25 Best Coen Brother Characters

From Barton Fink to the Dude, counting down Joel and Ethan's craziest, most unforgettable creations

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8. Sy Ableman ('A Serious Man')

When God chooses to strip you of all your self-worth, he doesn't just have your wife leave. He has your wife leave for a schlep like Sy Ableman. With all due respect to Quentin Tarantino and his Nazi-battlin' inglourious bastards: In actor Fred Melamed's hands, the bearded, baritone, uninvited-hugger, Ableman is the cinema's one true Bear Jew. The wine-gifting foil is too absurd a figure to rouse real anger, even when he's suggesting a move to the "eminently habitable" Jolly Roger. Only in dreams does he ever raise his voice (in his baby-blue cap and track suit), and even in death he causes problems both financial and spiritual. Larry Gopnik recognizes him to be a klutz; the community, however, dubs him a "serious man." JH

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