Best: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Darth Vader himself is sort of a minion, answering to old fogie the Emperor, but the asthmatic one is also a minion with minions, which is a very important distinction.
Sure they’re the worst shots this side of our galaxy. Sure they all look and sound the same. And sure they’re about as smart as two Big Brother contestants strapped together. But the Stormtroopers are hella iconic, and Star Wars would be shit without them.
Worst: The Mummy (1999)
They may have flippy skills and big pointy sharp things, but if you’re as quick/skilled/cocky as Brendan Fraser’s adventurer, these mummified minions don’t pose much of a threat.
For a start, one swift blow with a sword (or, really, any blunt object) and they crumble into dust. They also flinch at fire and generally just make a lot of noise (that screeching is god awful). More annoying pests than proper minions.
Best: Despicable Me (2010)
Like darling little bits of sweetcorn dressed up in dungarees, these minions are the stand-out comedy clowns of Universal’s animated adventure.
As with Ice Age ’s Scrat before them, these minions get themselves into all sorts of scrapes, and are most entertaining by virtue of their complete and undeniable adorableness. They even get their own song (uh, ‘Minion Mambo’), while two short films where they’re the stars are in the works.
And you can meet Despicable Me's minions when it's released on Friday.
Worst: Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)
For those of us who stuck with Monsieur Myers through the first four sequels (number three notwithstanding), this sixth stab at John Carpenter’s ’78 classic repays us by explaining that Myers is in fact enslaved to a cult and is entirely beholden to them.
Not only that, but it’s the crappiest cult ever (he shags his niece, as far as we can tell, and has a stupid tattoo), led by the completely unscary and rubbish Man In Black. Lame.
Best: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Be warned: he bites. And growls. And generally gets in the way. But mute mate Mini-Me is sort of like every narcissist’s dream – a miniature version of yourself who’s just as awesome as you! Except cuter and can fit in smaller spaces.
Worst: Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002)
Granted, we may all secretly fancy having a house elf of our own to help keep the place spick and span – but something as malnourished, watery-eyed and just downright hideous as this should definitely be living in a dark cave somewhere.
Oh, don’t give us the S.P.E.W spiel about how house elves have rights, too. They’re an eyesore, plain and simple. And what kind of a name is Dobby, anyway?
Best: The Little Mermaid (1989)
Flotsam and Jetsam. The names in themselves are worthy of praise. That they’re the slithery sidekicks of Best Disney Villain Ever Ursula raises them in our estimations even further.
Though F and J don’t exactly get much to do, they’re pivotal in luring Ariel to the sea witch with their loaded suggestions and clever emotion-plucking. Added points for looking mean as hell (the snaggle teeth are particularly savage). Shame they bite it in the end.
Worst: X-Men (2000)
Toad, oh Toad. Sure, that super-powered tongue might make him a hit with the ladies (sorry), but this green-eyed Magneto helper does very little to actually aid his man upstairs. Aside from frisking about sticking to walls, he’s pretty useless.
In the end, though, Toad’s greatest indignity is being offed by Halle Berry’s Storm, and the horribly delivered ‘killer’ line – “Do you know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.” Squelch.
Best: Terminator (1984)
Pushing the definition of a ‘minion’ here slightly perhaps, but the Terminator sure is “a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power”. Built to do Skynet’s bidding, the Terminator is a (sometimes literally) shining example of what a minion should be.
I.e. efficient, unstoppable, diligent, and so dedicated that it’ll take a mechanical masher, molten steel or a small explosion to stop it getting the job done.
Worst: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Controversial choice perhaps, but is nobody else annoyed that the movie grinds to a halt every time the Oopma Loompas want to sing? Like mini, green-haired Katie Prices, they’re over-tanned (that orange is so last season), over-worked and all over our screens like a rash. Next!
Best: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
C’mon, he can gnash through steel! That means Jaws is immediately the coolest minion to ever have appeared onscreen – especially in a Bond movie. Henchman to the villainous Karl Stromberg, Jaws is akin to a human battering ram – he’s Lurch with a stainless steel overbite.
The only down side is Jaws’ sudden change of allegiance in Moonraker , where he sides with Bond against Drax. We blame that Dolly chick.
Worst: Masters Of The Universe (1987)
Catty villainous Evil-Lynne aside, the laser-shooting minions of super-baddie Skeletor are a pitiful bunch. Our main foible? They’re damn near carbon copies of Star Wars’ storm troopers! If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve also inherited bad aim and hang around in the background being generally useless.
As Evil-Lynne quips at the film’s midpoint after a spectacular failure to capture He-Man: “Outnumbered? Outclassed is more like it.” Go girl.
Best: The Faculty (1998)
Robert Patrick. Famke Janssen. Piper Laurie. Salma Hayek. Bebe Neuwirth. Did you ever see a cooler minion cast list? Trust us, you won’t have.
Calling on cult figures past and present, Robert Rodriguez’s collection of possessed teachers takes no prisoners. From Neuwirth’s snide charmer to Janssen’s nutty maneater (at one point, she literally loses her head), these guys are the slickest dog bodies going.
Worst: Superman II (1980)
For a start, this chap’s name is ‘Non’, which should give you some indication of how highly his parents – and subsequently his peers – rated him. Luckily, Non lives up to his name.
Non-clever. Non-cool. Non-event. Somehow, Non managed to bag a spot as General Zod’s underling, though we can’t quite figure out he managed to do that considering his more than evident lack of ability in, well, anything. Luckily, he ends up stuck in the Phantom Zone. Good riddance.
Best: Batman Returns (1992)
Awwww, aren’t they cute? Wait a minute, NO! If you ever spot these little critters, you better waddle away as fast as you can. See, they’re in the employ of crazy mad loon Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin.
Having been raised by the fin-flapping comedians, Penguin uses his, uh, penguins in an attempt to take out Gotham City. How? By strapping missiles to their backs and sending them out to play. Sadly, Penguin’s plan backfires when Batman fools his minions into bombing the zoo instead. They're only animals, after all.
Worst: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
It’s all very well and good being a ninja, but when you don’t really do anything with those skills, you may as well just be a bloke in a skin tight suit bending over for a higher power.
So subordinate to Shredder and Tatsu (the bloke standing in front of them above), these bug-eyed ninjas do lots of fun spinning and twirling, but would be bettered served in the ballet than attempting to aid their evil masters.
Best: The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
Responsible for giving children the world over nightmares for weeks, these blue-furred living terrors still turn our hair white even today.
What’s scarier than a rabid monkey? A monkey with wings, of course! Swooping out of the sky, hopping about like they’ve had ten triple espressos, then sweeping their prey into the night, these hooping horrors really are the stuff of nightmares. The Wheelers in Return To Oz came close, but couldn’t hope to outfright the flying monkeys.