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32 Movie And TV Characters That Deserved Getting Their Revenge

 Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4.
Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4.

To be perfectly clear, we do not condone violence (or even as a solution to any conflict… in reality, that is. However, in the realm of fiction, few things are as satisfying as seeing a character get even with their worst enemy, especially if the inciting incident was something truly unforgivable. See if you agree by reliving some of the best revenge movies and TV shows that incorporate the theme in the coldest, but ultimately justifiable, ways possible.

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4
Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick (John Wick)

In 2014’s first installment of the John Wick movies, all Keanu Reeves’ eponymous former assassin wanted was a life free of violence, until a Russian mobster's punk son killed his dog and stole his car very shortly after the death of his wife. Getting back into the deadly world he was desperate to leave behind was worth it just to make sure Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) and his crew paid for their wicked deed.

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill driving
Uma Thurman in Kill Bill driving

The Bride (Kill Bill)

The title role of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies (David Carradine) and the remaining members of his DiVAS unload a massacre at Beatrix "The Bride" Kiddo's wedding rehearsal, nearly killing her and her unborn child. The retired killer awakens from a four-year coma believing that her child is dead, develops an insatiable desire to punish her former colleagues, and gets her hands on a brand-new samurai sword to go on a “roaring rampage of revenge.”

Matilda Lutz in Revenge
Matilda Lutz in Revenge

Jen (Revenge)

In the aptly titled Revenge, Jen (Matilda Lutz) suffers a senseless act by one of her married boyfriend's perverse business partners, and her boyfriend's solution is to push her off a cliff, where she becomes impaled by a tree at the bottom. Inexplicably, she survives and proceeds to ruin the trio's hunting trip by waging a brutal war on them in the middle of the desert in writer and director Coralie Fargeat's enthralling thriller.

Nicolas Cage in Mandy
Nicolas Cage in Mandy

Red Miller (Mandy)

Lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) watches the love of his life, the titular Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), get burned alive by a sadistic cult led by a spiteful, Charles Manson-inspired musician (Linus Roache). Red retaliates by brutally taking them out one by one (even being forced to take on an otherworldly biker gang) in Panos Cosmatos' visually stunning and truly heartbreaking fantasy.

Deadpool
Deadpool

Wade Wilson (Deadpool)

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself extremely dissatisfied by the experimental procedure that, despite curing his cancer by giving him regenerative healing abilities, left him with a "haunting" appearance that forces him to leave his fiancée and don a costume covering every inch of his body. The Canadian mercenary makes it a personal mission to punish Francis "Ajax" Freeman (Ed Skrein) for his cruel experiments on him in 2016's cinematic adaptation of Marvel's hilarious Deadpool comics.

Charles Bronson in Death Wish
Charles Bronson in Death Wish

Paul Kersey (Death Wish)

In director Michael Winner’s adaptation of Brian Garfield’s novel, Death Wish, Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey — an architect whose wife is killed and his daughter is left traumatized by abuse after a brutal home invasion. As a result, he takes it upon himself to find the perpetrators and continue to be judge, jury, and executioner on the streets of Manhattan.

maisie williams as arya stark on game of thrones
maisie williams as arya stark on game of thrones

Arya Stark (Game Of Thrones)

Following the infamous events of the Red Wedding, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) vows to avenge the deaths of her family members, orchestrated by Walder Frey (David Bradley). In the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones, she finally gets what she desires by not only killing Frey, but his entire family.

Brandon Lee pointing finger in The Crow
Brandon Lee pointing finger in The Crow

Eric Draven (The Crow)

In Brandon Lee's final film, The Crow, the actor plays Eric Draven — a rock star who is senselessly murdered by a vicious street gang, along with his fiancée, Shelley, on the night before their wedding. One year later, he is resurrected with a mission to punish his killers in one of the best comic book movies not based on a Marvel or DC title.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Hugh Glass (The Revenant)

Bear attack survivor Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is left for dead by fellow fur trader John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who also murders his son in front of him after he tries to prevent Fitzgerald from murdering Glass. The harrowing journey the badly injured man endures through unforgiven wintry terrain in writer and director Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant makes finding and punishing Fitzgerald all the more satisfying.

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Mattie Ross (True Grit)

Two of the greatest Western movies of all time (one made in 1969 and the other in 2010) are based on Charles Portis’ novel 1968 novel, True Grit. It tells the story of an intelligent teenage girl (originally played by Kim Darby and later by Hailee Steinfeld in an Oscar-nominated performance) who goes to far lengths to avenge her father's murder, including enlisting the help of a famed U.S. Marshall (first played by John Wayne in an Oscar-winning performance and later by Jeff Bridges).

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin
Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

Dwight (Blue Ruin)

The story of Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin is a unique one for the revenge category and the key factor is the central protagonist: a homeless man named Dwight (Macon Blair. He proves to be hopelessly inexperienced, unequipped, and unprepared for his bid to avenge the senseless murder of his parents years earlier after learning their killer was released from prison.

Michael K Williams as Omar on The Wire
Michael K Williams as Omar on The Wire

Omar Little (The Wire)

“Vengeance” might as well have been the middle name of Omar Little (the late Michael K. Williams) for how much the theme defined his arc on creator David Simon’s The Wire. In Season 1, the good-hearted stick-up man took down Anton “Stinkum” Artis (Brandon Price) after he murdered his boyfriend, Brandon Wright (Michael Kevin Darnall) and in Season 3, he and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts) killed Russell “Stringer” Bell (Idris Elba) for setting them both up for death previously.

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman
Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Cassie Thomas (Promising Young Woman)

Emerald Fennell earned a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for her feature-length debut as a writer and director, 2020’s Promising Young Woman, which tells the story of  Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan), who becomes consumed by a desire to avenge the horrific abuse that drove her best friend to take her own life. Even though it would cost her her own life (as she predicted), Cassie does manage to bring her friend's abuser, and other people associated with the crime, to justice and even gets the last laugh with a series of text messages programmed to automatically send at the time of his arrest… during his own wedding.

Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained
Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

Django Freeman (Django Unchained)

In one of the best Quentin Tarantino movies, 2012’s Django Unchained, the titular hero (Jamie Foxx) is freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who offers him the chance to punish the men who treated him horribly when he was enslaved. His new partner also helps him reunite with and rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from ruthless plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Jon Bernthal on The Punisher
Jon Bernthal on The Punisher

Frank Castle (The Punisher)

One of the darkest characters in Marvel Comics history is Frank Castle, who became better known as The Punisher for his reputation to show no mercy for the worst criminals imaginable following the savage murder of his own family. The war veteran-turned-vigilante has been adapted for screen multiple times, but one of the most acclaimed portrayals is by Jon Bernthal, who debuted in the role on the Daredevil TV series before earning his own spin-off.

Samuel L. Jackson in A Time to Kill
Samuel L. Jackson in A Time to Kill

Carl Lee Hailey (A Time To Kill)

Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) believed he was right to kill Billy Ray Cobb (Nicky Katt) and James Willard (Doug Hutchinson) after he was told the two white men could very likely walk free for what they did to his young, Black daughter, Tonya (Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly). Honestly, we cannot help but agree with him, which is part of what makes Joel Schumacher's 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill so compelling.

Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)

Out of every character in the Breaking Bad cast, Jesse Pinkman (Emmy winner Aaron Paul) is the one most deserving of redemption… and revenge. In the series finale of creator Vince Gilligan’s revolutionary drama, he deservingly gets to be the one to rid the world of the most coldly sadistic of his captors, Todd (Jesse Plemons).

Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones
Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones

Sansa Stark (Game Of Thrones)

On Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) undergoes a devastating arc, following her tumultuous relationship with her sadistic, abusive husband, Bolton Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). She later retaliates by feeding her former spouse to his own dogs.

Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds
Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds

Shosanna Dreyfus (Inglourious Basterds)

In the breathtaking opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 World War II-era drama, Inglourious Basterds, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) becomes the only survivor of a massacre on her French Jewish family orchestrated by the ruthless Col. Hans Landa of the SS (Christoph Waltz). While she does not end up bringing Landa to justice herself, she does wipe out most of the Nazi regime by burning her own movie theater to the ground during the premiere of a propaganda film.

Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales
Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales

Josey Wales (The Outlaw Josey Wales)

Clint Eastwood both directs and stars in the title role of 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales in which a mild-mannered Missouri farmer and family man is transformed into a fearsome, notorious cold-blooded killer. By the end of the Civil War-era Western thriller, Wales kills the leader of the crew who made him into the person he is in the first place by savagely and senselessly murdering his wife and son.

Emma Stone in Poor Things
Emma Stone in Poor Things

Bella Baxter (Poor Things)

Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel, Poor Things, chronicles the reanimated Bella Baxter’s (Academy Award winner Emma Stone) discovery of the joys and pains of life, despite the people who wish to coddle her — including the husband of her former self, Alfie Blessington (Christopher Abbott). She punishes the controlling misogynist by also, technically, saving his life by replacing his brain with that of a goat.

Joel Edgerton in The Gift
Joel Edgerton in The Gift

Gordon "Gordo" Moseley (The Gift)

While admittedly, quite sinister in his actions (to say the least), it is easy to understand why Gordo (Joel Edgerton) harvested such wicked feelings for Simon (Jason Bateman) in 2015's The Gift. In high school, Simon fabricated a story about him being taken advantage of by a male teacher, leading to incessant bullying, him changing schools, and his homophobic father, subsequently suspecting his son to be gay, attempting to kill him.

Harrison Ford in The Fugitive
Harrison Ford in The Fugitive

Dr. Richard Kimble (The Fugitive)

Both the 1960s series, The Fugitive, and its acclaimed 1993 cinematic adaptation follow the wrongly convicted Richard Kimble (originally played by David Janssen and by Harrison Ford in the film) searching for the one-armed man who actually murdered his wife. The TV show ended with Kimble’s search finally being over and the movie with him learning the conspiracy behind his wife’s death, both with the reluctant help of U.S. Marshal Gerard.

Martin and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street
Martin and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street

Bud Fox (Wall Street)

In Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) becomes consumed by the wealth he initially acquires after being taken under the wing of his hero, Gordon Gekko (Academy Award winner Michael Douglas). However, when he learns his mentor is planning a deal that would ruin his own father's (Martin Sheen) company, Bud opts to turn against the ruthless Gordon, which ultimately puts them both behind bars.

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost
Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost

Sam Wheat (Ghost)

In 1990’s Ghost, the lingering spirit of Manhattan banker Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) discovers that his murder was orchestrated by his two-faced friend and colleague, Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn). With help from a medium (Whoopi Goldberg) who can hear him and his newly learned abilities as a ghost, he is able to send Carl and the man hired to kill him, Willie Lopez (Rick Aviles), to a darker corner of the afterlife.

Logan Marshall Green in Upgrade
Logan Marshall Green in Upgrade

Grey Trace (Upgrade)

After a group of attackers render Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) a quadriplegic and murder his wife, the mechanic accepts a tech innovator's offer to be implanted with a device that, not only allows him to control his limbs, but is programmed with an AI named STEM that makes him a brutal fighting machine. Grey and STEM team up to punish his attackers, but — SPOILER ALERT — it turns out that STEM orchestrated the entire thing, wanting to take over a human host and, thus, making 2018’s Upgrade a cautionary revenge tale.

Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale
Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale

Claire Carroll (The Nightingale)

In writer and director Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale, Claire Carroll (Aisling Franciosi) is taken advantage of by Lt. Hawkins (Sam Claflin), who also kills her husband and her infant child. With the help of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), the burdened Irish woman takes it upon herself to bring the sadistic army lieutenant to justice.

Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions
Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions

Cecile (Cruel Intentions)

In Cruel Intentions, the 1999 teen drama reimagining of the French 18th Century novel, Dangerous Liaisons, wealthy step-siblings Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) use the innocent and naive Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon) and Cecile Caldwell (Selma Blair) as pawns for a wicked wager in romantic and reputational manipulation. Annette and Sebastian find true love with each other which ends in tragedy, while Kathryn’s reputation is the one that gets destroyed after Cecile makes her manipulative ways public with copies of Sebastian’s journal.

Byung-hun Lee in I Saw the Devil
Byung-hun Lee in I Saw the Devil

Kim Soo-hyun (I Saw The Devil)

You could argue that Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) goes a little too far when exacting his revenge on Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) in the 2010 Korean horror favorite, I Saw the Devil. However, there is no debate that Kyung-chul went way too far when he beat Soo-hyun’s wife to death and dismembered her.

the revenge of the nerds cast
the revenge of the nerds cast

The Nerds (Revenge Of The Nerds)

Every socially alienated college student who was ever persecuted for their intelligence or the way they dress received some much-needed wish fulfillment vicariously through the main characters in Revenge of the Nerds. The 1984 sees Lewis Skolnik (Robert Carradine) and others turn the tables on their cruel bullies and acquire the popularity and respect they crave.

Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart look ahead with concern in Star Trek: First Contact.
Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart look ahead with concern in Star Trek: First Contact.

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: First Contact)

In one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) is transformed into a race of cybernetic organisms called Borgs. He eventually punishes the cruel alien race for what they did to him and other crimes in the 1996 feature film, Star Trek: First Contact.

Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes in Big Fat Liar
Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes in Big Fat Liar

Jason Shepherd (Big Fat Liar)

In 2002’s Big Fat Liar, compulsively dishonest teen Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz) accidentally leaves his writing assignment in the limo of movie producer, Marty Wolf (Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti), who passes it off as his own idea for a movie that gets greenlit soon after. Desperate to earn his parents’ trust, he and his best friend, Kaylee (Amanda Bynes), travel all the way to Los Angeles and — with help from more of Wolf’s enemies — set out to expose and ruin the scumbag once and for all.

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but what these characters achieve makes us feel warm inside.