The 1980’s gave us some of the greatest action movies of all-time, and was the best decade ever in general if you were to ask your dad.
It was also the single greatest decade for the over-the-top action hero. But where do these classic characters rank, when put to dads? Well, we’re glad you asked. Here’s our completely infallible list* of the greatest 80’s action film characters, as ranked by dads.
*Actually, this list will probably anger many people.
10: Snake Plissken – Escape From New York
Kurt Russell remains one of the coolest men on the planet, but that was especially true in the 80’s. In Escape from New York, he played Snake, an unmitigated badass with an eye patch. Just the look is enough for him to make it on this list, but Russell played him with such smarm and charisma to push him into the elite category of action heroes.
9: Axel Foley – Beverly Hills Cop
You want a funny action movie? You got it. Eddie Murphy turned what could’ve been a cheesy genre film into an iconic franchise and character.
8: Dutch – Predator
You knew Arnold had to make this list. Predator is an all-time dad favorite, and Dutch hit that perfect level of muscle-bound 80’s action character like no one else.
7: Ellen Ripley – Aliens
Alien introduced us to Ripley in 1979, but she didn’t become a certified badass action character until the 1986 release of Aliens. But once she was let loose in the sequel, she immediately launched herself into the stratosphere of awesome 80’s action heroes.
6: Martin Riggs – Lethal Weapon
All dads are Murtaughs, but they kind of wish they were Riggs. The reckless, crazy cop who gets the job done no matter the cost. You know that dads like Lethal Weapon since they let four of them get made, but if they had to choose their favorite character, they’d hem and haw a bit, but land on Riggs every time.
5: Jack Burton – Big Trouble In Little China
Kurt Russell was badass in Escape from New York, but he was badass and funny in Big Trouble in Little China, definitely one of the weirder movies that your dad is completely obsessed with.
4: The Terminator – The Terminator
We’re now officially in the cream of the crop. The action heroes who are not only dad-approved, but actually iconic. Some of the greatest characters to ever grace the screen. The Terminator has to make this list, even if the only Terminator film in the 80s had him as the villain. The Arnold’s most defining role is still his best, at least when you’re asking dads. But there’s one robotic action star that dads love even more…
3: Robocop – Robocop
Dads love Robocop so much that they’ve even seen Robocop 3, which was a PG-13 movie and was hot putrid garbage. But we can’t blame them, any chance to get more Robocop in your life is worth watching, ugh, Robocop fly. He’s that essential of an action character. Now we’ll close this particular entry like every dad would. But quoting, “I’d buy that for a dollar!” with no context.
2: John Rambo – Rambo
John Rambo is another one of those iconic characters that will live on forever in cinematic history. Once you get past how strange it is that Rambo started as a PTSD-suffering Vietnam vet who, unintentionally, kills one person in the course of his first movie and somehow ends up punching people’s heads off in the jungle, Rambo ends up making just about every list of the most prototypical action hero of the 80’s.
But as much as dads love Rambo, there is only one 80’s action star that can truly claim the heart of every dad.
1: John McClane – Die Hard
Who else but John McClane could take the top dad spot, really? He might not be the strongest, or the most lethal, but John McClane pretty much changed the game when it came to 80’s action heroes, while making the best Christmas movie of all time. (Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie, fight us.) Ask any dad, no one is more deserving of this top spot than John McClane. Yippee-Ki-Yay.
Indiana Jones, Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Many will argue Indy belongs in the main part of the list, not as an afterthought. But we’d say, yeah, probably right, but isn’t he more of an adventure guy?
Frank Dux, Bloodsport: Jean-Claude Van Damme had to make this list, so we’re going to go with his best role in his best film. Plus, Bloodsport is one of those movies that’s on TNT roughly 7 hours every day, and dads will stop to watch it every time, no matter what.