Top 10 Controversial Movie Characters

Written by Q.V. Hough

These movie characters divided audiences and caused a stir thanks to their controversial nature! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Controversial Movie Characters! But who will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver or Ale DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange because of their violent antics, or will it be Jar Jar Binks for his goofy turn in Star Wars? Watch to find out!

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These are the most perplexing and provocative characters of cinema.Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Controversial Movie Characters.

For this list, we’re focusing on movie characters that provoke viewers with their peculiar dialogue and behavior.

#10: Regan MacNeil

“The Exorcist” (1973)

Portrayed by an adolescent Linda Blair, this character is known for her frightening transformation while possessed by a demonic spirit. When a priest arrives for a much-need exorcism, the possessed version of Regan MacNeil does not respond positively. It’s a heavy role for any actress – teen or otherwise – and the character’s profanity-laced dialogue continues to shock decades after the film’s release. Regan’s caught in a battle between the sacred and the profane, and her infamous crucifix moment disturbingly blends horror with religion. She’s a good girl gone bad, but it’s through no fault of her own.

#9: Jang Kyung-chul

“I Saw the Devil” (2010)

In this South Korean classic, a serial killer battles a grieving agent out for revenge. Throughout, viewers receive a thorough portrait of Jang Kyung-chul, a bus driver that tortures with no mercy whatsoever. Blood and gore are par for the course, but Kyung-chul is steeped in torture porn, and is both predator and victim. Early on, he murders the fiancé of agent Kim Soo-hyun, who refuses to use legal means to lock up Kyung-chul. As a result, the roles are reversed, leaving viewers to grapple with all the graphic violence, along with each man’s warped sense of justice and revenge.

#8: Borat Sagdiyev

“Borat” (2006)

This Kazakh journalist is half-truth and half-fiction. Here, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat, a delusional man that hopes to marry an American sex symbol, Pamela Anderson. Along the way, Borat receives an education from real Americans, who provide genuine reactions to the character’s unique behavior. Borat was designed to provoke unsuspecting subjects, and his tactics challenge American values while revealing the ugly side of racial politics. Borat walks and talks like a naïve journalist, but it’s Cohen’s comedic timing that reveals the true ignorance of the film’s subjects. In 2009, the actor would create more controversy by perpetuating LBGT stereotypes with “Brüno.”

#7: Bill Maplewood

“Happiness” (1998)

In Todd Solondz’s polarizing film, Dylan Baker plays a man with a disturbing secret. Bill Maplewood is a pedophile, and he sexually abuses two of his son’s schoolmates before the police connect the dots. For a film labeled as “comedy-drama,” Bill's storyline can easily offend unsuspecting viewers, yet it highlights a troubling reality in society. Furthermore, the character’s dark dialogue contrasts with the film’s lighter moments, making Bill a movie character that most won’t forget. His words, and certainly his actions, remind viewers that real-life monsters often go unnoticed.

#6: Mudflap & Skids

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (2009)

These autobots come from space, but their accents are rooted in North American street slang. In Michael Bay’s blockbuster sequel, twin robotic brothers Mudflap and Skids talk trash and overtly play into hip-hop stereotypes – and while Mudflap is voiced by African American Reno Wilson, Skids is voiced by Caucasian actor Tom Kenny, best known as the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants. Many critics and viewers have pointed out the racial undertones, as the comedic relief is steeped in clichés rather than original ideas. Mudflap and Skids were designed to entertain younger viewers, but their manner of speech blurs the line between humor and tastelessness.

#5: Frank Booth

“Blue Velvet” (1986)

In David Lynch’s ‘80s classic, Dennis Hopper plays a man with more than a few quirks. But Frank Booth is not your typical bad guy, evidenced by his aggressive behavior and psychotic demeanor. He’s incredibly violent, and his perversions are equally disturbing. There’s no explanation for Booth’s maniacal ways, and it’s the underlying mystery that makes him so terrifying. In one particularly troubling sequence, Frank reveals his mommy issues and a love for an unknown gas. He’s a highly bizarre character, which says a lot in the always-controversial world of David Lynch.

#4: She

“Antichrist” (2009)

Portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg, this character experiences unfathomable pain. The film itself is Part One of Lars Von Trier’s loose “Depression Trilogy,” featuring the coping mechanisms of a couple dealing with their son’s death. “She” faces her greatest fears, and she also finds temporary relief by inflicting physical pain upon herself. Mind you, “She” also smashes her husband’s testicles with a block of wood, followed by an act of sexual gratification. All this comes before a horrific act of self-mutilation, solidifying “She” as arguably the most controversial female character in cinema history.

#3: Travis Bickle

“Taxi Driver” (1976)

For the majority of Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller, Robert De Niro’s character is mostly quiet and observant. Travis Bickle analyzes the world around him, all the while trying to make personal connections. But he’s a social outcast with unresolved psychological issues, and his increasing frustration boils over in the film’s violent climax. Bickle goes ona murderous rampage to free Jodie Foster’s character from prostitution, which ultimately inspired a real life attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Despite his “hero” status within the film, Travis Bickle remains a highly controversial character, as the ends don’t always justify the means.

#2: Jar Jar Binks

“Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace” (1999)

By 1999, Star Wars was a lifestyle, and the original films were revered as a holy trilogy. But when the computer-generated Jar Jar Binks emerged, his comedic relief didn’t go over well with … much of anyone, really. While offering little to the plot, the buffoonish character has nearly 20 minutes of screen time – way too much for many “Star Wars” fans. Jar Jar’s exaggerated demeanor, Jamaican-esque speaking pattern, and very existence have been heavily scrutinized. To many, Jar Jar waters down the franchise in an attempt to entertain younger viewers, and the character has become an international punchline due to his extreme unpopularity.

#1: Alex DeLarge

“A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

This movie antihero lives by a specific code of “ultraviolence.” Alex is a teenage sociopath, and he takes pleasure in others’ pain. And, naturally, with Stanley Kubrick behind the camera, the character’s immoral behavior received special attention upon the film’s release, especially considering Alex’s flamboyant and unapologetic nature. Finally jailed due to his senselessly savage lifestyle, Alex receives unorthodox treatments for his sadistic behavior. Effectively nurtured to violence, Alex becomes a victim, leaving audiences split in their sympathies and divided over whether or not he was truly cured.