ByTom Chapman, writer at Creators.co
tweet: tomtomchap Warden of the North - bearded, tattooed and square eyed 'til the end
Tom Chapman

On December 20, 1996, Wes Craven's slasher reinvention Scream opened to mixed success. 20 years later, the original has gone on to be a cult favorite, while the three sequel films spanned the next 15 years as we kept coming back for more of the gore -- but the story doesn't end there. MTV then picked up its own TV series of the idea in 2015, which continues with a third season in 2017. That is two decades of body counts and filleted actors to wade through!

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]

While the chances of a fifth feature-length are now slim to none, the first four films (and the show) gifted us some truly great film characters. Away from the tired formula of "sexy teen No. 24," Scream tried to flesh out the stereotypically young cast before they were sent packing to the morgue. This meant that you actually invested in Gale, Dewey, and Sidney as their nearest and dearest piled up around them. Raking in $548.2 million, Scream still means big bucks as the sixth most successful horror franchise of all time. Over the years, Craven crafted a whole universe of doomed dummies and fiery final girls, so let's look back at some of Scream's most memorable characters.

12. Cici Cooper

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Portrayed by: Sarah Michelle Gellar

Appeared in: Scream 2

Every Scream film has its "Barrymore" moment when one of the big players is axed too early, so for Scream 2 it was no surprise that Sarah Michelle Gellar's Cici Cooper wasn't long for this world. Left alone in the sorority house, Cici clearly didn't listen to the rules of the game -- "never say hello or ask who's there."

Cici's death gave Craven's second outing the mid-action lift it needed. Although Cici didn't even interact with 90% of the cast, she still seemed like one of the gang and we had expected her to stick around a little longer. Alicia Silverstone also auditioned for the role, but thankfully it went to Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was effectively just playing more of tough-girl Buffy, but she was charming nonetheless. It was likely her tight Buffy schedule that reduced Cici to a two-scene bit, but we wished we had seen more of the feisty sorority sister.

11. Brooke Maddox

'Scream': The TV Series' [Credit: MTV]
'Scream': The TV Series' [Credit: MTV]

Played by: Carlson Young

Appeared in: Scream: The TV Series.

She is the nicer version of Regina George in Craven's TV outing of the franchise. A bit of a daddy's girl (thanks to him being the mayor), Brooke isn't your typical cheerleader though, and is integral to the "sexy teens" Lakewood Six. Originally seen as privileged and snobbish, Brooke soon changed her attitude, which probably had something to do with being stabbed and locked in a freezer by a masked maniac.

Brooke managed to survive the events of BOTH seasons of the show as one of the most memorable additions, thanks in part to her mix of brains and beauty, which made her a woman not to be messed with. In classic Scream homage style, Brooke even got her very own Carrie parody with the reveal that her on-again off-again boyfriend's corpse was hanging above her at the school beauty pageant. Maddox will presumably return for the (shortened) third season of the show, but will it be third time lucky for the Lakewood slasher?

10. Cotton Weary

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: Liev Schreiber

Appeared in: Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3

A man whose only ambition was to appear on Diane Sawyer, Liev Schreiber's creepy quality as the man accused of killing Sidney's mother never went away. Surviving longer than the average Scream alumna, Cotton made it all the way to Scream 3's opening before he was gashed by ghostface.

The franchise's original bad boy, Cotton was largely absent from Scream due to being behind bars, however, he more than made up for it in Scream 2. Schreiber inadvertently became the hero of the tale, saving Sid and co. in the auditorium showdown of Scream 2. Liev had Cotton's manic stare down, meaning he looked like the killer even when we knew he probably wasn't. However, perhaps the best thing about Cotton was his TV show 100% Cotton, pure Scream cheese!

9. Jill Roberts

'Scream 4' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 4' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: Emma Roberts

Appeared in: Scream 4

Working Annie Wilkes from Misery realness, Jill Roberts was the mentally deranged cousin of original final girl Sidney Prescott, who wanted her time to shine as a survival girl. However, it looks like Jill lacked Sidney's survival streak and got a much-deserved death in the final act of Scream 4.

Jill's uber-meta portrayal of what makes a great killer may not have imprinted so well in Scream 4's finances, but she is still one f*cked up character. Jill shooting boyfriend Trevor in the crotch made men worldwide cross their legs in horror, while Emma Roberts excelled as the mega-bitch. Roberts's name is now synonymous with roles like Jill, but Scream 4 was arguably one of her first.

8. Stu Macher

'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Portrayed by: Matthew Lillard

Appeared in: Scream

Forming a part of the original killers duo, Stu eclipsed Skeet Ulrich's Billy to be the comedy value killer from the first film. It was implied that there was more than just bromance to the relationship between Billy and Stu, with the latter committing the murders to look cool around his friend. Billy was creepy and always tipped to be the killer, whereas Stu is one of, if not, the zaniest killers in any horror film.

It is ironic then that Lillard was only cast by accident, attending his girlfriend's audition for a different film. Casting director Lisa Beach said that he had the perfect qualities to play kooky Macher and signed him up. Boy are we glad that she did, Lillard was hilarious, and ad-libbed his way through the script with the likes of "Houston, we have a problem" and "you hit me with the phone, you dick."

7. Randy Meeks

'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Portrayed by: Jamie Kennedy

Appeared in: Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3 (via video)

Randy was the token virgin who was quite alright with the "no sex" rule to survive a horror. Randy was the geek we all wanted to be, he even worked down at the local video store (remember they used to exist), serving as Craven's very own narrator and taking us through the horror with his witty impressions and knowledge of the "rules." He managed to survive the first Ghostface attack, but found himself slaughtered in Gale's news van after he angered Mrs. Loomis by sass-mouthing her dead son.

An original ending to Scream had Randy as the one who shot Billy, then turn to ask Sidney on a date, but it was scrapped in rewrites. Also, Randy had a much different ending to his actual demise. When developing Scream 3, Craven and co. had the idea that Randy survived his attack in the second film, only to go into hiding, then appear in the third -- thankfully this was pulled for being too far-fetched. Randy is the ultimate sob story, he played by the rules but still never got the girl.

6. Maureen Evans

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: Jada Pinkett Smith

Appeared in: Scream 2

The first Scream threw the rule book out the window with its opening scene, and Scream 2 wasn't about to revert back to the boring horror formula we had seen before. The trick of Scream 2 was to rewatch the death of Drew Barrymore's Casey Becker, but through the fictional film Stab and with Heather Graham as the actress portraying her.

Jada Pinkett Smith's Maureen had final girl written all over her. A no-nonsense feminist who had her man firmly under foot, Maureen knew the rules of horror and she was tired of the clichéd movie business. She also gets that amazing death in front of an entire theater full of people who think it is just part of the marketing for Stab. It was horrific irony/comedy as only could do. Plus, if it hadn't been for Maureen, we would never have gotten the hilarious Brenda cinema scene from Scary Movie!

See also:

5. Sidney Prescott

'Scream 4' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 4' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: Neve Campbell

Appeared in: Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4

Sidney formed part of the "survivors" trifecta, and it's not that Sidney isn't good, she is actually a great final girl, but she just gets outshone by her co-stars. Neve Campbell expertly played the tormented Sid and somehow survived every iteration of Ghostface. Sure, Drew Barrymore had been originally cast as Sidney, but it is hard to imagine anyone other than Campbell in the role now.

Already famous for the likes of The Craft, Neve may seem like a slightly obscure choice for the lead role, but it worked. Sidney was the innocent Snow White who quickly turned to her vicious streak when her world was turned upside down by the murder of her mother and the following attacks. The sign of a Scream film was always a final scene with Sidney and the killer(s) in a final showdown. That being said, Sid usually made it out relatively unharmed -- unlike those around her.

4. Dewey Riley

'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: David Arquette

Appeared in: Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4

The hapless cop who was due to die at the end of the first film. Admittedly, Dewey is famously remembered as Doofy in Scary Movie, and Arquette's character started like that; however, as the franchise continued, Dewey went from wet blanket to grizzled survivor. Literally the cat with nine lives, Dewey miraculously recovered from several knife blades to the back and bullets to the chest, while always being around with a goofy response or to be cannon fodder.

While David and Courtney Cox couldn't sort out their differences in real life, at least Dewey and Gale did. As the endearing/twisted Gale and Dewey relationship, the pair formed the Romeo and Juliet of the franchise, giving Scream its very own love story under all the exposed innards and mass murders. One of the few men in the franchise who outwitted the killers, Dewey shows that looks can be deceiving and he was smarter than we gave him credit for.

3. Jennifer Jolie

'Scream 3' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 3' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: Parker Posey

Appeared in: Scream 3

The only person better than playing Gale Weathers is Jennifer Jolie, the acid-tongued actress who became the shining-star of Scream 3. Parker Posey was that good in her role, she was actually nominated for 2000's "MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance." She lost to Adam Sandler -- 'nuff said.

Jennifer was literally what Gale Weathers would have been like if she had gone into acting: irritating, sassy, but ultimately likable. The stone cold bitch formed a buddy comedy with Cox's news anchor, and the majority of Scream 3's laughs were shared between the pair. Somehow they even managed to shoehorn in a wardrobe that was more colorful than the original Gale's. It is only a shame that Jennifer bowed out in the final mansion bloodbath, having Posey back for Scream 4 could only have helped the franchise.

2. Debbie Salt/Mrs. Loomis

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films

Played by: Laurie Metcalf

Appeared in: Scream 2

The killers in the Scream films ranged from the unbelievable to the ludicrous, all with varying degrees of plausible motive. Away from the shock of Skeet Ulrich's boyfriend/killer reveal of Scream, no one expected that his mother would be the woman out for revenge in Scream 2. Pulled directly from Friday the 13th, we should have expected that at some point, someone's mother would be a homicidal killer back for revenge. Metcalf's superbly unhinged performance as Debbie Salt, the local news woman turned psycho, was near-perfect.

The fact that she paraded around in broad daylight, in front of the girl she was trying to kill, and she didn't recognize her, made it even better. Loomis's auditorium swansong is one of the best climax fights in the franchise, while that close up shot of her taking a bullet to the middle of her brow is one of the most graphic.

1. Gale Weathers

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Played by: Courtney Cox

Appeared in: Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4

You can keep Sidney, you can keep the killers, there is only one character who rules supreme as the de facto final girl of Scream, with a pun for a name, it is of course Gale Weathers. Cox herself had lobbied for the role of the bitchy reporter, but the studio was skeptical due to her days on Friends. Cox was keen to shed her nicer than pie Monica Geller persona, and it looks like all it took was some hair dye and a brightly colored two-piece.

Undergoing many an outfit change and a redemptive story arc, Weathers went from mean queen to scream queen by outlasting four film's worth of ghostfaced maniacs. Scream also set up the romance/marriage of Cox and David Arquette, which mirrored Dewey and Gale coming together then splitting up. Her own personal quote machine, if anyone ever deserved a crime-solving Scream spin-off, it was Gale -- easily one of horror's greatest ever creations.

'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream 2' [Credit: Dimension Films]

There are of course some other superb characters: Emily Mortimer as the meek Sidney wannabe who slept her way to the top, Carrie Fisher in her bizarre cameo role, and Jerry O'Connell's forgettable performance as boyfriend Derek. The Scream films starred the great and the good of Hollywood names over its 20 years. Ghostface may have been put away for now, but with all the reboots and remakes, expect that knife to come slashing toward us at some point. We can only hope that we see the return of some familiar (ghost)faces.

Check out the trailer for the original Scream, and don't forget our poll below!

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