Ghostfaces in the ‘Scream’ Franchise, Ranked

All 13 iterations of Ghostface in the Scream movies, ranked by a variety of metrics like estimated kill count, how scary they are, how well they taunted their intended victims, style, etc.

Timothy Olyphant as Mickey Altieri in Scream 2 (1997).

Ghostface is one of the scariest villains in movie history. Making his debut in one of the best cold opens in horror, Scream (1996), Ghostface is a masked villain who taunts his victims over the phone before appearing and doing his thing with a knife. Donned in black with a white mask, the identity of Ghostface is unknown until the third act of each Scream movie.

Example of an easer egg in Scream.
OG Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) lays the groundwork for the rules of the Scream franchise: anyone can be the killer.

Because Ghostface is actually different masked characters in each film, he feels more “real” than a comically unkillable villain like Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees. Ghostface is someone the characters know: a lover, a fellow high school student or a friend no one suspected. Once the Ghostface disguise is on, the character seems to channel superhuman strength and agility and is exceptionally hard to kill. As Randy Meeks says in Scream 3: “Stabbing him won’t work. Shooting him won’t work. Basically… you gotta cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up.”

This article lists all 13 iterations of Ghostface in the Scream movies, ranked by a variety of metrics like estimated kill count, how scary they are, how well they taunted their intended victims, style, etc. From least successful to the GOAT Ghostface, here’s how each Ghostface performed:

13. Ethan Bailey

Ethan was the most lackluster iteration of Ghostface.

Movie: Scream VI (2023)

Estimated kill count: 2

Motive: Revenge on Samantha Carpenter for killing his brother, Richie

Ethan was a follower, plain and simple. He went along with being Ghostface because his Daddy said so, he’s the Kendall Roy of Ghostfaces. The fact that becoming Ghostface wasn’t Ethan’s idea shows in his lack of enthusiasm (and kills).

Ethan was so obviously Ghostface that Mindy called him out throughout the film.

12. Jason Carvey

Jason had the inhumane lust for blood of Billy Loomis, but his impulsiveness cut his reign as Ghostface short.

Movie: Scream VI (2023)

Estimated kill count: 1

Motive: To finish the movie started by Richie in Scream (2022), revenge on his professor

Jason wasn’t a good Ghostface because he didn’t even last a day. He had only one kill with a pretty cringe motive (he murdered his professor because he was mad at his grade) and was immediately dispensed with by the “real” Ghostface afterwards. Still, that first kill was pretty good. It was ballsy to pick such a public setting as a New York City alley off of a busy road packed with pedestrians. It also shows Jason was skilled enough in manipulation to get his professor to leave the safety of a restaurant to venture into a dark alley. He would have ranked higher if he had survived longer.

Jason’s arc was pretty captivating, even if it was short-lived.

11. Quinn Bailey

Movie: Scream VI (2023)

Estimated kill count: 1

Motive: Revenge on Samantha Carpenter for killing her brother, Richie

Quinn was a great Ghostface. Her enthusiasm for the role was electric. It also took plenty of skill to pretend to be a friend/roommate to the Carpenter girls for an extended period of time and fake her own death. However her father, Detective Bailey, was the main Ghostface in her movie. It would have been cool to see Quinn live to see another film and watch what she would do without her family around. She had real Jill Roberts potential.

10. Charlie Walker

As president of the Woodsboro High School Cinema Club, Charlie co-hosted the annual Stab-a-Thon with his best friend (and future victim) Robbie Mercer.

Movie: Scream 4 (2011)

Estimated kill count: 3

Motive: His love/infatuation for Jill Roberts

Charlie was a Stab and horror movie buff who really knew his stuff. He had strong potential as Ghostface, but he needed a few more years of maturing before putting the mask on. In reality, he played second fiddle to Jill and should have seen her betrayal coming a mile away. Blinded by love (or, high school lust), Charlie was a lackey who did Jill’s bidding. Did he even want to kill Kirby? It didn’t seem like it, which is probably why she survived the stabbing and (eventually) lived to see the sequel. Charlie is higher on the list because he was a vicious killer, his murder of Olivia Morris was so bloody that most of it was cut from the film. Tip: Scream fans who loved Rory Culkin in this role will enjoy his cameo in the Black Mirror episode “Beyond the Sea”.

9. Stu Macher

Stu was a hilarious Ghostface whose movie references were always on point (“Let’s face it Sidney, your mother was no Sharon Stone.”)

Movie: Scream (1996)

Estimated kill count: 2

Motive: Billy made it sound fun

Stu was hands down the funniest Ghostface thanks to the incredible comedic skill of actor Matthew Lillard. Like Charlie Walker, he thought too much with his heart and ended up with a partner who tried to dispose of him. Unfortunately Scream (2002) highlights that Stu was a forgettable part of the original Woodsboro saga — Tara Carpenter names Billy Loomis as the sole killer in the murders even though as a Woodsboro resident, she is more familiar with the crimes than most. There’s still potential for Stu to move up on this list as his return to the franchise has been hinted at in the films and is a fan favorite theory for future installments.

Matthew Lillard’s performance played a major role in the success of Scream (1996) and launching the franchise.

8. Richie Kirsch

Richie found Samantha Carpenter in Modesto and got her to return to Woodsboro.

Movie: Scream (2022)

Estimated kill count: 2

Motive: Creating a top tier Stab movie and reviving the franchise

Richie was an exciting Ghostface who fell short of his potential and let his partner do most of the killing. It was a Billy Loomis level feat for him to find Samantha Carpenter in Modesto and charm her enough to become her long term boyfriend (though he claims this was not that hard), follow her back to Woodsboro and retain her trust even when Dewey explicitly told her that Richie was the most likely killer. Richie’s motive for wanting to create a lasting villain for the Stab franchise is kind of far-fetched, but Jack Quaid portrays a believably unhinged psycho, so it works well enough.

Richie probably got the most satisfying comeuppance for his Ghostface antics.

7. Amber Freeman

This is one of the most enjoyable Ghostface reveals.

Movie: Scream (2022)

Estimated kill count: 4

Motive: Creating a top tier Stab movie and reviving the franchise

Amber knew that Ghostface is supposed to have fun! Her “Welcome to act three” reveal of herself as Ghostface is shocking and probably the most genuinely fun reveal in the franchise. Never has a Ghostface had so much joie de vivre! Amber also took down a giant in killing Dewey Riley, which really says a lot about her physical prowess. She also had vision, seeing that the Stab franchise needed a real villain like Halloween and Friday the 13th have and working to turn Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) into that villain by tormenting her and her sister.

6. Detective Bailey

Astute viewers may have drawn a connection from Ghostface’s skill with a gun in this scene and Detective Bailey’s law enforcement background.

Movie: Scream VI (2023)

Estimated kill count: 6

Motive: Revenge on Samantha Carpenter for killing his son, Richie

Detective Bailey was the best Ghostface out of his family of killers (Richie, Quinn, Ethan). The bodega scene in Scream VI where Bailey is behind the Ghostface mask is the best scene in the film and one of the scariest Ghostface scenes in the franchise. He did something no masked Ghostface has ever done before by picking up a gun to use as his weapon instead of a knife (every other Ghostface has only used a gun once they were unmasked) and turned the safety of a crowded store into a scene of terror. He also shows skills as a mastermind for being able to fake Quinn’s death and fool his colleagues in the NYPD. However, Bailey loses points because it feels cringe that someone of his age is so obsessed with college kids.

Bailey’s motive was very believable.

5. Mickey Altieri

It was incredibly easy to believe that Mickey was a random psycho who met Mrs. Loomis on a serial killer forum.

Movie: Scream 2 (1997)

Estimated kill count: 7

Motive: To troll America with his “the movies made me do it” defense

Mickey was a great psychopath. Timothy Olyphant was positively giddy as the “creepy Tarantino film student” (Randy’s words, RIP). But was he a great Ghostface? He wasn’t even the best Ghostface in his movie, that slot goes to Mrs. Loomis, the mastermind of Scream 2. Even though he has an impressive kill count, it’s hard to rank Mickey highly when he was outshone in his own final reveal.

4. Mrs. Loomis

It’s easy to see where Billy Loomis got his psychopathy from. Laurie Metcalf was genuinely scary as one of the creepiest moms in the genre.

Movie: Scream 2 (1997)

Estimated kill count: 1

Motive: Good old-fashioned revenge on Sidney Prescott for killing her son Billy

Mrs. Loomis was a terrific Ghostface despite only having one kill (Randy, who she got “knife happy” with after he insulted her son Billy Loomis). She was a mastermind who recruited Mickey and planned the whole series of killings at Windsor College. She was a good actress who made Gale Weathers (an expert on the Woodsboro murders who had seen pictures of Mrs. Loomis while researching the crimes) believe that she was just a local journalist named Debbie Salt. She’s also the only Ghostface to have a decent motive: revenge on Sidney for killing her son, Billy, although it’s a little questionable that she’s so mad about this when she literally abandoned him…

Mrs. Loomis’ one liners were unintentionally iconic! “Was that a negative, disparaging remark about my son? About my Billy?”

3. Jill Roberts

One thing about Emma Roberts, she plays a good psycho.

Movie: Scream 4 (2011)

Estimated kill count: 7

Motive: Stardom as the sole survivor of the latest Woodsboro murders

Jill delivered the best third act monologue in the Scream franchise with “I don’t need friends. I need fans.” Jill’s reign as Ghostface is more campy than scary, however, she gets credit for being the dominant partner over Charlie and the incredibly ruthless kill of her own mother. She also has the highest kill count of any female Ghostface in the franchise. Jill’s downfall is that her plan didn’t actually work. She made a rookie error in not making sure Sidney was dead leading to the “silly” (Jill’s words) hospital scene.

My friends? What world are you living in? I don’t need friends. I need fans. Don’t you get it? This has never been about killing you? It’s about becoming you. I mean, for fuck’s sake, my own mother had to die, no great loss there, so I could stay true to the original. That’s sick, right? Well, sick is the new sane. You had your 15 minutes, now I want mine! I mean, what am I supposed to do? Go to college? Grad school? Work? Look around. We all live in public now, we’re all on the Internet. How do you think people become famous any more? You don’t have to achieve anything. You just gotta have fucked up shit happen to you. So you have to die, Sid. Those are the rules. New movie, new franchise. There’s only room for one lead, and let’s face it, your ingenue days, they’re over.

Jill’s monologue during her Ghostface reveal is more timely than ever

2. Roman Bridger

Roman Bridger: director and brother.

Movie: Scream 3 (2000)

Estimated kill count: 9

Motive: Jealousy that his mother abandoned him but raised his half-sister, Sidney Prescott

Roman is the only solo Ghostface in the franchise, everyone else had a partner to help with the kills and take suspicion off of them. As a result, he also has the highest kill count of any Ghostface. While Scream 3 is one of the least popular films in the franchise, Roman does a good job of being a surprising reveal as the killer. He was able to avoid suspicion by pretending to be afraid of being murdered, pretending to be drunk and eventually faking his own death.

Two interesting points about Roman as Ghostface:

  • When Tara Carpenter is in the hospital in Scream (2022), she watches Dawson’s Creek, specifically an episode which featured Scott Foley’s character Cliff Elliot (he had a 5-episode arc). This opens a whole can of worms. Was Roman Bridger an actor who appeared on Dawson’s Creek? Does this mean that Dawson’s Creek star Joshua Jackson was a well-known actor when he was in Randy’s film class in Scream 2? What are audiences supposed to make of this intentional decision to open up the ScreamDawson’s Creek multiverse?
  • There is a theory that Roman actually did have a partner, but the partner has never been caught (or was dispensed with by Roman off-camera). Throughout the Scream franchise, basically any unexplained logistical gap in how Ghostface could pull off murdering in secret can be chalked up to either Roman or his unknown parter acting as a meta-Ghostface and helping out the killers in that film. It would be great to see a meta-Ghostface reveal in Scream VII.

She slammed the door in my face, Sid. She said I was “Reena’s” child and Reena was dead… and then it struck me. What a good idea, so I watched her. I made a little movie, a little family film. Seems Maureen…”Mom”… she really got around. I mean Cotton was one thing; everybody knew about that. But Billy’s father – that was the key. Your boyfriend didn’t like seeing his daddy in my film too much. He didn’t like it at all. And once I supplied the motivation… all the kid needed was a few pointers. Have a partner to sell out incase you got caught, find someone to frame, it was like he was making a movie.

Roman’s Ghostface monologue

1. Billy Loomis

Has anyone portrayed a psycho killer as well as Skeet Ulrich in Scream (1996)??

Movie: Scream (1996)

Estimated kill count: 4

Motive: Ostensibly revenge for Sidney’s mother having an affair with his father (which resulted in Mrs. Loomis abandoning the family) but it also seems like Billy just enjoyed tormenting and killing his friends

Billy Loomis is the scariest iteration of Ghostface. A true cold-blooded psychopath, he was a violent and remorseless killer. Not only that, Billy had the discipline to play the long game. After discovering his father was having an affair with Maureen Prescott, he masterminded Maureen’s murder and scapegoated Cotton Weary. Before or during this time, Billy got Sidney to be his girlfriend with the end goal of murdering her around the one year anniversary of her mother’s death. Of course, he wasn’t faithful to Sidney (he knocked up Sam and Tara Carpenter’s mom during this time) but was skilled enough in manipulation to keep her trust and even take her virginity.

While Billy doesn’t have the highest kill count in the franchise and didn’t do the work alone, we have to go with the words of the Scream films themselves: “Don’t fuck with the original.”

Further reading:

Meet The Author

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton