Quentin Tarantino Answers Long-Standing Pulp Fiction Question

The Gimp Pulp Fiction

There is a whole lot of wildness that transpires over the course of the two hours and 34 minute cinematic adventure that is Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but one of the great standout oddities is the character simply known as The Gimp. The film doesn't exactly tell us a lot about the fellow, but based on what we see he is a BDSM aficionado who lives in a trunk in the basement of a pawn shop. All in all, he's a bit of a mystery, but now, 26 years after the film's original release, the writer/director has offered some clarity about who he is.

Empire recently published a feature with Quentin Tarantino answering questions submitted by fans, and one individual took the opportunity to get the filmmaker to expand on the existence of The Gimp in Pulp Fiction. Specifically, the query was about both the character's backstory and his possible future after his encounter with Bruce Willis' Butch. In his response, Tarantino confirmed something fans have wondered about for decades: the Gimp does indeed die after Butch punches him out:

It doesn’t quite play this way in the movie, but in my mind when I wrote it, the Gimp’s dead. Butch knocked him out and then when he passed out he hung himself.

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When you think about it, this does track. Before going to rape Marcellus Wallace, Zed strings The Gimp up on a leash to watch the bound and gagged Butch. When Butch – a professional boxer who killed his most recent opponent in the ring – breaks out, it tracks that he would be strong enough to knock The Gimp out with one punch, leaving him to hang on the aforementioned leash.

As for who The Gimp is beyond a man with a leather fetish and a penchant for pain, Quentin Tarantino also offered a splash of origin story for the character. While not exactly detailed, apparently he was found by Zed and Maynard and may or may not be an abductee with Stockholm syndrome:

In terms of backstory, he was like a hitchhiker or somebody that they picked up seven years ago, and they trained him so he’s the perfect victim.

Admittedly that makes Pulp Fiction shockingly even darker than it already is, but that's what you get for probing.

Given the launching pad that is bringing up The Gimp in conversation, Quentin Tarantino also told a quick, funny story about the character and the particular reaction it got from one audience member – namely former Saturday Night Live star Jon Lovitz. Said the filmmaker,

I heard a funny thing from Jon Lovitz, who knew Stephen Hibbert, the guy who played the Gimp, from The Groundlings. Jon watches Pulp Fiction for the first time and is like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ And he stays in the theatre as the credit crawl is going on and sees Stephen’s name. He said out loud, ‘WHAT? I know the Gimp?!’ [Laughs uproariously]

Any time is a good time to watch or rewatch Pulp Fiction, and the good news is that there are many ways to do so. Those who don't own the on Blu-ray or DVD can not only find it at basically any store, but the movie is also currently streaming on Starz, and available for rent or purchase at various digital retailers.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.