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SYFY WIRE Features

From Tha Hood to Space: All of The Leprechaun Movies, Ranked

He's gonna get that gold, whether it's in the hood or in space. 

By Brian Silliman
Leprechaun Returns

In 1993, we were lucky enough to be blessed with a new form of horror. Leprechaun was a fairly straightforward movie; a guy comes back from Ireland having stolen a pot of gold, and a leprechaun comes to America to get it back. A classic tale! Written and directed by Mark Jones, the movie featured the legendary Warwick Davis (Willow) in the title role. It was also — fun fact — Jennifer Aniston’s first film appearance.

The tale could have ended in 1993, but it didn’t. It was only the beginning of a franchise, one that got sillier with every entry. Most of the Leprechaun movies are airing on SYFY for St. Patrick's Day, so in celebration of that, we’re ranking all of the movies in this series. All of them are fun to watch, but some are more fun than others. Grab that pot of cliches and get rapping! 

8. Leprechaun: Origins (2014)

This was an attempt to reboot the franchise and return to something that might genuinely be scary. It’s enjoyable, but if they were hoping to hook people with residual love for all things Leprechaun, then there’s not much to work with. The classic design of the Leprechaun himself is gone, and the new design is not as iconic.

Origins tries to take this madness somewhat seriously, so that's admirable, at least. Ultimately, though, we're biased, because Warwick Davis is not in the movie. If Davis doesn’t want to do another Leprechaun movie, then another Leprechaun movie should not be made.

7. Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Another reboot attempt, one that pulled a Halloween move and worked to continue the events of the original film and ignore the rest of the series. It works, and new audiences who aren’t clinging to a furious love of Warwick Davis will probably like this one the most. It is very violent, and it has some moments that are legitimately scary.

The point remains; Warwick Davis is not in it. Linden Porco is quite good in the role though, so that makes up for a lot. If we were going for scares alone, then this one would be higher. We’re not going for scares, though, we’re going for fun.

6. Leprechaun (1993)

It’s the first, but it’s hardly the most enjoyable. Set mostly in North Dakota, this complete insult to Irish culture is not as memorable as the movies that came after it. Aniston is here, sure, but the main draw is Davis’ first turn in the role, and the birth of the iconic Leprechaun design.

From a magic four-leaf clover to a “Lucky Charms” reference, this movie ticks every cliche there is when you think of the word “leprechaun.” Looking back at it, it’s a surprise that anyone wanted to return to this well. The continuation is a testament to the character design and Davis himself, both of which (as we’ve already said) are the clear highlights.

5. Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)

One does not simply make a sequel to a sequel within a franchise that was a surprise breakout hit all on its own. The 2000 entry Leprechaun in the Hood was an unexpected triumph, and this entry tries to recapture that magic. It’s fun, but it ignores too many of the things that made the 2000 movie a cult classic.

Back 2 tha Hood tries to tell a serious story (despite the title) and it doesn’t really connect to anything that came before. It feels like a calculated attempt to cash in on the surprise success of the Leprechaun’s first foray into tha titular hood. The 2000 movie is not calculated, it just happened to everyone and continues to happen. This one feels like a committee tried to assemble a money machine. Davis is here and as always it's a fun watch, but the bonkers “WTF are we watching” poor-taste lightning-in-a-bottle feeling is not present.

4. Leprechaun 2 (1994)

The wordplay really flies fast and loose in the first sequel, with Davis delivering some real groaners that point the way forward for most of this franchise. It doesn’t make much sense, and it doesn't really want to. There are bizarre performances all around, including one from the always-reliable Clint Howard.

In one scene, the Leprechaun enchants a man into f***ing two giant fans before he rips a pot of gold out of his stomach. The movie is a collection of scenes like that. What puts this installment in this position is the fact that this is the kind of movie that you gather with your friends to watch. You’ll laugh, you’ll sigh, and you’ll wonder how the hell it got made in the first place. That’s the magic, and that’s what makes this sequel (and the three movies that we’ve yet to rank) stand out.

3. Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Leprechaun hits Vegas! There’s no attempt at anything real here, we’re in full Evil Dead splatter territory. This movie feels like a series of dares that the filmmakers are making with each other, and it all adds up to one serious pot o’ fun. This movie knows exactly what it is.

Want to see sex robots introduced to the world of Leprechaun? Step right up. The story is simple; the Leprechaun struts around Las Vegas and causes chaos. He’s looking for gold again, but in the process, he gambles, pretends to be a magician, hypnotizes, and deploys his now-famous middle finger. Davis is a perfect form and it’s a hoot and a half.

2. Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Where do you go after the devilish delights of the third movie? You send the Leprechaun to space, because of course you do. It took the Fast and Furious franchise nine movies to go to space, but Leprechaun did it in four. Take that, Toretto!

This thing shouldn’t work. It doesn’t work, actually, it doesn’t work at all. That’s why it is such a glorious sight to behold. These movies never have a large budget to work with, so expecting sci-fi beauty to be included was a bats**t crazy notion. They throw it in anyway, and it looks about as good as you would expect.

It’s pretty much “what if we made Alien but instead of the alien, we used the Leprechaun?” That’s the “story” if you can call it that. There are spaceships, a “lightsaber,” and more. There’s almost no connection to anything that came before it, and while that’s been a hindrance for other installments, it’s part of the insane joy of this one.

Why is the Leprechaun in space? Why shouldn’t he be in space is the real question. You think The Boys is rough? The Leprechaun is somehow inside of a guy’s penis at one point, and it’s early on in the movie, too.

1. Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)

You’ll never forget your first time. No “bad movie night” gathering is complete without this gem. Raging stereotypes about the Irish community cross with raging stereotypes about the Black community, and the result is, as the title suggests, the Leprechaun paying a visit to the hood.

Ice-T plays a major character, and he smokes a joint with the Leprechaun. There’s plenty of rap. It comes very close to turning into a parade of jokes worthy of Airplane! at many points. There are some attempts to give this a serious tone, but every time the movie tries to get real, it only feels sillier. 

This is a merging of styles in dada fashion that would baffle Tristan Tzara himself. This is a movie that exists. It is exactly what you think it is when you hear the title. The filmmakers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they never stopped to think if they should. We have no doubt whatsoever that no one involved in this (save Davis, possibly) had any idea about what they were doing. This movie is a car accident, but you will not be able to look away. It is a lightning-in-a-bottle movie on the level of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cherish the Leprechaun learning the ways of the hood. 

Originally published Mar 3, 2023.