The 23 Best Movie HBICs Of All Time

What’s an HBIC? It’s an acronym we use with fondness and admiration for a "head bitch in charge." These are the women who were leaning in before Sheryl Sandberg even filled out her first Harvard application. They innately know how to be the leader of the pack and the trendsetter everyone else wants to copy. They demand recognition when it’s not given, and if things aren’t going their way, they do something about it.

If it sounds like we’re describing one main HBIC, well, we are! Clueless came out 20 years ago this month, and Cher Horowitz — HBIC of Bronson Alcott High School — is on everyone’s mind. What other high school student successfully got her teachers to change her grades every single marking period? Who else could arrange for the inept Mr. Hall and well-meaning Miss Geist to fall in love through a series of well-placed sonnets and a few Thermoses of gourmet coffee? Who coordinated the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief drive and made it a massive success? One Cher Horowitz, of course.

Though she is the brilliant creation of writer-director Amy Heckerling, Cher comes from a long line of cinematic HBICs, and many more would follow in her stead. These women are some of the best characters to ever grace the silver screen — but cross them at your own peril. HBIC’s don’t like to surrender their crowns.

Courtesy of Open Road Films
Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch), Before I Fall (2016)

On her way back from a party, Samantha and her friends get into a car accident and Samantha is trapped in an endless loop of the same day. In order for her to break the tortuous cycle, she must change her ways.

Domain: High school hallways, parties, and the winding, rollicking roads of her Pacific Northwest town

Minions: Her three equally mean friends collecting lots of Valentine's Day flowers, too.

Suitors: Rob (Kian Lawley), her trash boyfriend; Logan (Kent McFuller) as the nerdy guy pining for her.

Soundbite: “Chloe, could you please get your head out of your ass? It's not a hat!”
Photo: Courtesy of MGM.
Anita (Rita Moreno), West Side Story (1961)
Anita tried to protect Maria (Natalie Wood) from the same heartbreak she experienced when she lost Bernardo (George Chakiris). Still, the sassy optimist preferred living in America to her homeland of Puerto Rico.

Domain: The bridal shop

Minions: Maria, Rosalia, Francisca, Consuelo, Teresita

Suitors: Bernardo

Soundbite: “Come in, come in! We won't bite you until we know you better.”
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), The Last Picture Show (1971)
Jacy Farrow is the prettiest girl in the dying town of Anarene, Texas. She’s bored and needs attention, so she stirs up trouble by losing her virginity, coming between two best friends, sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend, and eloping. Eventually, she just up and flees.

Domain: Anarene, Texas

Minions: Genevieve

Suitors: Duane, Sonny, Bobby, Abilene, Lester

Soundbite: “What's on your feeble mind, Duane?”
Photo: Courtesy of United Artists.
Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), Carrie (1976)
It’s her merciless teasing that triggers Carrie’s (Sissy Spacek) telekinetic outbreaks ... but Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) gets hers in the end. Oh yes.

Domain: Ewen High School

Minions: Tina Blake

Suitors: Billy Nolan

Soundbite: “Watch it, you stupid shit, you're getting blood all over the place!”
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Betty Alexander Rizzo (Stockard Channing), Grease (1978)
The leader of the Pink Ladies has a rough exterior and a sarcastic 'tude, but a soft spot for Kenickie (Jeff Conaway).

Domain: Rydell High

Minions: Frenchy, Marty, Jan

Suitors: Kenickie, Danny Zuko

Soundbite: “I don't steal and I don't lie / But I can feel and I can cry / A fact I bet you never knew / But to cry in front of you / That's the worst thing I could do.”
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Studios.
Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), The Breakfast Club (1985)
She’s the princess, the prom queen, the spoiled rich girl, and she’s in Saturday detention because she skipped class to go shopping. Of course.

Domain: Shermer High School

Minions: Allison Reynolds

Suitors: John Bender

Soundbite: "Cause I'm telling the truth, that makes me a bitch?”
Photo: Courtesy of New World Pictures.
Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), Heathers (1988)
The leader of the most popular clique at Westerburg High School is also the meanest and most beautiful girl in the joint. Heather Chandler wears a red scrunchie as a symbol of her power and tyranny over the school. She finally gets her comeuppance after a mishap with some bleach and a miscommunication between Veronica (Winona Ryder) and J.D. (Christian Slater).

Domain: Westerburg High School

Minions: Heather Duke, Heather McNamara, Veronica Sawyer

Suitors: All of them, if you ask her

Soundbite: “Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like Mother Teresa?”
Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson), Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992)
A typical Valley Girl cheerleader discovers that she’s a badass vampire slayer, and suddenly she’s using her hairspray as a weapon against dark forces.

Domain: Hemery High School

Minions: Kimberly Hannah, Nicole Bobbittson, Jennifer Walkens

Suitors: Oliver Pike, Jeffrey Kramer

Soundbite: “All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die. Now it may not sound too great to a scone head like you, but I think it's swell.”
Photo: Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures.
Darla Marks (Parker Posey), Dazed and Confused (1993)
She’s the senior who takes hazing just a bit too seriously. Now fry like bacon, you little freshman piggies. Air raid!

Domain: Lee High School

Minions: Freshman piggies

Suitors: None shown

Soundbite: “What are you looking at? Wipe that face off your head, bitch.”
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), Clueless (1995)
Even though she calls Elton (Jeremy Sisto) the social director of the crew, Cher was the sun around which the scene at Bronson Alcott High revolved. At 15 going on 16, she has a fully defined identity and style. She's saving herself for Luke Perry (or Jason Priestley doppelgänger Christian) because she just doesn't see the appeal of high school boys in their baggy jeans and backwards hats.

Domain: Bronson Alcott High School

Minions: Dionne Davenport, Tai Frasier

Suitors: Elton, Josh

Soundbite: “This is where Dionne lives. She's my friend because we both know what it's like for people to be jealous of us.”
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk), The Craft (1996)
High school is full of bullies and assholes, which is why Nancy turns to her coven to wreak havoc on her tormentors. Praise Manon!

Domain: St. Benedict's Catholic School

Minions: Bonnie Daniels, Rochelle Gordon

Suitors: Chris Hooker

Soundbite: “You know, if I were as pathetic as you are, I would have killed myself ages ago. You should get on with it.”
Photo: Courtesy of Dimension Films.
Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan), Scream (1996)
Unfortunately, when you’re a fearless HBIC in a horror movie, it often means venturing into dark places by yourself. This, of course, can only lead to your demise. RIP, Tatum. At least you go out with a heavy dose of irony.

Domain: Woodsboro High

Minions: Sidney Prescott

Suitors: Stu Macher

Soundbite: “No, please don't kill me, Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!”
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Cruel Intentions (1999)
She’s rich, pretty, and bored, so why not toy with her step-brother’s affections and those of everyone around her?

Domain: New York City’s Upper East Side

Minions: Cecile Caldwell

Suitors: Sebastian, Court, Ronald

Soundbite: “Do you think I relish the fact that I have to act like Mary Sunshine 24 / 7 so I can be considered a lady? I'm the Marcia fucking Brady of the Upper East Side, and sometimes I want to kill myself.”
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), Election (1999)
It takes a special brand of type-A teenager to completely destroy a teacher’s life during a high school election.

Domain: G.W. Carver High School

Minions: The entire student body, if you ask Tracy

Suitors: Jim McAllister (in a revenge-fueled way)

Soundbite: “Some people say I'm an overachiever, but I think they're just jealous.”
Photo: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures.
Courtney Shayne (Rose McGowan), Jawbreaker (1999)
“She was the leader. She was like Satan in heels,” said the narrator in the opening sequence. That’s all you need to know about the leader of the Flawless Four, Courtney Shayne. Plus, she kills Liz (Charlotte Ayanna). She kills the teen dream. Deal with it.

Domain: Reagan High School

Minions: Marcie, Julie, Elizabeth, Fern Mayo/Vylette

Suitors: Dane Sanders

Soundbite: “Life's a bitch, then you die.”
Photo: Courtesy of Miramax.
Taylor Vaughn (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), She’s All That (1999)
She goes on spring break, meets some asshole reality star currently at 14:59 of his 15 minutes of fame, and dumps her charming high school boyfriend (Freddie Prinze Jr.) for him. Plus, she doesn't think she has to be nice to anyone because she hails from a long line of prom queens and Taylor Vaughan could win the title: “in fluorescent lighting, on the first day of my period, cloaked in T.J. Maxx, okay?"

Domain: Torrance High School

Minions: Chandler, Katie

Suitors: Zack Siler, Brock Hudson

Soundbite: “Honey, look around you. To everyone here who matters, you're vapor. You're spam — a waste of perfectly good yearbook space, and nothing's ever gonna change that. Oh, you aren’t going to cry, are you?”
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Isis (Gabrielle Union), Bring It On (2000)
Isis knows Big Red has been stealing cheers from the East Compton Clovers for years, and now that she's captain, she's finally going to do something about it. That’s an HBIC move right there.

Domain: East Compton High

Minions: Jenelope, Lafred, Lava

Suitors: None shown

Soundbite: “You wanna make it right? Then when you go to Nationals ... bring it. Don't slack off because you feel sorry for us. That way, when we beat you, we'll know it's because we're better.”
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Chenille Reynolds (Kerry Washington), Save the Last Dance (2001)
The strong, single mother takes Sara (Julia Stiles) under her wing, teaches her important slang (“slammin’!”), and brings everyone together at STEPPS.

Domain: STEPPS

Minions: Diggy, Sara

Suitors: Kenny

Soundbite: “[T]his is Diggy. She thinks she’s down.”
Photo: Courtesy of MGM.
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), Legally Blonde (2001)
Reese Witherspoon excels when it comes to playing HBICs. As Elle Woods, she surprises everyone as the California girl who only looked liked a ditz — but is actually smart and determined enough to get into Harvard Law (“What, like it’s hard?”).

Domain: Delta Nu, Harvard Law School

Minions: Paulette, Margot, Serena

Suitors: Warner, Emmett

Soundbite: “Oh, I like your outfit, too; except when I dress up as a frigid bitch, I try not to look so constipated.”
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), the Harry Potter movies (2001–2011)
More like head WITCH in charge, am I right? (Using a Time Turner right now to take back that joke.)

Domain: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Minions: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley

Suitors: Ron Weasley, Viktor Krum, Cormac McLaggen

Soundbite: “Are you sure that's a real spell? Well, it's not very good, is it?”
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Regina George (Rachel McAdams), Mean Girls (2004)
The leader of The Plastics is the undisputed queen bee of North Shore. She uses flattery, deception, and the Burn Book to destroy reputations, emotions, and lives. She thinks you’re like, really pretty, and that Aaron (Jonathan Bennett) looks sexy with his bangs pushed back. On Wednesdays, she and The Plastics wear pink.

Domain: North Shore High School

Minions: Karen Smith, Gretchen Weiners, Cady Heron

Suitors: Aaron Samuels, Shane Oman

Soundbite: “I like invented her, you know what I mean?”
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Helen Harris III (Rose Byrne), Bridesmaids (2011)
She's the type of person who wears ballgowns to engagement parties and distinguishes between regular wine and dessert wine. She’s basically the perfect bridesmaid and friend, and it’s the most frustrating thing Annie (Kristen Wiig) has ever encountered.

Domain: Country clubs, upscale bridal shops, Santorini

Minions: Lillian, Megan, Rita, Becca

Suitors: Perry

Soundbite: “She will be fine, okay. She’ll make friends. There is much more sense of a community in coach, I promise you.”
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), Pitch Perfect (2012)
An unfortunate projectile vomiting incident proves to be a bit of setback for Aubrey at the beginning of the first Pitch Perfect, but she’s back to being the group’s HBIC by the time Beca (Anna Kendrick) arrives on campus.

Domain: Anywhere the Barden Bellas are

Minions: The Bellas

Suitors: None shown

Soundbite: “Chloe, could you please get your head out of your ass? It's not a hat!”
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