Top 10 Movie Characters That Were More Important Than You Realize
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Top 10 Movie Characters That Were More Important Than You Realize

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Sometimes it takes a minor part to make a machine function. For this list, we'll be looking at characters who seemed insignificant at first glance, but if you removed them, the movie or future installments would fall apart. Our countdown includes Jar Jar Binks, Agent Phil Coulson, Neville Longbottom, and more!

Top 10 Movie Characters That Were More Important Than You Realize

Sometimes it takes a minor part to make a machine function. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Characters That Were More Important Than You Realize.

For this list, we’ll be looking at characters who seemed insignificant at first glance, but if you removed them, the movie or future installments would fall apart.

#10: The Security Guard

“Wayne’s World” (1992)
“Wayne’s World” satirizes several movie tropes, from product placement to breaking the fourth wall. Through Chris Farley’s security guard, the film pokes fun at characters who solely exist to dump exposition. At an Alice Cooper concert, the guard tells Wayne and Garth about Frankie Sharp, a record producer who travels around the country in his limo searching for talent. The guard even knows Sharp’s precise route. Wayne finds it odd that a security guard would know so much, but it’s a good thing that the guys bumped into him. Without his information, they wouldn’t have thought to broadcast Cassandra’s performance into Sharp’s limo, which Wayne points out. Of course, this still doesn’t explain why the guard looks exactly like their friend Milton in the sequel.

#9: Jar Jar Binks

“Star Wars” franchise (1977-)
As much as we hate to admit it, the “Star Wars” universe wouldn’t be what it is without arguably its most despised character. If it weren’t for Jar Jar, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi wouldn’t have found Otoh Gunga, meaning they’d just be stuck on Naboo for the entirety of “Phantom Menace.” It’s in “Attack of the Clones” where Jar Jar makes his greatest impact, though. Despite having less screen time, Jar Jar uses his new position as a Galactic Senate delegate to increase Chancellor Palpatine’s emergency powers. Had it not been for Jar Jar, Palpatine wouldn’t have created the Grand Army of the Republic, executed Order 66, or formed the Galactic Empire. In that sense, we guess Jar Jar was a necessary evil.

#8: Philippe

“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)
The film is titled “Beauty and the Beast,” but it might as well have been called “Maurice and the Beast” if you took out Philippe. After getting separated from his horse in the woods, Maurice stumbles upon the Beast’s castle where he’s locked up. When Philippe returns home without Maurice, he leads Belle back into the woods where she finds her father imprisoned. This is tweaked in the Broadway musical where LeFou uncovers Maurice’s lost scarf, influencing Belle to go look for him. Going by the film’s continuity, though, Philippe is the glue who holds this tale as old as time together. Maurice would’ve rotted away in that cell otherwise… or maybe he’d become the Beast’s guest? Honestly, we’d love to see that alternate reality!

#7: Mike Yanagita

“Fargo” (1996)
Sometimes you need to take a second look in order to see someone’s true colors. “Fargo” has numerous uncomfortable moments, but Marge’s reunion with Mike Yanagita is perhaps the hardest to watch. We mean, who hits on a happily married pregnant woman who they haven’t seen since high school? The cringe factor aside, Mike apparently has nothing to do with Mrs. Lundegaard’s kidnapping, the ransom, or anything pertaining to the plot. The pieces start falling into place, however, when Marge learns that Mike lied about his marriage. Marge is a habitually trusting person, but it occurs to her that if Mike’s story was fabricated, maybe Jerry wasn’t being entirely honest either. Considering Mike’s lie, she returns to Jerry and blows the case wide open.

#6: The Clock Tower Lady

“Back to the Future” (1985)
She’s never given a proper name, but there would’ve been a wrinkle in time if you erased the Clock Tower Lady from existence. Butting in on a romantic moment between Marty and Jennifer, this woman is looking to preserve the Hill Valley clock tower, which was struck by lightning 30 years earlier. She gives Marty a flyer, which he likely would’ve thrown away if Jennifer hadn’t used it to write down a phone number and an “I love you.” When Marty gets stuck in 1955, Doc tells him that the only way to reactivate the time machine is via a bolt of lightning. Thanks to the Clock Tower Lady, Marty knows where he needs to be on November 12, 1955, at 10:04 p.m.

#5: John Kramer

“Saw” (2004)
It’s now common knowledge among horror fans that John Kramer was the Jigsaw Killer. He’s essentially the face of this franchise. When the first “Saw” movie came out in 2004, however, most people didn’t give Kramer a second thought after he popped up in a flashback. Even if you suspected that Zep Hindle was working for someone else, Lawrence’s cancer patient probably wasn’t at the top of your suspect list. That is unless you noticed the drawings Kramer had been jotting down in his hospital bed. In the final scene, it’s revealed that this seemingly inconsequential character was hiding under our noses the whole time, pulling everyone’s strings like a puppet master. Now that Kramer’s identity is out, the game can truly begin.

#4: Agent Phil Coulson

“The Avengers” (2012)
There’s no such thing as a small role in the MCU. Despite essentially being a henchwoman in the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Nebula went through a compelling redemption arc in “Vol. 2,” which carried over to the subsequent “Avengers” sequels. Of course, the Avengers might not even exist without Phil Coulson. While his screen time was limited in “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Thor,” Coulson emerged as a fan favorite, making his sudden “demise” in 2012’s “The Avengers” all the more shocking. Coulson’s death encourages the Avengers to put their differences and egos aside, bringing them together as a team. Coulson returns as a lead in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” showing just how far he’s come since his first appearance.

#3: Bettina Peterson

“Cast Away” (2000)
This woman briefly appears in the opening of “Cast Away,” but we don’t get a very good look at her face. However, we do get a good look at her FedEx package, which has an angelic pair of wings plastered on it. Chuck Noland finds the parcel upon crash landing on a deserted island. Rather than open the package, it becomes a symbol of hope for Chuck, motivating him to survive and eventually escape. Inadvertently, Bettina’s actions saved a complete stranger’s life. Chuck finally crosses paths with Bettina in the final scene, but he initially doesn’t know that she’s the one who sent the package. Spotting an identical set of wings on the back of her truck, Chuck realizes that he’s found his guardian angel.

#2: Neville Longbottom

“Harry Potter” franchise” (2001-11)
Initially, it seems like Neville will never be more than the butt of the joke. However, while Neville doesn’t SEEM like the heroic type, he will fight when it matters most. This is first exemplified when he stands up to his friends, securing Gryffindor the House Cup. Neville’s contributions go far beyond this one instance. Although he’s given more development in the books, the movies still see Neville go through an extraordinary evolution as a key member of Dumbledore’s Army. Even when it looks like they’ve lost the Battle of Hogwarts, Neville refuses to join Voldemort. Wielding the Sword of Gryffindor, Neville beheads Nagini, allowing Harry to defeat the Dark Lord. Not bad for somebody who started off his first year losing his frog.

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

Mitch Murphy, “Home Alone” (1990)
The Headcount Would’ve Been Off If He Wasn’t Standing There

Pete Fountaine, “Gremlins” (1984)
If He Didn’t Spill That Water, Gizmo Wouldn’t Have Spawned More Mogwai

Lewis Dodgson, “Jurassic Park” (1993)
Without Him, Dennis Wouldn’t Have Stolen the Embryos

Dr. Caron, “Serenity” (2005)
So That’s Where the Reavers Came From

#1: Frank the Historian

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)
This comedy classic is full of random scenes that, while hilarious, go absolutely nowhere. So, when an anonymous knight suddenly slays a historian named Frank, it seems fairly trivial. Every once in a while, we cut back to the police’s investigation of Frank’s death, but this a minor distraction at most. The epic final battle is cut short, though, when the authorities arrive, arresting King Arthur and Sir Bedevere. The film is stopped dead in its tracks all over a character we barely even knew. It makes little sense, seeing how this story takes place in 932 AD, and Frank, being a historian, existed in modern times. Nevertheless, this ending cracks us up every time and it wouldn’t have been possible without Frank’s sacrifice.