Ron Burgundy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
Where to even begin with the man, the myth, the legend—ace anchorperson, ladies’ man, owner of leather-bound books and an apartment smelling of rich mahogany? One of Ferrell’s most defining roles, Burgundy is the endearingly egotistical host of Channel 4 News. More than a decade after the first film’s release, he remains one of modern comedy’s most infinitely quotable characters. If you didn’t know, he’s kind of a big deal.
Money quote: “I’m in a glass case of emotion!” —Jonathon Dornbush
Brennan Huff, Step Brothers (2008)
Brennan is a timid 39-year-old who still freeloads at home with his mom. When she remarries, he has to bunk with his new step brother, a lazy 40-year-old named Dale who is his pathetic, arrested-development equal. They don’t immediately hit it off: Dale is the angry alpha while Brennan is the sweet ticking time bomb—push him too far and he will literally bury you. And wipe his testicles on your drum set. But when the two idiots are pressed to move out, they put their heads together to form the best entertainment and security businesses in the greater Catalina area. Prestige! Worldwide!! Wide… wide… wide…
Money quote: “Boats and ‘ho’s!” — Jeff Labrecque
Buddy, Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell is more than convincing as an elf who leaves the North Pole for New York City in search of his dad. Whether he’s singing in a store, performing a Christmas-gram, or sprinkling syrup on spaghetti, everything Ferrell says and does as Buddy the Elf is hilarious. Ferrell makes Elf not only a family holiday movie, but also a unique comedy worth watching well after decorations have been taken down.
Money quote: “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.” — Dana Rose Falcone
Frank Ricard, Old School (2003)
A year before Ron Burgundy declared his love for scotchy-scotch-scotch, there was Frank the Tank’s binge drinking. Frank’s like a distillation of everything Ferrell can do: Early on, he’s the boring straight man, bounded by the chains of matrimony. But by the end of the movie, he’s a tour de force of unbridled debauchery. Frank the Tank ensured that Ferrell would be anything but dust in the wind.
Money quote: [After drinking from a beer bong:] “Fill it up again! It’s so good! Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!” —Will Robinson
Allen Gamble, The Other Guys (2010)
The Other Guys offers Ferrell a rare chance to play the straight man in the comedy duo… for the most part. While Allen Gamble eventually reverts back to his alter ego, the Gator, Ferrell takes the opportunity to make the detective’s mundanity hilarious. The fact that he’s more excited about auditing than his attractive wife is especially astounding to Gamble’s hot-headed partner, played by Mark Wahlberg.
Money quote: “At age 11, I audited my parents. Believe me, there were some discrepancies, and I was grounded.” — Jonathon Dornbush
Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Rick Bobby (2006)
Ricky Bobby consumes the screen, dominating even larger-than-life characters played by Sacha Baron Cohen and John C. Reilly. Basically, he’s Ferrell’s iconic George W. Bush impression combined with Ron Burgundy’s clueless bravado and macho swagger — two great tastes that taste great together, especially when Ricky’s sending up a prayer to sweet Lord Baby Jesus, a newborn infant who don’t even know a word yet.
Money quote: [In a commercial:] “Hi, I’m Ricky Bobby. If you don’t chew Big Red, then f— you.” — Will Robinson
Chazz Michael Michaels, Blades of Glory (2007)
Ferrell excels at physical comedy, and his ice-skating role in Blades allows him to show off just how beautiful a man of his size can be out on the ice. Chazz feels like a familiar egotistical Ferrell persona, but his unshakeable belief in his greatness is made all the more hilarious as Ferrell tries to exude grace and skill on the ice rink with Jon Heder as his partner.
Money quote: “The night is a very dark time for me.” —Jonathon Dornbush
Steve Butabi, A Night at the Roxbury (1998)
Yes, yes, Roxbury is no Wayne’s World. But the lovable loser Ferrell plays here is a sort of blueprint for iconic Ferrell characters to come — and bad as the movie as a whole may be (it scores a whopping 26 on Metacritic), you can’t deny the joy of watching Steve and his brother Doug bop their heads to Haddaway’s “What Is Love.”
Money quote: “I was like, EMILIOOOO!” — Hillary Busis
Lord Business, The LEGO Movie (2014)
In public, he’s President Business, a high-strung CEO juggling corporate responsibilities. But behind closed doors, he’s Lord Business, a cape-wearing evil mastermind who wants to rule the world by gluing it in place. Really, though, the movie hinges on Ferrell’s live-action cameo as a third character — “The Man Upstairs” — who tries to control his son’s playtime and stifle his creativity. Sometimes the real villain is the person closest to you.
Money quote: “Don’t forget, Taco Tuesday’s coming up next week.” — Kelly Connolly
Mugatu, Zoolander (2001)
Jacobim Mugatu just wants what every fashion mogul wants — to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia with the help of a brainwashed disc jockey. Those around him might not recognize his brilliance (or his need for foam-free lattes), but there’s no denying that for all of his failures, his hair is so hot right now.
Money quote: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. I invented the piano key necktie! I INVENTED IT!” — Kelly Connolly
Harold Crick, Stranger than Fiction (2006)
In contrast to Ferrell’s more outlandish comic creations, Harold Crick is a sweet and conscientious IRS employee who discovers that his life is being narrated by a female voice, complicating his unlikely romance with the punk-rock baker he’s auditing and threatening him with a tragic, novelistic death. It’s essentially a Jimmy Stewart role, and Ferrell nails it, from his crippling self-consciousness to his volcanic eruptions at the godly voice he hears in his head — and lastly, to the sweet guitar solo that wins the girl’s heart.
Money quote: “If I was [staring at your breasts], I can assure you it was only as a representative of the United States Government.” — Jeff Labrecque
Chazz Reinhold, Wedding Crashers (2005)
Despite living in his mother’s basement, Chazz somehow manages to be “living the dream” with beautiful women by taking advantage of their vulnerability at funerals. Most men who are this twisted would drive women far, far away — but not when it’s Will Ferrell, whose surprise appearance in the movie sets a high bar for unannounced star cameos. While Chazz isn’t exactly the type of guy you’d want to go home with, you have to admit that his delivery of some of the movie’s memorable lines is flawless. (But we are still wondering if he ever got that meat loaf.)
Money quote: “Mom! The meat loaf! F—!” — Taylor Weatherby
Mustafa, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
As an uber-tanned, red-fez’d, worst-luck-ever henchman, Ferrell still managed to make it through to the second film after surviving severe burns, thanks to one of Dr. Evil’s torture devices. Ferrell’s reedy, pathetic pleas for help are killer, proving that he’s capable of captivating (and inspiring big laughs) even when he’s off screen.
Money quote: “Someone help me! I’m still alive, only I’m very badly burned.” — Jason Clark
Bob Woodward, Dick (1999)
In one of his earlier supporting film roles — which, unusually, casts him a straight man in a broad comedy — Ferrell assumed the role of real-life journalist Bob Woodward. Well, sort of; he plays a petulant, foolhardy version of the Pulitzer Prize winner (Robert Redford in All the President’s Men, be damned) opposite The Kids in the Hall‘s Bruce McCulloch as the super-coiffed Carl Bernstein. Their dirty little secret: The duo’s all-important Deep Throat informant is actually a pair of bubbleheaded teen White House dogwalkers, played by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams.
Money quote: “There’s not a Herlichman. There’s a Haldeman, and there’s an Ehrlichman.” — Jason Clark
Megamind, Megamind (2010)
2010’s other supervillain-focused animated comedy, Despicable Me, ended up overshadowing this DreamWorks joint — which is a shame, mostly because Ferrell’s titular baddie (the “incredibly handsome criminal genius and master of all villainy”) is a swaggering delight. Well, until he finally defeats his arch-nemesis and finds himself adrift in an existential crisis. It’s surprisingly heavy stuff for a kids’ movie, but Ferrell pulls it off with humor and pathos to spare.
Money quote: “Let’s see if Metro Man can withstand the full concentrated power of the sun! FIRE!” [Nothing happens] — Hillary Busis