Every Collaboration Between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Ranked


Tim Burton has delighted audiences for decades, incorporating his unique horror sensibilities into movies that still remain family-friendly. While his films usually still feature some scary scenes, they remain accessible for children and make for great movies to be shared between kids and their parents. Burton’s self-identification as an outsider has also made him relatable to generations of people who feel slightly different from what society expects of them.

Throughout the nineteen movies he has directed since 1985, Burton’s most frequent on-screen collaborator has been Johnny Depp. Depp’s odd but imaginative acting style meshes well with the dark and sometimes dreadful worlds that Burton creates, and together, they have produced some of the best films in both of their filmographies. So far, they have worked together eight times, on both animated and live-action projects.

‘Dark Shadows’ (2012)

Depp’s Character: Barnabus Collins

Image via Warner Bros Pictures

The most recent movie by Burton and Depp is also their worst, as Dark Shadows fails to reach the lofty heights of their best projects. Billed as a revival of the soap opera from the ’60s, Depp stars as Barnabas Collins, a young man living in 1760. When Barnabas rejects the advances of a witch in favor of his one true love, the witch turns Barnabas into a vampire, and he is promptly buried alive.

Waking up in 1972, Barnabas connects with his modern ancestors while trying to avenge his lost love. Dark Shadows is an amusing watch that offers some laughs but never really excels. Depp is joined by a great cast that includes Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz, and another frequent Burton collaborator, Helena Bonham Carter. The movie has a moderate 6.2/10 rating on IMDb.

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‘Alice in Wonderland’ (2010)

Depp’s Character: The Mad Hatter

Alice, Mad Hatter and the White Queen ready for battle
Image via Disney

The latest adaptation of Lewis Carroll‘s legendary tale, Alice in Wonderland is a visual delight as it brings one of the coolest fantasy lands to life. Mia Wasikowska stars as Alice, who, at the age of 19, returns to Wonderland and reunites with the friends she made there. Learning that the villainous Red Queen (Bonham Carter) is planning to take over the kingdom, Alice embarks on her destiny to save Wonderland.

Depp stars as the Mad Hatter, Wonderland’s mayor, and a rather eccentric hat-maker. He is a close friend and valuable ally to Alice, aiding her in her journey. Depp is clearly having a lot of fun in the role, free to let loose and be as big and colorful as he wishes to be. This causes him to be the most advertised character in the production, despite Alice herself being the main character.

alice in wonderland

Release Date
March 3, 2010

Tim Burton


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‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ (2005)

Depp’s Character: Willy Wonka

Wonka and company in front of the chocolate river from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Another rendition of one of the greatest children’s stories to adapt of all time, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a modern update of Roald Dahl’s story. When Charlie (Freddie Highmore), a kind boy from a poor family, wins a golden ticket, it gifts him the prize of touring Willy Wonka’s larger-than-life chocolate factory.

Depp plays Wonka, and the actor brings his quirky style to the role as he does his best to fill the legendary shoes left by Gene Wilder. Some fans and critics were put off by Depp’s take on the role, as the actor sometimes comes off chilly and unsettling, almost like he is trying to creep the children out rather than entertain them.

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‘Sleepy Hollow’ (1999)

Depp’s Character: Ichabod Crane

Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow
Image via Paramount

Leaving the realm of children’s movies behind, Burton and Depp combined their powers for this adaptation of the classic ghost tale. When the residents of a town named Sleepy Hollow are beset by a headless horseman who decapitates his victims, police detective Ichabod Crane (Depp) is sent to investigate the issue.

Almost operating like a period slasher, Sleepy Hollow sees its villain show no mercy as he cuts through the townsfolk. Christina Ricci co-stars as a local woman who aids Crane in his investigation, and together they attempt to solve the dark mystery before their heads are the next ones to roll.

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‘Corpse Bride’ (2005)

Depp’s Character: Victor Van Dort

Victor (Johnny Depp) and Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) shyly looking at each other in Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Image via Warner Bros.

Filmed simultaneously with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it is a wonder that both movies turned out as well as they did. Corpse Bride proved to be the better of the two, and in it, Depp voices Victor Van Dort, a clumsy young man who is arranged to marry Victoria Everglott (Emily Watson).

After Victor ruins their wedding rehearsal through a series of unfortunate events, the nervous groom practices his vows outside. Placing his wedding ring on what he believes to be a tree branch, it is soon revealed to be the rotting finger of a corpse. This corpse, known as Emily (Bonham Carter), is delighted to marry Victor, and she carries the screaming man to the underworld to be her husband.

Corpse Bride

Release Date
September 12, 2005

Tim Burton , Mike Johnson


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‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ (2007)

Depp’s Character: Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd holding his razor to a man's face
Image via DreamWorks Pictures/Paramount Pictures

Delivering a slasher musical in the way that only Burton can, Sweeney Todd follows the titular character (played by Depp) as he carves a path of corpses through Victorian-era London. Falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, Todd gets his revenge by operating a barber shop, and murdering his customers with his signature straight razors.

Sweeney Todd was well-received by critics and garnered Depp his third Oscar nomination, and his first and only one for a Burton production. It is an adaptation of the Tony-award winning musical of the same name and while it may be a tough watch for those who don’t like musicals, those who love a bit of singing with their bloodshed will enjoy it immensely.

Sweeney Todd

Release Date
January 25, 2007


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‘Ed Wood’ (1994)

Depp’s Character: Ed Wood

Two guys are posing as Draculas while watching TV

Ed Wood was once considered the worst director in the world. Making a living by creating low-budget sci-fi films, Wood’s movies were known for their cheap special effects, technical errors, and over-the-top campy tone. While he was derided at the time, Wood’s work has been reappraised after his death and many of his movies have become cult classics.

Ed Wood is a biographical film about the legendary director, with Burton giving his kindred spirit his time in the sun. Depp plays Wood, and the movie follows the filmmaker as he makes some of his most famous films. Along with his time on set, Ed Wood also shows Wood’s interactions with his cast and crew, offering one of the best films about the magic of making movies.

Ed Wood

Release Date
September 27, 1994


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‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990)

Depp’s Character: Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands sitting with a dog
Image Via 20th Century Fox

One of Burton’s most popular movies, and potentially his best. Edward Scissorhands marked the first time Burton and Depp worked together, and it stands as their greatest creation. As well as being one of Burton’s signature films, the role of Edward remains one of Depp’s signature characters.

Edward is a robot built by a well-intentioned inventor, who died before he could give Edward real hands, dooming him to live with scissor-like appendages. Left to live alone in the house, Edward is discovered by a kind Avon lady, who decides to adopt the confused humanoid and introduces him to the rest of her family, where he soon falls in love her with daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder).

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NEXT: 10 Scariest Animated Disney Movies of All Time


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