Power Ranking The 10 Bravest, Most Heroic Film Characters In The Past 30 Years

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Power Ranking The 10 Bravest, Most Heroic Film Characters In The Past 30 Years

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | April 9, 2013 | Comments ()

The Help Movie.jpg

Are you folks excited for 42? The soul-stirring story of the intrepid Brooklyn Dodgers team executive Branch Rickey. Too long has Rickey's courageous and triumphant story lingered in the dusty annals of history. So brace yourself, folks, for the tale of a lifetime. Of courage and unblinking stoicism. I mean, look at him. This poor, oppressed man. His every pore screams persecution.


He joins the ranks of my other personal film heroes. Their struggles are the stuff of legends.

10. Donald Woods -- Cry Freedom

9. Wikus Van De Merwe -- District 9

8. Louanne Johnson -- Dangerous Minds
Thumbnail image for Michelle-Pfeiffer-minds_610.jpg

6. & 7. Agents Anderson and Ward -- Mississippi Burning

5. Col. Robert Gould Shaw -- Glory

4. Lt. John J. Dunbar -- Dances With Wolves

3. Skeeter Phelan -- The Help

2. Nathan Algren -- The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai 2.jpg

1. Leigh Anne Tuohy -- The Blind Side

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • TheOriginalMRod

    What about Llewelyn Moss, he took that money from the Mexi-drug cartel ... um, dead guys...

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    What about all of those people who were saved by, oh, let's say...Moe?

  • This is a shameful list. Pajiba, you are better than this. White man's burden indeed. Ugh.

  • Jezzer


  • Patrick Swayze in City of Joy!

  • Guest


  • Mrcreosote

    Well, if you liked those movies you're going to love Disney's Lone Ranger. A white man saving people with his mystical Indian companion who is also a white man. Wearing a bird.

  • This is a great fucking list and the comments here are fucking hilarious but I will say that I can't watch District 9 because I get so sad when they start being cruel to the poor alien and his kid and also at the end when Wilkus is still sending the flowers to his wife...tear

  • MissAmynae

    Naomi Watts in The Painted Veil. Privileged White lady overcomes cholera AND prejudices in the rice paddies of Asia, and finds love to boot.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    Mighty Whites!
    Here we come, to save the daaaaaaay!

  • duckandcover

    Don't diss Dangerous Minds. That brought to life the best song of Coolio's career.

  • Guest
  • Kylie

    and one of my favorite Weird Al songs

  • Morgan_LaFai

    These movies brought to you by White People, makers of the best Others be they Asian, Indian, or Alien since the creation of Hollywood.

  • John W

    And what that movie about Oskar Shindler...who saved all those people from the Nazis...oh wait what were the rules of this game again?

  • BobbFrapples


  • Bea Pants

    I immediately thought of this:


  • dilwazr

    Ha! I love this! Yes please, more movies about the plight of people of color, but please make the protagonist a white person otherwise me no understand!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I get it. But there *are* some white people who clearly need the examples.

  • manting

    and Liam Nessen in Schindlers List

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Doesn't count. The guy really existed and did save quite a few people.

    Edit: Oh, wait. You were the one that didn't get the point.

  • manting

    Sean Penn in MIlk
    Djimon hounsou in Amistad
    Clive Owen in Children of Men (such an underrated film)
    Denzel Washington in Philadelphia
    Judith Villet in City of Lost Childen

    Thats just off the top of my head. Tom Cruise inThe Last Samuri? Really? If I didnt know better I would say you but that on the list as flame bait. And Sandra Bullock in The Blind SIde? She couldnt act her way out of a wet paper bag with scissors in her hands.

  • BWeaves

    I think you missed the point.

  • foolsage

    Read the first paragraph of the article again. Methinks you missed something important...

  • Irina

    Oh, honey...

  • The Replicant Brooke


  • And Ken Watanabe is amazing in The Last Samurai. Why did we have to focus so much on stupid Tom Cruise? Moar Ken Watanabe! Everywhere!

  • MissAmynae

    He is forever Ken Wantaboneme in my little world.

  • Francois Pienaar in Invictus

  • kirbyjay

    Kevin Costner sure was pretty. He deserves to be a hero.

  • Archie Leach

    Whoa! EVERYONE missed the marker: THE NOBLE WHITE SAVIOR.

    EVERYone of the above are "the heroic white savior that comes to the rescue of the misunderstood noble savage". Man this point was argued to blue-in-the-face at The Help imdb page. Guess you posters don't realize that the industry won't fund a project that does not (MUST) include the magical "white savior" lead cause the industry is still caught up in the "no white actor = no audience" mentality.

  • Jezzer

    Well, apparently someone had to come right out and 'splain, because there are people in the comments who clearly are not getting it.

  • Tinkerville

    Would you like a gold star?

  • Flor

    So glad you came and expalined it to us all!

  • noob

  • InternetMagpie

    Hi! Welcome to Pajiba!

  • simplysarah

    Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), A Time To Kill.

  • Can we have an honorable mention for Machine Gun Preacher? It's a wonderful and heart-warming tale about a redneck former gangbanger (ok bike gang, whatever!) who survives prison and a tornado and goes to save little African children from war lords. He is a brave, brave man.

  • Guest

    I see what you did there.

  • AudioSuede

    This post is the finest form of trolling there is: Social justice trolling. Hopefully the less alabaster writers of this site will follow your shining, red-haired example.

  • Social justice trolling really is the fucking best!

  • I'm pretty sure Mary McDonnell is the hero in everything she is in, even when we are dealing in irony. She's that much of a badass.

  • InternetMagpie

    Okay, but Branch Rickey is AWESOME!

  • jennp421

    Hasn't Edward Zwick kind of made a career out of this? The Last Samurai and Glory are the obvious ones, but he also directed Blood Diamond and Legends of the Fall. Legends of the Fall has that one Native American guy that basically mentors Brad Pitt, giving us another white guy that is highly influenced and basically appropriates another culture like Cruise in The Last Samurai. I still like the movie (Legends of the Fall, I'm rather indifferent to The Last Samurai), I'm just saying it plays into a certain theme here.

  • TK

    Blood Diamonds is SO GODDAMN FRUSTRATING because it's a good movie at times, but the Tale Of A White Man's Redemption Among The Darkies angle is fucking nauseating.

  • Magiel

    I started to diagree with you when I read the title, but now I want to marry you

  • Billdog

    What's a list of heros without Atticus Finch?

  • Milly


  • toblerone

    I don't know about him in this context. That would be like including Dr. King Schultz.

  • jennp421

    And yet an argument could be made that Dr. King Schultz was set up more as the hero - after all, who kills Candie, the man that possesses Django's wife? The white guy. Django's nemesis is set up to be the black slave-servant, not the man with the actual power . . . Django, the character, is a badass but the movie isn't perfect and there are legitimate complaints that can be made about its portrayal of race.

  • manting

    I disagree - Samuel L Jackson is the real power in Candiland. Remember the scene where he calls Calvin into the study? He pours himself a brandy and sits in the seat of authority while Calivin attends to his words as a lesser would. Both King Shultz and Candie have what appear to be seconds (in Django and Samuel L's character) but in reality it is Django and Samuel L who are in charge.

  • Lynafg

    OMFG. Samuel L's character was a slave trying to protect himself at the expense of others. He had no power over the man who LEGALLY OWNED HIM.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I just realized that Stands With A fist is Mary McDonald is President Laura Roslin. The never ending battle against my own ignorance should be #1 on this list.

  • Tinkerville

    Honorable mention: Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers.

  • e jerry powell

    But that was fundamentally just a rehash of Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. No redundancy zone.

  • toblerone

    Where's Jake Sully from AVATAR?

  • foolsage

    He was left behind in Pocahontas 2.

  • toblerone

    And Sam Childers - Machine Gun Preacher (just because Gerard Butler should be on this list).

  • Guest

    And Nathaniel Hawkeye - The Last of the Mohicans.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think you mean Natty Bumppo. (what, not a sexy enough name?)

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I always cite that as my favourite name in all of literature, it's just nuts.

  • e jerry powell

    I roll my eyes at white people and their movies.

  • toblerone


  • e jerry powell


  • Bandit

    Oh now I get it!

  • The Replicant Brooke

    It took me a minute.

  • pajiba

    Also, honorable mention: Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts in that movie where the white family persevered and survived the tsunami that killed all those non-white people!

  • duckandcover

    Aptly named The Impossible.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin


  • TK

    Also, Geronimo, that movie about the white guys that knew the Native American chief. Those guys were heroes.

  • Irina

    And they had insurance, so they flew a private jet back to civilization.

  • snrp


  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Easy there Tonto.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Confession: sometimes I skip the intro text and just look at the list. Never again.

  • simplysarah


  • Yorn

    This may be the greatest list ever. I think that Julie Stiles should get an honorable mention. Not any of her characters. Just the actress.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Also, Sean Penn.

  • Jill

    A thousand times YES.

  • Guest

    and Mel Gibson.

  • PinkGlitteryBrain

    I was about to get all indignent, then I remember where I was and laughed

  • PinkGlitteryBrain

    Also there should be a special mention of Brad Paisley for his new hit song

  • BWeaves

    Oh there is. There's a whole post devoted to it.

  • PinkGlitteryBrain

    Well would you look at that. My b

  • lowercase_ryan

    Anderson and Ward are not deserving of your scorn ma'am.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Perhaps not. But considering that the FBI initially wanted to just ignore the case - as it did most civil rights violations in general at the time - until President Johnson basically forced Hoover with threats and political maneuvering to investigate, I think that there is perhaps a little bit of well-deserved scorn. The film glorifies the heroic FBI agents a little too much.

    The FBI ignored countless hate crimes right up until two white men were killed, and suddenly it was a priority.

  • meh

    I see what you did there.

  • NateMan

    Dammit! I should have scrolled before posting the same thing. Sigh. Time to delete that comment...

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