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Top 10 Characters From David Fincher's Filmography

Atharva Deshpande lives in Nashik, Maharashtra. He is a cinephile and a bookworm. He likes to talk about books & movies that interest him.


David Fincher is a director with such an appealing filmography that you can’t resist or ignore this guy. From Seven to Zodiac to Mank, Fincher is a phenomenon and a huge pile of study material for film schools.

What I wish to talk about today is the characters. Fincher’s films feature dark and thrilling characters. These are people outside social boundaries, the morality in them comes as a social commentary. I thought why not look at them one by one, with a rank. My ranking here is highly based on my opinions and it depends on the overall complexity of the characters.

So, without further ado, let's dive into it.

This list only consists of characters seen in Fincher's films, not his TV shows (Mindhunter and House of Cards.)


Since almost all of Fincher’s films have plot twists and lie in the mystery genre,

you have to see them first if you haven’t.

#10 Herman J Mankewicz – Mank (2020)


David Fincher’s Mank is a rather unique film. Fincher’s style seems different and the uneasy tone of the film makes up a good watch. But after the film, if something stayed with me, it was Gary Oldman’s performance as Mank. Mank is a screenwriter in 1940s Hollywood with quite a lot of controversy.

Oldman manages to embark on this character with such brilliance that this role feels made for him. Mank’s style of writing, his issue with his wife, and the overall argument of the screenplay of Citizen Kane (1941) make Mank a good character. But in the hemisphere of David Fincher’s characters, Mank is rather simple. Hence, number 10.

#9 Christine – The Game (1997)


The Game is a quick-wit thriller that deserves all your attention. It manages to be another Hollywood thriller for a long time until the pot boils and explodes with the final twist. Michael Douglas playing the rich guy in the center is amazing, but he is the staple Hollywood protagonist.

It’s Deborah Kara Unger’s Christine who wins this spot. Christine seems a simple character or even an unnecessary one. I felt she was introduced because the film needed a female character. That’s how it is for the most part. Slowly, Christine opens a box of surprises with her character getting various dimensions.

The final twist where Christine becomes the mastermind is awesome and earned. Her mysteriousness and Deborah Unger’s performance make the character memorable.

#8 Burnham – Panic Room (2002)


Panic Room feels like a usual locked-room thriller, but isn't. Fincher’s style works for this film as it treads slowly from a robbery gone wrong into a heroic tale.

While there are brilliant characters like Jared Leto as Junior and Jodie Foster as Meg Altman, (everyone except Raoul) even Kristen Stewart portrays Sarah Altman with brilliance, but the one character I can’t forget is Burnham.

Forest Whitaker is always a brilliant actor and his role as Burnham enhances the bar of this film. Burnham is the one guy who’s morally correct. He doesn’t want to kill anybody, not even for money. This character brings a rather new depth to this film, making Panic Room even better than it is.

#7 Benjamin Button – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)


First of all, I crazily admire Brad Pitt for even agreeing to this role. A story of a guy who ages backward might sound fun on paper. But making it for real must have been hard work. Brad Pitt and Fincher made it possible though.

Benjamin Button is a character readily interesting. The fact that he ages backward is amusing, but with a love interest in the form of Cate Blanchett, a lifelong journey that is inspiring and interesting, Benjamin becomes an emotional character. The case of Benjamin might be curious, but it for sure is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time.

#6 Robert Graysmith – Zodiac (2007)


Zodiac is a film that can’t be compared with any other film, except maybe Memories of Murder (2003). The exploration of the search for the Zodiac killer is unnerving. This film also puts memorable characters on screen. There’s the scene-stealing Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery and there’s Mark Ruffalo as Detective Dave Toschi. But, I really loved the character of Robert Graysmith, played by chameleon-like Jake Gyllenhaal.

Robert isn’t an investigator or a cop. He is a simple man with a simple life. His life gets disturbed by the Zodiac. There are no threats to himself though. He’s just curious! All he wants to do is know the real killer and look into his eyes.

Robert’s investigation turns into obsession and Gyllenhaal portrays it with such an ease that he deserves a shout-out.

#5 Mark Zuckerberg – The Social Network (2010)


All right, until the last entry, all the characters from Fincher were simple, well defined, and not so complex. With this pick, we head to rather complex characters. Mark from The Social Network is pretty amazing and his actions are well defined. It’s his ability to face two lawsuits and still stand that gets me.

Jesse Eisenberg is the perfect cast for Zuckerberg. Eisenberg brings a sense of humanity to this character. The final scene of the film comes to mind. The Social Network is debated as one of the best films ever made. While I don’t doubt it, I feel it’s due to the complexity of Mark written by Sorkin and played by Jesse that makes it such an immersive experience.

#4 Lisbeth Salander – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)


Talk about dark characters in Fincher films, Lisbeth will stand in the top 5 forever. Lisbeth is an investigator, but her approach is not quite liked. She is the titular girl who has the ability to swim opposite to the stream. While I like Daniel Craig’s Mikael; Lisbeth takes this spot.

Rooney Mara is the star of this crazy film. Her transformation into Lisbeth will stay with you even after the film. Much like other women, Lisbeth also suffers from a patriarchal society. But the reason she’s on no. 4 is the way she responds to this notion. Breaking all the conventions and stereotypes, Lisbeth’s evergreen complexity wins the spot.

#3 Amy Dunne – Gone Girl (2014)


If you are talking about Fincher in any kind of list and Gone Girl isn’t in the top 3, you are watching your Fincher wrong. Gone Girl is what Fincher can achieve when a smart script is at hand. We can see 90s Fincher being reborn and reshaped in Gone Girl.

It’s the character of Amy Dunne that will get this spot. Rosamund Pike is the titular Gone Girl, she plays Amy with a chilling conviction. Dunne is a character who doesn’t follow societal norms, much like Lisbeth. But where Lisbeth always understands the difference between right and wrong, Amy Dunne blurs it.

The second half of Gone Girl specifically explores what Amy can do and to what extent to achieve her desires. She damn well deserves this spot here.

#2 John Doe – Seven (1995)


John Doe from Seven is the Joker in Fincher’s filmography. After a long, painstaking investigation of finding this serial killer; John Doe, played by Kevin Spacey, just surrenders. A highly unconventional thing to do, even more so after running away from the same detectives.

Kevin Spacey might not be loved as he was anymore, but his role even in the smallest screen time will not let you sleep. John Doe’s mentality speaks volumes about society. With his seven deadly reasons and a plan that won’t fail, John Doe is the mastermind of all masterminds.

Never ask me “What’s in the box?”

#1 Tyler Durden/Narrator – Fight Club (1997)


How could I choose anyone other than this duality of a character? David Fincher’s crowning achievement, Fight Club is the most ingenious and inventive thrillers with the crazy plot twist. While this choice may be controversial, but I really choose both Tyler Durden and Narrator as my top pick.

With the non-stop social commentary and ever-growing club of men, Tyler Durden becomes a leader you won’t follow. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton killing it with chemistry I never thought would be, Tyler Durden is a character to study.

A non-stop craze that this character has imposed on the world, Fight Club will stay a classic for a long time and Tyler Durden/Narrator is one of the big reasons for it. That is why, I think, Tyler Durden/Narrator is the best character ever seen in a Fincher film.

That concludes that.

My top 10 favorite characters from David Fincher’s filmography. All crazy and interesting in their own way.

What do you think about my list? Did I leave any of your favorite characters? What other directors should I do in this series?

Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks For Reading.


Atharva Deshpande (author) from Nashik on June 05, 2021:

Theodore Turnquest II from Lakeland, Florida on June 05, 2021:

I didn’t talk about it....

Atharva Deshpande (author) from Nashik on June 05, 2021:

The first rule of Fight Club.....

Theodore Turnquest II from Lakeland, Florida on June 05, 2021:

My favorite character is easily Tyler Durton.

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