Over the course of 25 years, many have donned the Ghostface mask. But only seven as the actual Ghostface killer. To be a Ghostface killer is to pick up the mantle of infamy, brutality, and sometimes straight-up nonsensical plans in the name of horror. Sidney Prescott—and Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley—can never rest too easy as there’s always a Ghostface around the corner. This is even further proven with the upcoming Scream movie. (Like the first film, it’s called Scream so for simplicity’s sake we’ll refer to it as Scream 5.)
But not all Ghostface killers are created equal. For some, it’s a chance for a grisly revenge. Others are just executing the plans created by another. One, notably—albeit a bit tongue in cheek—chalks his involvement up to peer pressure, describing himself as “far too sensitive.” There are a few different qualities that make up a successful Ghostface. For starters there’s, regrettably, the body count.
So as we muse about who in the Scream 5 trailer will be our inevitable Ghostface(s), let’s take a walk down memory lane and look back on who is exactly the deadliest Ghostface—ranked here from worst to best, of course. The criteria here is about more than just how many people each of the Ghostfaces killed in their respective film, especially considering that count is up for debate. We’re looking at their overall impact on the franchise, how it shaped things moving forward—for Sidney Prescott, and the films as a whole.
Charlie Walker (Scream 4)
Played by: Rory Culkin
If Mickey Altieri is just one of the franchise’s biggest pawns, Charlie is the ultimate. As Jill’s secret boyfriend, he fashions himself as a next-gen Randy Meeks—but whose crush on the final girl isn’t as unrequited. Pretty much everything he does is at the behest of Jill, and as soon as it appears they’re on the brink of success she swiftly ends the partnership with a knife to his body. Whew. And as he dies, Jill tells him that actually she’s going to paint him as the mastermind, with her ex-boyfriend Trevor as his accomplice.
Even among the Ghostface killers, he, unfortunately for him, rates as generally ineffective. And he doesn’t even get the girl. Oh Charlie, you should’ve just minded your own business and made your little movies with Robbie.
Mickey Altieri (Scream 2)
Played by: Timothy Olyphant
Film student Mickey is quite an afterthought for being one of the Ghostface killers in the Scream sequel. Sure, he does some damage but he’s also one of the biggest pawns in the entire franchise. He teams up with Billy’s mom in the hopes of becoming a media sensation during his trial, already prepping his “media is ruining lives” before the Parents Television Council could really take its big swing. However, did anyone really think Mickey would survive to see his blockbuster trial? As soon as he’s served his purpose, Mrs. Loomis, Scream 2’s actual Ghostface mastermind, disposes of him pretty quickly, with plans to pin all of her crimes on him as well.
To make matters worse, he’s not even a particularly slick Ghostface. Randy clocks him as a potential Ghostface very easily given his whole “creepy Tarantino” energy. Honestly, the only positive attribute Mickey has is that he’s played by charismatic king Timothy Olyphant, then an up and coming actor.
Stu Macher (Scream)
Played by: Matthew Lillard
The best assistant Ghostface of the bunch. Sure, Billy is clearly calling all the shots in Scream, but Stu is by far the funniest Ghostface, so he gets some extra points for that. As stated above, Stu probably dealt the fatal blow more times than Billy, but he’s nothing without someone there to pull the strings. I mean, this is someone who, after realizing they aren’t gonna get away with their killing spree, said, “My mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me.”
Still, he’s an important asset. Billy was clocked as a suspect real quick due to his whole generally suspicious energy. So having a very loud, chaotic partner in crime is a move and Lillard brilliantly slides from brash and silly to menacing. He’s a ball of fun… who kills a lot of people including his girlfriend! It’s a theatrical performance and he just knocks it out of the park. There’s a world where Stu falls much lower on the list but this just isn’t it! Also shouts for another giant casting win because Matthew Lillard had an unreal hot streak in the mid-’90s to mid-2000s and we don’t spend nearly enough time talking about it.
Mrs. Loomis (Scream 2)
Played by: Laurie Metcalf
Scream’s best master of disguise! All of the Ghostfaces are hiding in plain sight but only Mrs. Loomis takes on an entirely new identity for most of the film. Taking revenge on Sidney for killing Billy, Mrs. Loomis is certainly one of the more methodical killers. She poses as Gale Weathers super-fan and local journalist Debbie Salt even gets added revenge on Randy Meeks for s**t-talking her mass murdering son. She even hired a hapless lackey to eventually take the fall for the whole operation. And she would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling Sidney Prescott.
Now the disguise of it all is where I have a few qualms. Debbie Salt doesn’t look particularly distinct from Mrs. Loomis. And presumably the many Woodsboro locals palling around Ohio might recognize her. Gale is too ambitious for fact checkers and Dewey is hapless but still, this is base-level stuff!
Still, the Marion McPherson as Ghostface? Shakes me to my core.
Jill Roberts (Scream 4)
Played by: Emma Roberts
Jill Roberts, Sid’s cousin, is certainly one of the wildest Scream killers. With her mother, most of her friends, and her accomplice among her many victims. Sidney can’t even catch a break within her own family. Jill’s driven by a quest for fame and a desire to step out from her cousin’s shadow—by killing her and taking her spot as the new final girl. She’s certainly conniving, going unnoticed as a killer for much of the film.
Even more shockingly, she comes the closest to actually killing Sid, stabbing her right in the stomach during the harrowing reveal scene. I know I certainly did the titular scream when I watched that happen for the first time. It’s a heartbreaking revelation, especially considering at this point in the franchise Jill and her mother Kate, Maureen’s sister, are—as far as we know—Sid’s only remaining family. What would it mean for the ultimate final girl to meet her end at the hands of her last living relative? I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.
Now, Scream 4 is sorta of a franchise reset—with the surviving original main players, of course. So it purposely follows the same beats established by its predecessors. Even with all that, Jill gets a zero for originality. She wants to step out of Sid’s shadow by literally stepping in her shoes. And she’s not even the first of Sidney’s relatives to be Ghostface. Girl, since you’re doing the most already, you may as well get your own story!
Roman Bridger (Scream 3)
Played by: Scott Foley
He holds the distinction as the only solo Ghostface in a Scream film—thus far, of course. So in terms of straight up damage, he manages to inflict quite a lot. It certainly makes a lot more sense, however, knowing earlier scripts featured an accomplice in Angelina, who ended up as one of Roman’s victims instead. Otherwise, we could bestow Roman with the honor of the first magical Ghostface. How else could he have pulled off his many moves?
Scream 3 also reframes Roman as the mastermind of the whole Ghostface operation, which features impressive planning, sure. But overall, it just doesn’t work for me. His baffling origin story and ravaging path to revenge is really quite bleak and adds yet another devastating element to trauma inflicted on Maureen Prescott. If, technically, all roads lead back to Roman—including Maureen Prescott’s murder at the hands of Billy and Stu—why isn’t he number one? At the end of the day he just doesn’t have it. He feels shoehorned into the franchise as Sidney’s surprise half-sibling-turned-murderer. There were better ways to make it actually work but this, as the one-time franchise finale, is sort of a flop Ghostface.
On a lighter note, I must give kudos for casting Noel Crane as such a dark baddie. But, alas, I’m also docking points because, as the killer, he must also be held accountable for Gale’s disaster bangs in Scream 3.
Billy Loomis (Scream)
Played by: Skeet Ulrich
There’s nothing quite like the first, right? Skeet Ulrich followed up his turn as a truly abhorrent high school boyfriend in The Craft by playing the menace Billy Loomis. He starts out as your brooding, maybe off-beat leading man but there’s something darker looming behind the floppy hair and silly best friend. Bill is the original mastermind—even if even if a retconned canon says otherwise. With Stu as an effective sidekick, they manage to wreak a lot of havoc throughout Woodsboro—starting a year before they even don the mask. (Plus, he sets off the chain of events for Scream 2.)
Then, of course, there’s Billy’s sadistic relationship towards sex with Sidney. Throughout the film, he gaslights Sid over her reluctance to have sex, due to her trauma and later her suspicions that he is a killer. He weaponizes her trauma and (rightful) paranoia, pushing her to feel guilty and even apologize to him. It’s a cycle with deep roots in rape culture, compounding the betrayal when he reveals himself as Ghostface—and one of her mother’s killers. He tortures Sidney over a series of events she didn’t even know about, let alone had any form of control over, setting a horrific trend Sidney contends with in each subsequent installment.
It’s up for debate as to which Ghostface killed each victim in Scream—and passionate fans have their theories. But where I currently stand is that Stu likely did more of the grunt work and probably has more actual kills as Billy has Chekov’s cellular phone and whatnot. But Sid was right the first time. Her shifty, gaslighting beau was the clear ringleader and the one with the motive. “ Surprise, Sidney” still shakes me to the core 25 years later.