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Characters / 12 Angry Men

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    Juror #1 

Juror #1
Played By: Martin Balsam

"Let's try to keep this organized, gentlemen."

The foreman, 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 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Friendly and amicable, doing his best to make sure everybody has a chance to voice their opinion and weigh it against exhibits and evidence. In his day job we find out he's an assistant football coach.

    Juror #2 

Juror #2
Played By: John Fiedler

"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.
  • Prematurely Bald: Not exactly. Even if the top of his head is bald, he still has some hair on his sides and back of his head. But having a balding while being 32 years old in the 1957 version, it's obviously premature.

    Juror #3 

Juror #3
Played By: Lee J. Cobb

"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.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: At the start of the deliberations, he opens by claiming to have no personal bias towards the case. It quickly becomes apparent that this is far from the truth, and he himself is the last one to realize it.
  • Big Bad: The closest the film has to one.
  • 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.
  • Freudian Excuse: He spends the movie continuously trying to convict a young man where there is more and more reasonable doubt for his guilt because his relationship with his son appeared to have gone very sour. It's a classic case of Psychological Projection. He realizes this at the end, though, and does not continue his stance.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper:
    Juror #3: Excitable? You bet I'm excitable! We're trying to put a guilty man in the chair where he belongs!
  • The Heavy: He's the most vocal juror in favor of declaring the boy guilty, and the one who holds out the longest.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: 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.
  • Jerkass: He's an aggressive and irritable grump. It kicks into overdrive as the debate rages on.
  • 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.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: He rips up a photo of him and his son during his breakdown and then he finally votes not guilty. He was voting "guilty" simply because of the bad relationship he has with his estranged son, not because of the facts.
  • 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.)
  • Psychological Projection: It becomes clear by the end that the real reason he's so insistent on a guilty conviction is because he's projecting his own problems with his son onto the case.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The temperamental, emotion-prone and hot-headed red to Juror #8's calm, collected blue.
  • Sadist: #8 deliberately calls him one to rile him up to make a point, that people don't always mean what they say.
  • 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 

Juror #4
Played By: E. G. Marshall

"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: Has a tendency to quip back at some of the apparently less-than-logical theories.
  • Hero Antagonist: Although he's the second last holdout for "guilty", he's not shown as being a mean person or unwilling to listen to reason; unlike Jurors #3 and #10, he has no personal reasons for his vote and is convinced the defendant is guilty purely because of the evidence presented at the trial.
  • Implacable Man: The only juror shown not to sweat despite the massive heat in the room. He only sweats once, after #8 manages to prove his point.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's a stockbroker in his day job. He always speaks in a calm voice and is evidently very used to being treated seriously.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: He is always in a nice suit but won't take it off even in the heat.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Is the juror that finally puts #10 in his place after his Villainous Breakdown. For added awesome points he does this without changing the tone or volume of his voice.
  • The Spock: He's certainly the most rational of the group, concerning himself purely with the facts. Despite being one of the last holdouts in favor of conviction, he listens to all of his opponents' arguments with an open mind. Once all of his objections have been rebutted, he changes his vote without complaint.
  • The Stoic: The most calm and collected of the jurors, never raising his voice or showing strong emotions of any kind. He's not completely stoic, though, as a few scenes evidence. He becomes visibly unnerved while being interrogated by Juror #8, and towards the end, expresses annoyance towards Juror #3 (for his obnoxiousness), Juror #9 (for badgering him with seemingly-inane questions instead of getting to the point), and Juror #10 (for being obviously prejudiced against the defendant, instead of arriving at that conclusion by the exercise of logic).
  • Stoic Spectacles: He wears them and even becomes a plot point.
  • Token Good Teammate: Easily the most sympathetic of the final three holdouts, due to voting "guilty" because he really has reached that conclusion through logical thinking rather than the prejudiced views of #3 and #10. He even delivers a Shut Up, Hannibal! to #10 when the latter's prejudice goes too far. The second that the biggest piece of evidence is put into doubt, he changes his vote.

    Juror #5 

Juror #5
Played By: Jack Klugman

"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.
  • 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 

Juror #6
Played By: Edward Binns

"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 

Juror #7
Played By: Jack Warden

"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.
  • Dirty Coward: When #11 politely asks him a question, he insults him for being an immigrant. But when he gives him an actual The Reason You Suck speech, #7 cowers and gives #11 an answer he wants to hear.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even he shows nothing but contempt for #10's racism. Though considering that he insulted #11's immigrant status earlier, this could be seen as hypocrisy.
  • Hate Sink: Not quite as blatant an example as Juror #10, but arguably even worse because at least Jurors #3 and #10 legitimately believe the kid is guilty; Juror #7 doesn't care and votes whichever way he thinks will get him out fastest. And he considers #11 as an inferior just for being a foreigner.
  • Jerkass: Aside from constantly insulting the other jurors with his constant pithy remarks, he doesn't care what the decision of the jury is. He's only concerned with catching a baseball game. At least the most vicious jurors voted guilty because they believed in it. That said, when called out on this, he does say that he doesn't believe the accused is guilty. Fortunately, the game is rained out during the deliberation, so he can relax and pay attention for once.
  • 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 

Juror #8/Davis
Played By: Henry Fonda

"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.

  • Dissonant Serenity: When Juror #3 is pretending to stab him (the other jurors are standing up, worried that #3 is actually going to stab him).
  • 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.
  • Man in White: Juror #8 traditionally wears a white coat or shirt. He's the first one to believe the boy could be innocent.
  • Nice Guy: He is a generally nice and concerned man who is focused on ensuring justice is done right.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Unnamed in the play, the film gives him the surname of Davis.
  • The Protagonist: He is the one who gets the others to actually think about the evidence closely.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The calm, collected blue to Juror #3's temperamental, emotion-prone and hot-headed red.
  • Rogue Juror: If not the Trope Maker, definitely the Trope Codifier. In this case, however, the rogue juror isn't actually convinced of the defendant's innocence at first. He just wants to forestall an overly hasty deliberation.

    Juror #9 

Juror #9/McCardle
Played By: Joseph Sweeney

"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.
  • 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.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Unnamed in the play, the film gives him the surname of 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 

Juror #10
Played By: Ed Begley

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

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

  • Character Filibuster: He has a particularly nasty, racism-filled rant against "the likes of him [the accused]" that causes the other jurors to turn away from him one by one, until #4 shuts him up:
    Juror #10: Listen to me!
    Juror #4: I have. Now sit down and don't open your mouth again.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Is noticeably unimpressed when #3 and #12 are playing a game in the middle of one of the juror's statements.
  • Hate Sink: Despite Juror #3 being closer to filling the role of a Big Bad, Juror #10 is clearly the more unlikable character. Unlike with Juror #3, there is never any suggestion that he has a sympathetic side beneath the Jerkassery.
  • Heel Realization: Vaguely implied. When he rants at length about how "they" (the unspecified ethnic group the defendant belongs to) are by nature nothing but a bunch of hotheaded liars and killers, the way all eleven of the other jurors respond with silent open contempt for his views, followed by #4's command to sit down and not say another word causes him to go practically catatonic. He spends the remainder of the deliberation silently staring at nothing, and after #4 changes his vote to not guilty, #10 soon follows. It is left ambiguous, if this means he was actually rethinking his views, or if he just felt defeated. The original telepay and the Showtime version aren't as ambiguous; when the final vote is taken, #10 flat out says he believes the defendant is guilty, he's just voting "not guilty" cause he's done butting heads with the others.
  • Jerkass: He doesn't have any logical reason for his guilty vote; he's just extremely racist, to the point where he eventually drops all pretenses and goes on a lengthy bigoted tirade to which the other jurors refuse to listen.
  • Perfect Health: Averted; he has a cold and keeps coughing, sneezing and sniffling throughout.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: After his racist tirade, even Jurors #3 and #7 have nothing but contempt for him.
  • Verbal Tic: "You know what I mean?" (sniff)
  • Villainous Breakdown: 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 that is any good!" He gets more and more worked up as the jurors turn their backs on him, one by one, until Juror #4 commands #10 to sit back down and keep his mouth shut. #10 spends the rest of the story sulking in defeated silence.
  • Villainous BSoD: He sits in the corner and stays silent for a good deal of time after Juror #4 tells him to shut up.

    Juror #11 

Juror #11
Played By: George Voskovec

"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 takes a moment to gush about the jury trial system, and how it could only happen in a democracy like the United States. They never say where he came from, but the implication is that the country he was from is not a democracy. He also berates #7 for refusing to take the process seriously, and makes a point to make sure he is speaking English more properly than the bigoted natural-born #10.
  • 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.
    Juror #11: If you want to vote "not guilty" then do it because you are convinced the man is not guilty, not because you've had enough. And if you think he is guilty then vote that way! Or don't you have the guts to do what you think is right?
  • Token Minority: The sole immigrant of the twelve.

    Juror #12 

Juror #12
Played By: Robert Webber

"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: A smartly-dressed Motor Mouth adman, he presents this way early on. He is very friendly to the other jurors and tries to defuse the tension when they fight. He loses this trait and turns hesitant and unsure later on, flip-flopping his vote according to who cowed him last.
  • The Ditherer: The only one who ever changes his vote back to "guilty", and then quickly goes back to "not guilty".
  • Innocently Insensitive: He can come off as a bit of a jerk at times, though he is at least trying to be a good guy, and never makes an active effort to antagonize anyone.

     The Boy 

The Boy
Played By: John Savoca

A boy who has been accused of murdering his father.

  • Ambiguously Brown: His race is never specified, but he is evidently non-white enough to evoke some racist remarks against "those people" by Juror #10.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Possibly. The whole point of the story is that the jurors have to decide if he stabbed his father or not. If he did, then he has killed someone and gotten off scot-free. In the end, they conclude not that he’s necessarily innocent, but that they have reasonable doubt he’s guilty.
  • Bad Liar: The court and most of the jurors think he's this, given that he said he went to the movies despite not remembering even one film in the present. Juror #4 is completely incredulous towards his claim that he lost his knife through a hole in his pocket and that someone else stabbed his father with the exact same brand as it. Of course, as the jurors keep talking, it turns out that his claims may actually hold grains of truth...
  • Freudian Excuse: If he did indeed kill his father, then we also have to remember that the man was an abusive prick, meaning it might have been in self-defense.
  • The Ghost: In the stage play, he doesn't appear at all.
  • Karma Houdini: All the Jurors in the end give the same verdict: "not guilty". If the kid is actually guilty, he gets away with murdering his father. If he is genuinely innocent, the real killer is still at large and unsuspected. Of course, within the realm of the movie, the investigation would be considered ongoing, so it's more of a matter of them not covering the part where someone actually gets caught and convicted as guilty, since that's not the focus.
  • Knife Nut: He is described as an experienced knife fighter, who would definitely have used a switchblade properly.
  • The Voiceless: He doesn't have a single line of dialogue.


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