A dark horse, the elusive contender in the mix, receives recognition from the crowd only after the fact. All his hard work is celebrated unseen and unheard in a brief moment of triumph as if he had always been known. Viewers could never have guessed how much effort and discipline it took to accomplish a great feat. The underdog not only wins through unwavering determination, but also makes a living by defining his sense of success.
The hero’s journey takes many paths. The overwhelming lack of control due to fears and doubts creeps in and forces them to stay. The helping hand of a master mentor guides them to solutions that combat these debilitating thoughts or leave them behind with better and more consistent actions. After a series of training montages of our unlikely hero, the final moment can be viewed and understood what it all led to and what it all meant. Misfits have little friends when they are down and then learn to live higher than their circumstances allow. Below are some of cinema’s most memorable underdogs.
Updated on September 8, 2023 by Danilo Raúl: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.
12 300 (2006)
A nation of warriors born and raised in war faces the mighty might of an empire with overwhelming numbers. A corrupt group of wise men advise against war. A bribed Senate forbids the king from going to war. Everything is against King Leonidas 300but he perseveres by taking his personal guard of 300 warriors “on a long journey.”
He allies himself with warriors from neighboring Greek nations, but they find themselves overwhelmed even before they raise their words against the enemy. The Spartans never doubt their mission and their ultimate destiny: to fight to the death and let the world know that free men stand in the way of tyranny, mysticism and oppression.
11 Nobody (2021)
Nobody had Bob Odenkirk pull the Liam Neeson card in 2021, and it certainly worked wonders. No one stars the actor as Hutch Mansell, a man who often fails to stand up for himself. His marriage in shambles and a hellish suburban home seem to take a toll on him every day of his life.
One evening a group of thieves break into his house and he lets them escape until his daughter reveals that they have stolen her expensive property. The man is upset and finally snaps and vents his frustration. After it’s revealed that he used to be an FBI examiner, a special type of assassin known for not leaving any gaps in his cleanup operations, he starts beating up anyone who gets in his way.
10 Dodgeball (2004)
Some people say Dodgeball is the last great film Vince Vaughn ever made, and they aren’t too far off the mark. Gym owner Peter La Fleur is a hapless businessman who faces eviction after a new gym opens near him. Health fanatic White Goodman wants La Fleur to go out of business, so he sends an auditor to his gym.
The agent in charge of the audit tells La Fleur that he must come up with $50,000 to pay off his debts or he will lose the place. So it’s up to all the Average Joe’s gym members to band together and play professional dodgeball, but not without Goodman realizing their trick is to assemble his team to wipe the floor with him in this silly but incredibly funny movie .
9 Cinderella Man (2005)
The history of Cinderella man is based on the real life of boxer James J. Braddock, a man past his prime who seeks work every day as a laborer in the ports, living on welfare to make ends meet during the Great Depression. His former manager offers him a chance for a comeback, which he takes despite a broken hand.
After winning against a young competitor, James returns to the ring full-time against his wife’s wishes. Everything is going smoothly for Braddock, able to support his family and repay the benefits he has received with his fists, until a wild contender named Max Baer challenges him for the title.
8th Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
The group of short-sighted and far-sighted nerds from Adams College, who are awkwardly but wisely outcasts, have the worst of it. Their campus house is burned down by athletes, forcing them to live on the outskirts of the school.
Bullied by their university’s fraternity and sorority, they band together to fight against the two irreconcilable genders. The boys are there with intelligence and computer science knowledge Revenge of the Nerds redeeming and avenging their self-worth to show that having a mind is their own brawn.
7 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Despite the defeat against Forrest Gump The hope of a new day for a man released from prison set the tone for the Oscars’ Best Picture category Prison films thereafter. When you are dealt a bad hand in life, you can let fear take control or use hope to regain control.
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), with the help of his inmate confidant Red (Morgan Freeman), maintained his integrity in a hopeless place where integrity is lacking. The freedom to start over is the ultimate redemption and underdog story.
6 Rudy (1993)
From the director and screenwriter of Hoosiers (1986) was one of the best underdogs Sports films any times. Daniel “Rudy” Rüttiger always dreamed and talked about playing football for the University of Notre Dame, his family’s beloved team.
Instead of working in a strenuous steel mill for the rest of his life, he pursues his dream. He trains his mind, body and spirit to be his best. He did it for Himself, and we can too.
5 The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)
Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a salesman of portable bone density scanners, in this biographical drama. He tries to convince doctors how convenient they are than X-rays, but the financial investment becomes a burden when he gets divorced and becomes homeless with his son.
The will to live can be felt in his shattered dignity and his resilient words, an outsider who fights not for money but for nothing more valuable than a life worth living.
4 Back to the Future (1985)
Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) must come to terms with his past in time to save his future. Bottlenecks in alternative timelines and historical distortions of the fabric of time are as insane as they are shocking.
He risks losing his parents, getting lost in time, and losing his existence, all because his friendly neighborhood scientist decided to build a time machine out of an anachronistic car. Despite all the urgency, he made it back on time.
3 Star Wars (1977)
When war of stars At the beginning, Luke Skywalker is a moisture farmer on a desert planet who drinks blue milk and lives with his uncle and aunt. He is the epitome of underdog origins. By chance he comes across the astromech and protocol droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, followed by a hermit named Ben Kenobi, the last of the Jedi Knights.
A galaxy full of possibilities calls on Skywalker to fight his father and destroy the Empire. Plus, he was never told that his father was Darth Vader (or that he kissed his sister), so the psychological toll on his comeback story is even greater.
2 The Karate Kid (1984)
Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is a Jersey-born, California-raised high school student who lives with his mother in an apartment run by their handyman, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). He becomes the target of ex-boyfriend Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) after he befriends his former cheerleader girlfriend Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue).
Miyagi protects Daniel and eventually teaches him the methods of karate. Karate Kid was one of the many films that introduced martial arts into the mainstream, and with a simple story about standing up for yourself and defending what’s rightfully yours, you’ll be prepared for any battle life throws at you waiting for you.
1 Rock (1976)
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is the epitome of the underdog. He is an amateur boxer who collects more debts than takes punches and is training to become a sought-after fighter. His big breakthrough comes when he competes against world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
Despite all the negative self-talk and bad circumstances, Rocky continued to fight to prove to himself that he wasn’t a bum, but someone. Rocky started a long-running franchise in which he overtook his underdog title, only to then help train a new title Believe Franchise.