The world may be in chaos, but since weed dispensaries have been deemed essential businesses in many states, your 4/20 celebration has a chance of not being totally ruined. In honor of that high holy day, we present this round-up of our favorite stoner characters from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies.
We also delve into the more specific history and context of stoners getting slashed—starting with that ill-fated “Don’t Fear the Reaper” toke in the first act of 1978's Halloween—in the video above created by Eleanor Fye.
After the success of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and all their imitators, a parody was inevitable—and 2000's Scary Movie enthusiastically stepped up to the plate. Its script spoofed mostly those new slashers, but it added its own elements to further enhance the comedy. Chief among those: Shorty (Marlon Wayans, one of the movie’s co-writers), who elevates the classic “doomed stoner in a horror movie” comic-relief character to excellent new heights.
We all remember the “Wassup!” phone call, but Shorty steals every scene he’s in, including his death, which comes after Ghostface accidentally (or not?) annihilates all his stoner buddies during a rap battle. When Shorty’s shot by the main character’s evil boyfriend, his pierced lungs emit enough smoke to invite a contact high. (He also gets to pop up in the credits for a quick tutorial on shoplifting snacks that clowns Scream’s famous “how to survive a scary movie” speech.)
While we never actually see SoCal besties Bill and Ted getting high—they were kind of too busy time traveling, trying not to flunk history, and saving the world to take smoke breaks—they’re very clearly cut from the cloth of legendary stoner characters who came before them, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Jeff Spicoli. Other tells: their drifting attention spans, their fondness for convenience stores, and the fact that they named their heavy-metal band “Wyld Stallyns.” Duuuude.
This sixth entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street series takes us to a surreal future where nearly every kid in Springwood has fallen victim to Freddy Krueger, save a single survivor who’s unwittingly used by the dream demon to bring him fresh prey. This includes the pony-tailed Spencer (Breckin Meyer, four years before his Clueless breakout), who’s fond of weed and video games, much to the disgust of his yuppie father. When Spencer and his crew foolishly pick a certain house on Elm Street as a crash pad, the affable burnout dozes off with a joint in hand.
Naturally, Freddy is all too delighted to engineer a demise that incorporates all of Spencer’s vices, starting with a riff on the old “this is your brain on drugs” PSA starring O.G. Nightmare star Johnny Depp, going into a “trippy” animated sequence that seems to confuse pot with LSD for a hot minute, and finally inserting Spencer and his abusive father into a video game with Freddy behind the controls. Though Spencer’s friends try to wake him from the violent nightmare, he’s too high to be revived...and soon, it’s game over.
By the time Bill Freeburg’s big scene arrives in Freddy vs. Jason, the stakes are sky-high...and so is he. The sidekick character—who’s already treated us to his particular takes on both Freddy (“What kind of a pussy comes after you in your dreams, anyway?”) and Jason (“Dude, that goalie was pissed about something!”)—decides to take a “j-break” at an unfortunately crucial moment, just as he and his friends have realized they’re being hunted by killers that can target them while awake and asleep.
When Freeburg (whose name sounds so much like “Freebird” it can’t be a coincidence) nods off, a Freddy-caterpillar waddles into the room toting a hookah, blows smoke in his face, then possesses him, making him destroy the supply of drugs that’ll save his friends from having nightmares—and goading him to inject Jason with tranquilizers. Jason’s response it to slice him in half. Harsh.
Right away, that goofy title preps you to expect the ridiculous in this 1998 sequel; though it insists on couching its bloodbath in a tone that’s meant to be mostly serious, there are a few notable exceptions. When hook-handed maniac survivor Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her college friends win a tropical vacation, one of the first people they meet at the resort is the dreadlocked Titus, played by an uncredited Jack Black, who seems to be an employee of some vague distinction. What we know for sure is that he has plenty of party supplies: “Are you looking for some bud? I got some bat guano, I got the cream jeans...anything you guys need, Titus got!”
Though the murderer is ostensibly chasing after Julie and her friends for revenge purposes, Titus—whose greatest crime is being incredibly cheesy, with a side of cultural appropriation—also makes the kill list, meeting a gory end while he’s just settled in among his marijuana plants for a relaxing bong rip. His last words are “It’s all good! Noooo!”
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s 2012 meta-horror comedy calls out all the genre tropes (and then turns them inside out), so of course it must contain a “stoner” character. Enter Marty (Fran Kranz), who both fits the stereotype and completely subverts it—even though he’s totally baked, he’s still level-headed enough to point out that reading a Latin incantation from a spooky old diary is a very bad idea. He’s also the first to catch on that all is not what it seems at the cabin. And somehow—with a little help from whatever he’s been smoking, which has helped immunize him against “pheromone mists” and the like—he also survives all the chaos alongside the Final Girl, burning one out with her as the world crumbles around them.
The Leprechaun movies are known for two things. One, that the first film starred a then-unknown Jennifer Aniston, who was cast alongside veteran actor Warwick Davis. And then, for its two “hood”-set sequels, the fifth and sixth films in the series.
The gold-obsessed, pint-sized monster takes a break from killing to get high in both films, in scenes that have become the stuff of stoner legend. Who could forget music mogul Mack Daddy (Ice-T) teaching the Leprechaun that “a friend with weed is a friend indeed”? That made such an impression that the Leprechaun leveled up from a joint to a “leprebong” in the next installment.
Duh...Gandalf was always the coolest wizard.
This meta-comedy is about a group of famous friends (and frenemies) playing exaggerated versions of themselves as the apocalypse overtakes Los Angeles. Weed isn’t the only drug that gets consumed over the course of the movie, but it is the most lovingly celebrated, as “Seth” and “Jay” kick off their weekend hangout by getting high as hell and never really coming down, and quarantine cabin fever (hmm) inspires the whole group to create a DIY sequel to Rogen and James Franco’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express.
As we eventually learn, being an enthusiastic pothead won’t prevent you from escaping Earth’s hellscape and ascending into heaven—in fact, as Rogen demonstrates, you can even light your joint on your angelic halo.
Fans of Scooby-Doo pegged Shaggy for a stoner long before the 2002 live-action movie featured a character named “Mary Jane” for him to crush on. His late-1960s origins explain his beatnik aesthetic (the same way they explain, say, Daphne’s stylishly mod outfits, the flower-power paint job on the Mystery Machine), and his fondness for dropping “like” into his speech patterns. Over the years the coding on his character just kind of morphed into “stoner” rather than the outdated “hippie.” Though much like Bill and Ted, classic Shaggy is never actually seen smoking weed, the subtext sometimes shouts so loud—all those damn Scooby Snacks!—you have to wonder if even the little kids who were the cartoon’s intended audience might’ve picked up on it.
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