ByKhalil Wright, writer at
"Saturday, March 24th, 1984. Shermer High School. Shermer, Illinois. 60062."
Khalil Wright

Tons of quality horror movies have been released since the end of the slasher era and with those films came new villains. However, we have yet to see cinematic killers with the same amount of star power as their most iconic predecessors: Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger. Those movie monsters have been slashing for nearly forty years and still have most horror fans in the palms of their grimy hands.

These are the three killer characters who still rule the horror school.

Freddy Krueger Art
Freddy Krueger Art

The Facts

Surely, I couldn't make such a bold statement without evidence, right? Each of these titans of terror have been consistently ranked as the top three horror villains of all time. RollingStone, Fandango, and IGN, are just a few sources that have them listed as such.

Their box office earnings support their high-ranking status. When adjusted for inflation, the Friday The 13th franchise has earned over $795 million, followed by A Nightmare On Elm Street with $678 million, and Halloween with $644 million.

These are impressive numbers for slasher movie franchises, and Michael, Freddy, and Jason are the only gentlemen of the genre to bring in those kind of killer box-office returns. However, what's even more impressive is their numbers are still growing more than four decades after their debut.

Appearances Mean A Lot

Friday The 13th VII: New Blood
Friday The 13th VII: New Blood

One thing Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger have over horror villains, both new and old, are genre defining appearances.

Sure, there are slashers like Leatherface, who actually precede all three of them. Some could even argue he's the first iconic slasher to have a truly terrifying image, and they wouldn't be wrong. However, his look never earned the same revered status in the horror halls of fandom.

Nevertheless, Jason, Freddy and Michael have become more than legends of horror, they've become pop culture icons as well.

They Each Mark Stark Changes In The World of Horror

Poster image for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.
Poster image for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

Michael Myers debuted in the original Halloween back in 1978. A film that redefined what horror films and villains could be. It also gave way for Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street to make their own important changes to the industry.

Building on the new foundation of Halloween, Friday The 13th is the film that first used blood and gore to scare audiences instead of using these as tools to build suspense.

A Nightmare On Elm Street took the genre in a new direction by taking a slasher villain and giving him deadly powers. Before Nightmare, slashers were mostly big men in masks, but after Freddy began haunting our dreams, other worldly villains such as Pinhead came out to play.

What's A Good Slasher Villain Without Awesome Theme Music?

Freddy Krueger posing with Dokken
Freddy Krueger posing with Dokken

There are many ingredients that go into creating an iconic horror movie villain and we've already gone over two of them. Now it's time for the third ingredient, and that's legendary theme music. Something all three of these baddies have in common. Their haunting melodies have amplified their presence in pop culture tremendously. All we have to hear is that familiar piano tune from Halloween, that creepy Freddy rhyme from A Nightmare On Elm Street, or simply ''ki, ki ki, ma, ma, ma'', and we already know what we're in for.

Longevity Is Key

Every poster image for each Friday The 13th film.
Every poster image for each Friday The 13th film.

Many villains have come and gone in the horror world, but only a few have made lasting impressions. Sure, Pinhead, Chucky, Jigsaw, Leatherface, and others are far from forgettable. However, they haven't had the staying power of the three biggest titans of terror.

Many of today's horror villains seem to make even less of an impact and most are forgotten within a couple of weeks.

They Aren't The Only Great Horror Villains, Just The Only Ones On Their Level

Pinhead, Leatherface, Chucky, Jigsaw, Candyman, The Creeper from Jeepers Creepers, Pennywise, and Reagan from the Exorcist, are all huge names in the genre. Each of them have contributed to horror films greatly and all of them are incredible in their own right. However, none of them have become the stars of horror that Freddy, Michael and Jason have and the biggest reason is that they don't have all the same ingredients that make an all-star villain. Some may have the creepy music, others might look scarier than the rest, and maybe a few have time under their belt. But only three villains have successfully acquired every element mentioned, and then some. They bring it all, and that has catapulted them to a whole other level of popularity.


Are Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy your favorite horror movie villains?

[Sources: Fandango, RollingStone, IGN, Box Office Mojo, Box Office Mojo, and Box Office Mojo]


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