The tragic hero is a character archetype dating back to Ancient Greece. A tragic hero is different from an antihero: Antiheroes are often unsavory characters that the audience takes root in despite their villainy. A tragic hero, on the other hand, is the protagonist of a story that exemplifies the virtuous traits that make us encourage them, but whose fatal flaws ultimately outweigh them.

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Because sad endings don’t sell as well as happy ones, tragic heroes are rare in contemporary cinema. However, some of the most revered movie characters of all time are tragic heroes. Here are 10 examples, ranked. Warning: mature and dark themes apply later.

10 Lee Chandler – Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck won a Best Actor Oscar for his heartbreaking portrayal of Lee Chandler in 2016 Manchester by the sea. Lee returns to his hometown after the death of his brother after being appointed caretaker of their son, Patrick. Lee’s past has banished him from his home after his negligence led to a tragic accident.

He is an outcast in the entire community, unable to escape his reputation. In the end, despite his best efforts, he admits to the boy that he “can’t beat” the pain and guilt that comes with coming home, and returns to Boston, promising to have a free room so Patrick can visit whenever he wants. wants.

9 Billy Tyne, Jr. – The Perfect Storm

the-perfect-storm-george clooney

In the 2000s. The perfect Storm, George Clooney plays Captain Billy Tyne, Jr., the captain of a fishing boat. After returning from an expedition with a bad catch, Billy looks to make up for his next outing. They do well on their next mission, but their ice machine fails, meaning the fish will go bad unless they quickly return to shore.

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When they learn that there is a tropical storm behind them, they can choose between waiting safely and letting the fish go to waste, or risking their safety by sailing back to shore through the storm. Billy’s pride leads him to choose the last option, which spells doom for himself and his entire crew.

8 Carlito Brigante – Carlito’s Way

the Carlitos way is an underrated gangster drama from director Brian De Palma. Al Pacino plays the lead role of a recently released ex-con who promises to move on into his later years. He ends up being sucked back into the underworld when he accompanies his cousin on a drug deal gone awry and, in the end, dies before he can escape to peaceful retirement. Carlito’s most fatal flaw is his pride, which in this case manifests itself in the form of loyalty to his friends.

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His “path”, as the title alludes to, is no longer the path of the world that he left when he first went to jail, and his lack of adaptation is what ultimately ruins it.

7 Maggie Fitzgerald – Million Dollar Baby

In 2004, Oscar winner Million dollar Baby, Hilary Swank plays Maggie Fitzgerald, a determined boxer searching for Frankie Dunn, an aging trainer played by Clint Eastwood.

He reluctantly agrees to be her mentor and she becomes a successful fighter. In his “fight for a million dollars”, he faces a famous dirty wrestler named Billie Osterman. She begins to dominate the fight, but then makes the fatal mistake of turning her back on her opponent, a sign of arrogance and the last “no-no” in the ring. Osterman illegally hits her and her head lands on a stool as she falls to the ground, breaking her neck and paralyzing her.

6 Randy “The Ram” Robinson – The Wrestler

Mickey Rourke - The Fighter

Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 drama The fighter starring Mickey Rourke in a comeback performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a minor wrestling star who is forced to retire due to deteriorating strength and heart problems. She struggles to adjust to life outside the ring as she fails to keep a steady job and struggles to reconcile with her estranged daughter.

When he finally gets his daughter to agree to give him a second chance, he ends up sleeping a wild night of debauchery and inadvertently loses his plans to have dinner with her. Defeated and unable to cope with everyday life, he returns to the ring, and in the final scene, it is strongly implied that he dies performing his signature wrestling move.

5 Derek and Danny Vinyard – American Story X

From 1998 American history X an unshakable tragedy. Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton, is a neo-Nazi sent to jail for committing a shocking act of racially motivated violence. During his time in prison, he becomes disillusioned with his intolerant ways and, upon his release, aims to rescue his younger brother Danny from going the same way as him. In the end, he manages to turn Danny around, but unfortunately, the story ends with Danny’s death.

4 Norman Maine – A Star Is Born

Norman Maine Star is born

There have been four incarnations of A star has been born from 1937 to 2018. All four films tell slightly different versions of what is essentially the same story: a musical celebrity struggling with addiction discovers a young singer, they fall in love, she becomes a star, but the man eventually dies. .

In the original film and the 1954 remake, the tragic hero is named Norman Maine. In subsequent films, the name of the main characters has been changed, but their trajectory remains the same.

3 Anakin Skywalker – The Star Wars Saga

Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith

The journey from Jedi to Sith Lord is perhaps as tragic a trajectory as it gets, making Anakin Skywalker one of the greatest tragic heroes in cinema.

Struck by grief over his mother’s death and frightened by the premonition of his wife Padme’s death, Palpatine lures him to the dark side in hopes of being able to save her by controlling his destiny. Needless to say, none of this goes according to plan, and the rest is the story of one of cinema’s most iconic villains, Darth Vader.

two Randle McMurphy – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Jack Nicholson’s Randle McMurphy is one of the most beloved characters in cinema. He is a true rebel who challenges the authority of the evil Nurse Ratched and inspires hope among his fellow patients at his mental institution. His fatal flaw is his giant ego, which leads him to believe that he can escape the consequences of defying someone of such immense power and cruelty.

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He ends up being lobotomized after attempting to flee the room and is suffocated to death out of mercy by his friend, “Chief” Bromden, who then successfully escapes. McMurphy is something of a martyr and one of the most iconic tragic heroes in movie history.

1 Jake LaMotta – Raging Bull

Robert De Niro in Raging Bull

Director Martin Scorsese’s biopic masterpiece Raging bull It is considered one of the best films ever made. Robert De Niro won an Oscar for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta, the real-life middleweight boxer whose many character flaws cost him his family, his career, and more. He is a tortured soul whose jealousy and rage destroyed his relationship with his wife and led him to the wrong side of the law. At the end of the film, he is a completely defeated man, redeeming himself only before his very eyes.

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