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Ranking the Relative Evil of 'Pulp Fiction' Characters

Who is the worst of the worst?

Miramax Films Poster

Pulp Fiction isn’t necessarily strong on a central plot that ties the story together. It can almost be described as a movie about nothing — except with some serious degenerates. I prefer, a day in the life of a bunch of bad people, and after 23 years, I thought it’s time to rank the relative evil of these devilishly wonderful characters.

10. Esmeralda Villalobos

I love Esmeralda Villalobos, and yes, she just edges out Mia Wallace to make the top ten. We know she’s a law abiding citizen. But just because the cabbie lacks an avenue to evil, doesn’t mean she falls short among all the competing sociopaths. “What does beating another man to death with your bare hands feel like?" she coldly prods Butch. Just a subject that interests her, you have to wonder how long it will be before she starts lighting homeless people on fire.

9. Jimmy/Lance

In both these cases, the bathrobe says it all. Both characters exude laziness and have no qualms about adding nothing to the human race as we know it. Pushing heroin and marrying into a crime family seems trivial compared to eating fruit loops over midnight cartoons and haggling over gourmet coffee. Please get some sun, smile at a child, or at least take some initiative to move up the ladder in your chosen field. The duo could probably use a good shower too or makes you feel like you need one just for looking at them.

8. Butch

Butch may have just started as a boxer with big dreams. But he has gone right down the rabbit hole that runs parallel with the baser elements of the sport. He’s made his bed with mobsters, agrees to take a fall and effortlessly goes back on his word. Still, it’s hard not to get behind his athletic integrity — until you see how richly he cashes in with the bookies. Killing without remorse doesn’t win him any points either. “I don't feel the least bit bad about it,” he shrugs off his opponent’s death. But a little subtlety goes a long way and much is revealed when Esmeralda asks him what his name means. “I’m an American, our names don’t mean shit.” Such narrow-mindedness and arrogance can’t help when it comes to hopefully developing into a decent human being.

7. Pumpkin and Honey Bunny

Love conquers all. This couple proves it, and since knocking over chain restaurants suffices, money will not come between them. So clever, this joint venture have nothing to worry about. They have a touching love, and a chemistry that should endure the test of time. But so did Bonnie and Clyde, and it won’t be long before this terrible waste of affection succumbs to the inevitable.

6. Captain Koons

Captain Koons is supposed to represent the finest America has to offer. His relative rank must be arrived at by tabulating the distance between his evil, and his fall from being the best and the brightest. He rises to the heights by going the distance to return the gold watch and doing a serious man-up in the face of torture. But he’s no John McCain. “This watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any slope’s gonna put their greasy, yellow hands on his boy's birthright,” Koons doesn't observe the nuances of war and condemns an entire hemisphere. Worse yet, his failings may have put Butch on a path that his honorable lineage would never have approved.

5. Jules/Vincent Vega

Our amiable hitmen fall perfectly in the middle. They just carry out the directives of the evil above, and maybe this is all their backgrounds afforded them. On the other hand, the duo isn’t lacking in intelligence, and other options were obviously deferred in favor of the easy way out. The way they shrug off life and death helps make the case, but a good laugh goes a long way — or half the way.  

4. Marsellus Wallace

The man in charge. He elevates by default. He throws people out windows, kills indiscriminately, and so looks the part. But he only likes to get fucked by Mrs. Wallace, so at least infidelity is off the table. On the other hand, Mia may have something to say on that matter, and Marcellus could be moving up the list.

3. Mr. Wolf

Mr. Wolf takes pride in his work, and the cool, ingenuity that people have come to count on. Of course, if that involves disposing of a low-level associate, he doesn't let something as trivial as cognitive dissonance keep him from delivering on his log line. "I fix problems,” he assures. When you go to 8 AM cocktail parties with the beautiful people, rationalizations are you’re only option. Or you could get a real job and do quite well for yourself anyway.  But what's the fun in that, because collateral damage can't get in the way of a social life that is unmatched anywhere. 

2. Zed, Maynard, and the Gimp

Oh my God, where does this entire sequence even come from. (Oh yeah, this is Quentin Tarantino). Murder, racketeering and scores to settle are all on the menu and approved. But honor among thieves obviously makes no room for gang rape. There are higher rules, and the petty differences between Butch and Marcellus are easily put aside in rendering a just verdict for these three.

1. Brett

Who eats Big Kahuna Burgers at 7 o’clock in the morning? Well, Brett and his big brained buddies do. But the real question is how do they end up at the top of the list? Here you have a bunch of college educated go getters who want to get there by cutting whatever corners they can. That dingy first job apartment will not do and neither will the wait to achieve corporate status among those they see as less deserving. So when they roll the dice and find themselves completely out of their element, the real world they’ve chosen owes them nothing. That is except a send off that expresses the almighty’s displeasure. “And you will know my name is the Lord…"

You know the rest.

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