Why Are We Obsessed With Gangsters?

Warner Bros. Pictures

Whether it’s the heady mix of charisma and violence or revelations about the dark side of humanity, there’s just something about gangsters.

From the OG, Enrico “Rico” Bandello of Little Caesar back in 1931 to The Godfather himself, by way of the London Legend of Kray twins, we are utterly in love with gangsters – especially when there’s a silver screen between us and them.

But why? Why are we obsessed with these people, who despite the sharp suits and shooting, are merely criminals? Well, YouTube channel Now You See It has investigated.

Using a mixture of in-depth movie analysis and psychoanalytic evidence, the narrator delves into your mind and explains why we’re all so taken by the character of a gangster.

It essentially boils down to this one key fact of a gangster’s existence: They get what they want, when they want. These men – and sometimes women – strive to be in control of their own destiny and, for the most part, achieve that until their inevitable downfall which sets the world to rights by the end of a feature length film.

Perhaps Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, Frank Costello, puts it best when he said: “I don’t wanna be a product of my environment.”


When the gangster trope usually sees characters start from the bottom of the societal barrel and rise up to ‘make something of themselves’, perhaps these characters are more aspirational than you might think…

You know, when you ignore the murder, rape, drug-pushing and pillaging.