Hey, take it easy man! There’s something universally endearing about the stoner characters we see on screen; from hippies to surfers, their laid back attitude to life is something we can all learn from. Spending most of their screen time “dazed and confused”, being high tends to get these characters into some seriously funny misadventures, often gathering huge cult followings. Below, we’ve narrowed down our top ten stoners – in all shapes and forms – from across film and TV. So sit back, relax, and settle in to some super rad entertainment, yo.
10. Peter Fonda as Wyatt in Easy Rider (dir. Dennis Hopper, 1969)
The birth of New Hollywood – which paved the way for a whole new genre of character study and experimentation in Hollywood – arguably began with the 1969 road movie Easy Rider. Leading the movie on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle is Wyatt – one of the first on-screen stoners to be shown in mainstream cinema. Dennis Hopper’s counterculture hit explores the booming hippie movement of the 1960s, with real drugs being used whilst filming for authenticity. Perhaps that’s what makes Wyatt one of the best stoner characters…because he really is stoned! And like many other movies on this list, you can expect some wild hallucinogenic sequences.
9. Rory Cochrane as Ron Slater in Dazed and Confused (dir. Richard Linklater, 1993)
It’s hard to choose just one character from this iconic indie flick, but as we can’t put them all on our list, Ron Slater is probably the most stoned throughout the movie. Long hair and rambling monologues make Slater a totally cool dude, rocking his weed-printed tee and Peaky Blinders cap. You’d be hard pushed to find a movie as chill as this coming-of-age comedy, featuring a myriad of stoner teens from one of the hippest times of all: the 70s. Named after the Jake Holmes song (later reworked by Led Zeppelin), Dazed and Confused is arguably the most famous stoner movie of all time…and for good reason!
8. Snoop Dog as Mac Johnson in Mac & Devin Go to High School (dir. Dylan C. Brown, 2012)
Mac & Devin Go to High School may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but there’s no way we could make a stoner list without including Snoop Dog. This utterly stupid, play-along movie stars not only Snoop Dog himself, but also Whiz Khalifa as the nerdy high school student-turn-stoner Devin. For the more dedicated viewer, Mac & Devin Go to High School even lets you smoke along with Snoop Dog, suggesting audiences take a toke every time the talking blunt Slow Burn appears on screen. The beauty of this film is that it’s not trying to be good. From the cheap special effects to the cringey acting, Mac & Devin Go to High School isn’t aiming for an Oscar…it’s aiming to get you high. And what more could you ask from a stoner movie?
7. Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad (dir. Vince Gilligan, 2008-13)
Jesse Pinkman may suffer a handful of relapses at the hands of his manipulating partner Walter White, but putting the hardcore drugs aside, Jesse is a true stoner at heart. Alongside his best friends-turn employees Skinny Pete and Badger, Jesse can mostly be found hitting the bong when he’s not busy cooking crystal meth. Despite his criminal activities, Jesse is a funny and loveable kid whose always trying to do the moral thing. From his oversized street clothes to his simple (yet iconic) catchphrase “bitch”, Jesse is guaranteed to always be keeping it real, yo.
6. Joaquin Phoenix as “Doc” in Inherent Vice (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
There’s only one character with side-burns big enough to match Wolverines, and that’s Larry “Doc” Sportello. Oscar-nominated director Paul Thomas Anderson presents us with a neo-noir crime mystery with a twist: the private investigator is always high. Once again set in the stoner 70s, Inherent Vice follows a hippie investigator in sunny California. Joaquin Phoenix appears mostly in barefoot, smoking a joint in his home or office. But hey, as long as he gets the job done, who can blame him? Paired with some gorgeous cinematography and a groovy wardrobe design, it’s worth investing in the two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
5. Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (dir. Amy Heckerling, 1982)
Is there anything more chilled out than surfing? Probably not. And Jeff Spicoli is the epitome of a carefree pothead, riding the waves of California. Literally falling out of his smoke-filled VW campervan, Spicoli has no regard for school rules, constantly in battle with his tightly-wound history teacher Mr. Hand. Fast Times at Ridgemont High originated from the experiences of writer Cameron Crowe, who went undercover as a student at a San Diego high school and based Spicoli loosely on a real person. But it’s Sean Penn’s performance that really brings the character to life, cheerfully claiming that “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
4. James Franco as Saul Silver in Pineapple Express (dir. David Gordon Green, 2008)
Seth Rogan is renowned for his stoner reputation – both on and off-screen. But it’s actually James Franco who stands out as Rogan’s doped-up weed dealer Saul Silver in Pineapple Express. And with a cool name like Saul Silver, is anyone surprised? Dressed in the classic stoner assemble (long hair and flowing trousers), Silver is a self-professed opera-lover who spends his days lounging his apartment before suddenly having to flee from hitmen. The action-packed comedy is guaranteed to give you the giggles, contrasting it’s witty wordplay with jarring violence.
3. Brad Pitt as Floyd in True Romance (dir. Tony Scott, 1993)
Brad Pitt’s sofa-bound pothead is not just a cultural icon, but was also the inspiration behind Pineapple Express (see above), exploring what would happen if you were to follow such a mellowed-out junkie outside his apartment. Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, True Romance is a modern cult classic with all the guns and drugs you could ask for. Not only does True Romance gift us with the stoner legend Floyd, but also one of Gary Oldman’s most famous performances (despite only having ten minutes of screen time) as the unrecognisable Drexl Spivey.
2. John Cho and Kal Penn as Harold and Kumar in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (dir. Danny Leiner, 2004)
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle or Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies, as it’s known in the UK, is the first in a series of American stoner comedies made between 2004-2011. John Cho and Kal Penn star as two best friends Harold & Kumar, who we’re both awarding second place as you simply can’t have one without the other. Harold & Kumar’s string of hilarious mishaps all begin with smoking marijuana and seeing an advert for White Castle. With the munchies just around the corner, going out for hamburgers seems like an easy enough task, right? Perhaps not if you’re stoned. The films subversion of racial stereotypes added to Harold & Kumar’s commercial success, being one of the only mainstream stoner films to cast Asian leads.
1. Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski (dir. Joel and Ethan Coan, 1998)
Of course, the number one spot for the best stoner character has to go to Jeffrey Lebowski a.k.a ‘The Dude’. As one of the Coen Brothers most loved movies, The Big Lebowski stars Jeff Bridges as the flip-flop wearing, White-Russian drinking pothead, accidentally embroiled in a kidnapping case. Despite all the chaos and danger surrounding him, The Dude keeps his cool – even sparking a real-life religion. The philosophy of ‘Dudeism’ is simple: take it easy and go with the flow. The Big Lebowski also features a snazzy psychedelic dream sequence, during which The Dude flies straight for the bowling pins on an alley hovering in space. Sound dope? You bet it does.