It takes a special kind of character to stick around in a film even after they've passed on. The following characters not only manage to remain in the hearts and minds of the living, but they affect the plot in major ways. Some of these characters bite the dust but manage to stick around through elaborate preplanning, while others haunt every frame of the film.
Characters who make an impact from beyond the grave don't have to be good or bad. In some cases they're horrible monsters who reach out from beyond the dead like Freddy Krueger and Samara from The Ring. In other cases they guide the heroes of a film to make sure they end up where they need to be.
Even crazier still are the characters who find ways to manipulate the plot after they've shifted off this mortal coil, like Jigsaw or Cassie from Promising Young Woman. That kind of life after death takes more than hard work, it requires a lot of luck as well. So which character has the most posthumous power? That's up to you.
Adam And Barbara MaitlandPhoto: Beetlejuice / Warner Bros.
The Maitlands are an all-American small-town couple who find themselves living with the bureaucracy of the afterlife following a freak mishap. The couple drowns while driving home from a model supply store. Shortly afterward, they find they're trapped in their home forever - a pair of ghosts forced to watch as a new family moves into their beautiful house.
The couple comes to love the daughter of the exhausting husband-and-wife duo who've taken over their home, but they also learn they're sharing the house with the uber-creepy Beetlejuice. The Maitlands initially do their best to scare away the Deetz family by donning sheets and possessing the living to perform some killer dance moves.
When it becomes clear they'll be sharing their home with the Deetzes, they do their best to form a kind of two-family home to raise Lydia (Winona Ryder) in a nontraditional household.141Posthumously powerful?
- Photo: A Nightmare On Elmstreet 4: The Dream Master / New Line Cinema
If there's any creature who's famously made a major impact from beyond the grave, it's gotta be Freddy Krueger. After he was burned alive by the parents of Elm Street for assaulting their children, he returned to haunt them in their dreams as a sleep demon hell-bent on revenge.
Krueger's posthumous MO is to take what a teen fears the most and infuse their nightmares with torment until he does away with them in their dreams. As bad as that is, the worse fate is saved for people who survive their first dreamy encounter with Krueger and try to stay awake to avoid his claw-handed wrath.
Many of those people either end up falling asleep anyway or driving themselves mad trying to avoid running into Krueger in the dreamworld.110Posthumously powerful?
Kyra CollinsPhoto: The Sixth Sense / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Most of the ghosts in The Sixth Sense are either oblivious to the fact they're ghosts or they're really into freaking out poor little Haley Joel Osment. That's not the case with Kyra Collins. Aside from some light terror when she introduces herself to Cole Sear (Osment), Kyra is on a mission from the moment she dies.
As it happens, Kyra was slowly poisoned to death by her mother, a key piece of information that only comes to light when her ghost leads Cole to a VHS tape on which she secretly filmed what her mother was doing. Kyra makes sure all of this comes out in the middle of her wake. It's a seriously boss move for a ghost.110Posthumously powerful?
- Photo: Saw 2 / Lionsgate
It would be a shock if Jigsaw were revealed to be any other sign than Capricorn. He doesn't just plan out extremely precise traps - he plans out traps and situations from beyond the grave. Or rather, he planned them while he was still alive and they continued to go off without a hitch after he was long gone.
After learning he has terminal colon cancer and an inoperable brain tumor, Jigsaw/John Kramer tries to take his own life. He survives the attempt and subsequently decides to dedicate what little time he has left to making people appreciate their lives by testing their will to live through a variety of insane traps and "games."
Jigsaw passes in the climax of Saw III, but his plans are carried out by his proteges over the next four films in the series. In Saw IV through VII, he gives out orders through cassette tapes hidden in his body, messages to his wife, and letters to future test subjects. All of this goes off without a hitch (mostly) and Jigsaw ends up with an impressive posthumous body count.82Posthumously powerful?