5 Movie Heroes Who Would Do Anything For Family

Published 2 years ago by This is a list post.


5 Movie Heroes Family Getaway Intro In Getaway, Ethan Hawke stars as Brent Magna, a man who must follow the directions of a mysterious man (Jon Voight) in an effort to rescue his wife before time runs out. It’s another example of filmmakers using family as the main motivation behind the main character’s actions.The trick is as old as time – but it’s also extremely effective. By seeing the protagonist’s family members in danger, it becomes easier for the audience to place themselves in his/her shoes. All moviegoers have to do is imagine their loved ones in the same situation and the story becomes more relatable. Even if the character resorts to vigilante methods such as kidnapping and torturing people (see Hugh Jackman in the trailer for Prisoners), it becomes excusable in our eyes because the character is ultimately trying to save his family – a noble goal.In honor of Getaway, here are five of our favorite movie heroes who would do anything to save their family. Our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to submit your picks in the comments after you’ve seen our choices.

Marlin - Finding Nemo

5 Movie Heroes Family MarlinAfter a horrific tragedy left his wife and several unborn babies dead, clown fish Marlin is understandably paranoid of venturing out into the depths of the ocean. He would much rather stay safe inside his anemone home and have his only son Nemo play on the sponge beds.His strict, overly cautious style of parenting leads Nemo to rebel on his first day of school and the young fish is captured by a good-natured Australian dentist; leaving Marlin with no choice but to set his fears aside and try to rescue Nemo.On his perilous journey, Marlin (with new friend Dory along for the ride) must escape from the clutches of a group of sharks, brave a jellyfish forest, take a high-octane ride along the East Australian Current, and be saved from hungry seagulls – among other obstacles - as he tries to get to the now familiar address of P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney. Along the way, Marlin even learns valuable lessons about enjoying life and undergoes a personal transformation to become more free-spirited, which makes this movie more rewarding than it already was.

Django - Django Unchained

5 Movie Heroes Family Django2In Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning slavery drama Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx stars as the titular hero as he joins Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) on a mission to find and kill the Brittle brothers. After collecting their reward, Django reveals that his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) was sold and he intends to buy her freedom. Being the good German he is, Schultz offers to aid the “real life Siegfried” in his quest.Honing his skills as an elite bounty hunter, Django risks life and limb as he and Schultz collect several bounties during the winter. As if murdering people wasn’t enough, he must also reluctantly pose as a black slaver - Django says this group is “lower than the lowest slave” - playing the part with such anger in an effort to impress plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Even when the villainous Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) foils his plan, Django stops at nothing to ensure his wife’s freedom.He takes part in the bloody shootout at Candieland as he tries to blast his way out of the plantation. Despite being stopped by Stephen once again, Django refuses to give up as he fools the employees of the LeQuint Dickey Mining Company and returns to Candieland to literally blow-up the house as he saves his Broomhilda once and for all. Django just doesn’t kill several people to rescue his wife; he also does it out of love Schultz – a father figure to him – whom he avenges at the end of the film.

Harry Tasker - True Lies

5 Movie Heroes Family Harry Tasker2Perhaps the funniest of the James Cameron-Arnold Schwarzenegger collaborations, 1994’s action classic True Lies features the star as Harry Tasker, a “computer salesman” (at least that’s what his family thinks) who is actually a spy embarking on James Bond-type missions with his friend Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold). Due to the nature of his work, Harry has little time for his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and you can tell early in the film that their relationship is not in a great place. Their scenes together indicate a marriage that is falling apart.When his life is nearly turned upside down by the belief Helen is having an affair with a sleazy used car salesman (Bill Paxton), Harry discovers in a tender moment that his wife craves excitement in her life. In an effort to give her what she wants, Harry humorously uses his resources to set up a faux mission in which Helen must do some role-playing to plant a bug in a hotel room. Of course, things don’t go according to plan as terrorists kidnap Helen and Harry – and Harry’s objective changes from spicing up his wife’s life to literally saving her life.In typical Arnold fashion, Harry fights his way through a terrorist army and chases down a limo in a helicopter to rescue Helen. Just when it appears his work is done, Harry must leap into action once more to save his daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku) by flying a fighter jet – which he hasn’t piloted in years – to Miami and he does battle with more terrorists before his loved ones are returned to safety. Upon completing his goal (as well as coming clean with his family), Harry and Helen are in a much happier place in the film’s final scene.

Indiana Jones - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

5 Movie Heroes Indiana Jones2Audiences fell in love with Indy long before we met any of his family members, but the third installment of this beloved franchise uncovers a layer to the character we hadn’t seen before as Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) comes along for the ride.While Indiana must first brave a trip to a prison on the Austrian-German border to save his father and later track down a Nazi tank on horseback, the film’s climax is the most suspenseful rescue sequence. Indy must find the Holy Grail if he is to save Henry’s life from a gunshot wound. The three challenges are tough enough as our hero dodges razor blades, skips across stones, and takes a leap of faith.The stakes are raised even further when Indy reaches the final room, only to find several Grail candidates where he must pick the right one or face severe consequences. After Donovan succumbs to one of the incorrect cups, Indiana puts his life on the line by drinking from the one he thinks is the Grail. Thankfully, he chose wisely and got to ride off into the sunset.

Bryan Mills - Taken

5 Movie Heroes Family Bryan Mills2In the film that launched Liam Neeson’s second career as a bona fide action star, Bryan Mills (Neeson) must use his “particular set of skills” to track down the ones responsible for kidnapping his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). In a now iconic exchange, Mills warns the culprits that he will find them and kill them.Traveling to Paris to locate his daughter, Mills uncovers an Albanian human trafficking operation and wages a one-man war against the group. Murdering just about everyone in his path, he also tortures one of the kidnappers in an electric chair. Despite the underlying threat of being arrested due to his actions, Mills stops at nothing to ensure his daughter’s safety and is ultimately successful after a shootout on a yacht.What makes Mills so remarkable is the fact that for a majority of the film, he is on his own – relying on his experience to solve the problem. While he does receive some minor pointers from contacts, he (unlike the other heroes on our list) does not have a close ally for help along the way. His methods may be a tad extreme, but his dedication to finding his daughter is admirable and something all viewers can get behind.


5 Movie Heroes Getaway ConclusionThe “family in danger” plot device will continue to be a staple of Hollywood for the foreseeable future since it’s an easy way to craft an emotionally involving story. Some filmmakers will be more successful than others using it, but it’s clear the trope is here to stay - and not just in high-stakes action pictures. There are plenty of smaller, dramatic features throughout the years that use this option as well. Now that you’ve read our picks, go down to the comments section and let us know some of your favorite movie heroes who would do anything for their family. Getaway is in theaters August 30.Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90 
TAGS: django unchained, Finding Nemo, getaway, Indiana Jones, taken, true lies


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  1. How is John McClain not on this list.

    Die hard: Saves His wife from European Terrorists

    Die Hard 2: Saves his Wifes Plain from crashing

    Die Hard 4: Saves his daughter

    Die Hard 5: Saves his son

    • @Shawn

      First of all, *plane, a plain is something that’s bland and not special…

      Anyway, the difference is that while he definitely did what he had to do to save his family, it wasn’t the primary motivation (at first) for his actions. It just turns out that way. Like in the original Die Hard. He knew the terrorists didn’t know how wife was among them. So at that point he wanted to save the hostages all in general. Well, to be more accurate, he didn’t WANT to do anything, but he HAD to… In Die Hard 2, well, I don’t know if saving his wife was his motivation or not, that was just a terrible movie… Anyway, Live Free or Die Hard, his daughter doesn’t get involved until well into the movie when the villain finds out his identity and decides to piss John McClane off more for some reason… In Die Hard 5… another terrible movie… he seems more interested in finding out why his son was arrested for murder than to save him…

      • A plain is a field of some sort, no?

      • “He knew the terrorists didn’t know how wife was among them.”
        Really, if you’re correcting someone, you should probably not make errors of your own in your comment.

        • 100% correct. Thanks for pointing out the typo.

          BTW, I didn’t correct him to try to be mean, it was for his own benefit. It is so he doesn’t continue to use “plain” in place of “plane” because one day he’ll make that mistake in a forum where the general audience is not as mature as the one here and there the people will probably make fun of him for it. At least here I am telling him the correct word and why they are different even though they sound the same. And then following up with an actual reply to his comment so I’m not replying to him merely to correct him (to try to prevent the possibility that he would misinterpret my comment as an attempt to be mean or antagonistic).

          But thanks for pointing out my typo anyway, I actually do know the difference between how and his, surprisingly, lol.

  2. Why would you do anything in “honor” of Getaway?

    • Good point. We’ve changed that. 8-)

  3. Dominick Toretto!
    “You never turn your back on family, even if they turn their back on you”

  4. Actually, watch the international “unrated” version of Taken. He doesn’t torture the guy in an “electric chair,” he does something a million times better. He STABS the guy in both legs with large nails, and sends the electricity through those nails… Brilliant…

    • I thought that was the normal version O_o

      • @Angel

        Seeing as how the author of this wrote that the chair was electric, that means he saw the American version. So for him, it would be the international version that he has to see. Please don’t go all “It’s soccer, not football, and you’re not American because there’s South America!” on me…

        • @KenJ,

          Yup, I did see the American PG-13 version. I’ll have to check out the unrated version though. That does sound pretty cool.

          • @Chris

            I’m not one to care about rating most of the time because (most of the time) gore and language doesn’t really add to the film. Perfect example for me is Live Free or Die Hard. I’ve seen both versions and actually prefer the PG-13 version. BUT for this movie, that’s not the case. They actually cut out or cut short a lot of the scenes in the movie for the PG-13 version. And honestly, it took away a lot from the movie. I saw the international version first (friend had a bootleg, I don’t personally bootleg movies, but we were watching it at a friend’s house.) and the main reason why I loved the movie so much was because of the passion behind it. When he knocks a guy down and just keeps pounding on his face even after he’s down, it shows the anger in Mills. When he empties the magazine of the weapon into the guy even though the first shot likely killed him, that shows anger as well…

            There were several scenes in the movie where the PG-13 version cuts the “beat downs” a bit short to keep it from being too violent, and in my opinion it takes away from the sheer anger that must be brewing inside Mills from having his daughter taken for the sex trade. Personally, I imagine I’d be pretty angry as well, so it was really more compelling to see that in the character than just him methodically performing tasks to accomplish a mission. This was personal and the unrated version showed it a bit better.

  5. What? No ‘Commando’??

  6. The Punisher , The Crow ?

    • +1 for the Crow.

      Just glad this list didn’t have 90% of the credit going to Man of Steel.

  7. Why is John McClain not on this list? Big mistake.

    • “John McClain” is also a big mistake, it’s John McClane. :-P

  8. I don’t know about Django. When I hear “family” I don’t think “love interest”. But I see what you mean…

    • Broomhilda is Django’s wife. A wife is “family”

  9. CLINT EASTWOOD in The Outlaw Josey Wales (exacted revenge for the murder of his wife and child).

    MEL GIBSON in Ransom (saved his son).

    Sometimes, these lists are more notable for who/what they don’t contain rather than who/what they do…

    • @Jeff

      Since you mentioned Clint Eastwood, I think they should also mention Gran Turino. I know they weren’t really family, but they kind of were to him. He liked them more than his actual family…

      • it’s gran torino, not turino, btw.
        i have not seen that. i’ve read/heard mixed reviews. is it worth watching?

        • @Jeffro

          Yah, oops, realized that after I posted it. Think I was thinking about Gran Turismo, lol.

          I really liked the movie. Not sure about your taste in movies, could be very different than mine, but I say if you can rent it cheap or for free or something, it’s worth at least finding out for yourself.

        • If you’re an Eastwood fan, you’ll love it. His character is a mash-up, of sorts, of some of his older characters, and a nice “goodbye”, if you will, to his on-screen, enforcer, tough guy image.

      • Agreed, Ken. That would be a more recent character. On another note, I wonder how many of the younger folk here have seen Josey Wales, not to mention Dirty Harry and the Man with No Name, among some of his other films. They don’t know what they are missing.

  10. Ya know, I know Newt wasn’t her “family” but Ripley sure found a surrogate daughter in her. I would argue Ripley would have done anything for family as she went ALL OUT to go get that girl from the Queen Alien. She has balls a’ solid rock!