Samuel L. Jackson is a bona fide box office draw, as the actor has mega-hits such as Pulp Fiction, The Incredibles, and numerous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies under his belt. In addition to that, Jackson has also been seen in a string of critical successes like A Time to Kill, which has also made him a darling for reviewers.
As far as fan reception goes, Ranker provides a great way to gauge which characters played by Jackson have been a cut above the rest. Jackson’s characters are always a standout in his movies, so there are more than dozens of notable ones. With many voters casting their ratings on Ranker, it’s interesting to see who among the likes of Jules Winnfield, Nick Fury, Frozone, and more have made the list.
10 Nick Fury – Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008-present)
Stream On Disney+
First introduced during Iron Man‘s post-credits scene as a mysterious character, there are still plenty of questions MCU fans have about Nick Fury 14 years later. He’s the founder of the Avengers and the man working behind the scenes to uncover villainous plots such as the HYDRA uprising and the Skrulls’ secret invasion.
Samuel L. Jackson was already a superstar by the time he arrived in the MCU, but this role has ensured he will be cemented forever in pop culture because of the massive reach the franchise has. Fury is also iconic for the fact that he’s the longest active character in the series, having shown up in the first movie.
9 Zeus Carver – Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)
Stream On Amazon Prime Video
It’s arguable that Die Hard qualifies as a trilogy where the third movie is the best, with Samuel L. Jackson showing up here as Zeus Carver. Carver is presented as an everyman type, in that he’s friendly, supportive, and has a relatable quality in a story where Carver and John McClane have to stop a bomb threat in a limited window.
Fans appreciate Carver’s attitude, as he says things as he sees them but never means to be hurtful about them. He’s generally considered to be the strongest ally McClane had over the course of the series and the buddy dynamic between Carver and McClane still holds up.
8 Richmond Valentine – Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
Available for rental on multiple platforms
There are plenty of memorable quotes from the Kingsman series, with Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine providing quite a few of these. Valentine is an eco-terrorist who seeks to use climate change as a means to wipe out humanity, but is hilariously averse to the bloodshed which clashes with his evil plans.
It was Jackson’s presence that got audiences to take notice of the Kingsman series, as he was the highest-profile name attached to it. Valentine is a subversion to classic villains since he’s by no means a tough guy and brings in a lot of the funny moments in the film.
7 Carl Lee Hailey – A Time To Kill (1996)
Stream On HBO Max
While the majority of fans associate Samuel L. Jackson with hard-hitting action roles, he’s got quite the range. A Time to Kill has him play the role of Carl Lee Hailey, who is put on trial after he eliminates the men that assaulted his 10-year-old daughter.
Carl Lee’s character has received both critical praise and fans, as it’s easy to sympathize with him considering he’s on the receiving end of racial prejudice that he decides to fight against. It speaks volumes of how much of an impact this role made that Carl Lee remains a fan favorite decades after A Time to Kill was released.
6 Frozone – The Incredibles (2004)
Stream On Disney+
Some argue that Frozone deserves to be credited among the best action movie sidekicks while many others want him to headline his own movie as the main superhero. Regardless, Frozone’s popularity is unquestionable, as he serves as the loyal best friend to Mr. Incredible to go along with his appropriately cool powers.
Samuel L. Jackson’s distinct voice makes it easy for fans to recognize him as the actor for Frozone, which helps to further establish Frozone as a likable character. He also has the best lines to be uttered in the series since Jackson’s trademark sarcasm is hard to miss.
5 Stephen – Django Unchained (2012)
Stream On Netflix
Stephen is easily the most despicable character played by Samuel L. Jackson, which attests to the actor’s abilities. Stephen heads Calvin Candie’s ranch that takes pride in enslaving black people, with Stephen wanting to keep the prejudice alive because he can lord over the servants as Candie’s right-hand man.
The presence of a solid villain always contributes to making a movie great and Stephen’s deplorable personality empowers Django to overcome the villain’s machinations to put an end to the injustice. Samuel L. Jackson was almost unrecognizable in the role, as he made the use of a limp and altered his way of speaking.
4 John Raymond Arnold – Jurassic Park (1993)
Stream On HBO Max
It might be a surprise to some to Mr. Arnold so high up in Jackson’s best characters but Jurassic Park fans will always have a soft spot for him. Mr. Arnold had the best one-liners in the movie, including his famous quote of “hold on to your butts,” which prepared viewers for the chaos with the dinosaurs to follow.
Mr. Arnold’s death remains a talking point because he was never actually seen being eaten by the raptors, although his severed arm’s remains indicate he did perish. He was the most likable member of the Jurassic Park staff, so his demise carries some level of pity from fans.
3 Major Marquis Warren – The Hateful Eight (2015)
Stream On Netflix
This claustrophobic western tells the story of a number of shifty characters trapped in a cabin around the time of the American Civil War. Samuel L. Jackson’s Marquis Warren is debatably the main character since his point of view is followed the most out of the others.
Warren is among the eight strangers whose backstory is progressively detailed as a few of them turn out to have sinister intentions. Warren can be seen as the audience surrogate to an extent, which is why he’s remembered as one of Jackson’s most enduring characters.
2 Ordell Robbie – Jackie Brown (1997)
Stream On HBO Max
Ordell mixes villainy with style better than any other Samuel L. Jackson character, with his pursuit of a sum of smuggled money leaving a bloody trail. Jackie Brown sees the titular protagonist attempting to outsmart Ordell, who tries to come up with a scheme to eliminate those in his way to make off with the fortune.
Ordell is by no means someone to root for, but his explosiveness and slick attitude are interesting to watch. It helps that Quentin Tarantino gave Jackson the best dialogue, as Jackie Brown is largely remembered for the actor’s commanding presence that has Ordell come across as a sheet force.
1 Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction (1994)
Stream On Paramount+
It’s most likely that Jules is the go-to character that fans think of when considering the role that really made Samuel L. Jackson an A-list star. His recitation of the passage from the bible that he uttered before killing people has been memorized by millions, while his journey of redemption by turning toward faith adds layers to his personality.
Jules is the first truly “cool” character that Jackson played onscreen, with Pulp Fiction fans known to recreate his scenes because of their immense replay value. Everything from the way Jules carried himself to the badass things he had to say is a highlight of the movie, so few will argue against his placement right at the top.
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Samuel L. Jackson’s 10 Greatest Characters, According To Ranker