It was the night of March 28, 2015, and my television blasted the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. I felt dizzy, wait, I wasn’t dizzy, I was heavily intoxicated. I closed my eyes, but the world began to spin faster and faster. I shook off the cobwebs, and when my eyes opened, the WWE promotional video for Arnold Schwarzenegger began to play.
My sozzled eyes widened, surprisingly, and the excitement began to build. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the greatest action movie star of all the times. The action genre wouldn’t be what it is today without him. He may not have done much for WWE, but without Arnold I wouldn’t be writing this article, or love film as much as I do today. Arnold is the king, the king of one liners, the king of Hollywood dominance, and after crushing Chris Jericho, the real King of the world. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal are all extraordinary in their own right, but none can call themselves Governor or Mr. Universe. No matter how you look at it, or who you compare, Arnold is numero uno!
Sloshed on my couch, and bored listening to the Bushwhackers ramble on, my eyes wandered to my right. It was my newly decorated book shelf, filled and overflowing with Blu-Rays, DVDs and memorabilia. The book shelf contained five shelves, and dead in the middle was my shrine to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The voice of Dennis from Dennis the Menace suddenly shouted, “Lookin kinda puny!”
Out loud, I shouted “No!”, but no one was listening, and he was right. I was drunk and I did what anyone would do in this situation. I typed in “Arnold Schwarzenegger” on the Amazon app on my phone, and purchased every single Blu-Ray that was available (Editor’s Note: Next time you do this, be sure to click the Amazon link on the right hand side of this very page first!). It was one of the happiest moments of my life. The birth of my son, my wedding day, and the day I bought the entire collection of Arnold movies on Blu-Ray. Before I passed out, I couldn’t wait to watch every last one. And watch every last one is exactly what I decided to do.
With super successful movies from the 1980s through today, there is no actor with as much appeal and intrigue as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Decade after decade he has reinvented himself, and proved why he deserves the spotlight. His personal journey is one of a true hero, overcoming such odds and becoming the definition of the American dream.
Without further ado, I present to you, the top 20 characters of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
25. Wade Vogel – Maggie (2015)
An aged and matured Arnold, like a fine wine, brings pure class to this zombie thriller. A movie that was inventive, yet very slow and depressing, found its charisma in a soft spoken, bearded Arnold. Maggie was all acting, and very little action. With only one and a half scenes of Arnold killing zombies, technically, it was just enough to make the list.
24. Swan Rottmayer – Escape Plan (2013)
“You hit like a vegetarian” shouts Arnold when Slyvester Stallone punches him during a prison brawl in Escape Plan. This movie proves that a really bad film can be extremely entertaining with Arnold and Stallone on the screen together. It also shows how much more charismatic and engaging Arnold is then anyone else, especially Stallone. Arnold was always numero uno!
23. Adam Gibson – The 6th Day (2000)
Two Arnolds are always better than one? Of course! The 6th Day may be his most forgettable role, but in the world of Arnold there is no such thing as one. This film signified Arnold’s falling stock at the time, and was one of his last films before slowing down and venturing into politics.
22. Mark Kaminsky/Joseph P. Brenner – Raw Deal (1986)
The lowest ranked of all vintage films in the Arnold lore, but still quality. When I started this list, it was originally a best to worst list, but let’s be real, there is no such thing as a bad Arnold character. Coming off his early success with The Terminator and Commando, Raw Deal was an attempt at a quick money maker, but was a rare miss at the box office for Arnold at the time. But with a tag line like: “The government gave him a raw deal. Nobody gives him a raw deal”, audience should have known he would be back.
21. Dr. Alex Hesse – Junior (1994)
In Junior, Arnold teams up with the great Ivan Reitman for the third time in his career. Reitman has gone on record as stating this film, and not Twins or Kindergarten Cop as his favorite. I think his sarcasm at the time might not have been picked up, but that being said, this film features a pregnant Arnold. I say again, this film features a pregnant Arnold, and his nipples are very sensitive. This movie is wonderful, and gets disregarded far too much. Arnold displays his ability to play a character far out of his comfort zone, and succeeds as being Father of the Year.
20. Trench – The Expendables (2010), The Expendables 2 (2012), & The Expendables 3 (2014)
Arnold began to make his resurgence back into Hollywood after a run as Governor, and what better way to surface then with all your fellow action stars. As excited as I was to see them together for the first time, watching Arnold kick ass again was where the real excitement began. In the first installment of The Expendables, it featured Arnold entering a church, through the glow of heaven he returned! “Have you been sick? You’ve lost weight.” and every other word of dialogue between Arnold, Stallone, and Willis was the height of enjoyment. It was simply amazing to see them on the screen together, and without Arnold, it would never have been complete.
The second Expendables showed Arnold getting to kick way more ass. He was ripping doors of smart cars, and shooting guns most of us couldn’t even lift. His one liner, “My shoe is bigger than this car” has me still laughing. It showed the world he is still the same Arnold, can make fun of himself and others, and in the end, reveals a bit of humble pie, in his own way of course, since humility is not something Arnold will ever be guilty of.
Expendables 3 was an awful movie, and come to think of it, I’m not even sure Arnold was in it. But, he should have been. That is probably why it wasn’t any good.
19. John “Breacher” Wharton – Sabatoge (2014)
I’m not sure why, but when I hear Arnold drop the F Bomb, it turns me into a giddy little kid. And that was certainly true in Sabotage, a plenty. With fun one liners like “Look at you, with your 48 percent body fat!” and “Concentrate, its pay day!”, Arnold took a pretty boring movie, and made it memorable.
After his team is picked off one by one, Arnold gets revenge better than anyone else ever dreamed they could: with insane violence. The film is a throwback to the great 80s revenge action movies and after the incredible finale of this movie, he finds himself right back in form. At any age, Arnold still has it, and proves he always will.
18. Ray Owens – The Last Stand (2013)
The Last Stand is Arnold’s attempt to accept his age and status, and lead a new action flick for a new generation. The age jokes never get old, and his interaction with Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville show he can still hang with the new generation, and outshine them. This movie is pure Arnold, which means its pure adrenalin and enjoyment from start to finish.
“We are not going to let that guy come through our town without a fight.” After all this time, haven’t these bad guys learned their lesson? No matter how fast your car is, how tough you are, or how many guns you have, Arnold will win. “I am the Sheriff”, it never gets old.
17. Gordy Brewer – Collateral Damage (2002)
The third and final film in Arnold’s millennium forget-me-not trilogy which featured End of Days, The 6th Day, and Collateral Damage. It was a time I’m sure he would like to forget, but in my opinion each of these movies are good for what they are worth. Especially End of Days, which is coming up shortly.
Collateral Damage is not a great film, but it is somehow another satisfying violent revenge thriller. When will people learn, stop kidnapping his family, stop killing his family because you can’t stop Arnold, he will find you and hunt you down and make you pay. Lucky for us, even if Arnold is given a film of little substance, he can mold greatness out of the average. Nothing proves this more than his role as Gordy Brewer in Collateral Damage.
16. Jericho Cane – End of Days (1999)
End of Days was Arnold’s first venture outside of his comfort zone, and into the world of religious horror. He had battled Terminators, aliens, and all forms of human scum, but in this film, took on the devil himself. I have always loved this film and everything about it, and it truly appears to be a movie about the lord himself: Arnold Schwarzenegger versus the Devil. He even sacrifices himself to save the world, just like some other guy who did the same. This film gets a ton of flack, but it really is great at times. Arnold shows off his ability to act, to be a depressed character with nothing to lose, which is a huge stretch from his characters who aren’t depressed, with nothing to lose.
15. Mr. Freeze – Batman & Robin (1997)
This list is ranking Arnold’s best characters, not best movies, which is the reason for including Arnold as the Batman villain Mr. Freeze. And Arnold was the only good thing about this movie. That being said, there were no other actors cool enough (sorry) to play this character as well as Arnold. Armed with his famous one liners, “Chill out!”, “The Ice Man cometh!”, “You’re not sending ME to the COOLER!”, or “Stay cool, Birdboy.” It may not be the Mr. Freeze you would expect (or want), but in this ridiculous take on Batman, Arnold is absolutely perfect. Just thinking of him muttering the cold puns throughout the movie, has made making this list worthwhile.
14. Ivan Danko – Red Heat (1988)
Take an Arnold, blend in a Russian accent that wouldn’t pass for a Russian accent anywhere, add a hilarious 80s Jim Belushi, mix with a flat top Bart Simpson haircut, some bad guy Russians, and we have the ever popular Red Heat. It is just pure enjoyment watching the cocky police cop Belushi interact with the stern Russian Arnold plays. Their discourse back and forth is what lifts this character this high up the list. When Arnold says “It’s time to feed the parakeet”, and Belushi asks him if that’s Russian for “jerking off”. Or any of the tons of one liners Arnold spews, it’s just pure accidental genius. This film really shifted Arnold from the muscle man action star to one with an extremely entertaining persona. Red Heat and Twins were released nearly back to back and truly cemented him as one of Hollywood’s top stars.
13. Ben Richards – The Running Man (1987)
Arnold plays a police officer in this totalitarian society, who is wrongly accused of a massacre, and sentenced to run the gauntlet of death on a game show surprisingly called The Running Man. As ridiculous as it sounds, this film has become a classic with its cult status. Coming off the success of Predator, The Running Man is again pure 80s greatness, again teaming up Arnold with the great Jesse “The Body” Ventura. The iconic skin tight orange jumpsuit is unforgettable, as Arnold mows down futuristic baddy after futuristic baddy.
After Terminator, Commando and Running Man, both feature Arnold stating in pure glee. This film was set in the year 2019, so let’s just hope we can get a television show just like this when we get there, and who better to host then Arnold himself! Or even better, a sequel with Arnold playing the show host instead of the man running for his freedom.
12. US Marshal John “The Eraser” Kruger – Eraser (1996)
Let me start this off by saying, I LOVE this movie. Eraser is a cult classic, a heart pounding roller coaster, that made everyone forget about the Junior Arnold, and got us back on track. Arnold is back to his glory, a killer who, as the title alludes to, erases people from the face of the earth. If that’s not enough, having him say, “You’ve just been erased”, makes it just about the coolest thing since green blooded aliens.
In what I consider to be the most awesome weapon on the planet earth, the EM-1 Rail Gun with the x-ray scope, Arnold has some competition even more terrifying then a villainous James Caan. Eraser has more depth and intrigue then the standard Arnold action movie and can hold its own. And, in one of my favorite one liners of all time, after the death of an alligator, Arnold cool as ever says, “You’re luggage”.
11. Conan – Conan The Barbarian (1982) & Conan The Destroyer (1984)
The role of Conan is iconic. It was the role that lifted Arnold from unknown to known, so why do you ask did it not make the top 10 greatest Arnold roles? It just doesn’t have the true Arnold magic. Arnold kills, Arnold has sex, repeat twenty times, the end. The role certainly is important to his career, as it did lay the groundwork for all of the films to follow. Have Arnold flex, crush his enemies, and make sweet love to the ladies. Except Conan lacks what all his other roles have plenty of, and that’s what makes him the true icon he is today, his one liners and impeccable dialogue delivery.
Conan the Destroyer was so forgettable, I have nothing to say about it. In fact, I think it may be the single Arnold movie I have not seen to date. Conan the Barbarian may be the peak of Arnold’s physique, but he would keep that trend going for many years to come.