The 9 Most Narcissistic Characters in Movie History

Much like in television, we tend to find narcissistic characters in movies entertaining and captivating. In real life, however, their traits and behaviors would be far more harmful and destructive. Here are nine of the most narcissistic characters in movie history. 

Arthur Fleck in The Joker  

Interestingly, researchers have already begun analyzing the narcissistic and psychopathic traits present in the character of Arthur Fleck otherwise known as the Joker. They note how his excessive need for admiration as a stand-up comedian and obsession with women who don’t reciprocate his affections, along with his tendency to murder people and lash out when grandiose fantasies of success and brilliance aren’t met are key features of narcissism that stand out in this character.

Kathryn Merteuil from Cruel Intentions

Both narcissistic and psychopathic, Kathryn Merteuil is the charismatic puppeteer who interferes in the lives of others to one-up them for power and control. This includes seducing her stepbrother Sebastian Valmont, placing a bet that encourages him to “deflower” the innocent daughter of the headmaster, Annette Hargrove, and also sabotaging Cecille, a young woman her ex-boyfriend pursued as retaliation. She becomes possessive and enraged when she realizes Sebastian is falling in love with Annette and it is clear she views him as a possession and toy to be played with.

Patrick Bateman from American Psycho

Although Patrick may be having vivid hallucinations rather than committing real life crimes (it’s unclear because he’s an unreliable narrator), it is clear that elements of the character can be read as narcissistic and psychopathic. A successful Harvard business graduate and wealthy investment banker on Wall Street who appears to lead the double life of a sadistic serial killer and sex addict who routinely cheats on his fiancé, Bateman exhibits many narcissistic and psychopathic traits that make him a dangerous person, even if his murders do turn out to be illusions of his mind.

Regina George from Mean Girls

Regina is another female narcissist who loves pitting people against one another. Head of the “mean girls” group The Plastics, she targets and scapegoats an attractive formerly home-schooled new classmate, Cady Heron, out of jealousy and envy when notices Cady is receiving more attention than she is including from her own boyfriend. She often spreads rumors and engages in relational aggression to degrade the people who threaten her power and status and set them up for sabotage, as female narcissists are prone to do.

Amy Dunne from Gone Girl 

While modern audiences may sympathize with Amy’s circumstances as a wife who is ultimately cheated on and underappreciated, there’s no doubt Amy Dunne is a narcissistic and psychopathic character who (spoilers ahead) carefully sets up her husband for her own “murder” as revenge and brutally murders an ex-boyfriend as part of her plot to return to him. This is one calculated narcissistic psychopath you never want to mess with.

Miranda Priestley from the Devil Wears Prada

Miranda is the poster child for the narcissistic boss. She is contemptuous, condescending, arrogant and lacks empathy for her employees, often bullying them to do her bidding and sadistically giving them impossible tasks, moving the goal posts so she can hypercriticize others.

Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter Series

In pursuit of world domination? Check. A lack of empathy for and aggression against the most vulnerable? Check. Lord Voldemort epitomizes narcissism and psychopathy in his grandiose pursuit of power and murders countless people in his dark reign, literally splitting his soul into parts from the acts of evil he has committed to maintain immortality. Even as Tom Riddle, a young foster boy, he displayed cruelty to animals and people, traits associated with psychopathy.

Darth Vader from Star Wars

Similar to Lord Voldemort, Darth Vader underwent a transformation from Anakin Skywalker to Sith Lord, but his transformation was far more nuanced and he is a rare case of a malicious character  who redeems himself. He gave into the temptation of evil despite having an initially kind-hearted nature after traumatic circumstances, becoming a ruthless leader of the Galactic Empire and is described as “more machine than man,” but his loyalty to his son brings out the old Anakin and he is able to rescue his son from the Emperor.

Catherine Trammel in Basic Instinct

In Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone plays Catherine Tramell, a crime novelist and millionaire heiress whose crimes are reflected in her novels but who manages to evade prison through her calculated lies. Seductive, manipulative, thrill-seeking and prone to pathological lying, Catherine remains one of the most narcissistic and psychopathic characters in film history.

About the author

Shahida Arabi

Shahida is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a published researcher and author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking Trauma Bonds with Narcissists and Psychopaths. Her books have been translated into 16+ languages all over the world. Her work has been featured on Salon, HuffPost, Inc., Bustle, Psychology Today, Healthline, VICE, NYDaily News and more. For more inspiration and insight on manipulation and red flags, follow her on Instagram here.