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The 12 Best John Wick Characters That Appeared In Only 1 Film

For a franchise named after just one character, the "John Wick" film series features a surprising number of memorable characters who serve to both help and hinder John Wick's journey. Many of these characters become franchise regulars and appear in multiple films throughout the series. Often, these are some of the series' most iconic characters, such as Ian McShane's Winston, the owner of the New York Continental Hotel; Laurence Fishburne's Bowery King, an underworld spy; and Charon, the concierge of the New York Continental, who was portrayed by the late, great Lance Reddick.

However, not all of the franchise's best characters make appearances in multiple films. In fact, the majority of "John Wick's" supporting cast only appears in a single film in the series. This is typically due to their character's untimely death, often at the hands of John himself. But for others, it was decided for some reason or another that their story wouldn't continue in future films. This may have been due to an actor's inability to return, or perhaps the story just didn't call for them to come back. Either way, here is a look at some of the "John Wick" franchise's best characters who have only appeared in one of the series' chapters.

Zero (Chapter 3)

Zero might be a bloodthirsty assassin who takes way too much enjoyment out of his work, but his playful nature and endearing quest for John Wick's approval — even while trying to kill him — make the character almost impossible to dislike. When Zero is first introduced in "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," he makes a great first impression. Looking to kill John Wick, the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) seeks Zero out at his sushi restaurant. As he accepts the job, he monologues about the skill required to cut and prepare a blowfish without making it fatal to eat. The scene perfectly sets up the character's deadly precision in a fight.

But what makes Zero one of the best characters to appear in the "John Wick" franchise comes down to the surprisingly earnest performance given by actor Mark Dacascos. Dacascos plays Zero as a longtime fan of John, who sees taking him on to be the highlight of his career as an assassin. He tells Wick that he has always admired him, and with each fight he tries to win the respect of the world's deadliest hitman. Though he is trying to kill John Wick, it's hard not to root for Zero as he seeks to gain Wick's approval before one inevitably has to kill the other.

Akira (Chapter 4)

Akira is a new character introduced in "John Wick: Chapter 4" and is played by Japanese-British singer and actress Rina Sawayama, whom director Chad Stahelski reached out to after seeing her fight choreography in the music video for her song "Bad Friend." Akira is the concierge of the Osaka Continental Hotel and is later revealed to be the daughter of Shimazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada), the manager of the Osaka Continental Hotel. Her relationship with her father provides an important contrast to that of Caine (Donnie Yen) and his daughter (Aimée Kwan). While Caine has no contact with his daughter, Akira and her father are close, and she serves as his most trusted advisor.

Akira is shown to be a pragmatic thinker and is often the voice of reason to her more idealistic father. She wisely warns her father to stay away from John Wick and to respect his excommunicado status by denying him services to the hotel. While Akira's wise judgment indicates she might make a better manager than her father, she is also a deadly fighter when the need arises. Skilled with blades and a bow, along with impressive martial skills, Akira helps John Wick to escape Osaka alive. In proving her skills, she makes the shortlist of characters who can easily lead a spin-off franchise in the future.

Santino D'Antonio (Chapter 2)

The "John Wick" film series has no shortage of weaselly, backstabbing villains audiences love to hate. Alfie Allen's Iosef Tarasov, Jerome Flynn's Berrada, and Bill Skarsgård's Marquis Vincent de Gramont are all great examples of how fun it can be to watch John Wick take down this type of villain. However, no character better fits this archetype than Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), the main antagonist of "John Wick: Chapter 2." D'Antonio kicks off the second film by using a marker to pull John Wick back into his old life as an assassin, forcing him to come out of retirement for one last job. Of course, in true villain fashion, D'Antonio betrays John after his mission, trying to kill him to tie up loose ends.

While Santino D'Antonio may be a dishonest backstabber, he is also a dangerous and calculating antagonist. He uses his marker with John Wick (which compels John to complete any job asked of him to settle the marker) to send him to assassinate his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini). Gianna happens to hold a seat at the High Table, the most prestigious position in the "John Wick" universe's underground assassin world. With her death, Santino inherits her seat at the table, making it harder for John Wick to take revenge. Ultimately, after the villain takes the coward's route and chooses to hide in the New York Continental, Wick is forced to break the hotel's "no business on Continental grounds" rule to kill him.

The Director (Chapter 3)

The "John Wick" franchise has featured appearances from many famous actors throughout its four films and nearly 10-year history, but many viewers may have still been surprised to see legendary actress Anjelica Huston make an appearance as a character known only as the Director. She runs the Ruska Roma, one of the criminal organizations that hold a seat at the High Table. After being declared excommunicado, John Wick runs to the Director for help, revealing that she used to be a mother figure to him back when he trained under Ruska Roma before becoming an assassin.

The Director is intimidating, with her tight control over her organization shown in the vigorous training she puts her ballerinas through. However, it is clear that even with her tough exterior and strict management style, she still cares very much for those under her, seeing them as family. Despite John's label of excommunicado, and knowing that helping John Wick may lead to retribution from the high table, she still honors her duty to her family and helps John Wick escape New York. Later, when the Adjudicator arrives to punish her, she takes it with a show of strength that even the Adjudicator seems to admire.

Cassian (Chapter 2)

Cassian is a rare man of honor in a world where just about everything has a price. Played by rapper and actor Common, Cassian is the bodyguard of Gianna D'Antonio, the leader of the Camorra crime family and the sister of Santino D'Antonio. In "John Wick: Chapter 2" he first encounters Wick as he is trying to escape following the assassination of Gianna. Cassian immediately knows Wick could only be there for one reason and proceeds to battle it out with his former ally. After discovering that Gianna had been killed, Cassian pursues John Wick until the two end up in the Continental Hotel in Rome and can no longer fight.

What makes Cassian such a standout character is his sense of loyalty and duty. His devotion to Gianna D'Antonio is unwavering, even after her death. He tells John that while it was his job to protect Gianna, the two were also close personally, and he counted her among his closest friends. Though he knew that her assassination was a job Wick had to perform, he considered it his duty to avenge her, which led to him later taking the contract for Wick's death. He is last seen after Wick sticks a knife in his aorta. John tells him not to remove it or he'll die, leaving his fate sadly unknown.

Marcus (Chapter 1)

John Wick has many friends from his time as a world-class assassin, but few are closer than Marcus (Willem Dafoe). The two have such a good relationship that Marcus even attends the funeral of John's wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), though Wick had been retired for some years. He's the only former associate of John's to check up on him after his wife died. So it seems surprising that when Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) approaches Marcus about killing John for $2 million, Marcus readily accepts.

However, Marcus' acceptance turns out to be a ruse to keep tabs on the attempts to take John out. After John is captured by Viggo's men, Marcus takes them out with a sniper rifle, giving John the chance to escape and finish off Viggo's men. Unfortunately, Viggo becomes aware of Marcus' betrayal and murders him in his own home. This enrages Wick so much that he walks back on his promise to allow Viggo to live following the death of Iosef. He tracks him down and wipes him out, along with all of his men.

Shimazu Koji (Chapter 4)

Shimazu Koji is the manager of the Osaka Continental Hotel, and like Winston, the manager of the New York Continental, Shimazu is an old friend of John Wick's. Played by Japanese actor and martial artist Hiroyuki Sanada, whom video game fans might recognize for his role as Scorpion in the 2021 "Mortal Kombat" film, Shimazu is meant as somewhat of a foil to Caine, one of "John Wick 4's" main antagonists. Like Caine, he is a former close associate of John Wick and has a daughter that he is hoping to protect from the High Table. But unlike Caine, he is unwilling to compromise his morals or his loyalty to his friends to do so.

As such, he stands with John Wick after he is declared excommunicado, bringing the High Table and Caine down on his hotel, which is deconsecrated. Shimazu and his daughter, Akira, team up to help John escape Osaka alive and defend the hotel. Shimazu also has one of the best fight scenes in the entire series, as he duels Caine with a blade. The duel claims his life, but it helps Caine to realize that he may not be making the right decision in his fight against Wick.

Ares (Chapter 2)

Actress Ruby Rose turns in one of the most memorable performances in "John Wick: Chapter 2" as the deaf assassin and bodyguard Ares, who works for the film's main antagonist, Santino D'Antonio. In many ways, Ares mirrors the character of Cassian. Both serve as the bodyguard and top advisor of one of the D'Antonio siblings, and both have a strong sense of duty and honor that compels them to support their charge, even when logic would dictate that it may not be the right choice. In Ares' case, she backs Santino as he takes out his sister to ascend to the High Table and supports his betrayal of John Wick, though she respects Wick.

There is one very important moment in "John Wick: Chapter 2" that defines Ares as a character and shows the depth of her loyalty. Toward the end of the film, John Wick corners Santino in his art exhibit, taking out all of his men. Ares offers to stay back to buy Santino time to escape, though she makes it very clear that she does not expect to survive the encounter. Her fight with John Wick is short but decisive, and despite her expert skills with a blade, she is taken down as John Wick stabs her in the chest with her own blade, the same way he took down her counterpart, Cassian.

Viggo Tarasov (Chapter 1)

Viggo Tarasov, played by the late Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, serves as the main antagonist of the first "John Wick" movie. Nyqvist is best known for his role as Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish film adaptations of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire," and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," but his villainous turn in "John Wick" shows a much more menacing side of the actor. Viggo is the father of Iosef Tarasov, who kills John Wick's beloved dog in the first film. While Viggo condemns his son's actions and tries to make amends with Wick, he jumps to his son's aid when he realizes Wick intends to kill him.

Although he doesn't make it out of the first film alive, Viggo is arguably the series' best villain. He is a ruthless crime boss but also shows a more civilized side that prefers reason over violence, only resorting to the latter to save the life of his only son. The character's nuance, coupled with Nyqvist's excellent performance, which includes several melodramatic monologues, makes Viggo one of the most iconic characters in "John Wick."

Mr. Nobody (Chapter 4)

Mr. Nobody, also known as the Tracker, is one of the many players in "John Wick: Chapter 4" looking to take down the iconic assassin to cash in on the bounty. But from his introduction, it is clear that the mysterious man is not just another goon standing in John Wick's way. Mr. Nobody is one of the series' most clever and tactical assassins, with expert tracking skills that allow him to hunt down Wick even when everyone else has lost his trail. He also utilizes each of Wick's successes to further negotiate the bounty with Marquis Vincent de Gramont, ensuring the highest payday possible.

But for all his ruthlessness, Mr. Nobody is a surprisingly likable antihero. His relationship with his dog shows a softer side to the character, and their adventures together are hard not to get invested in. When Mr. Nobody's dog is nearly killed, John Wick exposes himself by choosing to save Mr. Nobody's dog instead of himself. This changes the Tracker's mind, and he chooses not to kill Wick as thanks for saving his dog, instead watching his duel with Caine with the dog by his side. Shamier Anderson's magnetic performance and the character's mysterious background and relatable love for his dog make him an excellent candidate for a spin-off film.

Sofia Al-Azwar (Chapter 3)

Sofia Al-Azwar might only exist in the "John Wick" films because actress Halle Berry wanted to be in the franchise so badly she cast herself in it, but that stunt led to the introduction of one of the series' best characters. After being declared excommunicado, John travels to Morocco to meet with Sofia, the manager of the Continental Hotel in Casablanca. He reveals that he has a marker with her that he'd like to cash in, which Sofia gave him after he helped to rescue her daughter and get her away from the assassination world that Sofia had become wrapped up in.

Like John Wick and Mr. Nobody, Sofia is close with her dogs, two highly trained Belgian Malinois. She fights alongside her dogs in combat, leading to one of the series' most impressive fight scenes, in which she, Wick, and her dogs have to fight their way out of Berrada's complex. Despite being forced to help John due to his marker, Sofia continues to show dominance over him in every way possible. Her final scene in the series sees her drinking all of John's water and spitting it back into the bottle before sending him out into the desert, a perfect and memorable power move that impresses even John Wick.

Caine (Chapter 4)

When it was announced that the legendary Hong Kong actor and martial artist Donnie Yen would appear in "John Wick: Chapter 4," it was clear that he would play an important and memorable role in the film. His character, Caine, is arguably one of the most nuanced characters in the "John Wick" universe, and despite being one of the main antagonists through most of "John Wick: Chapter 4," Caine is more of a hero in a bad situation that a true villain. An old friend of both John Wick's and Shimazu Koji's, Caine is forced to turn against them and do the High Table's bidding to keep his daughter safe.

Caine is one of John Wick's most dangerous foes. Even after losing his eyesight, Caine is a deadly fighter and martial artist with a keen sense of hearing. He is able to defeat both Shimazu Koji and John Wick in one-on-one duels. Although Caine is forced to fight against John Wick, he always shows respect and reverence to his old friend. This honorable side is on full display when he fights alongside Wick near the end of the film to allow him to arrive safely to their duel, even though it makes the odds of Caine losing the duel much higher.