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Awesome / Les MisÚrables

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For being a highly philosophical novel about human nature, the evils of poverty, and the benefits of just revolution, Les Misérables sure has a lot of straight-up badass in it.

The book

Taking it by character:
  • During the final battle, La Résistance, who are at this point pretty sure they're all going to die, decide to send the five among them with children home. Problem is, there's only four disguises. Just as it looks like they're going to have to leave one guy behind, another disguise falls from the sky, and there's Valjean, who just overheard the conversation and sacrificed his only way out for the last man.
    • Valjean carrying the man who was going to deprive him of Cosette, who he had every reason to hate, on his back, in the sewers under Paris, through quicksand.
    • Valjean's crowning moment may have been far earlier... five words partway through: "You have killed this woman." It is delivered as a What the Hell, Hero? when Javert inadvertently frightens Fantine to death by revealing Valjean's identity.
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    • His encounter with Montparnasse on the street.
    • Valjean escaping the Rue de Petit-Pictus in a coffin.
    • The way he utterly dominates the exchange between himself and Thénardier's Patron Minette gang when they capture him and try to rob him, especially when he burns himself with a fire iron without even wincing to show them how badass he is.
      Thenardier: “A false address! What did you hope to accomplish by that?”
  • Marius, despite being an utter(ly lovable) dingbat throughout most of the story, also has a couple. The first thing he does upon arriving at the final battle is shoot a sadistic policeman about to spear poor little Gavroche. Then, later, he gets the police to retreat from the barricade... by threatening to blow himself up.
  • Besides Éponine's famous rescue of Marius, she has an earlier one as well, when she scares her father Thénardier and his gang away from Valjean and Cosette's house during one of Marius' meetings there with Cosette. What makes this even sweeter is that Hugo writes in what must be the 19th Century French equivalent of "Ha ha, you're scared of a girl!"
  • Javert: "Would you like my hat?" Again, to Thénardier.
    • When Thénardier holds a gun up to Javert at point blank range, Javert informs him that he can shoot, but the gun will misfire. Thénardier shoots. The gun misfires.
    • And when Mme. Thénardier is threatening to throw a huge stone at his face, he mocks her, saying, "What a grenadier! Mother, you have a beard like a man, but I have claws like a woman." She throws the stone, he ducks, and the stone ricochets off the wall and lands at his heels. He proceeds to casually arrest her and her husband.
    • Before his death, he leaves a "suicide note" which amounts to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, where he lists numerous problems with the penal system that need to be changed. Even reading the note, you can practically feel the snark.
  • "Vive la République! I'm one of them!"
    • Enjolras has been fighting in a battle that has killed most of the participants on his side, and he is completely unscathed. Not only that, but his defiance and readiness to die actually impresses the National Guard.
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  • Monsieur Mabeuf. When Enjolras hesitates to sacrifice himself by putting the flag back into place on top of the barricade, this octogenarian takes the flag and stands at the top of the barricade, waving it and shouting "Vive la République!" This Moment of Awesome is recognized by Enjolras, who says, "There now is our flag," referring to Mabeuf's bullet-riddled jacket.
  • Waterloo. All of it.
  • Monseigneur Bienvenue's conversation with the dying conventionary. For both of them.
  • Monsieur Madeleine's decision to save Champmathieu from the galleys.
  • Stopping a cannon with a mattress.
  • Gavroche's death.
    • Gavroche bowling over some Mooks with a cart.
  • The bishop gets one in the very beginning of the novel when his congregation is shocked to see their bishop on a donkey and he purposely misinterprets the reason for their surprise in order to teach a lesson in humility. And the way he gets Valjean to pull a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Combeferre's simple response to Marius' long-winded Napoleon fanboy speech: "To be free."
  • Father Myriel ventures alone through territory controlled by a gang of bandits who have been robbing churches. His sister believes he is Tempting Fate. He gets to a backwoods church and announces he's beginning a certain festival, but everything needed for it was stolen by the bandits. The next day, a basket is found at the door full of priceless church relics, courtesy of the bandits.
    • And then following that, rather than giving the relics back, he donates them to the poor.
  • Enjolras executing Le Cabuc for killing a civilian.
  • Thénardier's escape from prison. He had to rely on supplies left behind by other escapees who weren't taking him into account, and although intentionally vague, it's implied that for a leg of his escape he had to go making death-defying jumps from rooftop to rooftop despite being emaciated, in pain and in the middle of a freezing rainstorm. Sure, in the end they had to get Gavroche to help him get down to ground level, but he had pretty much gone against all odds up until that point.

The musical

  • From "Look Down/The Work Song:"
    • My name is Jean Valjean!
      • And Javert's following line: And I'm Javert! Do not forget my name! Do not forget me, 24601!
  • Valjean's Kirk Summation to Javert in Drink With Me: "You are wrong. And always have been wrong. I'm a man. No worse than any man. And you are free. And there are no conditions. No bargains, or petitions. There's nothing that I blame you for. You've done your duty - nothing more."
    • Likewise, Javert's riposte in Confrontation: "You know nothing of Javert! I was born inside a jail! I was born with scum like you! I am from the gutter too..."
  • "Stars" and "Javert's Suicide."
  • Regardless of his intentions, Javert's Defiant to the End moment at the barricades was pretty damn awesome, all things considered. "Shoot me now or shoot me later/Every schoolboy to his sport/Death to each and every traitor/I renounce your People's Court!" His dignity and poise are admirable, even if he is a Knight Templar.
  • Gavroche collecting supplies in the middle of a battle OUTSIDE the barricade. Just to elaborate, a prepubescent kid is going with a bag and collecting ammo in the midst of gunfire until he's dead. Is he scared? Yes. Will he let that stop him? No!
  • Mixed with Heartwarming and Tearjerker is the barricade boys refusing to surrender:
    Enjolras: Let us die facing our foes, make them bleed while we can!
    Combferre: Make them pay through the nose-
    Courfeyrac: Make them pay for every man!
    Enjolras: Let others rise, to take our place until the earth IS FREEEEEE!
  • "Who am I?...Who am I?... I'm Jean VALJEAN!"
    • "Who am I?...24601!"
      • This deserves some explanation. He could have chosen to sit back, to let someone else take the fall-he even reminds the audience that he has people to look after in the town, and has a totally legitimate excuse to stay free. But instead, he remembers that his "soul belongs to God," and sacrifices himself so that an innocent man go free. "If I speak, they are condemned...If I stay silent, I am damned." A beautiful example of What You Are in the Dark.
  • Most of Marius’ badass book moments from the barricade are taken out in the musical, but he managed to get a small moment in at his wedding of all places.
    • "As for you, take this too!" *punches Thenardier*
  • The Confrontation between Javert and Valjean is a CMOA for Valjean, where he tells Javert that there is power in him yet and that he will save Fantine's child even if he has to kill Javert to do it—a point he emphasizes by smashing a chair and threatening Javert with one of the broken pieces. It's even more awesome in the Broadway revival, as the two grapple throughout the entire song before Valjean finally gets the upper hand and knocks Javert out with one punch.
    • It’s reversed in the 2012 adaptation, where Javert dominates the fight and and, right after Valjean sings that he is the stronger man by far, Javert lifts up Valjean’s two handed grip on his hefty chunk of wood 'one-handed' with his sword, then practically spits out his famous backstory dump, which is the end of this version.
  • "One Day More." Every. Single. Note.
  • For specific performances, it's hard to beat 17 Valjeans singing "Do You Hear The People Sing?" in over a dozen languages. Oh, and the Japanese representative is Chairman Kaga.
    • The entire Tenth Anniversary Concert was this, featuring many originators of the roles in different countries.
    • One easily missed awesome moment is Hannah Chick's performance of "Castle on a Cloud", which stands out because it was interrupted partway through by a loud bang, apparently from a balloon secured in the ceiling bursting prematurely, and while Hannah noticebly flinches at the noise, she doesn't break character and she doesn't miss a beat.
  • "It's the police, disappear. Run for it, IT'S JAVERT!", followed by a silence when Javert enters. Just the name "Javert" is enough to make everyone run!
  • The finale's epic reprise of "Do You Hear the People Sing."
  • The 25th Anniversary Encore. After a performance by four notable Valeans (Alfie Boe, Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones and Simon Bowman), the entire original cast (save for David Burt and Patti Lu Pone) return to reprise "One Day More", with the concert and tour cast serving as a chorus. Standouts include Roger Allam's Badass Beard, The Thénardiers clearly loving every second and Michael Ball singing "I fight...with you," straight to the audience.
    • The 30th Anniversary, if you can find it on Youtube, reunited the cast, including Patti Lupone this time (though David Burt was still a holdout) and whilst Michael Ball couldn't make it, he still appeared on a screen behind his former castmates singing along.
  • For a recent Ham4Ham, none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda made a vocal cameo in the recent Broadway revival as the Loud Hailer. Simultaneously a Crowning Moment of Awesome (Lin kills it and the cast members hanging around backstage are noticeably Squeeing), Funny (Lin waves to the actress playing Eponine and they both cheerfully note that she isn't going to make it through the act), and Heartwarming (Lin looooves the show, so he's both honored and visibly nervous, plus he actually starts crying when Gavroche dies and has to pull himself together before his second line).


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