We’ve all been there before. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you’re up against insurmountable odds. Whether it’s in our personal lives or on the big screen, I love to root for the underdog.
There’s something about watching someone achieve the impossible that just gets our blood pumping. It’s the reason why Rocky is such an enduring movie franchise and why we can’t help but clap along with Rudy as he runs onto that football field.
Underdog stories are some of the most inspiring and popular ones out there, which is why we’ve compiled a list of some of the best examples in recent memory. So sit back, get comfortable, and get ready to be inspired by these incredible underdog stories.
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption is the quintessential underdog story. It’s the tale of a man who is wrongfully accused and sent to prison, where he must endure years of abuse at the hands of the guards.
While in prison, Andy befriends Red, an inmate who helps him adjust to life behind bars. Over the years, the two men form a strong bond, and Andy helps Red to see the beauty and hope that still exists in the world.
2. Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump is a film about a man with a low IQ who somehow manages to find success in life despite all the odds stacked against him.
The film follows Forrest (played by Tom Hanks) from his early childhood in the American South, through his time in the Army during the Vietnam War, and into his later years as a successful businessman.
If you enjoy listening to soundtracks, Forrest Gump is actually considered one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.
3. Nobody (2021)
The movie “Nobody” is about a man named Hutch Mansell. He is a family man who seems to have it all, but he is struggling with some personal demons.
One night, his house is broken into, and he is faced with the decision to fight back or let the criminals get away. He chooses to fight back, which sets off a chain of events leading him down a dark path.
4. Turbo (2013)
The Turbo movie is about a snail who dreams of becoming the fastest racer in the world. When he’s accidentally exposed to nitrous oxide, he finds that he has the speed of a cheetah.
With the help of his snail friends, he enters a secret underground racing league and competes against some of the best racers around.
5. Karate Kid (1984)
Karate Kid is a film about a young boy named Daniel who moves to Southern California and becomes the target of bullying by a group of karate students. When Daniel meets Mr. Miyagi, an older man who is a master of karate, he agrees to teach Daniel self-defense.
Although Mr. Miyagi is initially reluctant, he eventually agrees to help Daniel prepare for a tournament in which he will face off against the bullies. Along the way, Daniel learns self-defense techniques and essential life lessons.
6. Legally Blonde (2001)
When Elle Woods is dumped by her boyfriend for someone more “serious,” she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School to prove that she’s not just a pretty face.
7. 300 (2006)
The movie 300 is about the Battle of Thermopylae. It centers around the Spartan King Leonidas, who led his 300 soldiers against the invading Persian Army. The film is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, and Zack Snyder directed it.
8. John Wick (2014)
John Wick is an American action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad. It stars Keanu Reeves as John Wick, a retired hitman who is forced back into the criminal underworld that he retired from.
9. Expendables (2010)
The Expendables is an action movie directed by Sylvester Stallone. The film follows a team of mercenaries as they undertake a dangerous mission to overthrow a dictator in South America.
The movie features an all-star cast, including Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Jet Li.
10. Rocky (1976)
Rocky is a movie about an underdog boxer who gets a shot at the world championship. The film follows Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) as he trains and prepares for his big match against heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
11. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness is a biographical drama film based on entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s nearly struggle being homeless with his son and enduring many hardships. However, Chris refuses to give up and works towards a better life for himself and his son.
12. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age movie based on the popular young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky.
The film follows the life of teenager Charlie Kelmeckis, played by Logan Lerman, as he starts high school and navigates his way through the ups and downs of adolescence.
13. A League of Their Own (1992)
A League of Their Own is a popular film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The league was founded in 1943, during World War II, when many male baseball players were away at war.
The film follows the fictional character Dottie Hinson (played by Geena Davis), who is recruited to play for the Rockford Peaches.
14. The Longest Yard (1974)
The Longest Yard is a classic football movie starring Burt Reynolds. The film is about a former NFL player sent to prison for leading police on a high-speed chase. While in prison, he is recruited by the warden to put together a team of inmates to play against the guards.
The Longest Yard features an all-star cast and is considered one of the best football movies ever made.
15. Rudy (1993)
Rudy is a film about a man named Rudy Ruettiger who dreams of playing football for the University of Notre Dame. Despite being undersized and having no experience, Rudy persists in his quest to achieve his goal.
16. IP Man (2008)
Ip Man is a Hong Kong biographical martial arts film based on the life of Ip Man, a grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee. The film focuses on events in Ip’s life that took place in the city of Foshan during the Sino-Japanese War.
Final Words on Underdog Movies
These are just a few great inspirational underdog films out there. If you’re looking for some motivation, these movies are sure to provide it.