These Are the 5 Toughest Movie Characters of All Time (and Why)

Presented by Spartan Training®

The Spartan lifestyle is all about getting off the couch, not sitting on it and watching movies. But we're all for making occasional time — whether it's after your workout, after your race, or on a Friday night after a stressful week of work — to relax, refresh, and watch a solid flick.

Naturally, we favor tough movies with resilient, badass characters that represent the Spartan ethos and lifestyle. After much debate and conversation, we've rounded up our list of the five toughest characters in movie story, and what makes them so damn unbreakable.

Editor's Note: This article is loaded with spoilers. If you haven't seen these films in their entirety, stop reading! You've been warned. 

Rocky Balboa, The Rocky Franchise

What makes Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) so tough is that he's utterly unspectacular. He's not the strongest or the most physically gifted. But he has insane resilience and grit. In nearly every one of his fights he's overmatched physically and athletically (think Apollo Creed, Ivan Drago, and Clubber Lang). He just keeps coming back, again and again and again — his lack of size, advanced age, and humble beginnings be damned. 

Some of his tougher moments: Facing Creed a second time, agreeing to fight Drago in Russia — where he promptly ends the Cold War — and laying out Tommy Gunn in a brutal street fight. (As much as we didn't want to mention Rocky V, we have to give him props for that last scene.) He also returns to the ring in his 60s to take on heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon.

This is a perfect time to rewatch Rocky training in Russia, one of the most inspirational and gloriously 80s scenes in film history. If this doesn't get you jacked up, literally nothing will.

More on Movies: 5 Spartan-Approved Movies to Keep You Inspired and Motivated

Sarah Connor, The Terminator Franchise

Think, for a second, about what Sarah Connor — primarily portrayed by Linda Hamilton — has to overcome. In the original Terminator, when she hasn't yet grown into her badass self, she's trying to evade a cyborg assassin — perhaps the most unbreakable character in film history — whose only mission is to kill her. Then, in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, she attempts to singlehandedly save the planet from a nuclear holocaust, while simultaneously mentoring and protecting her troubled son. She accomplishes all of it. 

The evolution of 1980s Sarah Connor (sweet and unassuming) into 1990s Sarah Connor (muscled, fearless, a bit crazed, and ferociously determined) is one of the most compelling aspects of the entire franchise.

The Bride, Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2

Leave it to director Quentin Tarantino to turn Uma Thurman into a tough-as-nails, revenge-thirsty assassin who can kill you by striking five pressure points around your heart. The Bride — aka Beatrix Kiddo, aka Black Mamba, aka Arlene Machiavelli — is impenetrable and dogged in her pursuit of justice. Having gone through unthinkable trauma, she doesn't let it define her or keep her down.

Her general attitude and demeanor are also just plainly badass.

Another cool little tidbit that adds to the character's legend: Iconic basketball player Kobe Bryant, one of the toughest competitors in NBA history, was inspired to call himself "Black Mamba" — which became his nickname — after watching the two-film series.

Related: In True Spartan Style, Kobe Bryant Always Played Through the Pain. This Is Why.

For your viewing pleasure, here's Kiddo doing her thing.

Leonidas, 300

You didn't think we'd possibly leave Leonidas off this list, did you? This is the ultimate no-brainer. Played by Gerard Butler — a friend of Joe De Sena's and the greater Spartan community — the King of Sparta leads 300 determined (and overmatched) soldiers into battle against the Persians. They fight until the bitter end and die with dignity, never giving an inch and never wavering in their dedication and desire to fight for what they believe in. For more information on the Battle of Thermopylae, of which the film is based, click here.

More on Movies: 10 Spartan-Approved, Kid-Friendly Movies That the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

Toughness isn't always about physical strength. In fact, in most cases, it's more about the mental willpower to overcome obstacles and withstand repeated blows amidst overwhelming odds. Cue Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, who's wrongfully accused of murdering his wife and serving a life sentence in a putrid prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Instead of resigning himself to a life of misery, Andy methodically plans his exit strategy. Over the course of 19 painful, dreadful, laborious years, he builds a tunnel from his cell with a minuscule rock hammer. By day he tries to survive, and by night he works on his seemingly impossible escape plan. He ultimately prevails, crawling through 500 yards of sewage to freedom. In the final scene, when he embraces Red (Morgan Freeman) on the sand of Zihuatanejo, you can't help but smile with satisfaction.

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