10 Best Movie Redemption Arcs, According to Reddit

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10 Best Movie Redemption Arcs, According to Reddit

We all love a good redemption story. Some of the most emotional moments in cinema are the ones where a beloved character overcomes their demons to do what is right. The archetypal narrative speaks to our desire to do better and rise above our past.

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With this in mind, Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which characters have the best redemption arcs. They came up with some solid picks across a range of genres. From Darth Vader to Severus Snape, these characters prove it’s never too late to turn to the light.

This article contains spoilers for the movies discussed.

10 Gail Weathers — ‘Scream’ (1996)

At the beginning of Scream, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is awful, spreading rumors about Sidney’s (Neve Campbell) mother’s death and being generally petty. She’s dogged in pursuit of a news story and doesn’t care if others get hurt in the process.

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However, she matures a lot as the story goes on (being pursued by a masked killer will do that). Ultimately, her bravery and resourcefulness become an asset to the group. “Yeah, it’s campy, but Courtney Cox separated herself from the cast of Friends with this role. I love her in that movie,” said Redditor LovesDogNotKids. “And she still gets the exclusive in the end,” added user AndyKaufmanSentMe.

9 Lt. Gorman — ‘Aliens’ (1986)

gorman aliens0

In Aliens, William Hope plays Lieutenant Gorman, a young and inexperienced officer. Selfish and jittery, he’s prone to panic, and his mistakes are nearly catastrophic for his crewmates. However, he evolves throughout the movie. By the end, he’s courageous and makes a heroic sacrifice to help the team.

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“[Gorman’s] ineptitude nearly gets the squad killed, but once he’s relieved of command and gets some boots-on-the-ground experience, he leave-no-man-behinds his most vocal detractor, Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and they die the second-best death in the movie,” said user fishwithfish.

8 Prince Barin — ‘Flash Gordon’ (1980)

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Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) is an American football player who, along with his companions Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol), finds himself transported to the planet Mongo. There, they become embroiled in a battle against the tyrannical ruler Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow). Along the way, they meet Barin (Timothy Dalton), prince of Arboria.

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Barin initially distrusts Flash and subjects him to a cruel game, but they eventually become allies. Flash saves Barin’s life, and Barin repays him by playing a pivotal role in the victory over Ming. “I saw this when I was very young and it defined the whole idea of not giving up on a bad person and finding the good in them. By the end, [Barin] is proclaimed king, and he’s not even the main character,” said Redditor crestrobz.

7 Nux — ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015)

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In Fury Road, Nicholas Hoult delivers one of his very best performances as War Boy Nux, a member of an elite group of slave soldiers. Initially driven by total loyalty to Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Nux undergoes a profound change. He forms an unexpected bond with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and joins the fight against tyranny.

“[Nux] goes from blindly being willing to give his life because it’s what he’s been conditioned to think to willingly making the choice to sacrifice himself for something he truly believes in,” said Redditor DailyRich.

6 Jason Dixon — ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (2017)

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Grieving mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) rents three billboards to bring attention to the unsolved murder of her daughter, a move that turns her town upside down. One of the standout characters in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). He starts the movie as bigoted, hot-headed, and violent, but his encounter with Mildred changes him.

By the end, Dixon tries to help Mildred identify her daughter’s killer. His plan fails, but he offers Mildred the next big thing: his assistance in tracking down and killing the murderer themselves. “[Dixon’s story] really sticks with me,” said user lvl100loser. “An oppressively sad film. Rockwell is amazing,” added Redditor Brazenmercury5.

5 CJ — ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2004)

cj dawn of the dead0

Zack Snyder‘s Dawn of the Dead centers on a group of survivors who seek refuge in a shopping mall as flesh-eating zombies lay waste to society. Amid the chaos, CJ (Michael Kelly) emerges as a complex and conflicted character. Initially skeptical and distrustful of the group, CJ’s primary concern is his survival.

However, as the film progresses, CJ undergoes a significant transformation. Ultimately, he gives up his own life to help the others escape. “He starts off as a complete asshole but then realizes they need to work together and ends up becoming an integral part of the group,” said user TheCosmicFailure.

4 Roy Batty — ‘Blade Runner’ (1982)

Roy Batty in Blade Runner
Image Via Warner Bros.

User cerpintaxt44’s pick for the character with the best redemption arc was Blade Runner‘s Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). “You understand him in the end,” the Redditor said. Roy is one of the replicants that Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with retiring. However, this is no small task, as Roy is advanced, intelligent, and — if necessary — murderous.

He’s a nuanced character, however, and he proves his humanity during the climax by saving Deckard from falling to his death. It’s a terrific scene. Aware that his lifespan is almost over, Roy delivers one of sci-fi’s great monologues (“…like tears in rain…“) and then dies.

3 Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader — ‘Star Wars’ (1977-2005)

Anakin Skywalker on the brink of turning into Darth Vader at the end of 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.'
Image via Lucasfilm

A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back established Darth Vader as perhaps one of cinema’s most iconic villains. He’s practically evil incarnate, with his dark helmet, blood-red lightsaber, and rasping mechanical breath. So it was a huge moment in Return of the Jedi when Vader switched to the Light side and hurled Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) to his doom, finally bringing balance to the Force.

“This one is another archetype but with the added twist of high — low — high depending on if you look at the series as a whole. I’ll never forget the scene where [Vader] takes off his helmet and you see the sadness in his eyes. I did such a 180 in my heart in that moment,” said Redditor kamikazeecow.

2 Boromir — ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001)

Sean Bean as Boromir
Image via Warner Bros. 

Boromir (Sean Bean) is a proud son of Gondor who wants to do good, but he’s vulnerable to the Ring’s temptations and tries to steal it from Frodo (Elijah Wood). Heartbreakingly, Boromir is aware of what the Ring is doing to him but unable to resist. He makes up for his betrayal at the film’s end by holding off the orcs and giving the Fellowship a chance to escape. In the process, he dies to a hail of arrows; a parallel to Gandalf’s sacrifice a few scenes earlier.

“This is a classic one that always sticks with me. Sean Bean does an amazing job making us resent him initially but the brokenness he shows and the determination to fight til the end inspires hope in me til this day,” said Redditor kamikazeecow.

1 Professor Snape — ‘Harry Potter’ (2001-2011)

Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman, at the docks in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.'
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is arguably Harry Potter‘s most complex character, and the series keeps us guessing right until the very end as to whose side he’s really on. He bullies Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) mercilessly and often appears to be a villain, but ultimately he’s a triplet agent, pretending to serve Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) while truly being loyal to Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).

Snape is driven by his guilt at having told Voldemort parts of the prophecy and thus sealing the fate of Harry’s mother Lily (Geraldine Somerville), the love of Snape’s life. To atone, he devotes his life to defeating Voldemort, even if it means being hated by everyone. “Alan Rickman killed it. The archetype of loathed to loved,” said user kamikazeecow.

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