Bullying has been thrust into the spotlight lately, but some of the worst bullies of all time may actually be lurking closer than you think—in your DVD collection. The bullying archetype has been a cinematic undertone since Nurse Ratched first made her iron-fisted appearance in 1975's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Over the years, we've developed a love-hate relationship with iconic bullies like Ponyboy's worst nightmare—the Socs—from "The Outsiders" (1983) and wedgie-wielding John Bender from "The Breakfast Club" (1985). Marty McFly never got over the bullying he experienced at the hands of Biff Tannen in "Back to the Future" (1985). And no one will likely ever forget bully Regina George and her riot-inciting burn book from "Mean Girls" (2004). There have been plenty of bullies in recent years to contend with too.
What do you get when you give a cold-hearted bully the ability to wield a magic wand? Why, mud-blood-hating Draco Malfoy, of course. Malfoy is the quintessential bad guy from the Harry Potter series who made his first appearance in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001). The pride of Slytherin, Malfoy (along with his henchmen, Goyle and Crabbe) brought snarling meanness up and down the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for seven long books and movies. In 2011's final installment of the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II," Malfoy became the first in the series to receive a hug from He Who Shall Not Be Named—the Dark Lord—Voldemort. If his brand of snobbery and bigotry seem true to life, you're making an astute observation. His character is based on the different bullies that author J.K. Rowling came into contact with as a child. Muggles, beware.
Older brothers have been portrayed as the bullies they are for many years on the Silver Screen. After all, sibling rivalry issofun to watch. Playing off the antics of bad big brother Buzz McCallister from "Home Alone" (1995) fame, Rodrick Heffley puts in a despicable performance as a big brother forced to bond with his younger sibling over a long summer vacation in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" (2010). His bullying behavior is enough to give small kids nightmares and wins him the title of one of the best movie bullies in recent history.
Bullies are sometimes portrayed in the movies as a team. Such was the case with "The Hunger Games" (2012) career tribute pair—neck-snapping Cato and knife-wielding Clove. Sure, being chosen to participate in a game where the object is to survive at all costs and fight to the death is bad enough, but these two actually volunteered. As career tributes, they trained their entire lives for the games, and they enjoy causing fear and inflicting emotional and physical torture on their fellow participants. In the end, good triumphed over evil and these two got everything they deserved and then some.
In the movies, bullies aren't always living breathing people. Sometimes, they're living, breathing teddy bears that encourage the masses to make jokes about those who are different, mock those who are sick, and belittle everyone else. Such was the inspiration behind "Ted" (2012), starring a homophobic, drug-abusing, foul-mouthed, insult-slinging, porn-watching stuffed bear who pokes fun of the most vulnerable people in our society, ranging from cancer patients to people with Parkinson's disease, without skipping a beat. Don't let the cuddly look fool you; there's a monster lurking behind those button eyes.
One of the worst bullies in cinematic history is an animated one who recently made a reappearance in a sequel: Sid Phillips from "Toy Story" (1995). If serial killer Dexter from the Showtime series "Dexter" were to be portrayed as a child, he could very well be Sid. We're first introduced to Sid, wearing a T-shirt with a skull motif, at the beginning of the movie when he blew up Combat Carl with a firecracker while his toy-hungry dog looked on. His antics throughout the movie are enough to make toys everywhere run shrieking with terror. To reaffirm the consensus among 90s kids that he was on a road to nowhere, Sid makes a reappearance—still wearing the aforementioned T-shirt—in "Toy Story 3" (2010)—as the garbage man. Cinematic justice, served cold.
There you have it—five of the biggest bullies in recent movie history. Although no one likes a bully, movie bullies serve a purpose. The movie bully becomes an obstacle that our favorite characters must overcome, usually at great odds, and this makes for memorable screen time. They serve as giants that must be slain by the avenging hero or heroine—or at least put in their places and made to suffer. This is the cinema's way of righting a wrong and allowing good to conquer evil, if only for a brief (fictional) moment in time.