From Handlebars to Chevrons: The Greatest Mustaches of the Big and Small Screen


Sometimes you get a glimpse of something and can't help but be impressed. Whether it’s someone’s mustache, a piece of art, a stunning landscape, or even a person’s sense of style, it all has the potential to leave us speechless. Yeah, that's right. We said mustache!

This oft-masculine tuft of facial hair has been a popular pick for a number of reasons throughout the years. For some, it was a symbol of rebellion and freedom while others viewed it as an indicator of financial status. On the silver screen, it tends to be more a part of the character's aesthetic and design choice, and in many cases, the mustache becomes part of the character.

Below, we've compiled a collection of some of the greatest upper “lipholstery” seen in movies as a tribute to the ages-old designer facial hair.

1. The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight, Kurt Russell
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Definitely a winner out of all mustaches, Kurt Russell's role in The Hateful Eight is his facial hair. It's a mustache that could bring you to tears! Set in the Old West, the movie centers around bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russel) as he travels toward post-Civil War Wyoming with a fugitive prisoner completely lacking in a hairy upper lip.

The two become four when they cross paths with another bounty hunter and a man claiming to be a sheriff. Attempting to find shelter from a blizzard, the four reach a stagecoach stopover and come across four more strangers. Now, all eight are unsure if they’ll make it to their stops at all. While that all sounds quite exciting, I wonder why Ruth even needs to seek shelter with a mustache that large and majestic. Samuel L. Jackson's ‘stache gets an honorable mention for somehow making him look even more menacing than he normally does.

2. Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Based on the book by Agatha Christie, a luxurious train is traveling through Europe when its trip is disrupted by a murder, causing a race against the clock to uncover the culprit before another life is lost. An avalanche soon stops the train, and Hercule Poirot, the world’s greatest detective with his fabulous mouth mop, arrives to search for clues before the killer has the chance to strike again. If Kurt Russell’s John Ruth is in first place for best mustache, then Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh as Hercule Poirot is a very close second. Seriously, that thing wraps around his head! It's as shocking as the final reveal of this thrilling murder mystery.

3. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)

Ron Swanson
Image Credit: NBC.

It's impossible to talk about Parks and Recreation and not bring up Nick Offerman's stellar mustache. The pristine facial hair was a core part of Ron Swanson's character, but we need to fill you in on a little secret. Though Offerman is certainly capable of growing a ‘stache, Swanson's was sometimes fake. After “Ron & Tammy 2,” Offerman's real mustache was shaved for the episode and required a stand-in for a few episodes after.

It may kill some of the magic of the character, but that even the fake fit Offerman's face so well only further elevates the incredible food catcher. Swanson even attributes his mustache to the prolonged enjoyment of flecks of a succulent piece of steak days after a trip to his favorite restaurant, Charles Mulligan's Steakhouse.

4. Tombstone (1993)

Tombstone Val Kilmer
Image Credit: Cinergi Productions.

Sure, you could watch a Western-style film for the action and thrills from the days of cowboys and showdowns at high noon. But why would you want that when you can watch for all the fantastic flavor savers? Well, lucky for you, with Tombstone, you can have both. Three brothers have decided to put their gun-slinging days behind them to settle down and start a business in this memorable Western.

Unfortunately, this seems easier said than done as a cowboy gang selects them as a target. Now along with one brother’s best friend, the brothers work to bring order back to the land. Sounds pretty fun, right? Well, that isn’t even the best part. Every one of our four buckaroos has quite the impressive face lace, all of which were actually grown by the actors. If anyone says they're not jealous of Val Kilmer's slicked facial styling, they're simply lying.

5. Gangs of New York (2002)

Gangs of New York, Daniel Day-Lewis
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

This movie’s best bristle baton winner goes to William Cutting, aka Bill the Butcher, depicted by Daniel Day-Lewis, a man of a thousand personalities and just as many mustache styles. He is the main villain of this historical crime film set in 1860s New York. When a young man decides to take revenge against his father’s killer, Mr. Butcher himself, he knows it can only be done by integrating into the gang leader’s inner circle. In the film and in real life, William is a powerful and violent leader.

I can’t lie. The mustache he possesses does help to display a fitting energy with its size and the drama of its curl. It almost speaks perfectly to his demeanor: sly with a flair for the dramatics.

6. Smokey and the Bandit (1983)

Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Though it may not be as impressive as some of the other grass grins on this list, I do have to admire Bandit’s well-kept facial hair. Truck driver Bo “Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) sets out on a trip to pick up some Coors for Big Enos, a man who just wants to sit back, watch a truck show, and drink the lovely beer.

The only trouble is that the beer’s illegal to sell east of the Mississippi River without a permit, and not even a cool mustache can sway the law. While trying to make it to Texas and back to Georgia in 28 hours, Bandit picks up a hitchhiking girl and grabs the sheriff’s attention, who wants her to marry his son. Again, while Bandit’s mustache may not be as face-encompassing as others on the list, it is still quite the iconic look. Much like the actor portraying him, he just wouldn't be the same without that classic ‘stache.

7. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

I don’t think I could possibly write an article on magnificent mustaches without mentioning Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic look from Pulp Fiction. It's the subtlety of it that really sells the look, lending to the cool and collected nature of Jules Winnfield. Jackson stars alongside John Travolta as a hitman with a habit of holding philosophical discussions with his partner. Pulp Fiction has entwining storylines that interlock with one another, with Jackson and Travolta serving as the glue that links them together.

I’m not sure if it’s the horseshoe mustache or the mutton chops, but it makes Jackson’s look in this unforgettable.

8. No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men, Josh Brolin
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

We have another impressive in-style mustache, ladies and gentlemen! In fact, it appears quite similar to Bandit’s from earlier on. A man finds the gruesome outcome of a drug deal while out hunting and becomes the target of a remorseless killer after snatching the dough for himself. All the while, an aging sheriff is also looking for the hunter to protect him.

Josh Brolin may be a star in No Country for Old Men, but that mustache of his deserves its own praise. It's not overstated by Russel's in The Hateful Eight, and quite obtainable by many men. It's a classic look, that goes well with his rugged look and longer hair. The Coen brothers could have gone crazy with the spirit gum and fake hair, but they let this natural-looking piece exist without, we assume, any interference. 

9. Anchorman (2004)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) Will Ferrell
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Of course, being a newsman means you have to be well-groomed, and we can think of no better look for the booming presence of Ron Burgundy than his mighty stash. Burgundy is a popular anchorman on television in the 1970s who meets his match in the form of a new female reporter who confidently enters the male-dominated ring, soon outshining Ron in his own game. After growing jealous of all her attention, he accidentally lets something vulgar slip while on air, costing him his career. Still, there may be a chance at redemption when a shocking story breaks at the San Diego Zoo — and no, it has nothing to do with this glorious ‘stache.

We trust Burgundy because of his mustache and would gladly go to bat for him. In fact, there isn't a lip rug in the Anchorman series that doesn't thoroughly delight us, especially the unexpected mustache that finally ages Paul Rudd by a year or two. 

10. Duck Soup (1933)

Duck Soup, Groucho Marx
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Weird name, an even weirder ‘stash. To call Rufus T. Firefly’s dirt squirrel “luscious” would be putting it lightly. That thing straight up looks like a brick on his face, like he stuck a bowtie under his nose or smeared shoe polish under his nose, but that was always Groucho Marx's style. It really depends on the angle. Firefly has been thrust into the role of president of Freedonia after the country has gone bankrupt. Sylvania, the bordering country, sends spies into Freedonia in an attempt to start a revolution after detecting weakness in its leadership.

Clashing with the Sylvanian ambassador, Firefly and the others cause a great deal of mayhem, and the two countries get close to war. Personally, I think that everyone should have just united under Groucho's mustache. It's like a beacon of hope.

11. Quigley Down Under (1990)

 Quigley Down Under, Laura San Giacomo, Tom Selleck
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

My goodness, does Matthew Quigley have one heck of a goatee mustache combo! Just looking at it! Nothing says, “I’m a hero!” more than that swashbuckler special. Quigley is an American rifleman traveling to Australia to answer an ad for a sharpshooter. After meeting his prospective employer, a mustachioed Alan Rickman, he learns the dark truth about the job involving the shooting of Aboriginal Australians, the indigenous people of Australia.

The two men fight, and Quigley is knocked out, left with the local crazy woman to die in the outback. Fortunately, they are rescued by the Aboriginal Australians, and they begin to plot their revenge. And revenge Quigley should get, for Rickman's villainous Elliot Marston sports a mustache that rivals that of his own.

12. Animal House (1978)

Animal House, Bruce McGill
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Bruce McGill plays Daniel Simpson's “D-Day” Day from Delta Tau Chi House, a place well known for being rowdy. Though he may not be considered a main character of the movie, he still has a ‘stache worth mentioning, a fun throwback to the very aesthetic the character latches onto throughout the movie. D-Day's militaristic look calls for the perfect mustache, which he sports alongside fitting sunglasses and a military helmet.

In Animal House, two freshmen attempt to pledge to the conceited Omega Theta Pi House and are rejected. They then try to join Delta Tau Chi and are in. Unfortunately, the dean has it out for members of Delta, placing them on “Double Secret Probation” and assigning Omega’s president to get their charter revoked. 

13. Hook (1991)

Hook, Dustin Hoffman
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Captain Hook has always been a man considered quite the gentleman in terms of his attire and mannerisms. So, it only makes sense that his face furniture be just as elegant. And oh, it is. In this version of the famous villain, Hook’s mustache is a well-groomed handlebar with perfect curls. You know, the kind that is just so perfect for twirling when you have a dastardly idea. Of which, Hook has many.

Having stolen the middle-aged lawyer Peter Banning’s kids away to Neverland. Peter, ignorant of the fact that he is the Peter Pan, is forced to remember his past when he left Neverland after long since abandoning Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys. This may be more of a challenge for him since the boys are understandably bitter towards Peter for growing up and now see another as their leader. If only he had a cool mustache like Hook, maybe he'd win them over.

14. Borat (2006)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Borat, our favorite reporter from Kazakhstan, is the proud owner of his own impressive set of whiskers. Love him or hate him, you have to admit it takes talent to keep a lip toupee like that well-groomed. The original film follows Borat as he travels to America to film a documentary about why the country is so great. Ridiculous events occur as he offends practically everyone he comes across, falls in love with actress Pamela Anderson, and goes on a cross-country trip to make her his wife.

With a ‘stache like that, we were sure it would be love at first sight. Alas, the Baywatch alumnus was clearly intimidated by Borat's lip rug, leaving the titular character to return home to Kazakhstan, loveless but with his mustache intact.

15. Bronson (2009)

Tom Hardy as Bronson
Image Credit: Aramid Entertainment.

I can’t help but look at Tom Hardy’s version of Charles Bronson and see the stereotypical circus strongman. Of course, that helps make the mustache even more fitting. The movie is based on the true story of Charles Bronson, a prisoner known for bouts of violence in the English penal system. Originally, Bronson was arrested for robbing a jewelry store and sentenced to seven years. His incorrigible, violent behavior leads to trouble with guards, inmates, and even a dog, leading him to spend most of his time in solitary confinement.

16. Tetris (2023)

Tetris, Taron Egerton
Image Credit: Apple TV+.

Henk Rogers may not have the most elaborate, fancy mustache in the world, but it fits his face quite nicely, and I appreciate that immensely. Plus, the fact that it’s in a movie about the origins of a classic video game may help it a bit, too. Tetris follows the real-life story of Rogers, a man who discovers the game in 1988. He risks it all to travel to the Soviet Union and join forces with the creator of the game, Alexey Pajitnov, to publish the game and show it to the masses amidst growing tension between the Soviets and the U.S.

Rogers' mustache is a subtle piece of fur but it's a new look for Taron Egerton that we maybe can get used to.

17. Road House (1989)

Road House - Sam Elliot
Image Credit: United Artists.

This entire list could be entirely about when Sam Elliot's facial hair was the star of the show, but it's his full, scruffy beard from Road House that we want to talk about. While Elliott has his iconic mustache in many other films and shows, the beard from Road House makes him look tougher and edgier and less like the cowboy you'd confide your life story to.

It's so not Elliot that we absolutely love it, especially since it was one of very few times his mustache was ditched. Even as a younger actor, he sported a hefty lip tickler. We're used to seeing him with just some hair on his upper lip, so we're a big fan of Wade Garrett, the mentor and role model to Patrick Swayze's younger John Dalton.

18. Gone with the Wind (1939)

gone with the wind
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

No one could play Rhett Bulter like Clark Gable did in the 1939 film, Gone with the Wind. Especially if you factor in that thin and debonaire mustache. His facial hair has marked his character throughout decades and people can even look up how to do a “Clark Gable mustache” online. Though it's gone through a few transformations over the years, Gable's look in Gone with the Wind is like his mustache's ultimate form. It's not too thick, not too thin, and the part in the middle tells us he's out there doing his own thing and nobody can stop him.

19. Magnum P.I. (1980 – 1989)

Tom Selleck and his mustache
Image Credit: Universal Television.

What would this list be without an entry from Tom Selleck? His iconic mustache is one of his most defining traits, along with great acting chops, of course. Throughout the eight-season run of Magnum P.I., his mustache grew into a character of its own really, and it became what his Hawaii detective was known for. We're happy to report that Selleck is still rocking nowadays as he helps protect the mean streets of the Big Apple in Blue Bloods.

Selleck is one of those actors that you wouldn't be able to pinpoint in a lineup if he shaved his ‘stache. Don't believe us? Check out his return to Friends in season three!

20. Ed Wood (1994)

Ed Wood Johnny Depp
Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

A younger Johnny Depp takes on the role of real-life director Edward Wood on his quest to make ambitious films in Hollywood. While his movies may not have always lived up to his dreams, his mustache in real life was for sure memorable, and Johnny Depp does a great job pulling off the look. The thin, barely-there facial hair really pulls the look together in this film, and we have a hard time picturing anyone else in the role but Depp, who tends to sport his own thinner ‘stache.

Though Wood didn't always have a mustache, when he did, it was more of a spectacle than most of the movies he directed. Except Plan 9 from Outer Space. Nothing is more of a spectacle than that.

21. Toy Story (1995)

Mr. Potato Head holding his arm
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

While Mr. Potato Head is technically a toy in an animated movie, I think it's easy to see why his mustache is so iconic. Okay, yes, it's plastic but the mustache is something that so many people recognize and remember about Mr. Potato Head. Voiced by the late Don Rickles, we hold a special place in our hearts and on this list for Mr. Potato Head. There were a few variations over the years, but the Toy Story iteration is the one we'll remember forever.

Author: Molly Locke

Title: Freelance Journalist

Expertise: Movies, Video Games, Travel


Molly Locke is a freelance journalist for Wealth of Geeks fresh off the presses with a degree in business management focused in digital and social media marketing. Having been traveling since before she could walk, she's gained quite a bit of insight on what this world is all about. Movies and video games are her bread and butter, as is being able to talk about their stories, quality, effects, and impact endlessly.