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Anti Hero / Live-Action Films

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  • The protagonist of most Film Noir.
  • The main characters from from The Boondock Saints are this trope, as they are two badass Irish brothers running around Boston with crosses and bringing down the Wrath of God on the scumbags of the Earth.
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  • Riddick from The Chronicles of Riddick films and various tie-ins.
  • Dante and Randal, the main characters of Clerks and Clerks: The Animated Series, are examples — not especially moral and not especially successful. Jay and Silent Bob, recurring characters in The View Askewniverse, also count, being crude, rude drug dealers who nevertheless dispense wisdom and help out the main characters — when they aren't the main characters themselves.
  • Most of Clint Eastwood's characters, in particular those in his work in westerns. His character in the Dollars Trilogy manages to be both this and something of a Messianic Archetype.
  • Pam Grier's character in Coffy. She's a nurse-turned-vigilante who goes after drug dealers and mafiosi in order to avenge her little sister (who became addicted to heroin when she was eleven) and her childhood friend (a police officer who was beaten into a coma for refusing to sell out to organized crime). Her victims are depicted as getting what's coming to them, but she does readily resort to lethal force,
fights dirty, and at one point physically threatens an informant to get information.
  • Cannibal Apocalypse. The main character Norman spends the first half of the film trying to resist the urge to eat human flesh but once he meets up with his two former war friends Norman finally gives into his urges and runs of with his other cannibal friends. Despite this he's never seen to eat anyone and only kills those who are attacking him and his friends. At the end he kills another cannibal that tries to attack his wife. Though it fails.
  • Constantine. Constantine is rude, unhelpful to most people, asks his friends to put themselves in dangerous situations (and gets three of them killed because of this) and only performs exorcisms and sends half breed demons back to Hell because he wants to buy his way into Heaven.
  • The Dark Knight Saga:
  • Richard from Dead Man's Shoes is another sympathetic Serial Killer; his victims are the gang who bullied his mentally disabled younger brother when they were teenagers and drove him to suicide.
  • The Warden in Death Race. She is also, by her manipulation of the convicts into playing the Game Show she runs to finance the prison, The Chessmaster, is definitely a Manipulative Bastard but almost but doesn't quite qualify as, and falls just a bit shy of being a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Sarah from The Descent. What, she doesn't seem all too "anti," to you? Keeeep watching.
  • Wikus in District 9 is an example of this: cowardly and selfish, he displays little to no empathy for the aliens except under the most extreme circumstances such as being forced to shoot one against his will. Luckily, he manages to redeem himself later on after he learns the truth and is appalled.
  • The Element of Crime. The only reason detective Fisher is the "good" guy is because everyone around him is even worse.
  • Snake Plissken from Escape from New York and its sequel. In fact, anything set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland tends to have a couple show up simply because such settings tend strongly towards the latter end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.
  • Ash from the Evil Dead series.
  • Most of the characters in Exam are anti-heroes, running the entire gambit.
  • The protagonist of the Female Prisoner Scorpion films is an ordinary woman imprisoned for trying to kill her corrupt detective boyfriend, who arranged her rape by Yakuza purely so he could catch the rapists in the act and move in on their business. She's perfectly harmless unless you wrong her; the problem is, she's so determined to escape that the warden and all the guards hate her, and the mass punishment everyone gets when she tries to break out means most of the prisoners hate her too, so she's constantly the target of someone's vendetta. And she holds a strong grudge. Being a convict, she uses any means she can to survive and do what she has to do: she'll bludgeon dogs to death, she'll hack arms off arresting cops, she'll contrive to make others stab guards when aiming for her. This also means she has no mercy whatsoever.
  • Ferris, the protagonist of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He's a nice guy, but he lies to his parents so he can ditch school, and persuades Cameron to steal his dad's fancy car.
  • Get Shorty. Chili, our protagonist is a shylock who wants to retire from kneebreaking so he can get into producing movies. Depending on one's experience in Hollywood, this could be seen as Chili going from bad to worse.
  • When he's not destroying Tokyo on a daily basis, Godzilla is often saving the world from some other giant monster.
    • Battra from Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth qualifies as this. He's a destroyer of humans and protector of Earth. But when he's forced to be paired up with Mothra, then he starts becoming more of a heroic figure. But it becomes a Bittersweet Ending as Battra dies. leaving Mothra to destroy the asteroid.
    • In Godzilla (2014), the only reason why Godzilla hunts the Mutos is not because he wants to stop their destruction, but because their two species are natural enemies (he is stating in-film to be hunting them). Yet ultimately he is a force for the greater good of mankind, restoring balance to the world and unintentionally saving the human race by opposing the Mutos. Of course, in the process he destroys two major cities and kills tens of thousands of people. He's a 350 foot tall radioactive creature, finesse is not exactly his strong suit and morality isn't exactly his concern when he has the mind of a wild animal.
  • Seth Rogen as Britt Reid in The Green Hornet. A spoiled, stupid, attention-seeking rich brat who cares about no-one but himself, but does have a level of altruism, and who does try at the end of the film to change his ways.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen is the pragmatic kind. And also an example of the good kind.
  • The guys In Bruges would be shining examples of this trope, if anti-heroes were allowed to shine. Even the villain is Affably Evil and has some very clear principles.
  • Hello, Inglourious Basterds. You want to run around WWII-era France and use guerrilla warfare to kill Nazis because they're Acceptable Targets, even though you all have the same kind morals as they do? Okay, but make sure your most badass member uses a baseball bat.
  • In Into the Storm (2009) Churchill is portrayed as a Pragmatic Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Basically every character in the movie recognizes Churchill is stubborn, arrogant, ill-tempered man, but they also recognize he is the one who can save western civilization from destruction.
  • James Bond is perhaps the definitive example of an anti-hero in film. Despite films always ending with him saving the world from some sort of evil force, he resorts to some insanely unethical measures to achieve this goal: He'll rush into a warehouse with guns a'blazing while its inhabitants are just going about their business, manipulate people into doing some of his dirty work for him, bribe people with money, etc. To top it off, none of this out of any kind of compassion or sense of morality so much as it's out of obligation to his duties as an MI6 agent. Daniel Craig's version of Bond, in particular, is about as far from heroic as you can possibly get without becoming a full fledged villain. Pierce Brosnan's Bond, while smoother and more charming than Craig's, is also quite comfortable in the antihero role.
  • The titular John Doe: Vigilante is a vicious, brutal Serial Killer. . . of a cornucopia of Asshole Victims, mostly child molesters/abusers, rapists, and abusive husbands/boyfriends. Coupled with the fact that his own wife and daughter were murdered by such a person—the very thing that spurred his killing spree, and its hard to hate the guy, or at least not see his point of view.
  • Loo in the "Fistful of Yen" sequence of The Kentucky Fried Movie is a parody example. He only agrees to infiltrate the villain's lair because it gives him the chance to kill fifty, maybe sixty people.
  • Lawn Dogs has two of them, adult Trent and 10-year-old Devon. Both cause mischief in town, but both are really the only likable characters in the film, as well as the main characters. Devon is very anti, however, when she threatens her own father at gunpoint and steals his wallet in an attempt to help Trent escape.
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance changed the Western hero from the clean cut sheriff who cleaned up the town and dispensed justice with a gun to the worn down grizzled antihero — who dispensed justice with a gun.
  • Mac and Kelly from Neighbors (2014) are just trying to raise their daughter in peace. However they are also far less mature then they like to pretend and very willing to play dirty to get rid of the fraternity, including committing very serious property damage and trying to set up a relationship between Pete and Brooke (Teddy's best friend and girlfriend) without displaying any qualms about it.
  • The Old Man & the Gun: The eponymous old bank robber Forrest Tucker is a thrill-seeking Gentleman Thief who would normally be a Villain Protagonist, but his friendly personality and lack of violence make him sympathetic, so his obsession with bank robbing plays more as a tragedy.
  • In Miloš Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Randall Patrick McMurphy is a sleazy, violent, and sometimes downright insane convict. He's still not as bad as Nurse Ratched.
  • Porter, Mel Gibson's character in Payback. A film whose tagline was "Get ready to root for the bad guy!" In the Director's Cut, however, he's a more straightforward Villain Protagonist.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean — Captain Jack Sparrow. While you can generally count on him to do the right thing in the end, most of the time he's a largely amoral, perpetually intoxicated, marginally sane rogue who's out only for himself (and occasionally people he likes). And we love him for it.
  • Plunkett & Macleane's main protagonists come across as heroic, despite being outlaws, due in no small part to how evil their nemesis General Chance is.
  • Walker from Point Blank. Quite possibly the only guy who could make walking down a hall threatening. Adapted from a Richard Stark novel.
  • Predators has Royce, a mercenary who nearly causes his comrades to die and recognizes he is not a good person. But he's fast.
  • In Ravenous (2017), most of the protagonists are this once the film goes into full swing. They are very distrustful, selfish, and bitter. Notably, Bonin and Tania are not anti-heroes, as they form a make-shift family with Zoe.
  • The title characters in the Rocky and Bullwinkle spin-off movie Boris and Natasha are either this or Anti-Villain. Besides the fact that they were the main villains on the original series, they believe "it's good to be bad" and go off on their evil mission, but after learning that Fearless Leader sent them as patsies, realizing they can only trust themselves, and after finding out the powers of the chip they're after, they agree to help its inventor keep the chip from falling into the wrong hands.
  • In the Saw films, Officer Daniel Rigg is the tragic version. To start, he has a temperamental and focused personality, which stems from such situations, where he acted aggressive, and on some occasions, even turned violent, which brought him into conflict with the Internal Affairs Department. Despite this, Daniel is loyal to both his friends and his department, is extremely dedicated to his work and had a strong sense of justice. However, his wish to save and protect everyone turned into an obsession, which proves to be his undoing.
  • Scanners uses this trope in the thought-provoking sense, rather than the Loveable Rogue sense. Sure, Cameron Vale is a stone cold badass who can put his enemies into cardiac arrest without lifting a finger, but due to being Blessed with Suck, he's also just generally stone cold. He has no outside interests, no real motivation of his own, and not a whole lot of personality, being described by Kim as "barely even human." During his downtime, he simply sits in his hotel room and waits for the next plot point to happen. So yes, he's a badass, but not the sort of badass you would ever daydream about being. This makes sense, as the character was a downright Villain Protagonist in the original script.
  • Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) in The Searchers. He is an ex-Confederate soldier who hates Indians. His brother's farm is raided by Comanche Indians, who kill him and his son, and rape and kill his brother's wife and eldest daughter. They abduct the youngest daughter Debbie and Ethan goes on obsessive search for that goes on for years. At first he wants to find her alive but after a few years when that she might have already been made the wife of an Indian, he intends to kill her. When he finally finds her, he spares her.
  • Judge Hardin, and possibly the rest of the judges in The Star Chamber.
  • Star Wars series.
    • Han Solo is an Anti-Hero, most vividly seen by comparing him to Luke Skywalker, the obvious hero (which also makes him The Lancer). At the end of the first movie, he has a Big Damn Hero moment. From there, he moves more toward the standard hero as time goes on. In contrast, Boba Fett, who was depicted as a villain in the movies, is portrayed more as an Anti-Hero in the Expanded Universe. While he's still the badass bounty hunter who won't hesitate to disintegrate you if somebody is willing to pay him for it, Fett does have a very loosely defined code of honor and apparently has a soft spot for orphans and the oppressed, and will often go out of his way to help them. Examples include him giving money to charity and saving an alien species from extinction for a hundred credits (it's even implied that he gave their money back). He's also unwilling to kill Republic clone troopers, since like him, they're all clones of his "father" Jango Fett.
    • Anakin Skywalker as seen in the second and third Prequel movies is considered by some to be an Anti-Hero. Others see him more as a Tragic Hero.
  • The Street Fighter — Terry (Takuma) Tsurugi from the Sonny Chiba grindhouse classic is a particularly vicious Anti-Hero. He fights with a savage brutality seldom seen in the action world (including one scene when he castrates a rapist with his bare hands, which earned the movie the industry's first X rating for violence), he doesn't hold back against men or women, and he protects those he counts as friends with his life. On the other hand, Terry isn't above sacrificing innocents who he's not specifically helping, he can be a stone bastard to those he feels has betrayed him, and he's not above sending you out a window and selling your sister into prostitution if you can't afford to pay him for the job he's just done for you.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Sweeney Todd starts out as one of these, plotting to avenge his wrongful imprisonment and the rape of his wife upon Dirty Old Man Judge Turpin. Then around the middle of the movie, his bid to kill Judge Turpin goes awry and in the midst of his less than Heroic BSoD, he launches into the dynamite "Epiphany" number which marks his transition from Anti-Hero to full on Villain Protagonist with a nasty grudge against humanity in general, and then starts killing people and having them baked into pies.
  • Bryan Mills in Taken is a ruthless anti-hero who takes the law into his own hands. His daughter is kidnapped to be sold into slavery, so... he mercilessly tortures and kills dozens of people connected to the kidnapping including unarmed mooks who have surrendered. He is not afraid to Shoot the Dog a few times, either.
  • Vera's partner Lily in Vera Drake, through whom she gets most of her patients. Vera eventually learns that Lily is charging the women for the abortions and neither telling Vera nor offering her any of the money. (Not that Vera would accept it anyway, but still.)
  • Frank Galvin of The Verdict is a quite the Ambulance Chaser in the beginning of the film, and after he rediscovers his thirst for justice, he can be rather...scummy in his tactics.
  • Jet Li's character in The Warlords had good intentions and started out as a good guy but as he grew in power his methods became more and more extreme even if his goals were still for the overall greater good.
  • David from We're the Millers. The entire family actually; Rose and Casey have Jerkass elements (if not to the extent of David) and Kenny is a Classical Anti-Hero.
  • Sgt. Howie from the original British version of The Wicker Man (1973). And he's a very interesting example of one, too. He's at first just a responsible policeman investigating the disappearance of a young girl, but as the film goes on, the uglier side of his moral views, along with his Christian beliefs, reveals itself. He changes into a preachy religious bigot and Jerkass who hates the islanders for being pagans. Murderous, perverted, two-faced pagans who end up killing him, so his view is somewhat justified.


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