Script Written by Laura Keating
Top 10 Tragically Misunderstood Movie Characters
There are few things worse than being misjudged. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Tragically Misunderstood Movie Characters.
For this list, we’ll be considering all movie misfits and miscreants; be they live-action or animated, hero or anti-hero. Also, as we are dealing with some plot points, a minor spoiler alert is now in effect.
#10: Chris Chambers
“Stand by Me” (1986)
For Gordie Lechance, Vern Tessio, and Teddy Duchamp, Chris is the leader of their little group. Even-tempered, and outgoing, he encourages them to get things done. However, for most people in their little community of Castle Rock, he’s just another no-good Chambers kid. Despite his intelligence and kind heart, he comes from a rough family of petty criminals and alcoholics, which gives Chris an unfairly bad name. Mostly, he tries to not let it get to him, but that kind of unfair rep at such a young age clearly weighs on him.
#9: Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier
“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)
Maybe the worst thing for Bucky Barnes a.k.a. The Winter Soldier, is that unlike Cap he didn’t sign up for any of this. Programmed by Department X after getting captured by the Red Skull, he became a ruthless killing machine. Years later, after getting his memories back, all he wants is to figure his life out, but the Feds and Interpol (not to mention a good handful of the Avengers) want him to face justice. At least he’s got Captain America on his side … if only that were enough.
“How to Train Your Dragon” (2010)
While later on in this popular franchise the big, flying lizards get a better reputation, that wasn’t always the case. In the first installment, dragons were a thing to be hunted, and destroyed. Thought to be dumb and savage beasts, no one in Hiccup’s tribe has ever thought to befriend one; slaying is the name of the game for his people. This is mostly because they are ferocious, and everyone is afraid of them. And also they steal livestock – but likely, as far as the dragons are concerned, a few sheep are nothing compared to being hunted to extinction.
#7: Elijah Price
Sometimes the “greater good” can look an awful lot like evil. Due to his extreme fragility, Elijah Price (or Mr. Glass) had forever considered himself the opposite of a superhero – perhaps even a villain. A complex character and comic book junkie, he figured there must be someone like him out there who would be his exact opposite, and all he ever wanted to do was to find the hero to his "villain," a person who might improve the world. But to bring this hero out, he would need to do terrible things, arguing that for there to be heroes the world needs evil. Complicated morals, manipulative, and having convinced even himself that he is bad – there is lots to wrap your head around here.
#6: Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)
To Jem, Scout, and Dill, the recluse Arthur “Boo” Radley is a creepy, unknowable man. Gaunt and sickly in appearance, the Maycomb kids initially think that he is a bad person because of town rumors, and his troubled past. However, at heart Boo is actually a very good person, a little lonely, and living in a sort of self-imposed exile away from the rest of the town and those who shun him. Emotionally abused as a child, he is one of the victims of the unkindness of men, rather than a perpetrator of that unkindness.
#5: Forrest Gump
“Forrest Gump” (1994)
If stupid is as stupid does, Forrest might be the smartest guy around. Of course, hardly anyone would think of him that way. From a young age, because of his low IQ and curved spine, no one in his small Alabama town thought he’d amount to much. The only child of a caring widow, he never learned to doubt himself, and always just did what his innocent heart told him is right. Everyone who first meets him thinks he’s a fool, but he usually eventually proves himself a hero. Even Jenny, another misunderstood character, thinks he’s not smart enough to understand things like love. At least things tend to work out for Forrest … for the most part.
#4: Edward Scissorhands
“Edward Scissorhands” (1990)
A mad scientist's creation, Edward lives isolated and alone in a rundown mansion near a small suburbia. With his freaky appendages, he is thought to be something of a monster. Even after he is accepted by the town, the suspicion against him never really fades, and always runs just below the surface. A ready scapegoat, the townsfolk are more than willing to turn their backs on him at a moment’s notice. However, despite outward appearances, he is not a monster, but very kind and gentle. However, it is only when they think he is dead that the incensed townsfolk will leave him alone, relegating him to the very isolation that he hoped to leave.
#3: Severus Snape
“Harry Potter” franchise (2001-11)
There are few literary characters quite as complicated as the Potions Master of Hogwarts. A reformed Pure Blood supremacist, Snape has never been able to forget his love for Lily Potter – or the troubles of his youth. As a direct result, he is a withdrawn and resentful man. This leads the students of Hogwarts to believe that he is unfeeling, and perhaps even evil. However, when push comes to shove, he places himself at great risk in playing a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix, which is ultimately his undoing. Sadly, because he played his part so well, only a few people know of the good man he was hiding deep inside.
“Inside Out” (2015)
No one likes to feel sad. However, it is still an important part of being human, which is something the other anthropomorphized emotions running around Riley must learn if Riley is to grow as a person. The emotions, especially Joy, do not understand the role that Sadness has to play in the life of a child, thinking instead that she is either useless, damaging, or unimportant. But by trying to keep Sadness out of the mix, things only are made worse. Dealing with so-called negative emotions is important, something perhaps a young Buddy Pines (aka Syndrome) probably should have learned. If you deny sadness, you only get madness.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Toy Story” (1995)
The Iron Giant
“The Iron Giant” (1999)
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, this Disney interpretation is a little lighter than the source material, but still gut-wrenching nonetheless. The titular hunchback, Quasimodo, is an outcast living in Notre Dame. Because of his outward appearance, he is thought to be a monster. However, he is perhaps the most understanding and gentle character in the entire film. Only able to watch the lives of the people living below him, trips into the city invariably lead to mockery and abuse at the hands of the regular folk, begging the question of what truly makes a monster.