32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

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Written By Maya Cantina

Not everyone wants to root for the squeaky-clean hero. People like flaws and misguided motivations. There are villains we love to hate, like Hans Gruber and Regina George, and there are antiheroes we hate to love. This is our list of all those flawed characters that we cheer for. 

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Mad Max (Mad Max Franchise)

No one could have predicted that a small-budget Australian movie like The Road Warrior would launch a franchise, but it has. Mel Gibson’s Mad Max, a former cop turned vigilante in a post-apocalyptic world. Max is violent and ruthless, but he’s driven by grief, so we love him for it. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Disney)

Jack Sparrow (Pirates Of The Caribbean)

There aren’t a lot of chances in life to root for a pirate, but there aren’t a lot of pirates quite like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He cheats, lies, and steals and we love him for it. He’s one of the greatest antiheroes of all time. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Catwoman (Batman)

Though Catwoman may have started as a villain in the Batman comics, in most of her appearances in movies, she’s been a clear antiheroine. She’s been portrayed on the big screen most recently by Zoë Kravitz in The Batman, and in the past by Anne Hathaway, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Halle Berry, and each time, she walks that line between enemy and friend to Batman. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Lionsgate Films)

Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)

One of the worst characters on this list has to be Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) from American Psycho. The title tells the whole story, right? Yet somehow, he’s one of the most quotable characters in film history, Whether it’s about how Huey Lewis is great or getting reservations at Dorsia we love to quote the serial killer and that means we are rooting for him, in a way. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Arthur Fleck (The Joker)

Everyone knows where the Joker ends up, as the Clown Prince of Crime and one of the worst villains in Gotham. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) in The joker is easy to root for, at least at first. He’s a guy that just can’t catch a break and he’s pushed to his limit, so we can all empathize with his plight, even when it leads to crime. We just don’t take it as far as Fleck does, hopefully. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Disney)

Han Solo (Star Wars)

You might be surprised to see Han Solo (Harrison Ford) on this list, but you have to remember, before he became a hero, he was a bad boy smuggler; the one who shot first in his meeting with Greedo; just a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder who few people trusted. He didn’t want to get involved in the fight for freedom and fought joining the rebellion for years.  

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Vito Corleone

Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather rose from the most modest of circumstances in Sicily to the height of power in New York City. Unfortunately, he made that rise through brutality and murder. Still, he’s loyal and honest to his family and his organization, and he’s just…well… cool. Plus he loves cats. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures)

Snake Plissken (Escape From New York)

Snake Plissken is maybe the coolest guy on this list. Sure, he’s a heartless criminal who only looks out for himself, but can you blame him? Look at the mess of a world he’s living in. He’s who everyone would want to be if they were stuck in a bombed-out shell that was once New York City. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Deadpool (Deadpool)

The Merc with the Mouth, Deadpool, is a now-legendary antihero from Marvel. He’s foul-mouthed and murderous. Everything most Marvel heroes eschew, Deadpool embraces and we love him for it. Somehow, despite being everything a hero isn’t supposed to be, makes him a better hero than many. He’s just a bad guy who gets paid to mess up worse guys. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Miramax)

Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)

In Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield is trying to walk a different path. He’s had enough of being a hitman, and we should admire him for it, but let’s be honest, it’s his coolness in being a hitman that makes us love him. The bible-quoting, swearing, no-nonsense criminal is just fun to root for, despite all the murdering. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)

No one can ever question the motivations of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The abuse she suffered would not be wished on anyone’s worst enemies. What it turns her into is something terrifying, and yet endearing, making her the ultimate antiheroine. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

John Wick (John Wick)

Yes, John Wick is avenging the murder of a dog when he is sucked back into his old life, and that is something we can all stand behind, but let’s not forget he is a cold-blooded assassin. He lives and operates in a terrifying underworld that is not making the world a better place. So while his immediate actions might be somewhat justified, he’s no hero. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: United Artists)

R.P. McMurphy (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest)

Randle Patrick McMurphy is one of the greatest antiheroes of modern literature and cinema. Played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest RP McMurphy is the best kind of troublemaker. A career criminal trying to take down the real bad guys, “the system”, or in this specific case, Nurse Ratched and the institution he finds himself in. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Gaumont Buena Vista International)

Léon (Léon: The Professional)

Jean Reno’s performance as the protagonist in Léon: The Professional is phenomenal. His dedication to Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is heartfelt and honest and that’s what endears him to audiences. The hitman with a heart of gold, so to speak. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: New World Pictures)

Veronica (Heathers)

One of the darkest (and best) comedies of the 1980s was Heathers and at its heart is Veronica (Winona Ryder), who becomes part of a murderous duo with her boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater). It plays for laughs, sure, and every teenager can relate, but, yikes, she’s terrible! 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)

There may be no worse person on this list than Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange. His penchant for “ultra-violence” is beyond disturbing, but she sure does have style! The white suit and black bowler hat is an iconic look so that alone makes him cool enough to root for. It’s really what happens to him at the hands of the doctors to cure him that gets us rooting for him though, as messed up as that is. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Wolverine (X-Men)

Comic books, and the movies based on them, are filled with great antiheroes, and Wolverine is among the very best. Hugh Jackman’s version of Wolverine in all of the various X-Men movies makes us love the character even more. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Disney/Fox)

Tyler Durden

Tyler Durden in Fight Club has almost become an actual hero to many these days, but it shouldn’t be. Sure, he shows the Narrator (Edward Norton) a different way to live, with more confidence and moxie, but he’s a terrible role model, ultimately. Brad Pitt plays the role with so much charisma though, he’s hard not to love.  

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad)

Harley Quinn, played brilliantly by Margot Robbie in various DC films, including Suicide Squad among others, is one of the most likable antiheroines on this list. She’s as violent as a character can be, but she sure does it with style! 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Severus Snape (Harry Potter)

Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) in the Harry Potter franchise walks the line between antihero and hero more than anyone on this list. His motivations seem to be to get back at Harry for his unrequited love for Harry’s mother, but he ultimately proves his loyalty several times in Harry’s fight with Voldemort. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Paramount)

Michael Corleone (The Godfather Saga)

While Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) may claim that that he’s trying to go legit, his actions at every turn throughout the The Godfather series say otherwise. Pretty much everything he says is immediately discarded in favor of his lust for power. He turns on almost everyone around him, yet somehow audiences always see the more human side of him and root for him. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Miramax)

Beatrix Kiddo (Kill Bill)

Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to create one of the most stylish antiheroines in film history. Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) is dead-set on revenge for past actions against her, and boy oh boy does she get it. Don’t get in her way.

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Loki (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Loki causes more grief and mischief than almost any other character in the MCU, save for Thanos. Still, Tom Hiddleston’s various performances are among the best in the franchise, and how can you not love him, even when he’s at his worst? Truly one of the best villains in film history.  

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Gordon Gekko (Wall Street)

It’s unlikely that Wall Street Director Oliver Stone meant for Gordon Gekko to become a cultural hero of any kind, but Michael Douglas’ Oscar-winning performance has turned him into a very popular antihero. While the character represents everything that is wrong with Wall Street in the 1980s and even today, Douglas is so good, you walk away liking the character, instead of despising him. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Universal)

Tony Montana (Scarface)

There is nothing we should like about Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in Scarface. Sure, he got rich after getting thrown out of Cuba and landing in Miami with nothing, but how he got there is just awful. He’s mean and nasty to everyone he comes in contact with, even his closest friends. Somehow still, audiences love him and his little friend. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Bodhi (Point Break)

Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is a bank-robbing criminal with little regard for anyone but himself and his desires. He’s also a surfer and skydiver who is searching for “100% pure adrenaline). It’s that second part that audiences fall in love with. He’s a guy searching for the ultimate natural high, no matter what it takes. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Lions Gate Films)

The Punisher (Marvel)

There may be no greater example of a pure antihero than The Punisher. Former cop Frank Castle has understandable motives, avenging the murder of his family, but his means are brutal. The character has been played by Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson, and Dolph Lundgren on the big screen, and more recently by Jon Bernthal in the MCU, but the story is always the same and it’s always violent, yet relatable, in a weird way.  

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

William Foster (Falling Down)

Michael Douglas’ character in Falling Down is a man on the edge when the film begins. Soon, he’s in a rage, followed by a violent rampage against everything that irks him. It’s an irrational response to common feelings all humans deal with. It makes the character relatable, but not righteous. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Conan (Conan the Barbarian)

Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in Conan the Barbarian is another antihero who is driven by his desire to avenge his family’s murder. To do so, he is ruthless and violent. His methods are everything we should hate, but we understand what has driven him to this point. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)

Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) isn’t a dirty cop, in that he’s not taking bribes and treating the innocent badly. He’s not a good cop either and his means to the end are terrifying. He’s a one-man judge, jury, and executioner throughout the entire Dirty Harry series, but he’s got some amazing lines, so we love him. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Paramount Vantage)

Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)

Daniel Day-Lewis can make almost any character he plays likable, no matter how awful they are. Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood is the perfect example of this, as he is mean, greedy, and vengeful. Still, the performance is so amazing, and his love for his son is genuine, so we excuse it, to a point. 

32 Movie Antiheroes We Hate To Love

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Hannibal Lector (The Silence Of The Lambs)

Anthony Hopkins performance as Hannibal Lector in The Silence Of The Lambs is one of the most chilling and scariest in film history. The serial killer-turned-FBI-consultant is awful in every way except for his treatment of Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster). It’s exactly why we’re rooting for him at the end of the movie to get his revenge on Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald). 

Antiheroes have been a part of storytelling forever and though we know we’re supposed to hate them, this list shows why we can’t help but love them. 

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