Tom Hanks is the kind of Hollywood star who hasn’t needed one franchise to become an A-lister, as the actor has several blockbusters under his list of achievements. From Forrest Gump to Big, Hanks is a bankable performer whom audiences love. He’s played a lot of characters in his career, but there are some that Hanks’ fans consider being better than the rest.
Voters on Ranker have cast their ratings over which protagonists played by Hanks they’ve appreciated the most. Some of these are easy to predict since franchises like Toy Story have big fan followings, but there are some surprises in store as well. With so many fans making their votes, there’s no doubt that these are the best characters Hanks has portrayed.
Carl Hanratty – Catch Me If You Can (2002) – Stream On Paramount+
Among the great Tom Hanks roles people don’t talk about as much, his excellence in the part is usually overshadowed by Leonardo DiCaprio’s more hyped performance as Frank Abagnale. Catch Me If You Can sees Hanks play FBI Agent Carl Hanratty, who pursues the con artist Abagnale.
Carl is among the more likable characters in the movie because he’s on the side of justice and curbs Abagnale’s destructive tendencies. Hanks’ character is shown to be susceptible to Abagnale’s cons, which makes him relatable since audiences can appreciate his efforts.
Paul Edgecomb – The Green Mile (1999) – Stream On Netflix
Considered among the best movies to be released in 1999, Tom Hanks plays a warden supervisor in this fantasy drama who realizes one of the inmates is innocent. The Green Mile is about the connection the prisoners have with John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), as he displays supernatural powers.
Although John Coffey is the most popular character in the movie, Hanks’ Paul Edgecomb isn’t too far behind. Fans enjoy his empathetic personality and his willingness to accept John’s innocence. Most sympathize with Paul’s eventual fate, where he’s left effectively immortal from John’s healing touch and has to watch his loved ones die while he lives on.
Chuck Noland – Cast Away (2000) – Stream On Amazon Prime Video
Arguably released around Hanks’ peak popularity, Cast Away is a survival story about FedEx employee Chuck Noland and the harrowing four years he spends stranded on an island. Viewers feel a connection with Chuck for his will to live, although there’s a lot of pity directed toward him as well.
Mainly, it’s the bond he shares with his imaginary volleyball friend Wilson, with fans feeling saddened in the iconic scene where Chuck is separated from Wilson and deeply mourns the loss. Chuck’s story is also an inspirational one that focuses on the theme of moving on, making him a deeply layered individual.
Jimmy Dugan – A League Of Their Own (1992) – Stream On Fubo TV And AMC+
Not usually brought up among Tom Hanks’ most famous movies, A League of Their Own still has a pretty good fanbase. Hanks’ role as Jimmy Dugan was a bit of a departure from his usual nice-guy portrayals, as Jimmy is presented as a jerk who means well when he manages a women’s baseball team.
The story is set during WWII when the lack of men in sports leads to the development of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Jimmy has a pretty nasty mouth on him as a cynical alcoholic but his role in guiding his team brings in likable energy about him.
Captain John H. Miller – Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Stream On Netflix
Easily the best action movie Tom Hanks has starred in, this WWII story has him play Captain John H. Miller. Here, Miller heads a team to search for Private Ryan (Matt Damon) after the latter’s brothers are killed in action. The resulting hardships that the squad faces make up the bulk of the movie.
Miller has a real father-to-his-men attitude about him that makes him a worthy mentor. His speech to Ryan about appreciating life remains one of the most popular monologues Tom Hanks has acted out. Hanks’ portrayal was so well received that many were surprised when he didn’t win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance.
Jim Lovell – Apollo 13 (1995) – Stream On Fubo TV And Peacock
Based on the true story of the aborted moon mission of the Apollo 13 spaceflight, this movie dramatizes its events to show how it was for the crew members. Tom Hanks plays astronaut Jim Lovell, whose dream of walking on the moon is cut short when the spacecraft goes awry.
Hanks’ role as the commander of the mission and the way he guides his men to safety was well-acted, with fans seeing Lovell as the hero of the story. His performance went a long way in attracting interest in the story and the real Jim Lovell, with fans continuing to see it as one of his best.
Josh Baskin – Big (1988) – Stream On Starz
In many ways, Big is the film that propelled Hanks to stardom for the way he played the role of a preteen in an adult’s body. It’s still considered among Tom Hanks’ best movies overall for the way it captures the innocence of youth by placing protagonist Josh in a corporate setting.
Josh becomes an adult after his wish to become one is fulfilled, ultimately becoming a bigwig for a toy company when his childlike enthusiasm is positively met. Josh’s naivete makes him a charming personality to follow, with viewers encouraged to see things his way and to appreciate the easygoing mentality that comes from youth.
Fred Rogers – A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (2019) – Stream On ITunes
Tom Hanks received his first Oscar nomination in 19 years for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, where he played Fred Rogers. As the iconic host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Hanks’ character is profiled by journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and he helps the latter overcome the issues he has with his estranged father.
Hanks’ portrayal was strikingly similar to the real Mister Rogers, who’s largely considered a darling in entertainment. The actor was of the supporting variety in the film but his presence was so commanding that Mister Rogers is considered the most appealing aspect of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Sherrif Woody – Toy Story Series (1995 – 2019) – Stream On Disney+
The role Tom Hanks has played longer than any other is as the sentient toy Sheriff Woody, who’s responsible for making Toy Story such a massive franchise. Woody’s character development from being jealous of fellow toy Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), to becoming best friends with him, and eventually becoming the leader of all of the toys owned by Andy has been beloved by fans.
Hanks is one of the A-list actors credited with ushering interest toward animated movies in general, which weren’t considered to be as popular as live-action movies at the time Toy Story was first released. Woody is a highly marketable character who’s become part of pop culture and a lot of the credit deserves to go toward Hanks’ portrayal.
Forrest Alexander Gump – Forrest Gump (1994) – Stream On Amazon Prime Video And Paramount+
It’s unlikely that Tom Hanks will play a character more popular than Forrest Gump, who’s considered to be his trademark character even about three decades later. Forrest Gump sees the titular protagonist as a slow-witted but kind-hearted person, with viewers following his life from childhood to adulthood.
Forrest’s extremely likable personality, incredible achievements, and profound quotes are all seen as significant to the cinema industry, as he’s a subversion to the standard type of main character. The movie was the top-grossing film of the year it was released due to Forrest’s popularity, which has since hardly ever diminished.
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Tom Hanks’ 10 Greatest Characters, According To Ranker