In the Worst Situations, the Greatest Friends Shine
So much content throughout the horror genre revolves around friendship. From the Losers Club in It (2017) to the survivors of Flight 180 in Final Destination (2000), the power of the platonic bond is constantly put to the test in scary situations. Many of the friendships on screen buckle and break, but this list showcases the dedicated friends that stuck with their respective protagonists through thick and thin. Reader beware: there are spoilers ahead for the mentioned movies.
Honorable mentions: Tucker from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010), Jack from An American Werewolf in London (1981), Rika from Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (2021), and Dewey from the Scream franchise.
5. Ed – Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Ed, played by Nick Frost, was the main character’s flatmate. He served as the stereotypical childhood friend—great for a laugh and fun to play video games with, but was there anything else to his character? Did his friendship hold any real value? At the start of Shaun of the Dead, anyone on the outside looking in would assume the answers to these questions are “no.” Ed’s lazy, hedonistic lifestyle had developed a plethora of unhealthy habits that regularly spread to the already down-on-his-luck Shaun. If that wasn’t bad enough, the crude sense of humor Ed used was a major turnoff to other important people in his friend’s life—although the monkey impression is admittedly pretty decent.
Despite his immature edge, the goofball rewarded Shaun’s dedication throughout the course of the movie. He stuck with Shaun even when their situation was at its most severe. Ed tried to cheer up his friend after an unsurprising breakup, killed multiple zombies in Shaun’s defense, and immediately rushed to protect Shaun and his mom when David turned a gun on the infected parent. Even after being bitten by a zombie himself, Ed stayed behind to fight off the undead horde at The Winchester so that he could buy time for Shaun and Liz’s escape. Ed might not have survived the apocalypse, but he learned to be more selfless and went out as a hero. Plus, his friendship with Shaun technically endured past Z-Day since the zombified Ed now plays video games chained up in Shaun’s shed.
4. Marty – The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Marty was justifiably the breakout character from Drew Goddard’s meta horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods. The stoner tagalong cruised on screen with his transforming bong and quickly established himself as a likable addition to the cast. He not only had the funniest quips in the film, but he stood up for Jules early on after she was insulted by the sexist harbinger at the gas station. If Marty wasn’t immediately the audience favorite, he slowly became The Cabin in the Woods’s unexpected hero.
He did his best to warn his friends about the obviously creepy nature of their cabin thanks to his immunity to the brain-altering hormones. Even after his pleas were ignored by the group which subsequently resulted in him getting stabbed in the back by an undead Buckner, he still fought tooth and nail in order to get back to Dana and rescue her from the “zombie redneck torture family.” Marty then functioned as an emotional anchor for Dana throughout the rest of their traumatic night, providing support as the two navigated the ritualistic, monster-infested facility beneath the cabin. While he did let Dana get mauled by a werewolf after she tried to shoot him, the two still forgave each other and enjoyed their last seconds together before the end of the world.
3. Bishop – Aliens (1986)
Weyland-Yutani’s resident five-finger filet champion, Bishop, was an android who held the role of science officer on Ripley’s marine expedition party. Ripley was understandably uneasy around him after finding out that he was synthetic in nature. After all, Ripley’s entire crew in Alien was betrayed by Ash—another android who prioritized business gain over human life. Ripley’s doubts would be put to rest over the course of their horrific adventure, as Bishop stepped up and became one of the most valuable members on the team.
Bishop had training as both a medic and a technician. He put both skillsets to use and did most of the heavy lifting to ensure that the surviving members of the Sulaco crew could escape. He crawled through the galaxy’s most claustrophobic maintenance tunnel in order to make contact with the spare dropship, then escorted the injured Hicks on to said dropship. Not only that, but he piloted it and came back for Ripley and Newt when all logic should have told him to leave the crumbling station. Even after being torn in half by the alien queen, Bishop slid to the rescue and stopped Newt from flying out the airlock. While it could be argued that Bishop’s caring demeanor and acts of heroics are due to his programming, he still went above and beyond for those that saw him as a friend.
2. Rod – Get Out (2017)
Never underestimate the TSA. Jordan Peele’s Get Out puts its protagonist Chris through the ringer. While meeting his girlfriend Rose’s family for the first time, Chris discovers that the Armitage family is actually a racist cult of hypnotizing body thieves. After a traumatic series of events, Chris likely would not have survived his encounter with the Armitages had it not been for one man: his best friend Rod Williams.
Rod, played by comedian Lil Rel Howery, acts like a voice for the audience throughout the film, and especially at the start of it. In typical horror movie fashion, his many warnings about the increasingly suspicious nature of Chris’s trip to meet the Armitage family went unheard. This didn’t stop Rod later, though, from going all in when a phone call with Rose led him to suspect that his friend is in danger. When the police also ignored his concerns, Rod took it upon himself to launch his own investigation into the Armitage family. He used the contacts in the federal government that he gained as a TSA agent and finally tracked Chris down. His efforts paid off because Rod showed up just in time to rescue Chris from Rose’s clutches. In a movie so dark, Rod brought the much needed light and comedy of pure friendship. His dedication to his friend was steadfast, although he did make sure to remind Chris that he was right all along about the Armitages.
1. Gizmo – The Gremlins Franchise
Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984) introduced the world to one of the most loveable figures in all of horror and horror adjacent media: Gizmo. This Mogwai stands out in both of his feature film appearances for several reasons. His iconic design, cute voice, and wonderful puppet work make him a memorable character, but what’s so great about Gizmo is the adorable admiration he has for the series’ main character, Billy.
If it wasn’t for Gizmo, the Gremlins franchise would have been different. While humanity’s careless nature around Gizmo leads to multiple outbreaks of the titular monster, Gizmo himself turns into the unlikely hero of both films. Whether he’s chasing Stripe through a department store in his toy car or turning into a Rambo-inspired marksman to fight off a gremlin-spider hybrid in a New York City skyscraper, the small Mogwai defied expectations—not only because he looks so unassuming, but also because he has the potential to turn into a gremlin. He threw himself into danger time and time again, not for his own wellbeing, but to ensure that Billy and his loved ones stayed safe. Plus, even taking Gizmo’s loyalty and combat proficiency out of the equation, he seemed to simply like hanging out with Billy. Gizmo got excited every time he sees his friend and enjoys the little moments he shared with the down-on-his-luck bank worker. Gizmo made a great friend for any of the humans—and dogs—that showed him kindness.
Get Out: Rod Scenes