Characters / 12 Angry Men

Juror #1 / The Foreman

Played By: Martin Balsam (1957), Courtney B. Vance (1997)

The man assigned to moderate the rest of the jury, a job which he is not quite qualified for but determined to do his best at.

  • Berserk Button: Whenever someone questions his authority, he'll get all worked up over nothing and suggest to that person they take his place instead.
  • Nice Guy: Unless you press his aforementioned Berserk Button, he's a summarily decent guy trying to make the right decisions.
  • Race Lift: In the 1997 version.

Juror #2

Played By: John Fiedler (1957), Ossie Davis (1997)

"It's hard to put into words. I just think he's guilty. I thought it was obvious from the word, 'Go'. Nobody proved otherwise."

A small, timid banker who mostly gives a "guilty" vote due to pressure from the other jurors.

  • Extreme Doormat: He constantly finds himself being swayed by the opinions of the last person who has spoken until, by the end, his courage has visibly grown and he is no longer afraid to stand up to Jurors #3 and #10.
  • Grew a Spine: A little bit. He gets more willing to call the other jurors out on their shit as the show goes on.
  • Nice Guy: He is a really soft spoken guy who tries his best to be nice to even the more belligerent of the jurors.
  • Race Lift: In the 1997 version.

Juror #3

Played By: Lee J. Cobb (1957), George C. Scott (1997)

"I'm a pretty excitable person. I mean, where does he come off calling me a public avenger, sadist and everything?"

The primary advocate for a "guilty" verdict, whose estrangement from his son causes him to automatically distrust any young person.

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After seeing his son walk away from a fight, he swore to "make a man out of [him]." The last time he and his son saw each other, his son punched him and walked out.
  • Big Bad: The closest you can consider one in the film.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Part of his jerkass demeanour is that he responds to arguments with deeply sarcastic wisecracks.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Like the rest of the jurors, he's disgusted by #10's racism. He's also clearly apalled by #7 when he switches his vote to "Not Guilty" simply because he wants to leave.
  • Evil Counterpart: To #8, though more like a Jerkass Counterpart; they're both men of passion unwilling to back down when they believe their cause is just.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: "Excitable? You bet I'm excitable! I'm trying to put a guilty man in the chair where he belongs!"
  • Heel Realization: When, in the middle of his furious insistence that the defendant is guilty, he sees the picture of his estranged son and rips it to pieces, you can see in his face that he has just figured out what he was really doing.
  • Jerkass: He's aggressive, grump and irritable. It kicks into overdrive as the debate rages on.
  • Jerkass Fašade: This just might be his defining characteristic, voting "guilty" simply because of the bad relationship he has with his estranged son, not because of the facts.
  • Large Ham: Especially when he's played by George C. Scott, who wastes no time in chewing the already-limited scenery.
  • Oh, Crap!: When he contradicts his own, earlier argument.
    • And when the rational part of his brain retakes control as he's tearing up the photo of him and his son, the look on his face changes from rage to absolute horror.
  • Pet the Dog: He assumes #5 changed his stance during the second vote and gives him hell for it, but it turns out it was #9. Afterwards, #3 stammers out something akin to an apology to him. (It's the thought that counts.)
  • Tragic Villain: He's not really a bad man, and his reasons for pushing a guilty verdict so hard (namely, he's channeling all his anger about how his own relationship with his son ended onto the young defendant) is something he clearly does not realize he's doing. His Villainous Breakdown, unlike #10's racist diatribe, is not met with the disgust or contempt of the other jurors. They all just kind of look like they feel sorry for him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: His final act in the play before the end and final vote.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: He's just trying to bring someone he honestly believes to be guilty to justice. The fact that he's such a massive Jerkass prevents him from being a Hero Antagonist.

Juror #4

Played By: E. G. Marshall (1957), Armin Mueller-Stahl (1997)

"You've made some excellent points, but I still believe the boy is guilty."

A highly methodical and logical man who becomes one of the last holdouts for a "guilty" verdict because the evidence is too strong for him to go against.

  • Deadpan Snarker: Known to use this to quip back at some of the apparently less than logical theories.
  • Implacable Man
  • Ironic Echo: Juror #5 asks him about midway through the film if he ever sweats, to which #4 replies "no." When #8 eventually proves him wrong, #4 begins to sweat.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: He is always in a nice suit but won't take it off even in the heat.
  • The Spock: The most logical and rational of the group who only cares about the facts. When the evidence comes into doubt, he shifts to not guilty.
  • The Stoic: One of the few members of the cast to not grow frustrated or angry at the other jurors or the case, always looking at the situation rationally.
  • Stoic Spectacles: He wears them and even becomes a plot point.
  • Token Good Teammate: Easily the most sympathetic of the three final holdouts, due to voting "guilty" because he really has reached that conclusion through logical thinking rather than the prejudiced views of #3 and #10. The second that the biggest piece of evidence is put into doubt, he changes his vote.

Juror #5

Played By: Jack Klugman (1957), Dorian Harewood (1997)

"I've played in back yards that were filled with garbage. Maybe you can still smell it on me."

A man with a similar background to the defendant, who votes "guilty" out of worry that going the other way would simply be due to this.

  • Ambiguously Jewish: He's hinted to be some kind of minority, and his actor in the 1957 version is Jewish.
  • Berserk Button: Juror #3 gets #5 riled up when he starts accusing him of changing his vote to "not guilty" and insists that since #5 grew up in a slum neighborhood, he's the one to blame. Which makes it pretty awkward when it turns out that #9 was the one who changed his vote.
  • Nice Guy: Like The Foreman, unless you push him too far, he is respectful to others.
  • Race Lift: In the 1997 version.
  • Reverse Grip: His background lets him refute the evidence of the defendant's much taller father having a downward stab wound, something only possible with such a grip, as he knows no experienced switchblade user would do it.

Juror #6

Played By: Edward Binns (1957), James Gandolfini (1997)

"Well, I'm not used to supposin'. I'm just a workin' man. My boss does all the supposin', but I'll try one. Supposin' you talk us all out of this, and, uh, the kid really did knife his father? What then?"

A blue-collar painter who mostly just goes along with the group.

  • The Generic Guy: He has the fewest lines of any jury member, and we learn little about him besides his job.
  • Nice Guy: He's always polite and reasonable, never making his arguments in a rude way, and makes a point of telling #3 to show #9 a bit of respect, #9 being an elder.
  • Rage Breaking Point: He threatens to punch out Juror #3 after the latter repeatedly interrupts #9.

Juror #7

Played By: Jack Warden (1957), Tony Danza (1997)

"Well, what's there to talk about? Eleven men in here think he's guilty."

A salesman more concerned with deciding a verdict in time for a baseball game than doing justice.

  • Brutal Honesty: He is rarely anything but honest about his feelings.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The majority of his dialogue is making wiseass remarks which add little to the proceedings.
  • Jerkass: He cares more about missing his baseball game than his job as a juror.
  • Nice Hat: Wears a straw fedora throughout the film.
  • Pet the Dog: He's very indifferent towards his job as a juror, but during #3's Villainous Breakdown, he looks at him with just as much pity as everyone else.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The main source of humor in the film. Deconstructed since while the group was okay with him at first, by the end all the other jurors have had enough of him making light of such a serious situation.
  • Skewed Priorities: Switches his vote to "Not Guilty" just because it had taken the majority and doing so would get him out of jury duty quicker. Everyone in the room on both sides are fairly appalled by this, pointing out he's shrugging off a huge societal responsibility out of laziness.

Juror #8 / Davis

Played By: Henry Fonda (1957), Jack Lemmon (1997)

"Nobody has to prove otherwise. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn't even have to open his mouth. That's in the Constitution."

An architect, and initially the only jury member to vote "not guilty" because he feels the situation needs to be talked over first.

  • Establishing Character Moment: First seen pondering at the window of the jury room before being called over to begin the decision. Notably, he isn't shown speaking and chattering excitedly like most of the jurors, hinting that the majority sentiment won't go through as easily as previously thought.
  • Guile Hero: Because violence would get him ejected, he must use his mind and instincts to combat the arguments of the others to make them question the evidence enough so there is enough reasonable doubt.
  • The Hero: He refused to railroad the defendant because something didn't add up. Despite peer pressure, he continued his stance and pushed to reexamine all the evidence closely.
  • Nice Guy: He is a generally nice and concerned man who is focused on ensuring justice is done right.
  • No Name Given: Subverted; his name is Davis.
  • The Protagonist: He is the one who gets the others to actually think about the evidence closely.

Juror #9 / McCardle

Played By: Joseph Sweeney (1957), Hume Cronyn (1997)

"He didn't change his vote - I did."

The oldest of the jury members, whose life experience gives him a unique outlook on the case.

  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He has a few key moments of insight which help dismantle the Guilty-voter arguments.
  • Cool Old Guy: More so as the movie progresses, which includes taking note of a few small details which the other jurors failed to pick up on.
  • Genre Savvy: He picks up on #8's having a point much quicker than the rest of the jurors. He's clearly a wise, levelheaded man of experience.
  • The Lancer: He's the first to change to a "not guilty" vote and at a crucial time when Juror #8 needed support. He then spends the rest of the film as #8's biggest supporter, ultimately playing a larger role in poking holes in the biggest piece of evidence.
  • No Name Given: Subverted; his name is McCardle.
  • Token Good Teammate: Aside from our hero (Juror #8), he is the only one who initially wants to hear more about the case, and doesn't give into Juror #3's tirades about degradation.

Juror #10

Played By: Ed Begley (1957), Mykelti Williamson (1997)

"You're not gonna tell me that we're supposed to believe this kid, knowing what he is."

A bigot whose prejudice against Hispanics causes him to be another main antagonist to #8.

  • Bowties Are Cool: He dons one as part of his NOI attire in the 1997 version.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Is noticeably unimpressed when #3 and #12 are playing a game in the middle of one of the juror's statements.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: After being left as one of the last three holdouts for a "guilty" vote, he launches into a racist tirade, revealing his true motives behind why he is pushing for a guilty verdict. The other jurors turn away in disgust one by one until he peters out. He never says a word after this and still thinks the defendant is guilty, but changes his vote anyway as he accepts that a conviction is never going to happen now.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In the remake, he declares the he still thinks the defendant is guilty, but changes his vote anyway as he accepts that a conviction is never going to happen now.
  • Malcolm Xerox: In the 1997 version, where Mykelti Williamson plays him.
  • Nice Hat: He sports a fez in the 1997 version.
  • Perfect Health: Averted: He has a cold and keeps coughing, sneezing and sniffling throughout.
  • Race Lift: In the 1997 version, he is portrayed by a black man, (which makes his discrimination to minorities all the more ironic).
  • Verbal Tic: "You know what I mean?" (sniff)
  • Villainous Breakdown: As is said above he launches into a racist harangue once he is left as one of only three jurors voting "guilty", stating "there is not a one of them [Latinos] that is any good!" He is told to shut up, by one of the other pro-conviction jurors, no less.
  • Villainous B.S.O.D.: He sits in the corner and stays silent for a good deal of time after Juror #4 tells him to shut up.

Juror #11

Played By: George Voskovec (1957), Edward James Olmos (1997)

"I don't believe I have to be loyal to one side or the other. I'm simply asking questions."

A European immigrant and watchmaker who is particularly proud to perform his civic duty as a jury member.

  • Berserk Button: He won't call you out for bringing up his immigrant status, but you'll get an earful from him if you don't take your American civic responsibilities seriously.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: He is proud to be an American and will do his civic duties properly.
  • Nice Guy: Like many of the others, he is an affable gentleman but not one to cross or insult their duty in the Jury room.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to #7 after he changes to a "not guilty" vote simply because it now seems like that will get him out of the room faster.
  • Token Minority: In the 1957 version; in the 1997 version half of the cast is African-American while he's European.

Juror #12

Played By: Robert Webber (1957), William Petersen (1997)

"What do you mean, 'supposing they're wrong'? What's the point of having witnesses at all?"

An advertising executive who is easily swayed by others.

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The most easily distracted of any of the jurors.
    • Is too busy doodling on his piece of paper to listen to one of the other jurors
    • Goes off on a tangent about advertising jargon and buzzwords, even going off on a different tangent about water-cooler gossip
    • Is too busy playing tic-tac-toe with #3 to listen to #8
  • The Charmer: Comes with being an advertising executive. He comes off as the most slick and likable juror in the film.
  • The Ditherer: The only one who ever changes his vote back to "guilty", and then quickly goes back to "not guilty."
  • Jerkass: Quite unintentionally at times, although he is at least trying to be a good guy.