ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

Beloved horror movie Thirteen Ghosts has been a fan favorite since its release in 2001, and while there are other horror movies that offer some similar elements, there's no film quite like it.

What's interesting about the ghosts of Thirteen Ghosts is that each has a detailed back story, more often than not layered with moral ambiguity and empathy: few of the supposedly villainous ghosts are outright evil. They were people with stories, relatives and lives, cut short for different reasons.

If you're curious which of the Thirteen Ghosts you are, try this pause game.

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Based on pre-death crimes, motivations and how dangerous they prove to be, check out a ranking of the ghosts, from least to most evil and/or terrifying!

The Innocents

The First Born Son in 'Thirteen Ghosts' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
The First Born Son in 'Thirteen Ghosts' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

12. The Withered Lover

  • Real Name: Jean Kriticos

Jean Kriticos was a loving wife and mother, dying while attempting to save her family from a house fire. Not only was she a good person during her life, but she actively helps her family from the afterlife, too. 100% good, this one.

11. The First Born Son

  • Real Name: Billy Michaels

OK, apart from the fact that he is literally just a kid, his death was also a sad accident. Billy was playing cowboys with a neighbor, but his toy gun didn't stand a chance against his playmate, who'd lifted a real steel arrow from his parents. A childish game gone horribly wrong.

10. The Pilgrimess

  • Real Name: Isabella Smith

Isabella Smith was accused of witchcraft, which almost certainly means that she did nothing and was railroaded by angry townsfolk in colonial times. She died in the stocks, a victim of paranoia and hysteria in a harsh society.

The Self-Destructive

The Angry Princess in 'Thirteen Ghosts' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
The Angry Princess in 'Thirteen Ghosts' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

9. The Bound Woman

  • Real Name: Susan LeGrow

Susan was a wealthy cheerleader who liked the attention of boys. Sure, she broke some hearts, but many people break lovers' hearts through selfishness, change of circumstance or loss of interest. A jealous boyfriend killed her and her lover when she cheated. Fortunately, her evil little prick murderer was executed, but Susan didn't ever commit a crime.

8. The Torn Prince

  • Real Name: Royce Clayton

Clayton was an arrogant student who crashed his car when he challenged another boy to a drag race. Again, he didn't do anything wrong, but did willfully engage in risky behavior. Sadly for Royce, his brakes were cut, and he died. He wasn't a bad person, but was a little stupid and complacent.

7. The Angry Princess

  • Real Name: Dana Newman

Dana had her self-esteem bullied out of her by abusive partners, and became obsessed with plastic surgery in her belief that she was fundamentally unlovable in her natural state. She caused her own death — she killed herself after accidentally mutilating her face during an ill-advised surgery she attempted by her own hand — but is a tragic figure rather than a malevolent one.

6. The Torso

  • Real Name: Jimmy Gambino

Jimmy was a gambler who tried to skip out on his debts. When the mob he owed money to caught up with him, they cut him up and dropped his torso into the sea. Jimmy got into this terrible situation through his own greed and stupidity, and while he didn't intentionally harm another person, his devotion to his basest instincts make him less of an innocent victim than many of the other ghosts.

The Killers

The Jackal in 'Thirteen Ghosts' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
The Jackal in 'Thirteen Ghosts' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

5. The Hammer

  • Real Name: George Markley
  • Crime: Multiple murder

George was an African-American blacksmith in the 1890s who was wrongly accused of stealing from a white man, so a gang of racists hung and burned George's wife and children. In revenge, George killed these men, but was executed by an angry mob. George committed a terrible crime, but for very understandable reasons.

4 & 3. The Great Child and The Dire Mother

  • Real Name: Margaret & Harold Shelburne
  • Crimes: Child abuse / multiple murder

Margaret raised her child horribly, infantilizing him and keeping him in diapers even as a full-grown man. When a group of carnies accidentally killed her in a prank, Harold axed them to pieces. Harold, like George Markley, committed a terrible multiple murder for a very understandable reason — avenging one he loved — and, like George, was killed by an angry mob.

2. The Juggernaut

  • Real Name: Horace 'The Breaker' Mahoney
  • Crimes: Serial murder

Horace had a rough childhood: his mother abandoned him and he was relentlessly bullied for his freakish size. Still, nothing justifies his awful, unprovoked crimes: he would abduct female hitchhikers and tear their bodies apart with his bare hands. He was eventually gunned down by SWAT officers.

1. The Jackal

  • Real Name: Ryan Kuhn
  • Crimes: Rape, serial murder, physical assault

There's a reason that Rafkin says "The Jackal is the Charlie Manson of ghosts:" Ryan was a rapist and murderer, one of the worst people to ever walk the Earth. The only slight redemption to this awful person is the fact that he voluntarily committed himself to an asylum, but he still attacked a nurse once he was there, proving that he never really changed.


Who do you think is the most evil of the ghosts from 'Thirteen Ghosts'?


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