It’s no secret that Quentin Tarantino likes to connect his films. From Big Kahuna Burger to Red Apple Cigarettes, his body of work has built up quite the narrative continuity, winning the extended universe game long before crews like Justice League and The Avengers showed up. Technically speaking, there’s two timelines in Tarantino’s rulebook (three if you count Jackie Brown): the “movie universe,” which includes stuff like Kill Bill (2003/04), Death Proof (2007), and From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), and the “realer than real universe,” where Pulp Fiction (1994), Inglorious Basterds (2009), and most everything else takes place. Many (including Tarantino himself) have been quick to support this elaborate structure with their own wild theories, proving that it’s more cinephile fun than anything else.
That being said, Tarantino’s vision is still breathtakingly cool. Easter eggs, clever callbacks, and family ties have been around ever since Reservoir Dogs hit in 1992, and the director has since remained on-point with this career-spanning plan. Related characters, in particular, having risen to the top of Tarantino’s trademark bag, and serve as the single greatest example of his screenwriting talent. Some of these connections are no-brainers, but others are so sly you have may missed them the first time around…
Here are Screen Rant’s 12 Quentin Tarantino Characters That Are Actually Related.
12 Django/Broomhilda Von Shaft & John Shaft
Relationship: Great Great Grandparents and Great Great Granchild
John Shaft is by no means a Quentin Tarantino creation, but that didn’t stop the pop culture junkie from fitting him into the lineage of Django Unchained (2012). As the tale of a former slave turned bounty hunter, the film saw fit to honor the iconic P.I. by suggesting he be a distant ancestor of Django (Jamie Foxx) and Broomhilda Von Shaft (Kerry Washington). It’s subtle enough to go unnoticed, though fans familiar with Tarantino are well aware of his blaxploitation influence, and the resulting easter egg is a slick touch.
The writer/director even went on record to confirm the connection, explaining how “her [Broomhilda] and Django will eventually have a baby, that baby will have a baby and one of these days - John Shaft will be born. John Shaft started with this man here and this lady here.” From a similarity standpoint, both Django and John sport enough more than enough charisma to make their relation a no-brainer. Throw in Samuel L. Jackson’s John Shaft II in the 2000 reboot, and this is a family who can most certainly dig it.
11 Gerald & Marvin Nash
Landing on the opposite side of the cool spectrum, the Nash family has not been known for their good luck in the Tarantino-verse. Fans first caught a glimpse of this misfortune in Reservoir Dogs (1992), where rookie patrolman Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) is abducted and tortured by the musical madness of Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen). This sad display made a strong case that no other Nash should ever pursue a career in law enforcement, though Gerald Nash clearly felt otherwise when he appeared in Natural Born Killers (1994).
Or rather, when the actor playing him appears. Gerald is never actually seen in the film, and is instead recreated for a TV report on mass murderers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) Knox. Sure enough, this bumbling Nash was carrying a box of donuts when he was blown away, a fate even more embarrassing that his half-deaf cousin. Maybe both men should’ve followed in the footsteps of their granddad Gerald (Django Unchained), and pursued a life of crime instead.
10 Lawrence & Jimmy Dimmick
With the amount of acting that Quentin Tarantino does himself, it was only a matter of time before he snagged up a family connection of his own. Sure enough, this claim came to fruition though Pulp Fiction (1994), as the director played irate coffee connoisseur Jimmy Dimmick. Contacted by Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) to help him in a pinch, the unphased Jimmy spends more time complaining than he does wincing at the splattered back seat (poor Marvin). In this, it’s apparent that Jimmy is no stranger to crime scenes, a trait that most suburban dudes with awful clothing wouldn’t typically share.
Of course, most suburban dudes aren't siblings with Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). That’s right, Jimmy and White, born Lawrence “Larry” Dimmick, grew up together, presumably terrorizing their poor, unprepared parents. Sharing similar hairstyles and an affinity for a good cup of joe, it’s not difficult to see these two shooting the breeze. Although, given that Larry dies in Reservoir Dogs (1992), the fact that Winston Wolfe is his spitting image has little to no effect on Jimmy - maybe he was still waking up, or something.
9 Captain Koons & Crazy Craig Koons
Relationship: Great Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandson
Joining the Smitty Bacall Gang with Gerald Nash, Crazy Craig Koons is one of the many character seeds planted in Django Unchained. Another man who is read about and not seen, Koons chronologically serves as the great-great-grandfather of Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), who went to war and befriended a man named Coolidge. Possessing the same wide-eyed tenacity that caused his ancestor’s nickname, the veteran spent years as a POW with a gold watch up his rear end, maintaining a promise to Coolidge that he would one day deliver it to his son Butch (Bruce Willis).
All this familial development is kind of ironic, given that the Koons legacy is relegated to a single stomach-churning monologue. Even odder, the name Seymour Scagnetti was originally Craig Koons in the Reservoir Dogs script; a swap that would’ve made the two Koons father-and-son instead of distant relatives. Tarantino ultimately chose to save the name for a later story, creating not one, but two iconic families in the process.
8 Seymour & Jack Scagnetti
Carrying over with Seymour, the Scagnetti clan might just earn the Tarantino award for least likable siblings. Whereas the Dimmicks at least had a witty charm to their illegal ways, unseen parole officer Seymour is immediately called a few four letter names in Reservoir Dogs flashbacks. And while an unstable murderer (Mr. Blonde) happens to be the one dishing such insults out, the viewer gets the distinct feeling he’s not too far off in his views. Tarantino, having named the character after his own lawyer Jack Scagnetti, surely got a kick out of such rancid buildup, and returned to the family when it came time to write Natural Born Killers.
Mirroring his brother’s lawful facade, officer Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) is a staggering piece of filth, equally at ease killing hookers as he is soliciting sex from prisoners. It’s tough to envision a world where Jack is the nicer of the Scagnetti siblings, for there’s little this celebrity cop wouldn’t do. As a result, it’s easy to note the resemblance between Blonde’s description and Jack’s pompadoured idiocy.
7 The Maynards
Relationship: Great Great Great Grandfather and Great Great Great Grandson (ish)
While it’s never explicitly confirmed, the guy who yells out “Ain’t no ni**a gonna kill Maynard!” in Django Unchained is probably named Maynard. Assuming this is true, the rest of his family survived under the knowledge that a black man came through and killed their own kin. Further stoking the fires of what already seemed to be a racist bunch, this otherwise epic story would be the perfect indoctrination for little racist Maynards to pass down from generation to generation. Maybe even to a guy who owns his own pawn shop, complete with sex toys and a leathered gimp downstairs.
At least, that what seems to be the case in Pulp Fiction. Pulling a particularly hostile attitude on Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), the great-great grandson (Duane Whitaker) of Maynard is not only a racist, but a sexual deviant with law enforcement assistance (Peter Greene). Thankfully Butch comes through with a samurai sword and puts this freaky display to rest, because this family really took a turn, post-Django.
6 Dr. King & Paula Schultz
Relationship: Husband and Wife
Emigrating from Germany to America, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) would practice stateside dentistry until 1853, where he would then take on a second career as a bounty hunter. According to this popular theory, the good doctor married a woman named Paula at some point in the 1840s, a union that ended poorly due to his violent profession. As a result, the significantly younger Mrs. Schultz would separate from her spouse and die alone in 1893. The only reason we know this, and can be confident in such a specific timeframe, is because Paula’s gravestone also doubles as The Bride’s burial ground in Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (2004).
The logic is a little hinky, given that Kill Bill is of the “movie universe” and Django Unchained of the “realer than real universe,” but there’s no mistaking the name Paula Schultz; clear as day and a haunting reminder of what Dr. King left behind to hunt bounties. Maybe the Kill Bill production was filming on location, and just so happened to land on this specific grave? That would at least keep the Tarantino-verses from crashing into each other.
5 Earl & Edgar McGraw
Relationship: Father and Son
Most Quentin Tarantino characters get killed at one point or another; it’s par for the course. But even then, Earl McGraw’s death in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) is exceptionally quick. Gunned down by Richie Gecko (Tarantino) during a botched robbery, the Texas Ranger (Michael Parks) falls victim to chance, unaware of his impending doom until it’s too late. Fortunately, despite being the guy who blew McGraw’s brains out, Tarantino resurrected the role when it came to time to make his other “movie universe” installments.
Appearing for the second time in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003), McGraw brings his son Edgar (James Parks) along, investigating a church massacre while scolding any malarkey about taking the Lord’s name in vain. Earl and Edgar would go on to become vital players in the crazier Tarantino-verse, offering their hayseed wisdom in everything from Kill Bill and Death Proof (2007) to a particularly large portion of Planet Terror (2007). This extended exposure, both in film and television, only goes to show that Tarantino can find eccentricity in the most mundane of characters.
4 Esmeralda & Gabriella Villalobos
Relationship: Same Person
Moving away from the mundane, cab driver Esmeralda (Angela Jones) leaves a memorable mark in her lone Pulp Fiction appearance. Caught between sensual and unstable, the exotic beauty banters back-and-forth with Butch (Bruce Willis), all the while probing as to what it feels like to kill a man. The character remains one of the director’s oddest, and someone who definitely seemed worthy to pursue beyond a simple taxi ride. Tarantino evidently thought so as well, and co-wrote the 1996 black comedy Curdled, which found Esmeralda moving to Miami and changing her name to Gabriella.
Granted, it’s not a “relation” per say, but this nifty identity swap is still worth mentioning. Less chatty than she was in her cabbie days, Gabriella retains the death obsession that characterized her Pulp sequence, and set the stage for her current career choice: crime scene clean-up. Curdled also finds time to drop in a few news bulletins on the Gecko brothers, who are still on the loose after the events of From Dusk Till Dawn.
3 Donny & Lee Donowitz
Relationship: Father and Son
Few modern characters have proven as iconic as The Bear Jew (Eli Roth). Born Donny Donowitz, as if Stan Lee was brought in for name consultation, this Boston badass would prove vital to the American forces in Inglourious Basterds (2009). Between bashing Nazi heads with a baseball bat and blasting Adolf Hitler to bits, Donowitz pretty much became the biggest war hero of all time, and a tremendously tough act to follow. As a result, his son Lee (Saul Rubinek) grew up without much of a chance, constantly failing to live up to The Bear Jew, before ultimately finding a career in show business.
By the time we meet Lee in True Romance (1993), he’s a coked-out mess, dealing with shysters and all sorts of illegal nutjobs on his way down the industry toilet. But even in this frazzled state, the junior Donowitz maintains a purity towards Comin’ Home In A Body Bag, a wartime tribute to his fallen father. Both heartwarming and pathetic, it’s a storytelling touch that truly benefits from Tarantino’s historical tie-in.
2 English Pete & Archie Hicox
Relationship: Great Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandson
The most recent addition to the Tarantino-verse, this ancestral bond actually goes from bad to good, as opposed to the downward spiraling Lee Donowitz. Set amidst the chilly horror of The Hateful Eight (2015), viewers are introduced to Oswaldo Mowbray (Tim Roth), a hapless British chap who passes himself off as the new hangman. Naturally, all is not what it seems, and this funny little fellow turns out to be outlaw English Pete Hicox, noted member of Jody Domergue’s gang. And though he may have pulled a fast one on bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell), there’s little doubt he got his comeuppance before the film drew to a close.
English Pete’s great-grandson, Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), also grew up to be duplicitous, though notably on the right side of the law. As a film critic-turned-spy in Inglorious Basterds, the refined Archie wound up giving his life for the cause, in the process providing one of the all time great bar exchanges gone wrong. Eli Roth has since spoken on the clever connection, and even The Bear Jew seems caught up in the fun: “He is the great-great grandfather. I’m not sure if it’s great or great-great or great-great-great, but’s it’s always the same with Quentin, which I loved.”
1 Vic & Vincent Vega
As the most famous connection Tarantino has ever created, the Vega brothers take the top spot with ease. Granted, both men are loonies who find murder as acceptable as wearing black suits, but the differences between them make for some fascinating Quentin Tarantino quirks. For one, Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) is the stone cold psycho of the two, the younger brother who likes to spice up his tortures sessions with some smooth dance moves. His untimely death at the end of 1992’s Reservoir Dogs presumably affected Vincent (John Travolta), though the guy is so whacked out on drugs it’s hard to tell.
Older brother Vincent is definitely the more mellow of the two, open to discussion and a few jokes before he blows whoever it is in half. Tellingly, and somewhat humorously, his dancing skills mirror that of Vic, though without the mutilation and screaming policeman to ruin the groove. Vincent also gets riddled with bullets by the end (or, middle?) of Pulp Fiction, but Tarantino’s teasing of a Vega brothers spinoff still ranks among the most disappointing films never made.