20 Movies Where the Main Characters Are Flawed Yet Endearing

bad teacher2

Everybody loves a rogue, maybe because we wish we could be that blunt and uncaring. Perhaps it's because sometimes we can't help but root for fundamentally broken people because we're also broken in some way. 

Whatever the reason, recently, a popular internet film forum was asked by one of its members what films had characters that were awful people, but still likable. Here are some of the top responses. 

1. Withnail and I (1987)

Withnail & I Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann
Image Credit: HandMade Films.

Withnail is a manipulative, abusive, melodramatic alcoholic who uses everyone around him. “I”, although more relatable, is still a hopeless dropout who goes along with all of Withnail's schemes regardless.

Richard E Grant and Paul McGann, through sheer force of personality, somehow make both characters relatable and charming.   

2. High Fidelity (2000)

High Fidelity
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

Rob is a terrible boyfriend, a music snob, and spends half the movie trying to absolve himself of the fact that he's pushed away every woman generous enough to give him a chance. Barry is an obnoxious Bully. Laura decides she's too good for Rob, so she moves in with the first, even more awful man who will have her. 

3. Clerks (1994)

Clerks Brian O'Halloran
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

Dante is a miserable toad who has spent months emotionally cheating on his girlfriend and spends all day whining about his job, which gives him the freedom to do whatever he likes with little recourse. Randall is an insecure jerk who is rude and abusive to everyone because he can. Jay and Silent Bob are drug dealers. However, if you've ever worked in retail or felt trapped in a job or relationship, you can't see a way out of; you can't help but root for them.  

4. In Bruges (2008)

In Bruges Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are not good people; they're hitmen, and they have murdered people for money. The film opens with Ray accidentally killing a kid while murdering a priest. Your personal thoughts about the Catholic Church aside, this is not the kind of thing you would be OK with one of your friends doing. 

5. Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Jordan Belfort is a financial criminal who spent 22 months in prison for fraud, stock manipulation, and ripping off thousands of people by selling them penny stocks. But DiCaprio gives him a charm that the real-life Belfort could never hope to possess. You want him to succeed, even though success for him is stealing your grandma's life savings. 

6. Trainspotting (1996)


Image Credit: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

To describe it in the most accurate Scottish vernacular possible without swearing, the whole cast of Trainspotting is a wee bunch of see-you-next-Tuesdays. Renton betrays his friends for a literal sack of cash and starts a relationship with an underage girl.

Sickboy gets their one sober friend hooked on drugs, Begby is a transphobic psychopath, and Spudgun is, well… OK, Spudgun is the only genuinely likable character. However, he still manages to do some horrific things. Yet we root for Renton when he leaves at the end. We think Sick Boy's Bond obsession is funny. We still hate Begby, though.

7. Absolutely Fabulous (2016)

Absolutely Fabulous, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Edina is a selfish, vain, inglorious alcoholic who uses and emotionally manipulates everyone around her, especially her long-suffering daughter Saffie. Patsy enables Eddie for her own selfish needs, and the pair have an awful codependent relationship that pulls in anyone unfortunate enough to get in their orbit. And yet, they are two of the most beloved sitcom characters to ever grace the BBC, primarily due to being played by national treasures Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. 

8. The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club
Image Credit: A&M Films.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but almost every member of The Breakfast Club is awful. Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) is a bully. Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) is not a ‘brain'; he's an imbecile who doesn't know how a flare gun works, and Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) is a brat. The only sympathetic characters are Bender (Judd Nelson) and Allison (Ally Sheedy), two kids whose parents abuse them physically and emotionally. 

9. Bad Santa (2003)

Bad Santa Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox
Image Credit: Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International.

Our main character is a miserable conman who robs department stores after spending weeks scoping them by posing as the worst mall Santa ever. He's a drunk, a womanizer; he even beats up children. But he's nice to The Kid, and the always charming Billy-Bob Thornton plays him, so all is forgiven.  

10. Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day Bill Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

In a weird act of life imitating art Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is an utter jerk to everyone he knows. He's uncaring, unreasonable, and spends several lifetimes trapped in a time loop to figure out how to get his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) into bed. But Bill Murray plays him, who, like Conners, is known for being a jerk, but because he's mostly entertaining with it, everyone thinks it's charming.   

11. As Good as It Gets (1997)

As Good as It Gets
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Melvin is (Jack Nicholson) a misanthropic, bigoted, comedy version of an obsessive–compulsive, who is not so much mentally ill as just flat-out abusive, and uses his odd behavior to control everyone around him. This is demonstrated by how quickly Melvin abandons almost all his ticks by the end of the film when he goes somewhere new for breakfast and steps on a crack in the pavement. 

12. Shallow Hal (2001)

Shallow Hal, Jack Black
Image Credit: Glenn Watson / 20th Century Fox.

The irony that Hal sees Gwyneth Paltrow as a vision of loveliness in this film is the funniest thing about this lazy comedy. However, it shows what a great actor Jack Black is because Hal is perhaps the Antithesis of Jaybles, a shallow, small-minded, incredibly dull man who would be lucky to end up with Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit. But JB plays him, so you love him anyway, and he learns his lesson. Sort of.  

13. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski Jeff Bridges
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures.

The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is an aimless slacker who doesn't even appreciate The Eagles and spends all his time bowling and drinking white Russians. His best friend Walter (John Goodman), in reality, would be the kind of guy who spends a lot of time on Twitter talking about states' rights, tries to steal ransom money, and almost gets an innocent woman killed as a result of his scheming, and the Dude just goes along with it. They are awful people. But that's just my opinion, man. 

14. Army of Darkness (1992)

Army of Darkness, Bruce Campbell, William Lustig
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Though Ash (Bruce Campbell) gets a pass in the first two Evil Dead films because he spends most of them being thrown around a cabin and physically and mentally tortured by evil spirits, by the end of Army of Darkness, he has transformed into the hero we all deserve, that is to say, a useless one that brings all of his problems on himself. He's arrogant, he's rude, and he's almost wholly incompetent, apart from when it comes to killing Deadites. 

15. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

The ensemble cast of Guy Ritchie's directorial debut is a group of thieves, gangsters, psychopaths, and crooks. But thanks to some incredibly sharp writing, deadpan humor, and incredible performances from Jason Statham, Dexter Fletcher, and Vinnie Jones. Every last one of them is just likable, on some level, even the villains.  

16. The Irishman (1998)

The Irishman Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Ray Romano
Image Credit: Netflix.

Like so many people in gangster movies, Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is a hitman and is connected to huge crime families where countless lives have been taken. Frank has killed numerous people throughout the movie and he shows little remorse for a lot of his victims.

17. Raising Arizona (1998)

Raising Arizona
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Imagine watching a movie where you love the two main characters who kidnapped a baby after they couldn't have one of their own. That's what happens in Raising Arizona. You feel bad for the couple but they stole someone's child.

18. Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore Jason Schwartzman
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

So many of the characters in this early Wes Anderson movie aren't trustworthy and can be frustrating to watch. Miss Cross is leading on a 15-year-old student and Max Fischer is bad at school and tries to get others in on his plot to woo Miss Cross. He also just doesn't understand how the world works, which is really hard to watch but we still do.

19. Pulp Fiction (1998)

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

Everyone is Pulp Fiction has done bad things. Two of our main characters are hitmen while others are gangers and people who have hurt and killed people to get what they want in life. It doesn't matter how charming all these characters are, they've all done really bad things in their lives and have caused a lot of chaos for the world around them.

20. Bad Teacher (2011)

bad teacher
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) likes to use men to get what she wants, using her ex to get her lavish lifestyle and later trying to use Scott (Justin Timberlake) to continue to get the life she wants. She is using and abusing everyone around her just so she can get plastic surgery. And on top of it all, she is bad at teaching so her students are suffering with her too.

Source: (Reddit).

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