In reality, people can say this about any decade, but the fact is that 1990-1999 was a great era for movies.
We had great dramas, hilarious comedies, high-octane action movies, terrifying horrors, imaginative sc-fi movies and the birth of the modern superhero genre as we know it.
Those movies brought with them an abundance of great characters – many of whom immediately spring to mind when we think of the 1990s. They’re quintessential 90s characters and, in this piece, we’ll be listing 50 of them.
In order to meet the criteria for this list, the characters in question must be from movies that were both released in the 1990s and set in the 1990s (including fictional depictions of the decade). There will also be no more than one character from any given movie included.
Basically, when you think of the 1990s, you think of these guys – they essentially defined an era. Here are 50 movie characters who epitomised the 1990s…
50. Harry Stamper
There were some great disaster movies in the 1990s – many of which also fell into the category of sci-fi – and very few were better than 1998’s Armageddon. Michael Bay’s offering saw a group of blue-collar deep-core drillers sent into space to stop a huge asteroid from colliding with Earth.
Bruce Willis’ Harry Stamper – the best deep sea oil driller on the planet – led the group and he exemplified the typical American grit required to overcome the terrible situations depicted in 90s disaster movies. “Oil driller being sent into space” also felt weirdly 90s in general, for some reason.
49. Mike Lowrey
Mike Lowrey was one of the two main characters in Michael Bay’s brilliant 1995 action comedy Bad Boys. Played by Will Smith, Lowrey was a Miami-based detective investigating $100 million of seized Mafia heroin. He has, of course, also appeared in two subsequent sequels which didn’t take place in the 1990s, but he’s still such a quintessential 90s character.
You see, Lowrey is essentially what would happen if Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air moved to Florida and became a cop – and there aren’t many characters who epitomise the 90s more than the Fresh Prince!
48. Lloyd Christmas
Nothing about Lloyd Christmas as a person particularly screams “1990s”, but when you think about the 90s as a decade and its humour, you immediately think of 1994’s Dumb and Dumber – and Christmas was undoubtedly the movie’s star.
Played by the inimitable Jim Carrey – who really was on a roll that year with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask also released – Christmas was exactly what the title of the movie suggested: dumb as all hell! As arguably the biggest breakout star of the decade, a couple of Carrey’s characters absolutely had to be on this list.
47. Annie Porter
Two things that found themselves on an upward trajectory in the world of movies in the 1990s were strong female characters and Sandra Bullock’s career. These things were both conveyed emphatically in 1994’s Speed and 1997’s Speed 2: Cruise Control – both of which saw Bullock in leading roles.
Bullock played Annie Porter – a passenger on both a bus (in the first movie) and a cruise ship (in the second movie) when the vehicles were forced into life-threatening situations by terrorists. She prevailed in both, epitomising those aforementioned powerful female figures that became more prevalent in 90s movies.
46. Johnny Utah
Speaking of Speed, another of its stars was in top form during the 1990s – and none of his characters epitomise the decade more than Johnny Utah. The star in question is, of course, Keanu Reeves and the movie in which he played Utah was 1991’s action-crime movie Point Break.
Utah was so 90s it hurt. He was a former Ohio State quarterback and rookie FBI agent who, in the movie, was investigating a string of bank robberies by a gang wearing rubber masks of ex-U.S. presidents. His attire, general demeanour and characterisation screamed “1991” in such a big way – and he was obviously played by one of the most popular actors of the decade, which helped his cause as far as this piece is concerned.
45. Clarence Worley
In spite of the fact that it was a box office failure, True Romance is one of the best movies of the 1990s – so we just had to include its main character, Clarence Worley, in this list. Played by Christian Slater, he was a truly brilliant character.
Although there wasn’t anything emphatically 90s about the Elvis Presley fan, comic book store clerk and drug dealer, since True Romance has developed a cult following and become far more popular than it was upon its release, he has absolutely become an iconic 90s character. For that reason and that reason alone, he had to make our list.
44. Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown was Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant 1997 crime drama movie, starring Pam Grier as the titular character – a flight attendant for a fictional Mexican airline named Cabo Air, who made ends meet by smuggling money from Mexico into the United States of America for Samuel L. Jackson’s gun runner Ordell Robbie.
Jackie is one of those typical no-nonsense, cunning, badass female characters who became prevalent in the 90s – and she was played brilliantly by Grier, which is all the more impressive considering the fact that she hadn’t performed in a leading role for many years at that point.
43. Dade Murphy
Dade Murphy – who also went by the online names “Zero Cool” and “Crash Override” – was the main character in the 1995 crime movie Hackers. Played by Jonny Lee Miller, he was a talented young hacker who joined a group of fellow hackers in his high school and became involveed in a corporate extortion conspiracy.
Hackers was made when the internet was just becoming familiar to the general public and it reflected the way the world was heading at the time – a world described in the idealistic “Hacker Manifesto” as being one “of electron and switch” and one “without skin colour, without nationality, without religious bias”. Dade Murphy is the personification of all of that.
42. Thomas J. Whitmore
Thomas J. Whitmore – played by Bill Pullman – was one of the main characters and the president of the United States of America in 1996’s Independence Day. As a result, that meant he was the man in charge of the world’s greatest superpower during an alien invasion – standing as a beacon of hope in the face of the potential annihilation of humanity.
Whitmore was a truly modern president – a 90s president – who had previously been an F-16 fighter pilot who fought in the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. He was a truly memorable character from that decade.
41. Cole Sear
One of the movies that provided the most scares in the 1990s was 1999’s supernatural psychological thriller The Sixth Sense. The movie was all about a young boy who was able to see and talk to dead people, as well as the child psychologist attempting to help him. That child psychologist was Malcolm Crowe, played by Bruce Willis, and the child he was helping was Cole Sear, played by Haley Joel Osment – the latter whom we’ll be including here.
The 90s saw a rise in the prominence of supernatural horror – and nobody epitomised that more than Cole. His existence was one of pure terror, as he lived in constant fear of seeing another restless dead person appear and communicate with him.
40. Heather Donahue
Now, don’t get us wrong, there had been found-footage movies prior to the 1990s, but they truly came to prominence with the release of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. The hype around the movie was huge, with many people initially believing it was genuine footage filmed by real-life students – which, of course, wasn’t the case, but was exactly what the filmmakers wanted people to believe during the promotion period.
The movie saw three students head into the Black Hills of Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. Heather Donahue – the character’s real name – was arguably the movie’s main star. Not only does she represent the 90s rise of the found footage genre, she also epitomised the independent female character depicted in so many 90s movies.
39. Joanne Harding
It’s time for another one of those strong female 90s movie characters now – and this one comes from 1996’s Twister. The character in question is Dr. Joanne Harding, played by Helen Hunt. Harding was a meteorologist and storm chaser who, as a child, witnessed her father being dragged away and killed by a category F5 tornado.
She turned her subsequent fear of said tornadoes into a career – and ultimately faced her biggest fear by placing herself in the eye of a tornado of the same powerful level that so cruelly took her dad from her. Now that’s a strong 90s woman if we ever saw one!
38. Rachel Marron
1992’s The Bodyguard wasn’t a great movie, but it was one of the more financially successful offerings of the 90s – and, most importantly as far as this inclusion is concerned, it had the most popular soundtrack of the decade, which just so happened to be performed by the movie’s star Whitney Houston. Quintessential 90s classics likes “I Will Always Love You“, “I’m Every Woman“, “I Have Nothing“, “Run to You” and “Queen of the Night” all featured – with “I Will Always Love You” being the best-selling song by a female artist of all-time!
In the movie, Houston played Rachel Marron – a typical 90s pop star in terms of her style and vibe. She couldn’t have been a more 90s character if she tried!
37. Harry Tasker
James Cameron’s 1994 action comedy movie True Lies saw Arnold Schwarzenegger doing the two things he does best on the big screen; being funny and kicking butt. In the movie, he played Harry Tasker – a man who led a double life as both a mild-mannered family man and computer salesman, as well as being a secret agent for a United States intelligence agency called Omega Sector.
In the 1990s, computer salesman was becoming a much more prominent job – and we bet living a double life as a secret agent was what every computer salesman dreamed of being at the time!
36. Richard Kimble
In 1993, an action thriller movie based on a television series of the same name was released. The movie (and television series) in question? The Fugitive. It saw Harrison Ford starring as prominent Chicago vascular surgeon Richard Kimble, who arrived home to find his wife fatally wounded by a one-armed man with a prosthetic replacement limb – and then being wrongfully convicted of her murder.
Kimble ended up being the typical 90s action star – a man out of his comfort zone and forced to survive. Moreover, The Fugitive was one of the outright best movies of the 90s, so its protagonist simply had to make the cut for this list.
35. William Thacker
One of the finest British comedy movies of the 1990s, 1990’s Notting Hill starred Hugh Grant as Will Thacker – a London book store owner who ended up finding love with an American Hollywood actress, in the form of Julia Roberts’ Anna Scott. Grant was arguably the biggest British breakout star of the 90s and his character in this movie was the quintessential 90s British bloke.
Grant made his name as an actor who played charming but awkward characters in the 90s and Thacker was exactly that. If you know Britain, you’ll also know his flat in the movie was the most 90s British flat ever.
34. James Bond
Now, before we go on, we should stress that we know James Bond is by no means a 90s character per se, but Pierce Brosnan’s version of the character appeared in four Bond movies – three of which just so happened to be in the 1990s (1995’s GoldenEye, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies and 1999’s The World is Not Enough).
With the previous Bond movie having been the Timothy Dalton-led License to Kill in 1989, Brosnan’s Bond was updated for the 90s, with a new cast, new tech and a new attitude – and hey, the accompanying Nintendo 64 video game for GoldenEye was one of the most 90s pieces of pop culture merchandise imaginable!
33. Ace Ventura
Another Jim Carrey character now (and it won’t be the last) – and this time it’s the character who starred in two comedy movies in the 1990s, Ace Ventura! Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was released in 1994 and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls followed in 1995. Both movies were great fun and Carrey was typically zany and fantastic in the titular role.
That zany humour was also typical of the 1990s, as was the message of animal welfare that the movies brought with them – and only in the 90s could a movie character get away with such a colourful and outrageous outfit!
32. Catherine Tramell
One of the best thriller movies of the 1990s was the 1992 neo-noir erotic thriller Basic Instinct. Its main character was crime novelist (and serial killer) Catherine Tramell – played by Sharon Stone in what was a star-making performance.
Yeah, she was a cold-blooded murderer, but she was another typically strong woman, like so many prominent female characters in 90s movies. She was a bold, feminist icon in a decade during which cultural feminism made great strides. The sexually explicit nature of some of her scenes was also seen as quite empowering by lots of (but not all) women around the world – which was another indication of progression for feminism.
31. Leo Beiderman
The 1990s was the decade in which Elijah Wood came to prominence as an actor – and in 1998, he played a typical 90s geek kid in sci-fi disaster movie Deep Impact. The geek kid in question was Leo Beiderman – a keen amateur astronomer whose hobby essentially ended up saving the Earth from a comet on a collision course with it.
Just look at him! He had curtains! Nothing – and we do mean NOTHING – says “90s kid” like having the classic curtains hairstyle. His head might as well be screaming “I’M FROM THE 90s” straight in our collective faces. Leo was also highly adept with 90s technology and both dressed and sounded like a typical 90s kid.
Another appearance from a quintessentially English Hugh Grant character now – and this time it’s Grant’s character Charles (second name unknown) from 1992’s romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Charles had the floppy middle-parted 1990s hair that helped to make Grant an icon of 1990s British (and indeed world) cinema. He was also the kind of typically metrosexual male that became more prominent during the decade. When people think of 90s British movies, they think of Four Weddings and a Funeral – and for that reason its main character simply has to be on this list.
29. John Doe
During the 1990s, the crime rate in the United States rose steadily. Essentially, the 90s was full of sinners – and there was one character in a brilliant 90s movie who represented them all. John Doe in 1995’s Seven was a serial killer who themed his murders around the seven deadly sins; pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth.
Played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey, Doe was an emotionless killer who detached himself from his crimes in the same way a viewer of the movie would blissfully commit a sin without a care in the world. He was essentially reflective of 1990s society – albeit in a much more brutal and extreme way.
28. John Kimble
Having already starred in 1988’s Twins, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger began to take more comedic roles in the 1990s, starting with 1990’s Kindergarten Cop. In the movie, he played John Kimble – a tough police detective working undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to apprehend a drug dealer.
Kimble grew to love the kids he was working with – and that was wholly representative of a new breed of sensitive men that spawned in the 90s. Think about it – would you have seen an Arnie like that in Conan the Barbarian or Predator in the 1980s? We think not!
27. Clarice Starling
When it comes to those strong female characters in 90s movies that we’ve been talking about so much, they don’t come much stronger than young FBI trainee Clarice Starling from 1991’s psychological horror The Silence of the Lambs. Played by Jodie Foster, the role won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Starling was an incredibly determined young woman who epitomised the strong nature of so many 90s female characters. The fact that she took on the Hannibal Lecter case when she was so inexperienced took an incredible amount of guts. She deserves to be on this list for that reason alone!
26. Deloris Van Cartier
In 1992, a musical comedy movie was released about a Nevada lounge singer who was forced to join a convent after being placed in a witness protection program. The movie was Sister Act and its star was the brilliant Whoopi Goldberg, who played the lounge singer in question, Deloris Van Cartier.
Deloris brought fun to the convent she ended up frequenting and, as a result, the movie kind of brought religion into the modern day. She performed rock-and-roll songs at Sunday Mass – and it had a real world influence, as people began attending mass as a result of the movie’s popularity.
25. Melvin Udall
1997’s As Good as It Gets featured Jack Nicholson starring as Melvin Udall – a misanthropic and obsessive-compulsive novelist who actively shunned people and social interactions when the movie opened. But he found himself being forced into looking after his neighbour’s dog, which changed him and made him an ideal candidate for this list.
The 90s saw an increase in sensitive male characters and As Good as It Gets saw Melvin become more sensitive as the movie went on – with him developing a genuine emotional attachment to the aforementioned canine and even finding love with Helen Hunt’s Carol Connelly.
24. Muriel Heslop
In 1994’s cult Australian comedy drama Muriel’s Wedding, Toni Collette played the titular Muriel Heslop – a socially-awkward, small-town misfit who moved to Sydney to fulfil her life goal of becoming a bride by entering into a marriage of convenience with a South African Olympic swimmer – in what was a brilliant breakout performance.
Not only was Muriel dressed as a 90s bridal meringue in the movie’s climax, the story also did something very 90s – it replaced the traditional boy-gets-girl narrative with female empowerment and the enduring love of female friendship, with Muriel and her friend Rhonda Epinstall leaving their hometown together in search of a more promising future.
23. Kathryn Merteuil
The 1990s saw a trend emerge in which classic stories were updated in modern settings and turned into movies. 1999’s Cruel Intentions was one such example, as it was based on the 1782 Pierre Choderlos de Laclos novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (or Dangerous Liaisons, to give it its English name).
One of the movie’s main characters was popular teenager Kathryn Merteuil, who was based on the Marquise de Merteuil character from the novel. Not only was she a typical bratty 90s teenager who represented the 90s trend of updating classic characters, she was also played by a 90s icon in the form of Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar.
22. Gary Schofield
Remember that new breed of sensitive men who appeared in 90s movies that we’ve discussed already in this piece? Well, nobody epitomised them more than Gary “Gaz” Schofield from 1997’s The Full Monty. The Full Monty told the story of six unemployed men (four of whom were former steel workers) who decided to form a male striptease act – primarily so Gaz, the movie’s main character, could afford to see his son.
Gaz was played by Robert Carlyle and he really did exemplify that new breed of man – can you really imagine a steel worker doing a striptease before the 90s?! The movie also covered a number of sensitive issues that were prevalent in the 1990s (many of which Gaz had to deal with); unemployment, fathers’ rights, depression, impotence, homosexuality, body image, working class culture and suicide.
21. Sarah Harding
Palaeontologist Sarah Harding absolutely epitomised the independent woman of the 1990s – seriously she was about as independent as it’s possible to be! She appeared in 1997’s Jurassic Park: The Lost World and, when audiences were first introduced to her, she’d been documenting dinosaurs alone on Isla Sorna for several days.
Played by Julianne Moore, she was pretty badass and we simply had to include her on this list. She’s awesome – and if that Nikon F5 camera she used (which spooked the stegosaurus baby when it rewound in the movie) isn’t prime 90s tech, we don’t know what is!
20. Truman Burbank
The 1990s was the decade in which reality television first emerged as a distinct genre – with shows such as The Real World at the forefront – and that makes Jim Carrey’s Truman Burbank a great character to include in this list.
You see, Truman was the unwitting and blissfully ignorant star of The Truman Show – a movie about a man who grew up living an apparently ordinary life that actually took place on a large set populated by actors, all for the purpose of filming a television show about him. Truman was the epitome of the 90s reality show star whose life was on show for all to see – even if he didn’t know it!
19. Wayne Campbell
Wayne Campbell was the titular character and talk show host from 1992’s Wayne’s World and its 1993 sequel Wayne’s World 2. Played by the fantastic Mike Myers, Wayne couldn’t have been more “early 90s” if he tried.
For starters, he used words like “bogus” and “excellent”, but he also loved listening to classic rock music from the 1970s and 80s – who could forget the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody scene?! Basically, he was a typical 90s guy of around thirty years of age, still desperately trying to be what he was during his younger days.
18. Vivian Ward
Pretty Woman itself could never really have existed in any other decade. The 1999 movie essentially glamorised prostitution, which nobody would have dared do (certainly not without major censorship) prior to the 1990s – and it would definitely never happen in the 21st century due to political-correctness.
The movie’s main character was Vivian Ward – and just look at the clothes she wore! The thigh-high boots and that now iconic dress – nobody would wear that after 1999! She was the epitome of a 90s romantic comedy character – well, in pretty much every respect apart from the fact that she was a sex worker, that is.
17. Tyler Durden
The plot of David Fincher’s 1999 Fight Club hid a number of underlying meanings and analogies – one of which manifested in the form of the movie’s main character Tyler Durden, who was played by Brad Pitt.
It’s safe to say that the 90s were a pretty depressing ten years for working-class American men; computers began to take their jobs, their values as “big” and “tough” dudes didn’t mean what they used to, manufacturing jobs moved abroad, and degrees weren’t as valued as they were before. That meant a lot of young American men felt like they’d been dumped on the scrap heap – and Tyler Durden (as a personification of toxic masculinity) was their red-blooded angst manifested in human form.
16. Mia Wallace
Mia Wallace – played by the gorgeous Uma Thurman – was the character seen on all of the promotional art for Quentin Tarantino’s seminal 1994 movie Pulp Fiction. She was the wife of Ving Rhames’ gangster Marsellus Wallace in the movie – and she looked so 90s it almost hurts!
She had a short and sharp hairstyle that just screamed “1994” and the dress sense to match. She remains one of Tarantino’s most fascinating and complex characters to this day. There had been no character truly like her prior to the 90s and there haven’t really been any since.
15. Mark Renton
You’ve probably realised by now that not every character on this list represents the 1990s in a good way, as is the case with Mark “Rent Boy” Renton. Rent Boy was played by Ewan McGregor in Danny Boyle’s 1996 movie Trainspotting, which was based on Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel of the same name.
You see, in the 1990s (and indeed the 80s before them), the class A drug heroin became a serious issue around the world. Its purity improved, making it possible to both smoke and snort it. By the mid-90s, lots of heroin addicts either died, switched to needles or got clean – and Rent Boy is representative of this (although the fact that he escaped his junkie lifestyle by literally running away from it didn’t really represent real-life at all).
14. Cher Horowitz
Cher Horowitz might have been the epitome of a generally pretentious rich girl who loves fashion and shopping in 1995’s coming-of-age teen comedy Clueless, but she also epitomised girls her age from that era. Played by Alicia Silverstone, she really was the typical 90s girl in many ways. You need only look at her fashion sense and listen to the way she speaks to know what we mean by that.
She also happens to be a 1990s Beverly Hills-based version of Emma from the Jane Austen book of the same name – which was very reflective of the 90s, when updating classic novels and plays was a trendy thing to do. Plus, her huge cell phone absolutely embodied the technology of the decade!
13. Sam Wheat
Sam Wheat was the main (and titular) character in 1990’s romantic fantasy thriller movie Ghost. Played by the late Patrick Swayze, the character was killed by a mugger early in the movie and quickly discovered he was a ghost, unable to interact with the mortal world – except, that is, for his ability to communicate with Whoopi Goldberg’s psychic medium Oda Mae Brown.
He was a banker – working on typical 90s computers – and sporting a typical early-90s hairstyle that still seemed to have something left over from the 1980s, like many other men his age in the first few years of the decade. Swayze’s performance in Ghost helped to kick the 90s off with a bang.
12. Kat Stratford
Katarina “Kat” Stratford was the main character in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You. The movie was yet another 90s movie retelling of a classic novel – in this case, William Shakespeare’s late-16th-century comedy The Taming of the Shrew.
Played by Julia Stiles, not only did she represent the above 90s trend of updating classic stories (in her case, by playing the ill-tempered, aggressive and scolding “shrew” character who needed to be “tamed”), but she was also the typical 90s girl in terms of her dress sense, her hairstyle and the language she used.
11. Zack Siler
Another movie from the 1990s that was a modern adaptation of a classic tale was 1999’s She’s All That. In this instance, it was an updated version of both George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion and George Cukor’s 1964 film My Fair Lady. The movie’s male lead was Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Zack Siler.
Zack was a typical 90s high school jock in terms of his style and language – and the fact that his girlfriend at the start of the movie ditched him for a star of The Real World was the most 90s thing ever!
10. Jim Levenstein
The American Pie movies went on well into the 21st century, but they started in 1999 with the original – a movie that epitomised that 1990s’ fascination with gross-out comedies. The movie’s man star was Jason Biggs’ Jim Levenstein.
Jim was a typical 90s kid – a fact that was epitomised by his use of internet chat facilities and an early low-definition webcam. In fact, his teenage years were defined by a webcam mishap that saw him doing a striptease and having a… premature accident… with his entire school watching on and laughing! Actually, we guess that’s not so typical…
9. Lester Burnham
1999’s black comedy-drama American Beauty was one of the outright finest movies of the 1990s – it won five Oscars, including the main Best Picture gong – and its star was Lester Burnham, who was played by Kevin Spacey.
Lester was a typical 90s suburban father – around forty, working as a magazine executive and going through a mid-life crisis that saw him listening to Led Zeppelin, lifting weights, smoking pot and driving around in his dream car: a 1970 Pontiac Firebird. Given that Spacey won the Best Actor Oscar for the role, it’s safe to say his character was an important part of cinema in the 1990s.
In terms of technology, the 1990s saw progress like no other decade before it – the world wide web, text messaging, DVDs and the Tickle Me Elmo were just some of the advances made on that front – and Terminator 2: Judgment Day served as a wonderful movie analogy of that.
You see, the 1991 movie introduced the T-1000 – a far more advanced model of Terminator in comparison to the one Arnold Schwarzenegger had first played seven years earlier in 1984. Robert Patrick played the powerful new liquid metal model of killing machine – and he was one of the finest additions to popular culture of the 90s.
The 1990s saw the superhero movie genre launch from the platform on which it became what is it today – and that platform was built by 1998’s Blade. Wesley Snipes starred as the titular vampire hunter who, by being cool as hell, epitomised how the 90s were responsible for the likes of the X-Men movies, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe being possible.
Blade was produced by Marvel Enterprises, which actually became the company that was created with the MCU in mind – Marvel Entertainment – and we have Snipes to thank for being the 90s beacon of hope that created the superhero genre as we know it.
6. Alan Grant
1993’s Jurassic Park was the highest-grossing movie of all-time until the release of Titanic in 1997, so it was an extremely important cultural beacon of the 1990s – and its main character was Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant. Grant was a character who epitomised the middle-aged men of the 90s.
In his mid-40s at the time, Grant was a technophobe who resented the developing technology of the time – a fact exemplified early in Jurassic Park when he literally said “I hate computers”. He also wore a striking denim shirt – an item of clothing that couldn’t be more 90s if it tried!
5. Mrs. Doubtfire
Housekeeper Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire was, of course, actually San Francisco voice actor Daniel Hillard in disguise, as he desperately sought a way to see his children after his wife had filed for divorce. He/she was the titular character in the brilliant 1993 comedy-drama Mrs. Doubtfire.
Not only was it a seminal movie, but the popularity of its lead character – who, for the record, was played wonderfully by the late, great Robin Williams – also represented the progress made in the 1990s when it came to accepting men who dress as women and vice versa. That was a topic that had previously been quite taboo in mainstream popular culture.
4. Helen Quilley
Let’s be honest, when it comes to looking like they belong in the 1990s, no character fits the bill quite like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Helen Quilley from the 1998 romantic comedy-drama Sliding Doors – the character had no less than two haircuts in the movie that epitomised 90s style (thanks to the two different directions her character took, courtesy of the movie’s split-story nature)!
Moreover, she was a typical then-modern woman, working in the world of public relations and looking to set up her own business in the field – so she definitely epitomised the decade emphatically.
3. Mary Jensen
Mary Jensen – who was played by Cameron Diaz when she was one of the hottest properties in Hollywood – was the main character of the 1998 hit comedy There’s Something About Mary. To put it simply, Mary was everything a woman of the 90s was expected to be and more.
She was a hugely successful young woman, having graduated from Princeton University and already become a successful orthopaedic surgeon by the age of 31. She also loved sports – especially football and golf – all of which broke the stereotypes that previous decades had created about women. Essentially, Mary epitomised what a 1990s woman could be as society positively evolved.
2. Sidney Prescott
Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott may have gone on to appear in a couple of movies in the 2000s (with another one on the way in the 2020s, incidentally), but she was the original quintessential 90s slasher queen when the Scream franchise revived the slasher genre in 1996 and 1997 with Scream and Scream 2 respectively.
The early Scream movies epitomised the 90s – from the clothes, the iconic 90s cast and the voice-changing device that countless people bought in real-life as a result of the franchise’s success, to the early use of the internet that was depicted in them – and Sidney was right at the forefront of all that.
1. Kevin McCallister
Kevin McCallister was the star of the Home Alone franchise, played by Macaulay Culkin in the only two instalments that matter: 1990’s Home Alone and 1992’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He was a typical 90s kid who loved watching TV and playing with Micro Machines – and the handheld Talkboy toy he used to record things was about as 90s as it gets!
Kevin was the main reason the early Home Alone movies were so fantastic and he’s undoubtedly one of the best characters to come out of the 1990s – and the fact that he couldn’t simply call his parents on a cell phone when he was left home alone really emphasised that we hadn’t reached the 2000s yet!
That’s our list! Did you enjoy it? Can you think of any more quintessentially 90s movie characters than our 50? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!