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15 Best Movie Stoners of All Time

From Cheech and Chong to the Dude, the pantheon of screen potheads

All screen stoners are not created equal: There are characters who take the occasional toke, and then there are the ones that have turned a wake-and-bake habit into a way of life. Some of them react insanely over the top after a few puffs; some simply get the giggles; and some of them can barely get off the couch after a few monster bowls. All of these silver-screen smokers, however, have given potheads some film heroes they can, like, call their own.

So in honor of 4/20, a.k.a Mary Jane Christmas, we’re inducting the first honorees of our Movie Stoner Hall of Fame. These are the men and women who’ve bong-hit and hotboxed their way into screen immortality — your Cheech and Chongs, your Harold and Kumars, your Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowskis. Congratulations, class of 2016: We know the perfect way you can celebrate.

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Jeff Spicoli, ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ (1982)

Sean Penn's performance is based as much on SoCal beach bums as high-school burnouts, but Spicoli's lateness, spaciness, and in-class munchies still mark him as a connoisseur of the green. (Say it with us: "That was my skull! I'm so wasted!") With Fast Times, director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe (fresh from his Rolling Stone days) created a new kind of stoner stereotype for the 1980s. They moved away from the tie-dyed granola vibe, instead depicting bud-lovers as preternaturally chill dudes who stay centered even while their peers and teachers are stressed. That's what makes Spicoli so funny and so weirdly admirable — accent on the weird. NM

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Slater, ‘Dazed and Confused’ (1993)

Epitomizing the stoner as visionary philosopher, Slater is the sort of dude who's real fun at a party — just be careful once he starts going into one of his riffs on the plight of the Native Americans or the unheralded American hero Martha Washington. Dazed and Confused practically reeks of sticky-icky, and Rory Cochrane turns the burnout into a lovable, thoughtful guy, showing how, for some people, pot's not just a pastime but a conscientious objection to living life as a total square. Cochrane was once asked what frightened his high-school toker. "He's probably most scared of, like, graduating," he responded. Let's just hope this starry-eyed kid didn't grow up, get disillusioned and become a Donald Trump supporter. TG

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Floyd, ‘True Romance’ (1993)

Brad Pitt was a self-admitted pothead in his early years, and you can see him channeling his former stoned glory as True Romance's bloodshot-eyed comic relief. Crashing on the couch and watching shitty movies on TV, Floyd is a hilariously out-of-it bum, nonchalantly offering angry, armed mobsters a hit from his handmade bong (made of a plastic honey bear) when they barge into his home. But Floyd’s no peace-and-love hippie: Telling off James Gandolfini's tough guy with a muttered "I'll fucking kill you, man," Pitt gives the pothead a serrated edge. TG

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Smokey, ‘Friday’ (1995)

We have no idea whether actor and philanthropist Chris Tucker has ever taken a toke of weed in his life. But we do know this: his broke-ass street-dealer Smokey comes across as believably baked — from his paranoia that gangsters are after him to his giddy delight at seeing a bully get "knocked the fuck out." Smokey's the kind of dude that casual puffers want to get high with. He's funny, he's loyal … and he knows his bud. NM

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Melanie Ralston, ‘Jackie Brown’ (1997)

A beach bunny gone to seed, Melanie is a blonde beauty with long tan legs, a free-love attitude and a  way of smoking a bowl that's undeniably intoxicating. As played by Bridget Fonda with sleepy eyes and a naughty smile, this Quentin Tarantino character is equal parts stoner and sassiness. When her boyfriend Ordell chastises Melanie that too much weed will sap her ambition, her response — "Not if your ambition is to get high and watch TV" — is punctuated with such a mischievous, knowing laugh that it makes her laidback lifestyle seem superior to any other. Especially if you can spend more time around her. TG

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The Dude, ‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998)

L.A.'s laidback culture makes it the ideal pot town, and the city's cinematic patron saint is Jeff Lebowski, who uses copious amounts of weed as a daily supplement the way some locals pop vitamins. Our hero — who's totally cool with you calling him the Dude or El Duderino — rambles his way through a kidnapping plot whose off-kilter vibe is partly sparked by his mellow buzz and profoundly whatever's-clever worldview. Before Joel and Ethan Coen's stoner-noir classic, Jeff Bridges was merely known as an excellent character actor. After Lebowski, his onscreen persona was indelibly tied to this iconic role — you can see a little bit of the Dude's drugged-out bliss to everything from Tron: Legacy to his Oscar-winning turn in Crazy Heart. TG

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Thurgood, Brian and Scarface, ‘Half Baked’ (1998)

A lot of pot-smokers are intelligent, productive members of society — and then there's these knuckleheads. With Thurgood (Dave Chappelle) as the cool customer, Brian (Jim Breuer) as the possibly brain-damaged wingman, and Scarface (Guillermo Díaz) as the resident "tough guy," the movie floats along on its gleeful lowbrow idiocy. Critics savaged Half Baked at the time for its lazy jokes, but that was sort of the point: These buddies' moronic plan to sell a strain of super-weed to tokers in order to bail their friend out of jail is the sort of scheme you could only hatch while being stoned out of your gourd. Breuer and Díaz were pure bozos, but Chappelle demonstrated the laidback swagger that would soon make him a comedy icon with Chappelle's Show. TG

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Silas and Jamal, ‘How High’ (2001)

For stoners convinced that weed makes them smarter, How High offers a reasonable explanation: It's the fertilizer, man. Rappers Method Man and Redman reinvented Cheech & Chong's schtick for this rowdy campus comedy, playing a pair of wake-and-bakers cruising through their freshman year at Harvard. Their characters — Silas and Jamal — smoke a strain of grass sprinkled with the ashes of a dead friend, who then appears to them as a friendly ghost. (They’re on a very different kind of "angel dust.") The supernatural brain-boost makes these two into lovably lucky idiots, connected to the part of the universe that helps them cheat on tests. A truth serum and a university official named Dean Cain (!) also figure into the misadventures. Trust us, it all makes perfect sense if you're baked. NM

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Harold Lee and Kumar Patel, ‘Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle’ (2004)

Striking a blow for Hollywood inclusiveness, this stoner buddy-comedy was rare mainstream film to feature Asian-American protagonists — and in Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn), gave the big screen its best toker pals since Cheech and Chong. Theirs is a typical yin-yang friendship: Harold is the responsible investment banker, while Kumar is more of the temperamental screw-up. But unlike a lot of cinematic potheads, these buds are actually bright, articulate and sensitive dudes. Which doesn't mean they can't get some serious munchies — hunting down some grub is the whole point of White Castle — or experience crazy drug-fueled trips. (The Claymation sequence from 2011's A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is one of the trilogy's giggly highlights.) TG

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Jane F., ‘Smiley Face’ (2007)

Anna Faris' comedic type is a combination of wide-eyed gentility and chronic klutziness — which makes her the perfect person to play a heroine high as hell on cannabis cupcakes. Her spacey protogonist in writer-director Gregg Araki's toked-up midnight movie spends one crazy day in L.A., trying to straighten up enough to complete an urgent to-do list ("Get to that hemp festival"; "Try to figure out a way to return the Communist Manifesto without getting arrested"). Faris understands how intoxicated folks strain to act "normal" in public; she also inherently gets how great O.J. and Tostitos taste when you're stoned to the gills, even if it takes Roscoe Lee Browne's voice in her head to remind her. NM

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Dale and Saul, ‘Pineapple Express’ (2008)

Dope creates strange bedfellows — in life and in the movies. Seth Rogen's shaggy young professional Dale Denton doesn’t have a lot in common with James Franco's spacey drug-dealer Saul Silver in David Gordon Green's throwback caper comedy, but when their business relationship puts them into mutual mortal danger, they discover that they make a good team. (Rogen and Franco would later make a DIY "sequel" to this stoner-cinema classic in their 2013 Apatow-MVP team-up movie This Is the End — itself a postapocalyptic pot-smoking epic.) Saul’s happy-go-lucky nature gets under Dale’s gruff, loner skin. But sometimes just sharing just one common interest is enough to forge an unbreakable bond, and these guys are connected by something truly divine: a superbud that smells "like God's vagina." NM

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