Atticus Finch of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD proclaimed #1 Hero and Dr. Hannibal Lecter of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS declared #1 Villain

Indiana Jones, Norman Bates, James Bond, Darth Vader, Rick Blaine, The Wicked Witch of the West, Will Kane and Nurse Ratched Top the List

"You never know someone, until you step inside their skin and walk around a little." -- Atticus Finch

The American Film Institute (AFI) revealed the top 50 heroes and top 50 villains of all time in AFI's 100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains three-hour television event hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who earned both a hero and villain honor for his portrayal of the "Terminator." Deeply principled and idealistic attorney Atticus Finch (portrayed by Gregory Peck), from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, was chosen as the greatest hero in 100 years of film history, while the greatest villain was revealed as the brilliant, cunning and psychotic Dr. Hannibal Lecter (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins) from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL.

Rounding out the top 10 heroes in ranking order were Indiana Jones, James Bond, Rick Blaine, Will Kane, Clarice Starling, Rocky Balboa, Ellen Ripley and T.E. Lawrence. Joining Dr. Lecter's circle of top 10 villains, also in ranking order, were Norman Bates, Darth Vader, The Wicked Witch of the West, Nurse Ratched, Mr. Potter, Alex Forrest, Phyllis Dietrichson, Regan MacNeil and The Queen (in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS). [Download the full list with characters and film details below.]

"This year, the 100 Heroes & Villains list may be one of the most thought provoking to date," stated AFI Director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg. "We hope these top 50 heroes and 50 villains lists will inspire movie lovers to acquaint and reacquaint themselves with these amazing and often complex characters in American film."


The jurors were asked to consider the following criteria while making their selections:

  • Feature-Length Fiction Film: The film must be in narrative format, typically more than 60 minutes in length.

  • American Film: The film must be in the English language with significant creative and/or financial production elements from the United States.

  • Hero: For voting purposes, a "hero" was defined as a character(s) who prevails in extreme circumstances and dramatizes a sense of morality, courage and purpose. Though they may be ambiguous or flawed, they often sacrifice themselves to show humanity at its best.

  • Villain: For voting purposes, a "villain" was defined as a character(s) whose wickedness of mind, selfishness of character and will to power are sometimes masked by beauty and nobility, while others may rage unmasked. They can be horribly evil or grandiosely funny, but are ultimately tragic.

  • Cultural Impact: Characters who have a made a mark on American society in matters of style and substance.

  • Legacy: Characters who elicit strong reactions across time, enriching America's film heritage while continuing to inspire contemporary artists and audiences.

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes & Villains is the sixth installment in AFI's centennial celebration of American cinema, meant to spark a national discussion of America's film history among movie lovers across the nation.

What's your favorite movie? TELL US HERE.

AFI's 100 YEARS...100 HEROES & VILLAINS (2003)
List of the 400 nominated screen characters.
AFI's Top 50 heroes and top 50 villains.

Click here to go to the list downloads page.
Simple registration required