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Captain Spaulding, played by Sid Haig, just as several other characters from the series are named after characters from Marx Brothers films, is named for Groucho Marx's character from the musical Animal Crackers and the film of the same name. In House of 1000 Corpses, Spaulding is introduced as a vulgar clown, and the proprietor of a gas station in Texas that sells fried chicken and also serves as a roadside haunted house attraction. In this first film, when a group of four people visit Spaulding's establishment and learn of the local legend of Dr. Satan, Spaulding directs them in the path of the murderous Firefly family. Spaulding's connection to the Firefly clan is kept ambiguous throughout most of the film.

In The Devil's Rejects, Spaulding is established as the patriarch of the Firefly family, and the father of Baby Firefly. At the beginning of the film, the Firefly house is subjected to a search and destroy mission by state troopers, but Spaulding is elsewhere during the raid. Later in the film, Spaulding is captured with Baby Firefly and Otis Driftwood by Sheriff John Wydell and brought to the Firefly house. Wydell tortures them and sets the house on fire, leaving Spaulding and Otis to die, but they are rescued by Tiny Firefly. Spaulding, Baby, and Otis escape by car, and are shot by authorities while speeding towards a police barricade.

In 3 from Hell, Spaulding is revealed to have just barely survived the shootout alongside Otis and Baby, and the trio are put on trial and imprisoned not long after their recovery. Spaulding is executed by lethal injection sometime later, leading to Otis and Baby attempting an escape.