13 Killer Personal Growth Tips from Movie Monsters and Villains

Who would have thought that some of the BEST life lessons and personal growth advice could come from pop culture’s WORST monsters? But, it turns out these villains have much to teach us if we know how to listen.

Some of the most terrifying movie monsters and villains have great lessons to teach us about overcoming adversity, achieving our goals, and living our best lives. That is, as long as we can sift it out from all the murder, theft, and other general mayhem.

“You have no idea how much cardio I have to do. It’s ridiculous… Well, you gotta be able to run like a freakin’ gazelle, without getting winded. Plus there’s that whole thing of making it look like you’re walking, and everybody else is running their asses off! And I gotta stay with them!”

Leslie Vernon, Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Even if you count yourself among the many people who don’t particularly enjoy scary movies, their stories still have much to offer. Up ahead, we’ll cover the top 13 real life lessons from made-up monsters.

1. Freddy Krueger – Chase your dreams

freddy kreuger advice chase your dreams

Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street

The original terror of Elm Street, Freddy could teach us all a thing or two about the value of dreams. Focus on your dreams and go after them with red-hot intensity.

But… remember to focus on your own dreams instead of chasing someone else’s.

2. Patrick Bateman – Build your personal brand

patrick bateman life lessons - build your brand

Movie: American Psycho

Patrick Bateman takes careful steps to manage the persona he puts out into the world. He curates his personal brand and always puts his best foot forward. On top of that, he is a genuine self-care maven who places a high premium on his health, hygiene, and happiness.

But… be careful not to shy away from who you really are in the process. The full you is the best you!

3. Sauron – Always maintain focus

lord of the rings sauron advice - stay focused

Book/Movie: The Lord of The Rings

As I’ve said before, for some reason, Sauron is an essential icon of focus. He always keeps his eye trained on the most important thing and rarely gets distracted.

But… if your most important thing involves enslaving the entire world and ruling with a brutal iron fist, maybe consider re-evaluating your goals.

4. Pennywise – Laughter is the best medicine

pennywise the clown advice - laughter is the best medicine

Book/Movie: Stephen King’s It

Everyone’s least-favorite clown knows the value of a good joke, gag, or bit of tomfoolery. Don’t forget to keep it light, find the fun in life, and always embrace the laughter.

But… don’t feel like you need to climb into a sewer or hide under someone’s bed to find laughter. It’s usually not down there.

5. The Babadook – Write your own story

the babadook life lesson - write your own story

Movie: The Babadook

Sometimes people will try and put your life in a box and tell you what your life should look like. Take a page from the book of Babadook. Break out of others’ expectations of you and tell your own story.

But… if your personal narrative involves you haunting and terrorizing people… Look, I’m not telling you what your story should be, but it’s certainly not that.

6. Jaws – There’s opportunity all around

jaws advice - opportunity is everywhere

Movie: Jaws

There’s no bluer ocean than an actual blue ocean. Just like Jaws, you, too, are surrounded by possibilities. Be grateful for your opportunities, and know when it’s time to lunge for them.

But… you might want to keep your mouth closed while you’re lunging.

7. Samara Morgan – Step away from the TV

samara morgan advice - step away from the TV

Movie: The Ring

There’s a whole wide world out there, and you have far more than seven days to explore it. No one knows this better than the specter of Samara Morgan. She reminds us to get up, move away from the TV once in a while, and experience the real world.

But… maybe stop by your local stylist and try out a new hairdo while you’re out.

8. Chucky – Have fun with what you do

chucky doll life lesson - have fun with it

Movie: Child’s Play

They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. For proof of this, look no further than the original Good Guy doll, Chucky. He loves his work and shows up every day ready to give it his all, create new ideas, and evolve his skillset.

But… never trifle with voodoo.

9. Smaug – Guard your resources

smaug the dragon life advice - guard your resources

Book/Movie: The Hobbit

Smaug is a dragon that knows a thing or two about financial responsibility. He saves his money, doesn’t overspend, and he uses the power of time to compound his wealth.

But… it’s better to earn your money honestly when you can. There are better ways to get it than wiping out whole populations to steal theirs. 

10. Leatherface – Put faith in family

leatherface life lesson - put faith in family

Movie: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Whether it’s the family you’re given or the family you find, we all need a support network. No one knows this better than Leatherface, a man who would never have achieved all he did without the love and support of his family building him up.

But… please, do be careful with the power tools.

11. Albert Wesker – Prepare, adapt, make your own path

albert wesker advice - make your own path

Game/Movie: Resident Evil

When you want to make real progress, you must be flexible, ready to adapt, and willing to take an abnormal path to your goal. Wesker should inspire all who wish to advance their careers by changing roles, taking on branching opportunities, and paving their way to the top.

But… even when trying to evolve yourself, you don’t need to literally alter your genetics. It’s just a symbolic expression.

12. Jigsaw – Through adversity comes growth

saw jigsaw life lesson - adversity brings growth

Movie: Saw

Admittedly, some of the tips up to this point have been a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, this one is an actual theme that appears consistently throughout the Saw film franchise. Jigsaw is an ardent evangelist of his belief that life’s most difficult situations create massive opportunities for personal growth. What doesn’t horrifically kill you can only make you horrifically stronger.

But… don’t feel like you have to force those adverse situations, especially on others. Stay in your lane, and adapt to what comes.

13. Jason Voorhees – Take care of yourself and never give up

jason voorhees life lesson - never give up

Movie: Friday the 13th

No Friday the 13th listicle would be complete without the embodiment of triskaidekaphobia himself, Mr. Jason Voorhees. This man is a true self-starter who stays focused on his goals and NEVER quits, all while staying in excellent shape and clearly prioritizing self-care.

But… maybe keep all that mask-and-machete business to a minimum.

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Hey, I’m Sam. I created Smarter and Harder to explore big ideas, both old and new, about building a better life. My mission is to evolve the conversation about personal growth and have fun doing it.

5 thoughts on “13 Killer Personal Growth Tips from Movie Monsters and Villains”

  1. Hmmm, are you an expert character witness for the defense in criminal trials?!

    Great piece – #10 definitely resonated with me/my family!


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