When Twilight first debuted in 2005, it was difficult to predict how wildly popular the series would become. A story that began when author Stephenie Meyer had a vivid dream of a sparkly vampire boy and a human girl talking in a meadow, quickly became a saga that fans lined up for in advance of sequel releases.
Three years later, with all four books in circulation, the first movie premiered, grossing over $35 million opening weekend. Whether people were die-hard book fans or were introduced to the series through the movies, by 2008, Twilight was well on its way to becoming one of the most popular franchises ever.
Since then, the award-winning series has gone on to create four novels, five films, several companion novels and stories, a graphic novel, endless versions of fan fiction, merchandise, and more. Devoted fans all over the world will still intensely debate whether they are #teamedward or #teamjacob, which explains why all five movies made the top ten chart on Netflix within hours of appearing on the streaming platform last month.
As we spend time getting reacquainted with some of our favorite vampires and shapeshifters, here are 20 major Twilight characters ranked from our least to most favorite. Let us know if you agree!
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While James plays a minor role in the book and movies, he hunted both Bella and Alice when they were human, and his death sparked a sequence of events that propelled Bella and Edward through the entire series.
He’s a skilled tracker and has a history of being cunning, ruthless, and sadistic. Hunting animals and humans quickly proved too easy, so James turned his hunt to other vampires. He doesn’t like to lose, and if Edward hadn’t killed him, he probably would have never stopped trying to drink Bella’s blood.
Victoria is a frightening antagonist because of her sheer tenacity. She single-handedly created a newborn vampire army purely out of revenge and spite. Her aim is to kill Edward, but not before making him endure the same pain of losing the person he loves first.
In a series focused on the lengths people will go to for love, Victoria is the perfect villain to highlight the tragic and darker side of this emotion.
18. Renee Dwyer
We get to know Bella’s mom more through other characters than on the page or the screen, but she’s still a major influence in Bella’s life. She’s eccentric, friendly, and free-spirited, a trait Charlie hopes will help keep Bella from marrying Edward at such a young age. Of course, she’s also a bit of a romantic; so, much to his chagrin, she enthusiastically supports the wedding.
Renee is thought to be a gifted human, able to broadcast her thoughts to those around her, making them more likely to help her in various ways. Though Bella loves her mom, Renee does come across as more friend than parent.
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17. Sam Uley
As reluctant Alpha of the Quileute pack, Sam struggles with his role. Sometimes he’s too lenient, other times he swings to being too overbearing, but he always tries to do what’s best for the pack.
Part of the problem is that while he’s generally considered a good guy, he has immense anger issues when it comes to his father. It’s so bad that in a moment of blind rage, he turned and accidentally scarred his girlfriend. He tends to make decisions based on his volatile emotions rather than logic, which ends up splitting his pack in two.
16. The Voltari
One of the perks to being a vampire is not having a whole lot to fear. But there is one notable exception: The Voltari. A powerful group of vampires, the Voltari rule with a deadly fist. There may not be many rules a vampire has to abide by, but the Voltari ensure that all vampires around the world obey the few they have created over the centuries.
They are the largest vampire clan, and by far the most powerful. While the group as a whole isn’t necessarily a character, they operate as a single entity, and just whispering the name Voltari is enough to send shivers down any vampire’s spine.
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15. Rosalie Hale
Of all the vampires in the Cullen clan, Rosalie struggles with being a vampire the most. All she wanted when she was human was a loving husband and a house full of children. What she got instead was a violent fiancé who left her for dead.
Rosalie wants to be human again, and because she thinks Bella is willing to give up everything Rosalie would die to have, she dislikes Bella at first. Still, Bella knows Rosalie is the one person who will fight to protect her unborn baby, helping the two of them find a strange truce. She’s a difficult character to like, as she’s stubborn, a bit shallow, and far from friendly. But she is eventually able to make peace with Bella and being a vampire.
14. Jacob Black
Moody, temperamental, and just a touch on the selfish side, Jacob is one complicated werewolf. Bella loves him, though not enough to ever choose him over Edward. But rather than step aside and accept his role as friend, he crashes her prom, kisses her without permission, almost ruins her wedding, and tries to kill her daughter.
He justifies his behavior by saying he's trying to protect Bella, and that he believes he’s better for her than Edward, but Jacob never seems to learn from his mistakes or accept Bella for who she is. Eventually he imprints on Renesmee and is able to move on, allowing him to form a friendship with both Bella and Edward.
13. Esme Cullen
In the books, it’s noted that Esme didn’t transform with any enhanced abilities like most vampires. But her maternal instinct and gentle personality are arguably her greatest traits.
She doesn’t have the same fighting skill as the rest of the clan, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to stand her ground for her family. Esme is a quiet presence throughout the series, but is absolutely the rock that holds the Cullen clan together.
12. Renesmee Cullen
For a character who only appears at the very end of the series, Renesmee made a lasting impression. Half-vampire, half-human, she’s a unique creature in the Twilight world.
Her birth brings war to the quiet Forks community, but that’s hardly her fault. She’s fiercely smart and enjoys a rapid development, both physically and intellectually. She also can project her thoughts into other’s minds, including being able to penetrate through Bella’s shield. She’s headstrong and competitive, but her fun-loving personality charms everyone who meets her.
11. Leah Clearwater
Though she isn’t a huge character, Leah plays a pivotal role in supporting Jacob’s break from Sam, and becomes Beta of Jacob’s new pack. She’s ferociously protective of her younger brother and offers Jacob solace as he nurses a broken heart.
Though she dislikes vampires, she stands by Jacob’s decision to defend the Cullens, and confronts the Voltari with him.
Though there are five core members of the Voltari, and three recognized leaders, Aro is without a doubt head of the Voltari. He’s petulant, greedy, manipulative, and power-hungry. He goes out of his way to collect vampires with rare abilities and does not like rejection.
Edward, Alice, and Bella’s refusal to join the Voltari only makes Aro want them more, but knowing how much he fears losing power, the Cullens are able to use that to get him to back down.
9. Jasper Hale
Jasper went from commanding human troops in the Confederate Army to being a commander in a very different war. This experience left him scarred in more ways than one.
While he was happy when Alice found him, and relieved to become part of the Cullen clan, he struggles with his darker vampire impulses more than anyone else in the series.
Jasper is one of the more powerful vampires, as he is able to manipulate people’s emotions, including Bella. And thanks to his military knowledge and battle experience in vampire warfare, he helps lead the Cullens to victory on several occasions. All his cold, calculating brooding aside, Jasper’s true nature comes shining through whenever Alice is around, giving us a glimpse into his sweeter, quieter side.
8. Seth Clearwater
The youngest of the pack, Seth transitioned to a wolf from the trauma of his sister, Leah, transforming. He takes to being a wolf much easier than his sister does, and sees it as a gift rather than a curse. He’s one of the few wolves who develops an actual friendship with Edward because he sees the Cullens as people more than vampires due to their 'vegetarian' diet.
Seth helped the Cullens defeat Victoria, and was the first to stand with Jacob when he refused to kill Bella and her unborn baby. After Jacob left the pack, Seth immediately followed, showing that he’s willing to stand up for what he believes in. He’s optimistic, incredibly kind, and extremely loyal.
7. Emmett Cullen
Confident and carefree, it’s a toss-up whether Emmett Cullen is more likely to fight or snark his way out of any tense situation.
Definitely the jock of the clan, his physical strength makes him a bit cocky when it comes to sports, which makes it even more enjoyable when newborn Bella beats him at arm-wrestling. He may seem like an unlikely match for dour Rosalie, but in reality, he’s her perfect partner: He’s doting, protective, loves her more than anything, and doesn’t let her mood bring him down.
Throughout the series, Emmett's gentle optimism brings levity to most tense situations, and his competitive nature does the same, making him a delight every time he’s on the page or the screen.
6. Alice Cullen
While many of the vampires in this series are sullen and brooding, Alice Cullen is a bright, sparkling ray of optimistic sunshine. She always has a smile on her face, and is far more likely to kill you with kindness than with her teeth. Of course, being able to see the future contributes to her cheery outlook.
Alice knows first-hand the power of choice, and as a result chooses to embrace who she is rather than live in anger or fear. Her attitude helps ensure that people listen to her, which is helpful, as she’s able to diffuse key situations throughout the series.
5. Carlisle Cullen
It takes an incredibly compassionate vampire to not only care for sick and hurt humans as a doctor, but to insist on sticking to a strict 'vegetarian' diet of only animal blood.
Carlisle believes vampires can be better than mindless, blood-thirsty predators, and cultivates a self-control that seems like a superpower itself. Though he’d rather solve everything through reason and peace, Carlisle doesn’t back down from a fight, especially where his family is concerned.
He’s an eternal optimist, and the fact that he managed to broker a treaty with the Quileute werewolves while also gaining Charlie Swan’s respect and admiration speaks volumes for Carlisle’s character. As the most optimistic vampire in the series, it’s impossible not to adore him.
One of the most powerful and visible members of the Voltari Guard, Jane relishes her ability to inflict psychic pain on anyone who stands in opposition to her. She’s one of the most feared vampires in the Voltari, and is utterly devoted to Aro.
Though Jane and her twin brother are the most highly ranked guards in the Voltari, Jane succumbs to jealousy at the slightest provocation and throws tantrums that only her brother can calm. Because her power is one of the reasons the Voltari became so formidable, she harbors an intense hatred for Bella, who is not only immune, but can protect others as well. Jane is sadistic and induces chills as she plots the Cullen’s demise, but that makes her one of the most compelling adversaries in the series.
3. Edward Cullen
Say what you will about this vampire, but he never forced a kiss on Bella. Sure, he was a creeper, and yeah, he made some serious missteps in thinking he knew what was best for Bella, but he always listened to her and tried to become a better person after each confrontation.
In fact, when he realizes Bella also has feelings for Jacob, he’s willing to walk away, sacrificing his own happiness for hers––something a certain werewolf was never willing to do. Edward is loyal, kind, and tries to do the right thing even when it’s the hardest thing, making him the perfect choice for Bella.
2. Bella Swan
Bella may be quiet and shy, but she knows who she is and what she wants––and that’s a very angsty vampire. From the second she sees Edward, she’s enamored.
Even though he tries to keep Bella at a distance, she pushes forward, and he falls for her as much as she falls for him. Bella is described as quiet, shy, and clumsy, but she ends up being one of the strongest characters in the series. She is ferocious in fighting for what she wants, but she never deviates or turns into someone she’s not.
Bella is willing to make the hard choice and then see those decisions through. No matter how many people try to kill her, she stays true to herself and ends up getting everything she fought for.
1. Charlie Swan
Charlie Swan in one of the most underrated characters in the entire Twilight Saga. He’s quiet and unassuming, and since he’s kept in the dark about most things for most of the series, it’s easy to see why he’d be brushed aside.
But Charlie loves Bella ferociously. He is always on her side, looking out for her best interests––even when he discovers that things in his world are nothing like they seem. He’s supportive, constantly pushing Bella to find her path in life in the healthiest way possible. And even when he doesn’t agree with her decisions, he does whatever he can to be there for her.
In the end, he accepts everything about Bella and becomes a doting grandpa. Which honestly makes him the best character in the entire series.