The Coen Brothers' 10 Most Memorable Characters, Ranked

The Coen Brothers, Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen, are American filmmakers that have been driving force on the big screen since their debut of Blood Simple in 1984. As directors and writers, these two brothers have created a name for themselves. With thirteen Academy Award nominations, the Coen Brothers have dozens of famous titles under their belts. Although their films span across multiple genres, there is no denying that these brilliant minds create memorable and intriguing characters. Here are their 10 most memorable characters, ranked.

RELATED: From Weird To Even Weirder: 5 Fan Fave Coen Brothers Movies (& 5 That Missed The Mark)

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

10 Ulysses Everett McGill – O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Everett is played by the phenomenal George Clooney, who is one prong of this iconic trio of escaped convicts in the 1930s. The other two, also memorable characters, are Pete Hogwallop (John Turturro) and Delmar O'Donnell (Tim Blake Nelson). While this film was definitely not the most famous of the Coen Brothers' long list of fame, these three convicts are pretty memorable for their dynamic and contrasting personalities. Everett is intelligent, charming, and the typical leader-of-the-group, with vanity as his biggest obstacle. The perfect anti-hero, Everett definitely makes this list.

9 Llewyn Davis – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Oscar Isaac (who you may recognize as the dreamy pilot, Poe, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens) plays the mysterious, ambitious, and struggling musician, Llewyn Davis. This film takes place in the 1960s, where Llewyn Davis is struggling to keep his head above water amidst a difficult career as a folk singer after his partner passes away.

RELATED: 15 Best Movies & TV Shows of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cast

This character isn't actually even a likable one, yet somehow we're all devastated that things just aren't going his way. We definitely won't forget Llewyn Davis, our hearts are now permanently broken.

8 Rooster Cogburn – True Grit (2010)

This film is arguably the most famous of the Coen Brothers' franchise, and we can see why. After the murder of her father, the brilliant (and young Hailee Steinfeld!), Mattie Ross sets off to find the killer. She hires a U.S. marshal, Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn, a man with definite "true grit". This drunk, tough, and unmotivated man makes for an incredibly dynamic character, and we definitely get to see his true grit tested. Played by the brilliant Jeff Bridges, this rough cowboy with an eye-patch will definitely stick in your memory (& a shout out to Mattie Ross and LaBoeuf, too).

7 Buster Scruggs – Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

This is the newest of the Coen Brothers' films, and is even a Netflix original! This film follows six different tales in the Old West, including, of course, the singing gunslinger Buster Scruggs. Played by Tim Blake Nelson, this character definitely stands out with his brutal violence and pleasant voice.

RELATED: The Best Netflix Original Movies of 2018

A seemingly nice guy on the forefront, Buster Scruggs is the perfect character that we'll all remember as being somewhat of a good guy, and somewhat of a bad guy. His catchy tunes result in a lot of dead bodies, but that's kind of what makes this character so intriguing.

6 Marge Gunderson – Fargo (1996)

Marge Gunderson is one of the most famous female leads of her time, and we have a lot to thank this character for in terms of breaking the femme fatal stereotype of crime films. This crime drama thriller includes murder, embezzlement, and family drama, all leading to the brilliant (and pregnant!) Marge Gunderson, a tenacious sheriff who is set on solving the brutal crimes. Played by Frances McDormand, this character is comedic, intelligent, and one hell of a female force. We thank you, Frances (& the Coen Brothers!)

5 Barton Fink – Barton Fink (1991)

This dynamic character is played by the incredible John Turturro. Barton Fink is a New York playwright in 1941 when he moves to Hollywood for a writing project. His bizarre journey of writer's block and artistic ego couldn't be more relatable to an aspiring writer.

RELATED: Frances McDormand's 10 Greatest Roles, Ranked

Suddenly, Barton's life becomes more creative and story-worthy than anything he could hope to write, which becomes a beautiful and memorable metaphor for the life and mind of a writer. We're not going to forget this nerdy and bizarre character, and we're rooting for him as much as we can.

4 Loren Visser – Blood Simple (1984)

A classic Texas cop film, this Coen Brothers' classic follows a Texas bartender who hires a private detective, Loren Visser, to prove that his wife is having an affair. After a tragic turn of events, Visser is soon hired to kill the wife and his lover, wrapping these four characters into a messy knot of misunderstanding and murder. Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) isn't exactly your typical licensed-to-kill private detective, making for a pretty entertaining and messy film. His raw and vulgar personality feeds off of his intelligence, and we're definitely not going to mess with him (but we'll remember him).

3 H.I. McDunnough – Raising Arizona (1987)

When an ex-con and an ex-cop, who also happen to be a couple, decide to kidnap one quintuplet from a family (would they even notice?), their lives become pretty complicated (who knew?). Holly Hunter and Nicolas Cage are our leading lads in this one, and Cage plays the unforgettable H.I. McDunnough.

RELATED: 10 Must-Own Gifts For Fans Of The Coen Brothers Movies

From shoplifting diapers to kidnapping babies, this man is eccentric, ridiculous, and somehow incredibly soulful and honest. We dare you to even try and forget this one.

2 The Dude – The Big Lebowski (1998)

Jeff Bridges takes another spot on this list with this iconic character. Even if you've never seen a Coen Brothers' film, you've DEFINITELY heard of the Big Lebowski, aka "The Dude". When this super-chill character is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, he enlists his bowling buddies to help him regain money for his property that two thugs ruin in their identity mess-up. The Dude's pure, hippy, joyful personality creates for an incredible tale of somehow non-confrontational drama and an incredible internal journey. Lebowski isn't a man, but a way of life, right?

1 Anton Chigurh – No Country for Old Men (2007)

This crime drama follows the ensuing violence and mayhem after a drug deal goes horribly wrong, and none other than an innocent hunter stumbles across the two million dollars (in cash!). Played by Javier Bardem (and co-starring with Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Woody Harrelson), this iconic and most definitely recognizable character is unarguably both distinctive and memorable. Chigurh is searching for the missing money, and is willing to kill anyone in his path. With no real rhyme or reason (or backstory, for that matter), this pure villain is brilliant and is pretty much just death itself. We're trying to forget him, but he's haunting our dreams for the rest of eternity.

NEXT: The Coen Brothers' Movies, Ranked

More in Lists