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14 Characters Who Died But Made A Major Impact From Beyond The Grave

Updated July 28, 2021 213 votes 35 voters 2.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the best characters who made their greatest impact after death.

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.

  • 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.

    Freddy'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 Freddy 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 Freddy in the dreamworld.

    Posthumously powerful?
  • 2

    Adam And Barbara Maitland

    Photo: 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.

    Posthumously powerful?
  • 3

    Kyra Collins

    Photo: 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.

    Posthumously powerful?
  • 4

    Ellen Leigh

    Photo: Hereditary / A24

    Ellen Leigh is already deceased by the time Hereditary begins, but her plans are carried out throughout the film as if she's guiding them herself. As the leader of the cult of Paimon, the only thing Ellen wants to do is bring this demonic entity into the physical realm.

    After her grandchild Charlie was born, Ellen used the girl's body as a temporary vessel for Paimon. Following Ellen's passing, her followers continue to follow her orders and trick her family into binding themselves to Paimon.

    Each family member is taken out through a variety of supernatural means: Charlie is beheaded in a tragic accident. Her son-in-law is set on fire, and her daughter saws her own head off before her grandson is possessed by Paimon, thus completing the ritual. Ellen's plans may have damned the world, but they're genuinely impressive.

    Posthumously powerful?