We all know the type. The character a movie revolves around, but who lacks the traditional wholesome traits that we’ve been led to believe are prerequisites. Yet there’s that certain something that appeals about them – you know, like Deadpool. Here are five other great movie antiheroes…


Randall Patrick (R.P.) McMurphy (Jack Nicholson)

Antiheroes - McMurphy

Movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Quote: “I’m a goddamn marvel of modern science!”

An apparent societal threat, McMurphy is actually the classic poster child for non-conforming square pegs everywhere – those who aren’t necessarily in any way mentally off kilter, just seen as such by the rounder members of society as they allegedly challenge the “natural” order of things. Thrown into an asylum, McMurphy tries to make the best of a bad situation, getting to know his fellow inmates and treating them as human beings rather than cattle, in turn inspiring them to stand up for themselves in ways they’d never previously considered. While he’s certainly no angel, a distinct “Yay McMurphy!” vibe swells as the R.N. from hell, Nurse Ratched (who definitely isn’t a card-carrying member of the R.P. fan club), does her best to ensure that orthodoxy wins out.


Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Johnny Depp)

Antiheroes - Ed Wood

Movie: Ed Wood (1994)

Quote: “Cut! Print! That was perfect!”

Filled to bursting point with ambition, Ed Wood just never quite fit into the Hollywood system, renowned for crimes against celluloid throughout his remarkably eventful and long (considering) career as a director. However, despite his frightful lack of quality control, there was an underlying and appealing wide-eyed innocence, passion, courage and tenacity which imbued his works, leading to him becoming almost a father-figure to the remarkable band of misfits he managed to slurp into his orbit of enthusiasm – has-been actors, TV hosts, wrestlers, psychics – leading to his becoming a true cult star who brought immeasurable filmic joy to those with a penchant for the offbeat, the hammy and the undeniably weird.


Maxine (Catherine Keener)

Antiheroes - Maxine

Movie: Being John Malkovich (1999)

Quote: “Here’s the thing. If you ever get me, you wouldn’t have a clue what to do with me.”

On the surface Maxine is little more than a rather cruel and shameless hedonist – she craves attention and gets off on it, along with the power she derives from being desired by others. However, her appeal lies in her self-awareness, confidence and underlying intelligence. Sure, you can see her as being essentially mindlessly shallow, but her knowing lack of depth and a “who gives a f-ck anyway?” attitude to it – combined with an enviable ability to harness her wiles in ways so many of us can but dream of – proffers a conundrum: Is she a modern-day, “You go girl!” feminist heroine, or a selfish bitch? The answer seems to be an all-encompassing “Yes!”


Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson)

Antiheroes - Riggs

Movies: Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3 & 4 (1987, 1989, 1992, 1998)

Quote: “I don’t make things difficult, that’s the way they get all by themselves.”

He’s a cop, now depending upon your point of view that’s either a good or bad thing just for starters. Thought psychotic by most anybody to enter his orbit, Riggs has had a pretty hard life, not least of all due to losing his wife courtesy of a bad guy many years earlier. Now a seemingly defiant “think I’ll eat some worms” type loner, living in a trailer with his dog the only company, he’ll even swig beer for brekkie – adding to the lost puppy factor immensely for those of us prone to such feelings. Ah, but despite his apparent incurable desire for solitude he’ll stop at nothing to protect his adopted family in the Murtaughs – maybe the big lug’s not such a hopeless case after all?


Stitch – a.k.a. Experiment 6-2-6 (the voice of Chris Sanders)

Antiheroes - Stitch

Movie: Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Quote: “You forgot cute and fluffy!”

OK, so the “anti” bit is a no-brainer, with this little creature’s only instinct being to devastate everything it touches. Upon crashing the Hawaiian Islands and being de-pounded by the remarkably similar in many ways young Lilo, Stitch’s programming goes to work in any way he can find, even using his protector as a shield against capture. However, ‘ohana’, or ‘family’, is a mighty powerful force, and a developing craving for a sense of belonging sees the psychotic fuzzball actually turning heroic protector, and even eventually digging the whole family man – erm, thing – deal.