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Top 10 Movie Characters Who Will Save You From A Serial Killer

VO: Rebecca Brayton
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To catch a killer, you need to think like a killer, and you know… not get killed in the process. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Characters You'd Want At Your Side to Stop A Serial Killer.

For this list, we’re only considering characters that come from films that deal with murderers, mysteries or the thwarting of nefarious plots in general. To even the playing field, we’re excluding all superhuman, magical or non-human characters.

#10: Dr. Hannibal Lecter
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

Clarice Starling is an above average FBI agent, even when she’s still in the academy. Anyone pursuing a serial killer would be lucky to call her partner. But Dr. Hannibal Lecter, as both a brilliant psychiatrist and serial killer himself, is quite simply the greatest resource any government agency could ask for in trying to understand the methods of a serial killer at large. If his stunning insights didn’t come as a package deal with his own psychotic cannibalistic tendencies and sociopathic manipulation of others, he might’ve been number one. The reality is, you can’t afford to actually have him by your side without the risk of him taking a bite out of you. But behind bars, he’d surely make an invaluable aid.

#9: Dr. King Schultz
“Django Unchained” (2012)

He might be the first Tarantino character to appear on our list, but he certainly won’t be the last. Tarantino simply has a talent for crafting intelligent, deadly characters. This charming German bounty hunter knows how to talk his way into any given situation, and shoot his way out of one too. Any 19th century ex-dentist turned bounty hunter is probably familiar enough with a wide assortment of crude and unusual tools to earn the respect, and fear, of even the most sadistic serial killer. Not every bounty hunter has a moral compass, but given Schultz’ distaste for slavery, we’re willing to bet he’d help you hunt a serial killer. The titular Django would also be another welcome addition to the hunting party.

#8: Hugh Glass
“The Revenant” (2015)

Thankfully “inhuman willpower” isn’t recognized as a superpower, because if it were, Hugh Glass would be disqualified. Nothing can stop Glass from finding the man who killed his son and left him for dead - not life-threatening injuries, freezing cold weather or a dangerous trek through wilderness treacherous enough to kill even the healthiest and most well-equipped individual. His road to revenge is basically a showcase of his many excellent survival skills, as they apply to both natural obstacles and in combat. Glass is a fighter in every sense of the word, and it’s hard to think of a movie character better suited to hunting down a historical serial killer. Just so long as that serial killer isn’t a bear.

#7: Zoë Bell
“Death Proof” (2007)

In Quentin Tarantino’s half of the 2007 “Grindhouse” double-feature, “Death Proof”, his favorite “Kill Bill” New Zealand stuntwoman gets her chance to step into the spotlight, playing herself in this exploitation movie throwback to ‘70s film culture. Bell plays the most recent target of stuntman Mike, who gets off on killing women using his souped-up stunt car. He bites off more than he can chew when he targets this stuntwoman and her friends though. While Zoë’s skillset might seem a little specific or limited for the average, non-car based serial killer, her resilience, uncanny knack for walking away from danger unharmed, and overall survival skills make her a more than worthy ally and undeniable asset.

#6: John McClane
“Die Hard” franchise (1988-)

Wanted: One bona fide badass to help stop a serial killer. Skills should include: expert handling of firearms, hand to hand combat experience, a high tolerance for pain, the ability to read body language and facial tells, a knack for quick thinking, lightning fast reflexes, and a willingness to work barefoot in less than safe conditions (because you never know where a hunt for a serial killer might take you). John McClane… you’ve got the job! While Bruce Willis’ arguably most famous character may have more experience with terrorists and hijacking types, he has proved himself time and time again to be more than your average action hero. No matter how bad things get, he finds a solution.

#5: Lisbeth Salander
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011)

Lisbeth Salander is not one to be crossed. But in the off-chance that you find yourself working alongside her towards a mutual goal, you can go ahead and thank your lucky stars. One of the world’s most skilled computer hackers, she also possesses a photographic memory, genius level intellect, a knack for concealing her identity and is only too happy to get violent when the mood strikes her. You’ll need to put in the effort to gain her trust, as she is painfully antisocial, introverted and deeply suspicious. But she’s ultimately moral, and is an unstoppable force when she finds a purpose. Serial killers and sexual offenders beware; she’s recently gotten into tattooing… and is looking for her next canvas.

#4: Bryan Mills
“Taken” franchise (2008-14)

A serial killer is not your typical criminal. Most criminals, be they petty thieves, drug dealers, kidnappers, or contract killers, are all ultimately motivated by one thing - financial gain. But serial killers are of a different breed. They operate for pleasure, and therefore a standard approach to law enforcement is unlikely to cut it. What you need then, is someone with a very particular set of skills. Someone like Bryan Mills. His years as a CIA operative, and his experience hunting various human traffickers and other types of criminals, make him a serial killer’s worst nightmare. Only issue? The serial killer might need to threaten his specific family to coax him out of retirement.

#3: The Bride
“Kill Bill” (2003-04)

Sometimes it takes a killer to catch a killer. And Beatrix Kiddo, codename Black Mamba... is one hell of a killer. She single-handedly sends dozens of people to an early grave across two films. But The Bride’s kill count isn’t just about quantity; it’s about quality as well. Her victims range from goons and thugs to trained master assassins, making her one of the most skilled, deadliest women to ever grace the screen. Another factor that makes Beatrix a great choice of accomplice is her single-minded dedication to finishing something once she’s started. When Beatrix promises to kill someone, she follows through. Like we said, Tarantino’s characters make perfect “serial killer” killers.

#2: INSP Harry Callahan
“Dirty Harry” (1971)

If you’re up against a really vicious killer, you need a partner who’s unflappable - who remains cool, unfazed, and focused. You’re looking for someone like Dirty Harry. He may not have much respect for the rules, but he gets results. In his first cinematic outing, he faced off against Scorpio, a serial killer based on the Zodiac Killer, who was active in Northern California in the late ‘60s to early ‘70s. The real Zodiac killer was never caught, but maybe things would’ve played out differently with a real life Harry Callahan in pursuit. If you’re ever facing off against a serial killer and find yourself working with a Dirty Harry type, you should consider yourself lucky, punk.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.


- Sidney Prescott

“Scream” (1996)


- Dr. Sam Loomis

“Halloween” (1978)


- Sgt Nicholas ‘Nick’ Angel

“Hot Fuzz” (2007)



#1: Sherlock Holmes

“Sherlock Holmes” franchise (2009-)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s cocaine-addicted eccentric is likely the most famous detective in fictional history. With his brilliant mind, keen deductive reasoning, powers of observation and obsessive nature, he’d make for one terrifyingly effective serial killer if he ever went insane. But that’s what makes Holmes the best at what he does. He thinks in the same pathological terms as serial killers. He is an outsider, capable of following the logic of those whose brains function atypically, along paths that the conventional brain usually fails to grasp or even consider. While Guy Ritchie’s films may not be the definitive take on the character, his Sherlock Holmes is hands down the most effective in a fistfight.

Do you agree with our list? Tasked with taking down a serial killer, which human movie character would you want by your side? For more sinister top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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