Characters / GoodFellas

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    Henry Hill
Portrayed by: Ray Liotta

  • Abusive Parents: Subverted; though Henry resents his father for beating him, to the audience it comes across more as tough love since the only time we see it happen is because Henry was cutting school to work at a place his father knew to be a hangout for hardened criminals.
  • Alliterative Name: Henry Hill.
  • Amazon Chaser: Henry doesn't take an interest in Karen until she chews him out for standing her for their double date with Tommy and her friend.
  • Anti-Villain: Henry is more sympathetic than Tommy and Jimmy and provides A Lighter Shade of Black. His moral fiber is not that flexible when compared to the rest of his partners. It's established early on, during his teenage years, when he helps to bandage the arm of a man who had been shot and is berated for wasting good aprons.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: A semi-expository scene has Henry suiting up, which is warily received by his mother: "You look like a gangster!"
  • Being Good Sucks: He notes that at the age of 11 he was making more money as a crook than most honest people in his neighborhood. This is the main reason why Henry Hill resents his final fate as a "schnook," where he has to wait in line like all the others he felt contempt towards for most of his life.
  • Break the Haughty: When Henry realizes that he's going to get whacked he doesn't take it well.
  • Consummate Liar: Henry lies to everybody. He lies to Karen constantly about the risks of the business and his infidelities. He tells Paulie he won't deal drugs and will report to him any of the crew who does... and then immediately brings Jimmy and Tommy in on a massive cocaine operation. He tells Jimmy he won't buy anything excessive with the money that'll draw attention. Gilligan Cut to Henry with a giant Christmas tree, shouting "KAREN! I GOT THE MOST EXPENSIVE ONE THEY HAD!!!!"
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Provides the trope's quote. Hill enjoys the lavish lifestyle and respect from being a gangster.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Not only does taking them make you disheveled and paranoid but selling them brings the heat of the FBI on you and drives away anybody that could have helped you.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Henry's a jerk and lifelong criminal, but draws the line at murder. Even he's visibly disturbed when Tommy and Jimmy brutally beat up Billy Batts.
  • Fatal Flaw: He's greedy and sets up own operation that gets him arrested. Worse is that he clearly hasn't learned anything by the end.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The closest the film version of Henry gets to killing someone is when he locks the front door of the restaurant during Billy Batts' murder. The real Henry Hill is known to have killed three people.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: His opening narration:
    Henry: As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. To me being a gangster was better than being President of the United States.
  • It's All About Me: When Paulie begrudgingly gives Henry money despite him running a drug business behind Paulie's back, Henry's only thought is resentment for only being given a few thousand dollars after working for Paulie for so long. Even at the end, his only regret is that he has to give up the gangster lifestyle and live like a regular law-abiding citizen instead of being thankful for having escaped either imprisonment or mob retaliation. Especially since it was a fate he brought upon himself.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He may have been cheating on Karen, but he had the right to be pissed when she pointed a gun in his face.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted Trope. Henry Hill avoids prosecution and mob retribution, but he will spend the rest of his life Brought Down to Normal, forever pining for the glory days.
  • Lemony Narrator: Much of his narration delves into this including his deadpan delivery of "When they found Carbone in the meat truck, he was frozen so stiff it took them three days to thaw him out for the autopsy".
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: For all his flaws, he's not as sadistic as most of his fellow mobsters.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Henry cheats on his wife and his fatal flaw is his greed.
  • Narrator: Of the movie, obviously.
  • Nice to the Waiter: He provides a straight example at the Copacabana, handing out $20 bills and being friendly with the service.
  • Noble Demon: He's the most principled character throughout the movie, despite being an amoral criminal who'll play along with the rest of the crew.
  • Nominal Hero: On the occasion he sticks up for someone, he'd be here.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • During his teenage segment, he helps a random guy who shows up with a bullet wound. He provides some aprons for the bandages and tellingly, he's called out by his boss: "You wasted eight fucking aprons on this guy."
    • He's genuinely worried about Morrie and does his best to calm him down, because Henry knows that Jimmy -at the very least- is going to beat the guy senseless if he keeps complaining. Played with in that Henry enjoys watching Jimmy kicking Morrie afterwards.
  • Properly Paranoid: While being hooked on drugs makes him overly manic, a lot of Henry's paranoia towards Jimmy and the Cops turns out to be valid.
  • Rags to Riches: And back to rags again in the end.
  • Redemption Demotion: "Redemption" is debatable since Henry becomes a rat to save his own skin, and the only thing he regrets is getting caught.
  • Sadist: Although less so than Jimmy and Tommy.
  • Sanity Slippage: His coke-fueled paranoia later in the film.
  • Taught by Experience: His knowledge of the underworld allows him to navigate it safely for decades. He's particularly good at reading Jimmy and anticipates his actions often, having seing him in action so many times. This is the reason why Henry outlives most of his fellows.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: He does not kill anyone. Not a soul. He buries bodies, steals things, beats people to a pulp, but he doesn't kill anyone. Justified in that, not being Italian on his father's side, he had no chance of becoming a "made man," and thus was more useful without having committed murders. In reality Henry did commit three murders for the mob.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Henry starts doing petty errands for the Mafia as a teenager. Some time afterwards, he's setting cars on fire.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: While he does become more badass, he also goes from a reasonably sweet kid to a complete thug.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: As a teen, Henry had a conscience. He still does as an adult, but by then he's not above threatening innocent people.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The scene after he gets busted when Henry finds out that Karen flushed cocaine worth $60,000 down the toilet so the cops wouldn't have found it. This breakdown in particular happened in 2 stages: he was first angry at her for throwing it away, then he breaks down crying realizing that his life as a mobster is over.
  • Villain Protagonist: Since he's the main character, although he's also an Anti-Villain.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Henry Hill abandons his family and moves with his mistress for a while. Paulie mildly calls him out on it. Henry's infidelity is a Berserk Button for Karen, at first.

    Jimmy "The Gent" Conway
Portrayed by: Robert De Niro

  • Adaptation Name Change: He was Jimmy Burke in real life. The filmmakers decided to use his mother's maiden name of Conway, which he sometimes used as an alias, after his sister threatened to sue them.
  • Affably Evil: Starts out as this, being an amoral thug who is also capable of being friendly and generous towards others. Becomes Faux Affably Evil after the Lufthansa heist. By the time Henry's trying to sell him silencers, he's not even affable anymore.
  • Ax-Crazy: A very subtle example. We rarely ever see him lose his cool demeanor, and he comes off as a rational individual. Then the corpses of nearly everyone who participated in the Luftansa Heist start popping off everywhere.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: He may be a horrible boss as mentioned below, but it's hard not to admit he looks great in a suit,
  • Bad Boss: Kills all of those who were involved in the Lufthansa Heist. This is ultimately his Fatal Flaw. Jimmy's inclination to whack any liability the second they stop being useful becomes pretty well spotted. As such, Henry and even Karen can tell they're being set up to be murdered, driving them both to forsake any loyalty to him and run to the FBI to rat.
  • Berserk Button: Has two.
    • Jimmy is much, much more obsessed with money than the other gangsters in the movie, and his friendly demeanor drops if someone owes him money but won't pay. On the opposite side, if Jimmy owes you money, bringing it up is a good way to infuriate him. He'd rather murder his benefactors and keep the cash than have to pay them back.
    • Jimmy has no patience for people who are sloppy and could pose as a liability to his operations. This particular paranoia becomes more and more apparent as the film progresses, and anyone who leaves too many clues or in any way slips up will find themselves getting whacked.
  • The Dragon: To Paul Cícero, despite not being a "made" man.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: By the end of the 1970s.
  • The Dreaded: Just like his Real Life counterpart.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Jimmy cries when his best friend Tommy is murdered.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted. Jimmy gives Tommy a serious rebuke after the gratuitous shooting of Spider.....but mostly because they'll now have to dispose of the body.
  • Fatal Flaw: As mentioned above, his solution for any problem is to Kill 'em All, forcing Henry to turn against him when he realizes that he's become a liability.
  • Faux Affably Evil: After the Lufthansa heist, being a remorseless sociopath who kills anyone who gets in his way while acting polite to lull them into a false sense of security. One of the biggest signs of the change is that he stops being generous.
  • For the Evulz: Jimmy is into crime not out of greed but for the mere thrill of it all. Lampshaded by Henry in his narration, he said if you tried to pay him a million dollars not to steal again, he would turn it down, and would figure out a way to steal the million off of you.
  • Greed: Is much more driven by Greed than the other members of the crew, and one of the Berserk Buttons that breaks his Faux Affably Evil persona is people not paying him money they owe him. When he murders most of the other people responsible for the Lufthansa heist, it's partially because he's afraid they'll be a liability, and partially just because he'd rather keep their share of the money for himself.
  • Jerkass: Starts acting a lot more hostile after Tommy's death, dropping most of his Faux Affably Evil traits and acting irritated all the time.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The real Jimmy would sometimes lock children in refrigerators, murdered or had murdered even more people, and really did screw nearly everyone out of the Lufthansa heist.
  • Hypocrite: Moreso than the other gangsters. Jimmy can't stand rats or people who are disloyal, and gives a young Henry the lesson to remember who his friends are and keep his mouth shut at all times. But despite preaching otherwise, Jimmy is almost the poster child for No Honor Among Thieves; keeping the lion's share of mutual thefts, treating his so-called "friends" like garbage, and killing anyone who might be a liability.
  • Karma Houdini: He's sent to jail due to an unrelated charge (presumably the point shaving done at Boston College). He never pays for killing a made man alongside Tommy. (The real life Burke died of cancer in prison in 1996.)
  • Lack of Empathy: Doesn't even care once about the loved ones of the victims his killing sprees leave behind (like Morrie's wife).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Is overjoyed to hear that Tommy is being made since having a made man in their crew guarantees them the protection and influence of the mafia, essentially allowing them to steal from and kill anyone who isn't made without consequence. But then he and Henry find out the whole thing was a setup to kill Tommy in retaliation for the murder of Billy Batts. And because Batts was a made man and they weren't, there's nothing they can do in retaliation.
  • Manly Tears: When he finds out Tommy's been killed.
  • The Mentor: To young Henry. His advice is even sage like.
    Jimmy: Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Zig-zagged. He is quite generous with his tips, but it's in no way an indicator that he's a nice guy. Handing out hundreds casually to servants is just him flaunting his wealth and showing off his high-class mafia lifestyle; in actuality he doesn't care about people who serve him at all.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When he beats Billy Batts with Tommy.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: After the Lufthansa heist, he begins murdering everyone who had something to do with it.
  • Pet the Dog: Especially as a younger man, he tips generously and when he steals a truck and warns the driver that he knows where the driver lives, he slips a few bucks into the guy's wallet before handing it back.
  • Psycho for Hire: As mentioned during his introduction, Jimmy steals because he enjoys it. The profits it brings in are, in his mind, just an added bonus.
  • Sadist: Not as much as Tommy, but still a big one.
  • Sanity Slippage: He takes a level in sociopathy. This is what leads him to eliminate any links between Luftansa and himself.

    Tommy De Vito
Portrayed by: Joe Pesci

  • Adaptational Ugliness: The real Tommy was 6"2", had long hair and a moustache, was built like a boxer and was described as very good looking.
  • Adaptation Name Change: He was Tommy DeSimone in real life.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: When he realizes too late he's gotta answer for what he did to Billy Batts...
  • Asshole Victim: Even Henry did not look so sad when he learns of his death.
  • Ax-Crazy: A sadistic mobster liable to open fire at the slightest provocation, irritation, or inconvenience. He also murdered Billy Batts in an extremely brutal way. Pesci had trouble playing the role because he could not understand a character who reacted violently to everything. This was particularly true of the scene where Tommy kills Spider. From Pesci's perspective (or any other sane person for that matter), having someone that you've been ragging on telling you to go fuck yourself was no big deal. He finally decided that Tommy would simply not be able to understand that Jimmy rewarding Spider and asking Tommy if he was going to let Spider get away with it was all meant in jest, instead choosing to see it as a insult.
  • Badass Boast: After killing Spider, Tommy tries to use the line "I'm a good shot" as one. It doesn't fly, as there is nothing badass to brag about. Even one generic mobster is unafraid to call it out: "How could you miss at this distance?"
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Being a violent sociopath doesn't stop him from dressing up tight.
  • Berserk Button: Almost anything, but special mention goes to Billy Batts tells him to "Go get your shinebox." The beating he gave Batts looked like it almost brought him to tears.
  • Blood Knight: And loves to boast about it.
  • Big Bad: During the 1970s.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Jimmy.
  • Brooklyn Rage: He's from Brooklyn and his Hair-Trigger Temper is legendary.
  • Character Death: Gets whacked because of the murder of Billy Batts.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Practically, the brutal murder of Billy Batts is this, especially considering that he did not die before Tommy killed him with a knife.
  • Comedic Sociopath: At least In-Universe.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After beating the living shit out of Billy Batts in Henry's own bar, he sheepishly says to Henry "I didn't want to get blood on the floor." As opposed to, like, sign his own death warrant by brutally killing a made guy, just because the guy was being obnoxious.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Orders his girlfriend not to even speak to another man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Well yeah, he is a funny guy after all.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: This is one of the reasons why Tommy performs many of his horrible actions.
  • The Dreaded: Big time, even to his friends. Just look at how silent Henry and company went when they thought he got angry with Henry.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: He shows at least a trace of humanity thanks to his relationship with his mother.
  • Fatal Flaw: His inability to control his temper ended up getting him killed.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He shot a guy in the foot for getting him the wrong drink, and later killed the guy by shooting him again. He also killed a made man for insulting him in front of his date.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The real Tommy de Simone was even more violent than his fictional counterpart, and was a rapist to boot.
  • Jerkass: Generally acts unpleasantly and like he's always pissed off.
  • Karmic Death: He killed a made man before and is now killed when he thinks he is going to be "made" or become a prominent member of the Mafia.
  • Kick the Dog: His treatment of Spider.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: "Oh n--"
  • Laughably Evil: Tommy really is a funny guy....EXCEPT when you say so to his face.
  • The Millstone: Most of the trouble the main characters get into is because Tommy would shoot anybody for so much as looking at him funny.
  • The Napoleon: By default due to Pesci's actual stature. The real-life inspiration, Tommy De Simone, was a large, beefy guy. It's pointed out exactly once when he tells a story about being beaten by a cop: "Just once, I wish I was big!"
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: As expected from an Ax-Crazy maniac with a genuinely animalistic temper. If it isn't obvious, he's definitely not a man you would ever want to cross paths with, or even attempt to piss off. It says a lot that he is considered the cruelest, most brutal character of the whole film. And for bonus, he's this even when he's casually speaking.
    Tommy: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
    Henry: Just... you know, how you tell the story, what?
    Tommy: No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny!
    Henry: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!
    Tommy: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Tommy sees the room Tuddy is bringing him into is empty and realizes that his making ceremony is really a hit.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe. He is embarrassed by the fact that he was a shoe shine boy when he was a kid. Bringing this up is guaranteed to piss him off big time.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Is opposed to interracial relationships, despite earlier complaining that his would-be girlfriend is prejudiced against Italians.
  • Psycho for Hire: Essentially nothing more than a vicious underling of Jimmy.
  • Rags to Riches: His background isn't explored in depth, but it's likely that his family wasn't particularly well-off either.
  • Sadist: Very sadistic when you provoke him.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: It's Joe Pesci, after all.
  • The Sociopath: Theft, abuse, torture, murder, you name it, he's done it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: After killing Billy, spending decades demonstrating that he simply could not muster any form of self-control, and showing everyone that he could never be trusted to simply stop and take a moment and think, the stupid son-of-a-bitch actually thought he was going to get made.

    Karen Hill
Portrayed by: Lorraine Bracco

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: As she puts it herself:
    Karen: I know there are women, like my best friends, who would have gotten out of there the minute their boyfriend gave them a gun to hide. But I didn't. I got to admit the truth. It turned me on.
  • Berserk Button: Henry's infidelities. Finding out about his first infidelity has her harass his (first) mistress and aim a gun in her husband's face.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Bordering on yandere levels. She pointed a gun in Henry's face when she found out he was cheating on her.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Karen is depicted as a faithful if aggravated wife in regards to Henry's constant affairs. In reality, she was also having affairs, in particular with Paulie.
  • Jewish American Princess: Her parents are members of a country club, so she fits the trope.
  • Narrator: She provides the wives' and girlfriends' perspective of gangster life.
  • Precision F-Strike: While avoiding any major swear words throughout the film, she lets out a religious exclamation at the top of her voice upon confronting one of Henry's mistresses over her apartment intercom by telling her to "Get your own Goddamn man!" The exclamation brings her to tears.
  • Pretty in Mink: Wears a mink coat when she meets Henry when he's released from prison.
  • She's Got Legs: As dark as the "Wake Up Henry" scene is, it's hard NOT to notice Lorraine Braco's legs in those short shorts of hers.

    Paul Cicero
Portrayed by: Paul Sorvino

  • Adaptation Name Change: He was Paul Vario in real life.
  • Affably Evil: Comes off as a father figure, especially to Henry.
  • The Don: He's the top-ranking mafioso of the movie, so powerful that he's a Don in all but name, with hundreds of people depending on him. Despite the perspective and scope, technically he's just a captain for the Lucchese family.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Does not approve of Henry dealing drugs. Although it's less 'drugs are wrong,' and more about how the feds crack down harsher on drug dealers, and bring down people connected to them. Paulie doesn't want to take the risk.
  • Family Values Villain: He's a crime boss, but is a good husband and father.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: He's depicted as Affably Evil and a likable capo. Henry Hill explains him away as "protection for wiseguys among themselves." Mobster Paul Vario - his Real Life counterpart - had more direct involvement in the nastier (and bloodier) crimes committed by his crew. In Wiseguy (the book the film was based on), Hill recalled seeing Vario attack a barmaid with a baseball bat after she informed his wife they were having an affair. Wiseguy author Nicholas Pileggi writes, "He abhorred unnecessary violence (the kind he hadn't ordered), mainly because it was bad for business."
  • Honorary Uncle: 'Uncle' Paulie and the offspring of the wiseguys have a very avuncular relationship.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: He trusts Henry to tell him the truth explicitly, both in being in the drug trade or not and the whereabouts of Batts. Henry's lyng on both counts. When he finds out about Henry's drug business that was running behind Paulie's back, Paulie is legitimately heartbroken.
  • Large and in Charge: Tall, heavyset, and a capo. It follows.
  • The Leader: Subverted. Paul Cicero wasn't the leader of the Lucchese Family. He was a caporegime, which is a mid-level rank.
  • Parental Substitute: Henry sees Paul as a better father figure than his own father. When Paul disowns him for lying about his drug deals, it became one of the few key factors that caused Henry to rat.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As close as you would get in the Mafia. He trusts his men implicitly, and when he is forced to turn his back on Henry for dealing drugs he is more hurt than angry.
  • Taught by Experience: He's very aware that drugs can bring the whole thing down because he knows of a fellow old wiseguy who was arrested just for greeting some drug dealer, or so Paulie says. He also has an aversion to telephones and personal meetings, hinting he knows about wiretapping and criminal conspiracy cases.

    Billy Batts
Portrayed by: Frank Vincent

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Sure, he is a criminal himself, but seeing him brutally killed over such a petty reason....
  • Alliterative Name: Billy Batts.
  • Asshole Victim: He may have taken his ribbing of Tommy too far, but it's not really a valid reason for Tommy (and Jimmy) to brutally murder him.
  • Character Death: He is brutally killed by Tommy.
  • Smug Snake: He's a made guy and you can tell he acts as though it means he can do or say anything. He goes well out of his way to push Tommy's buttons, thinking that his status will scare Tommy and Jimmy enough not to retaliate. He's wrong.

Portrayed by: Michael Imperioli