Sturmbanführer Arnold Ernst Toht was a kriminalrat in the Gestapo charged with acquiring the headpiece of the Staff of Ra for Oberst Herman Dietrich. He failed, although he did supply Dietrich with one half of the medallion's inscriptions when they became burned into his hand as a result of Toht trying, unsuccessfully, to pull the headpiece from the fire in Marion Ravenwood's Nepalese tavern. Toht was eventually killed when René Belloq opened the Ark of the Covenant, and the Gestapo agent was melted by the wrath of God. He was survived by his sister, Ilsa Toht.
Toht first appears arriving at the Raven bar, owned by Marion Ravenwood, daughter of the famed archaeologist Abner Ravenwood, who was believed to possess the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Toht hires three locals to accompany him and his subordinate Otto, where they seize Marion after she refuses to disclose the headpiece's location, unaware that it was placed on a table nearby. Before Toht can torture Marion with a hot iron fire poker, Marion's former love Indiana Jones arrives, demanding she be released. Toht and his henchman start a gunfight with Jones, during which the headpiece was dropped into some burning flames. Toht locates the headpiece and attempts to seize it, only to suffer an excruciating burn on his hand, forcing him out of the bar to plunge his hand in the snow. The burn leaves a permanant scarring of the headpiece, which is later used to create a replica of the headpiece. The information is incomplete without the other half, which allows Indy to successfully locate the Ark.
Meanwhile, Marion was captured by Toht's associate Rene Belloq, who treated her with kindness, even joining her for a drinking contest. Toht arrives to prevent Marion from escaping and attempts to interrogate her for more information. When this fails, he unceremoniously throws her into the recently discovered Well of Souls with Indy, the Ark seized by Deitrich. Toht giggles at Belloq's half-hearted protest that Marion was not a threat.
Toht accompanies Belloq and Dietrich back to Cairo, but lose the Ark to Indy after an intense chase across the desert. He proceeds to join them in recapturing the Ark when they intercept its location aboard the Bantu Wind. Marion is captured and taken to a German U-boat, but Indy is nowhere to be found.
Upon arriving at the secret island base of Geheimhaven, Toht joins Belloq, Dietrich and a procession to the Tabernacle to open the Ark. Indy intercepts them, but is captured in the process. At the Tabernacle, the Ark is opened, to reveal only sand and dust inside. Having never believed in the supernatural, Toht begins to laugh at Belloq's shock. His glee is cut short as ethereal beings emerge from the Ark, appearing first as heavenly beings, but then change into howling corpse-like Angels of Death. As Toht screams in horror, Belloq is consumed by divine fires from the Ark, which also cause Dietrich's body to hollow and shrink. Toht dies when his face melts off his skull and his body is reduced to ashes. The only survivors are Indy and Marion, having shut their eyes, ensuring protection from God's holy wrath.
- In the original script for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Toht was called Belzig, and died along with Major Gobler when their car drove off a cliff. He also dies this way in Campbell Black's novelization of the movie and in the comic adaptation.
- Toht's first name was given as Arnold in the novelization. However when Marvel introduced his sister Ilsa, she mentioned her brother was named "Ernst Toht." This was later rectified by saying Arnold was his first name and Ernst was his middle one.
- Toht was released as an action figure twice, first by Kenner and later by Hasbro. Both times he came with a removable coat and a gun. The second time, he had a removable fedora as well, and included a poker and a second, interchangeable head that was melting.
- He was also released as an action figure by Sideshow Toys.