Sam Stone-0
Carol, did I ever tell you why I married her? ...Her father was very, very rich, and very, very sick. The doctors assured me he'd be dead any minute. There wasn't a second to lose! I rushed right out and married the boss's daughter. He was so sick, it was like the Angel of Death was sitting in the room with him, watching the clock. They pulled the plug on him... he wheezed and shook for about an hour... and then... he stabilized. The son-of-a-bitch just got older and sicker. And older, and sicker, and older and sicker...! I couldn't wait around any longer. I went out and made my own fortune. The old fart hung in there for 15 years. Finally died of natural causes. I want the rest of that money! His money, her money, it's my money! I had to live with that squealing, corpulent little toad all these years. God, I hate that woman! I - I - I hate the way she licks stamps! I hate her furniture! And I hate that little sound she makes when she sleeps. (Imitates a whining nasal sound) Ugh! And that filthy little shitbag dog of hers... Muffy!
~ Sam ranting about his hatred for his wife.

Sam Stone is the main antagonist of the black comedy film Ruthless People.

He is portrayed by Danny DeVito who also played Harry Wormwood.


Sam Stone was once, presumably, a low-level employee in a multi-million dollar company who saw an opportunity to get rich by marrying the company CEO's abrasive daughter Barbara after the old man became deathly ill. Sam disliked Barbara intensely and plotted to get rid of her to gain her fortune, but despite his illness, Barbara's father stabilized and managed to stay alive (but bedridden) for fifteen years before finally passing away, forcing Sam to endure an unhappy marriage. During this time, he cheated Ken and Sandra Kessler out of their life savings to market a fashion design he plagiarized from Sandra, making a small fortune of his own as a result and leaving them in poverty. He also began an affair with a beautiful woman named Carol Dodsworth, who only put up with him because of his wealth.

Sam finally concocted a plan to kill his wife by knocking her out with chloroform and then tossing her off a cliff, but after explaining his plan to Carol, he could not find Barbara upon arriving home. He becomes angry and chases Barbara's pet toy poodle, Muffy (whom he shares a mutual antipathy with), tossing the bottle of chloroform after her. He then receives a phone call, and a mysterious caller announces that Barbara has been kidnapped and will be killed unless Sam pays a ransom and does not alert the police or the media. Delighted, Sam quickly disobeys the caller's orders, and the police begin a city-wide search for Barbara, whose abduction becomes a top news story.

The kidnappers turn out to be the Kesslers, who want revenge against Sam for ruining their lives. Unfortunately, Barbara proves to be a handful for the kidnappers. Sam consistently refuses to pay the ransom and openly mocks the kidnappers—who, though desperate, are not about to murder anyone—when they try to lower it, first from $500,000 to $50,000, then to $10,000, to the point of outright daring them to kill her ("What do I have to do? Put a gun in your hand, aim, and pull your finger down, you spineless wimp!"). He also makes more provocative moves on Carol, who is secretly planning to blackmail Sam with the help of her moronic boyfriend, Earl Mott, as neither of them believe that Barbara was kidnapped. At the supposed drop site, Earl tapes a prostitute and her john having wild sex, mistakenly believing that Sam is actually murdering Barbara.

Without watching the tape herself, Carol anonymously sends a copy to Sam, who mistakenly thinks that Carol sent it to him as a titillating birthday present. He calls her and hits on her by saying he is going to do to her what happened in the video, but she misinterprets this as a death threat and sends a copy of the tape to police chief Henry Benton—who turns out to be the john in the video. She calls him and demands that Sam be arrested for killing Barbara. Thinking that he is being blackmailed, a confused Benton orders a search of the Stone mansion, planning to plant evidence in it, but is shocked when real evidence is discovered: the bottle of chloroform (with Sam's fingerprints still on it; Muffy led the police to it) and photos of Sam with Carol. The kidnapping investigation, which has led straight to Ken himself by now, is immediately called off and Sam is arrested.

Meanwhile, a bored Barbara takes up exercise in the basement where the Kesslers are keeping her and loses a lot of weight, which delights her when Sandra tells her this. Sandra presents Barbara with several of her fashion ideas, and Barbara, who loves them, enthusiastically promises to advertise them world-wide. In her euphoria, Sandra lets Barbara go, but Barbara quickly returns when she finds a newspaper article revealing that Sam wanted her dead and had a mistress. She arrives just in time to see a serial killer attack the Kesslers, but he falls down the basement stairs and dies.

The trio plot revenge against Sam, who has just made bail and now faces the unhappy prospect of having to get his wife back in order to prove his innocence. When Ken calls Sam again, a relieved Sam agrees to pay the ransom, but armed with information from Barbara, the Kesslers have increased the ransom to Sam's total net worth: $2.2 million. Sam is outraged, but has no choice but to comply. Meanwhile, Carol, unable to understand why Sam hasn't been convicted yet, finally sees the tape and realizes Earl's mistake. Sam begs the police to come to the ransom drop site, but they refuse, thinking that the kidnapping was a hoax. He goes to the bank to withdraw the ransom money, but is denied access to Barbara's assets since she hasn't been declared dead yet, and thus is forced to withdraw all of his own money instead. As he packs his fortune into a briefcase, he is called by Carol, who tricks him into telling her where the drop site is.

Upon arriving, Sam receives a phone call from Barbara, who tells him that the kidnappers want his Rolex wristwatch and his pinky ring (while also taking the opportunity to shout profanities at him for his treachery), to which Sam responds by angrily tossing both items into the briefcase. Ken arrives in disguise to take the briefcase, but the police arrive, much to Sam's delight. When Ken threatens to have Barbara killed, they back down, causing Sam to try to reclaim the briefcase using a pistol he kept in his office, but the police order him to back down, which he reluctantly does. Earl arrives and tries to take the money, but the police capture him and allow Ken to leave, though they quickly pursue him. In the confusion, Ken drives off the docks and into the sea. When bystanders see some of the money floating to the surface, they quickly dive in to get it. Sam responds by throwing a random policeman into the water after them in a desperate attempt to make them stop, but fails.

The police salvage a corpse from the water and find it is the serial killer from earlier. Despite losing all of his own money, Sam thinks that Barbara will surely be killed and that her money is finally his, but then Barbara emerges from a police car. She identifies the serial killer as her kidnapper, claiming that he was schizophrenic and believed he had accomplices when he was really working alone, and that she was able to escape right after he departed to collect the ransom. The police believe her and walk away in satisfaction while Barbara confronts Sam, who is taken aback by how beautiful she has become. However, she gives him a severe thrashing before throwing him into the water and walks away triumphantly. Some distance away, Ken emerges from the water in scuba gear with the briefcase in hand. He reunites with Sandra and Barbara, and they dance together.


  • It is unknown if Sam drowned or made it to shore after Barbara threw him into the water.