- "Drop it! Somebody tell him!"
- ― Carter to Peder
Sam Carter was an American helicopter pilot temporarily stationed at the Norwegian research station, Thule Station. The character appeared in the 2011 film The Thing and was portrayed by actor Joel Edgerton.
Carter was part of the three-man Sea King helicopter crew (along with co-pilot Derek Jameson and crewman Griggs) which transports Dr. Sander Halvorson's research team to the Thule Antarctic research station. Initially left in the dark about the Norwegians' discovery, Carter and the helicopter crew are present at the celebratory party and Halvorson's revelation that they have unearthed an extraterrestrial creature. During the party The Thing escapes from its icy prison and a search team is organized to hunt down the creature - resulting in the Thing being incinerated in one of the facility's wooden huts at Carter's instigation. Following the chaos, Carter prepares to leave for McMurdo Station along with his crew, in order to get medical treatment for the severely traumatized Olav. However, they are flagged down by palaeontologist Kate Lloyd, who has discovered evidence that someone has been assimilated and replicated by The Thing. As they prepare to descend, the Griggs-Thing violently reveals itself, causing the helicopter to spin out of control and crash in the mountains.
Following the crash, Carter and Jameson are left for dead by the crew of Thule station due to the inaccessibility of the crash-site and the low likelihood of survival. However, later the pair return to Thule - emerging unexpectedly from the snow-storm, nearly frozen to death. Although several members of the group are convinced that the two Americans are Things and should be burned immediately, Kate convinces the group to lock them in the tool-shed and await the development of a blood-test. Isolated from the group, they tunnel under their prison and ambush one (Lars) of the two men sent to retrieve them for testing. The pair then break into the main building armed with Lars' flamethrower and initiate a tense stand-off which results in the death of Peder and the incapacitation of Thule Station commander, Edvard Wolner. The unconscious Edvard is then brought to the station's rec room where he is unexpectedly revealed to be a Thing. After Carter's flamethrower experiences a malfunction Derek opens fire on the transforming Edvard-Thing with a Walther P38 pistol. Enraged, the Edvard-Thing stabs a whip-like tentacle through Derek's chest, after which it forcefully assimilates American researcher Adam Finch and escapes. In the aftermath Carter sombrely comforts Derek as he dies. After failing to torch the creature, chaos erupts and the remaining survivors (Carter, Lloyd, Halvorson and Colin) scatter in an attempt to survive on their own. Kate and Carter stick together for a time, fighting off the merged Edvard-Adam Thing and its various offspring before Carter is briefly separated and trapped in the kitchen. Fortunately for Carter, Kate arrives in time to torch the merged thing, driving it through the base's wall and into the snow.
Kate and Carter are at first relieved, hesitantly wondering if the ordeal is over, before noticing the newly-assimilated Halvorson departing in one of the base's snowcats. Deducing his destination, the pair follow the creature to the UFO crash site and attempt to board the vessel. Following the activation of the spacecraft, the two become separated, with Kate falling into one of the craft's vents and Carter proceeding through the main hatch. Hearing strange scuttling noises and raising his flamethrower, Carter travels through the ship's interior to find his companion. Elsewhere, Kate has revived and wanders the ship before being attacked by the Sander-Thing - eventually hurling a live grenade into its open maw. After a timely reunion with Carter, the pair narrowly escape the resulting chain-reaction of explosions and make it back to the snowcat. With Kate unsure of what to do next, Carter suggests that they make for a nearby Russian outpost approximately fifty miles away. As they prepare to leave, Kate notices that Carter is missing his left earring and determines that he is a Thing. Deceptively indicating that she is going to put the flamethrower in the snowcat's back, Kate gets out of the vehicle and explains how she had recognized him as human after his return from the helicopter crash. The Carter-Thing, confused, reaches for its right ear, further confirming Kate's suspicions and, over his protests, she proceeds to burn the snowcat and the Thing within it, preventing its escape.
- Carter is very similar to R.J. MacReady, both being helicopter pilots and the leading men in their respective situations. The main differences are he is not the main character, does not take charge of the base he is stationed at and does not survive at the end.
- Carter was the last assimilated human who was working at Thule Station.