The 10 Most Portrayed Characters in TV & Film – #1 Isn’t Who You Think It Is!

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Sometimes a character is so complex, so fascinating, that they simply have to be portrayed more than once. Different directors and scriptwriters will all have a different vision about the way a character should be. Whether they’re good, bad, extroverted, introverted, one-dimensional, or have many layers – there are so many roads you can take!

Back in 2013, Erik Lindegaard discovered the most filmed characters ever by collecting data from IMDb. Here are the results:

10. Hamlet

via mauiwatch.com

Shakespeare’s Hamlet has now been represented on the screen over 198 times with the most famous portrayal being from Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet 1996. Branagh managed to capture the essence of the indecisive prince by depicting a range of emotions before his inevitable descent into madness.

Ethan Hawke took a different route in Hamlet 2000, playing a modern-day version of the character who communicates with the ghost of his father via closed-circuit TV in a New York City apartment.

9. Sherlock Holmes

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To this date, the character of Sherlock Holmes has been represented 254 times on screen. His popularity is thanks to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – he wrote Sherlock as a complex and relatable detective who embodied the arrogance and eccentricity of a British man. Benedict Cumberbatch has been portraying the pipe-smoking character since 2010 with TV series Sherlock, which has been met with praise from both Brits and Americans alike.

Sherlock Holmes was recently awarded a Guinness World Record for being the most portrayed literary human character in TV and film.

8. Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln has been represented in TV and film over 263 times, due to the fact his history is, without a doubt, the most fascinating of all the Presidents of the United States. From his leadership during the Civil War, to his wretched assassination, many actors have attempted to tell the story as best as they possibly can. Daniel Day Lewis gives one of the most heart-rendering and accurate performances in the film Lincoln, which won him an Academy Award in 2012.

7. Dracula

via lifecoachforprofit.com

The legend of Count Dracula has intrigued mankind since Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel. The archetypal vampire has been played over 274 times and that doesn’t even include the amount of vampire-themed movies and TV shows that exist in the world. Stand-out performances include Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931), Max Schreck in Nosferatu (1922), and Rudolf Martin in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

6. Hitler

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Widely regarded as the most evil human being ever to exist, Hitler always manages to attract an audience. There have been plenty of uncanny performances, but the one we really need to mention is Bruno Ganz’s portrayal in the 2004 film Downfall. He managed to perfect both the authority that Hitler projected on his fellow Nazis with such a fearless passion.

There have also been plenty of spoofs on the dictator too, such as in the Family Guy episode “8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter” when Adolph and his wife Eva were teasing each other about who will commit suicide first.

5. Napoleon

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Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, has been depicted in TV and movies over 337 times to this date. He is regarded as a political hero for his determination and tact during Waterloo, and actor Rod Steiger managed to portray this exceptionally well in the 1970 movie Waterloo. The emperor has also appeared as a parody in comedies including Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

4. God

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Physical representations of God have been appearing on screen for many, many years. Since no one really knows what he looks like, there have been a lot of interesting characterizations. There are around 350 films and TV shows that have gave us a glimpse into what the Lord might actually look and sound like. One of these, of course, is Bruce Almighty in 2003, who personated God as the velvet-voiced Morgan Freeman. And how could we forget The Simpsons version of God, who is always reaching down from his cloud to help his bed buddy Ned Flanders!

3. Jesus Christ

via feastforfilms.com

Jesus Christ beats his father by only a slight margin, having appeared in TV and film around 380 times. Whether we believe in him or not, no one can deny his story isn’t one of the most powerful and heartbreaking throughout history. Many of his portrayals have garnered a lot of controversy, especially within the Christian community. In The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), there was an uproar about the fact that the film alluded Jesus would have had sexual relations if he had not been crucified. Then there was Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ (2004), which many deemed to be biblically inaccurate.

2. Santa Claus

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Can you believe jolly old Saint Nick  has appeared on screen over 814 times?! It just goes to show how much we all love Christmas! t’s hard to pick just one great performance because there’s just so many, but I think we must mention Tim Allen, who provided heaps of entertainment with The Santa Clause and it’s two sequels. Then there was David Huddleston’s cheerful version in The Santa Claus: The Movie. The late Richard Attenborough also did a magnificent job in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. 

1. The Devil

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Did you guess it? It was a surprise to us too! Turns out that Satan is in fact the most portrayed character of all time, having been shown on screen more than 848 times! Wow. I suppose this is mainly down to the fact that the devil is an unknown entity, so he can basicaly take a multitude of forms. There’s the typical red devil with the large horns like Tim Curry’s version in Legend (1985). Then there’s M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil (2010) who took the guise of one of five strangers trapped in an elevator.

However you prefer your devil to look, one thing’s for certain – we’re all a bunch of crazy satanists!

(Reference: serpa at FunTriva.com)