The 10 Best Characters in the Jurassic Franchise Ranked

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies
Movies

The Jurassic franchise has reached a milestone. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom marks the fifth instalment in the unfolding dinosaur saga. And while it’s brought us plenty to love in the form of new and increasingly fearsome dinosaurs, it’s also furnished us with a host of characters to love and loathe. Here’s our pick of the Top 10 characters from the franchise.

10. Ray Arnold

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Samuel L Jackson oozes cool -- as always -- as Ray Arnold in Jurassic Park.

We couldn’t compile a list of the best Jurassic characters without including Samuel L. Jackson’s Ray Arnold. Exhibiting the cool he’s made a career out of, in this supporting role he bosses it.

Clearly not a fan of bad guy Dennis Nedry, the man responsible for the park shutdown, he works alongside the guy and it’s up to Arnold to mop up his mess after he disappears (as Nedry is attempting to smuggle embryos out of the park). Literally, as it happens – he swipes the trash off Nedry’s desk as he takes over his station in an effort to override the shutdown he’s put in motion. All done with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Is this guy laid back or what? It’s just a shame he meets such an unceremonious end – we’re alerted to his death when Laura Dern’s Ellie discovers his dismembered arm.

9. Amanda Kirby

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Téa Leoni's Amanda Kirby definitely NOT attracting the attention of dinosaurs with a loudhailer.

The third film was perhaps the least well-received of all the Jurassic films to date. But it did bring us Téa Leoni in a memorable role – which was hilarious. But also quite touching. Separated from her former husband, William H. Macy’s Paul Kirby, the two come together to search for their son who is lost on Isla Sorna – the location of InGen’s Site B, first introduced in The Lost World. You start off distrusting and disliking her because she and her wealthy husband have duped Sam Neill’s Alan Grant into accompanying them on the rescue mission to the island. But by the end of the film, you’ve developed a great deal of sympathy for the pair – and enjoy the gradual reignition of their love flame.

We include Amanda in this list over Paul solely because of the amazing scene in which she gets entangled with the parachute of the dead guy from the beginning — Ben. Ben Hildebrand was Amanda’s boyfriend, who’d taken son Eric on an adventure trip, which resulted in the two of them crash landing on the island. But the screaming that ensues following her discovery of Ben’s decomposed body, still strapped to the parachute, and then her attempts to run away after finally getting disentangled are comedy gold. It’s this that cements Amanda’s place in the list.

8. Claire Dearing

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Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing -- stiletto runner extraordinaire.

Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire first won us over because she was a successful businesswoman. Who was quite likeable. We also liked that she didn’t fulfill a typical motherly role. Then, when she was called on to run from dinosaurs and save the day — alongside Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady, of course — she did it all wearing STILETTOS. And didn’t complain once. YAAAAS, QUEEN.

In Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, she swaps the high heels for (almost) flats and develops a motherly instinct but she’s no less badass. And she’s developed a conscience.

7. Dr. Sarah Harding

Jurassic-The Lost World-Julianne Moore
What a woman.

The Lost World brought Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm back for a starring role. In Jurassic Park, he was set up as a guy who was a bit of a ‘player’. He’d had a string of relationships and fathered a number of children. By different women. In The Lost World, we meet both his daughter – and his current girlfriend. And she’s not the kind of woman you might have put him with.

Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding is intelligent and ballsy, and she holds her own in the dangerous situation she’s been thrown into. She’s also responsible for saving the day, ultimately – tranquilising the T-Rex that’s been rampaging through the city and ensuring its safe transportation back to Isla Sorna.

6. Dennis Nedry

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The Jurassic franchise hit peak bad guy with Dennis.

In five films, there hasn’t been a villain to rival Wayne Knight’s Dennis Nedry. The guy behind the park shutdown that leads to the dinosaurs breaking free in Jurassic Park, Dennis is an odious, slob of a man out for himself. He’s a cocksure computer programmer in charge of the security systems at the theme park. Angry at Hammond for not paying him his ‘worth’, he is eager to cash in and agrees to sell the park’s dinosaur embryos for a tidy sum.

There are few more memorable deaths in the series than Nedry’s, who bites the dust when attempting to smuggle embryos out of the park. During a storm. He’s seen off in fabulous fashion after showing a Dilophosaurus zero respect and it retaliates by squirting its sticky ink in his face before chowing down on its sizeable human snack.

5. Owen Grady

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Chris Pratt's Owen Grady is a refreshing addition to the franchise.

Chris Pratt came along in Jurassic World and reset the franchise. Bringing the Pratt persona to the role of raptor whisperer Owen Grady, the Guardians of the Galaxy actor injected a more playful sensibility into the dinosaur saga.

He’s a good guy, who loves the animals in his care – and the franchise has positioned him as the action hero to take the Jurassic franchise forward. His cheeky one-liners and on-off relationship with Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing are eminently watchable. Not to mention his adorable relationship with velociraptor Blue.

4. Dr. Ellie Sattler

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Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park.

Laura Dern’s Ellie has an enthusiasm that matches John Hammond’s. She loves dinosaurs and is fascinated and delighted to see them in the flesh. She’s also staunchly feminist. She delivers a withering line when Malcolm and Grant – who she’s dating in the first film – discuss the relationship between man and dinosaur.

Dr. Malcolm says, “God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man, man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.”

Ellie responds, “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.” After which, she crawls forward, eyes still locked on the dinosaurs she’s been observing from the car. It’s an unexpected moment but one of the film’s finest.

3. Dr. Alan Grant

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Here's hoping for a return for Dr Grant in the next film.

Sam Neill’s Alan Grant is so memorable in the first film. He’s a passionate but cautious and cynical paleontologist, who believes that prehistoric beasts belong in the past. He fails to recognize that the dinosaurs Hammond is responsible for recreating are real dinos, believing them to be manmade abominations. That’s not to say he wasn’t wowed by seeing them in the flesh for the first time.

On top of this, his child-phobia gave him a character quirk that led to some awkward and sometimes funny interactions with Hammond’s grandchildren, whom he gets thrown together with. The point is, he’s a character, just like Hammond and Malcolm, who is three-dimensional and INTERESTING. Neill, of course, also brings great charisma to the role.

2. John Hammond

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Richard Attenborough was just glorious in the role of John Hammond.

John Hammond is a true character, brought to vivid life by the inimitable Richard Attenborough. The enthusiastic theme park creator could so easily have been drawn as a black-and-white villain – many films would have done exactly that. Instead, Hammond is a jolly Scottish innovator, a mad-scientist type with a warmth that’s infectious. It’s hard to believe his interest in making money from the theme park he plans to open overrides his passion for the animals he’s created and his genuine joy at experimenting with the marvels of genetic engineering.

He’s also got a couple of grandchildren whom he loves very much and has no idea he’s placing them in great danger. His confidence in his creation is his undoing, rather than his greed. Hammond is no cut-and-dried bad guy – unlike the villains we’re fed in Fallen Kingdom.

1. Dr. Ian Malcolm

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Always our number one.

Jeff Goldblum is surely by now considered an international treasure. After making his feature film debut in classic revenge thriller Death Wish in 1974, he went on to appear in Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill, David Cronenberg’s seminal remake of sci-fi horror The Fly, silly but memorable 80s alien comedy Earth Girls Are Easy with Jim Carrey and Geena Davis, and Robert Altman’s The Player (as himself) before landing the role of Dr Ian Malcolm and becoming a household name.

In Jurassic Park, Goldblum brought his quirky persona to Malcolm – and the masses — all wrapped up in that trademark casual Goldblum delivery. Ian Malcolm is one of the franchise’s great treasures — an unconventional Chaos-theory spouting scientist. It’s criminal that Malcolm gets crocked and taken out of the main thrust of the film so early. Perhaps he was in danger of overshadowing the T-Rex.

Malcolm’s return in the sequel provides a bit more insight into the kind of man he is when he’s thrown into the thick of it with his girlfriend (Julianne Moore) and his daughter from a previous relationship. Malcolm makes an appearance in Fallen Kingdom, but it’s disappointingly brisk.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is in UK cinemas now, and hits screens in Australia on June 21 and in the US on June 22.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.
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