There have been so many different actors in the role of Rusty in the Vacation Movies, so obviously one has to be better than all the rest.

With Vacation, the newest movie in the series, hitting theaters in a few days with yet another Rusty (the talented and hilarious Ed Helms), there’s no time like the present to pit all of the Rustys against each other and see who has what it takes to be crowned the best.

(Obviously since we haven’t seen Vacation yet, Ed Helms isn’t actually in the running this time. Sorry.)

Anthony Michael Hall – ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ (1983)

National Lampoon's Vacation Griswold family

Anthony Michael Hall is the original Rusty, so he definitely gets mad points for that. He also gets points for being one of the seemingly central motivators for the movie; it’s almost like Clark is going full speed ahead into the vacation just to share his childhood vacation experiences with his son (as well as a beer or two). That being said, he doesn’t have too many stand-out moments (aside from owning that can of beer) but he does go through the movie with some gnarly braces, so props to Rusty for totally owning those.


Jason Lively – ‘European Vacation’ (1985)

European Vacation Griswold family

While European Vacation isn’t the most memorable to us, Jason Lively has quite a few stand-out scenes in the movie. In fact, while Chevy Chase usually steals the show in Vacation movies, it’s possible that Lively’s Rusty may be the MVP in this one, what with the Eiffel Tower and dance dream scenes (not to mention Rusty being a total ham in the train scene). Rusty is a different kind of comic relief in this movie and we love him for it.


Johnny Galecki – ‘Christmas Vacation’ (1989)

Christmas Vacation Griswold family

Before he was one of the world’s most endearing and favorite nerds, Johnny Galecki was dealing with Clark Griswold’s desire to put on the perfect Christmas. One of the things we love best about Galecki’s Rusty is the fact that he’s just not having any of it. He’s incredibly sassy, with lines like “I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car…” He’s basically the straight man of the movie and it’s awesome because he’s just a kid. The only way we’d love him more is if he had more sassy lines.

Related: The top 5 most quotable Christmas movies


Ethan Embry – ‘Vegas Vacation’ (1997)

Vegas Vacation Griswold family

Vegas Vacation‘s Rusty (or, should we say, Mr. Nick Papagiorgio) is quite a ladies man and a schmoozer. It’s hard to forget Ethan Embry’s Rusty because he’s living the life most of us could only dream of doing. Plus, Embry just has one of those memorable faces, so that definitely works in his favor. Also, let’s not forget that Rusty was the true winner in this movie; in fact, Rusty wins enough free cars (and fancy ones at that) for each member of the Griswold family to have and drive home to Chicago. Gold star for you, Rusty.


For funsies: Ed Helms – ‘Vacation’ (2015)

Vacation (2015) family

With how much the Vacation trailer paints Rusty Griswold as Clark Griswold 2.0, it’s almost unfair for him to be in the Rusty race. A “Clark” competition would be much more fitting! In terms of being Rusty, he’s definitely the most outspoken and extroverted of the bunch, at least as far as we can tell from the trailer. As much as we love the previous Rustys, Ed Helms’ portrayal could potentially be our favorite. Only time will tell!

The verdict

While it’s so hard to choose between all of the different Rustys that have existed over the years, this is a showdown so somebody has to win. Because we’re all about sass here at Hypable (and Christmas Vacation is one of our favorite movies of all time), we’re excited to crown Johnny Galecki’s Rusty as our Rusty showdown champion.

(Dear Johnny Galecki, To redeem your prize, see Vegas Vacation‘s Rusty. He’s bound to have a better chance of getting you a shiny new car than we do!)


Which of the ‘Vacation’ series Rustys is YOUR favorite?

Related: Ed Helms to play Rusty Griswold in Vacation reboot

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