Mr. Blue and Mr. Brown are killed off soon enough, while Mr. White becomes a reluctant father figure and Mr. Blonde gets a scenery-chewing torture scene.
Since the whole plot is about figuring out which of the robbers is an undercover cop, Mr. Orange is the most important character in the film. Midway through, when the cop’s identity is revealed, Tarantino goes into flashback mode and Mr. Orange takes over as the main protagonist.
8 Pulp Fiction – Marsellus Wallace
Tarantino’s second feature pulp Fiction, still widely considered his finest film, is a curious case, as it is an anthology film made up of three short stories. Vincent Vega is a major player in two stories, but he’s absent from one of them. Mia Wallace is on the poster, but she’s only featured prominently in one of the stories.
Crime lord Marsellus Wallace is the only character who plays a major role in all three stories. He sends Jules and Vincent to Brett’s apartment on a hit in “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife”, he pays Butch Coolidge to dive and gets trapped in a pawn shop basement with him in “The Gold Watch ‘, and he recruits Wolf’s crime scene cleaning services in ‘The Bonnie Situation’.
seven Jackie Brown – Jackie Brown
It goes without saying that the most important character of Jackie Brown is the one whose name the film bears. According to Elmore Leonard rum punch, Jackie Brown revolves around a flight attendant who uses the fact that people underestimate her to her advantage.
Jackie teams up with bail bondsman Max Cherry to pit sniper Ordell Robbie against a few ATF agents, allowing him to come out on top.
6 Kill Bill – The Bride
The singular focus of Tarantino’s two-part action epic Kill Bill is Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo’s quest for revenge. After being left for dead in a wedding chapel by her former team of assassins, the bride makes a list of all the people who have wronged her and begins to eliminate them, one by one.
The film sometimes adopts the point of view of other characters, like O-Ren Ishii or Elle Driver, but the bride is undoubtedly the main character and the one who drives the plot.
5 Death Proof – Stuntman Mike
On Tarantino’s side of the double feature Crusherthe underrated carsploitation slasher Proof of death, is split into two halves, unified by the same bloodthirsty villain. Stuntman Mike, a Hollywood stuntman who uses his death-proof stunt car to kill people, targets two groups of protagonists throughout the film.
He eliminates the first group of protagonists in one fell swoop, but he underestimates the second. After narrowly escaping Mike’s wrath, stuntwoman Zoë Bell and her friends turn the tables. They found him, dragged him out of his car and beat him to a pulp.
4 Inglourious Basterds – Shosanna Dreyfus
Tarantino’s darkly comic WWII epic Inglourious Basterds revolves around two simultaneous assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler, both conveniently timed for the same night. The titular Basterds plan to blow up the movie theater where Hitler will attend a Nazi propaganda premiere. Unbeknownst to them, the owner of the theater – Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus – is plotting her own assassination attempt.
Where the Basterds’ assassination plot fails, Shosanna’s is a resounding success. She burns down the theater using highly flammable film, killing Hitler and all of his high-ranking brass, thus ending the war in Tarantino’s alternate history reality.
3 Django Unchained – Django Freeman
In another case where the most important character is the one with his name in the title, Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is told entirely from the perspective of slave-turned-bounty hunter Django Freeman. Django breaks free from his chains, learns the trade of killing for money, and heads to the Candyland plantation to free his wife Broomhilda.
There are many unforgettable characters in this film – dentist-turned-killer Dr. King Schultz, sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie, his sinister right-hand man Stephen – but they’re all there to support Django’s story.
2 The Hateful Eight – Daisy Domergue
Tarantino’s second simple western, The Hateful Eight, traps its eponymous octet of infamous gunmen in a snowy haberdashery, where no one is sure they can trust anyone around them. Major Marquis Warren is the Poirot character who solves the mystery at the end of the second act, but notorious killer Daisy Domergue is the reason there’s a mystery to solve to begin with.
Everyone Warren and his traveling companions encounter at the haberdashery are gang members in disguise, hoping to break Daisy out of John “The Hangman” Ruth’s custody. Without it, there is no story.
1 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Sharon Tate
For the most part, Tarantino’s sun-kissed ’60s opus Once upon a time in Hollywood is told from the perspective of TV cowboy Rick Dalton and his icy cool stuntman Cliff Booth. But Rick’s neighbor, movie star Sharon Tate, is at the center of the story.
Tate represents the pivotal moment in Hollywood history that Tarantino set out to capture. The film’s glorious final act gives Tate the bloody justice he was denied in real life.
NEXT: Quentin Tarantino’s 10 Most Vengeful Characters