Have you ever noticed how a heap of Hollywood movie heroes are orphans? To be heroic, our main characters have to overcome great odds and personal tragedies, so what could be more tragic than losing your parents as a child? Here are just seven of Hollywood's most iconic orphaned heroes.
First appearing in a daily American comic strip written by Harold Gray, ‘Little Orphan Annie’ and her red frizzy head of hair swiftly captured the hearts of her readers, and soon, the world. Most famously portrayed by Aileen Quinn in the 1982 musical, Annie is a plucky, compassionate 10-year-old with a keen sense of right and wrong. She comforts her fellow orphans when they’re sad and has no patience for bullies, particularly clear when she first meets her canine sidekick Sandy by rescuing her from being tormented by a group of boys.
More than a hundred years after ‘The Jungle Book’ was first published, Rudyard Kipling’s wild boy still thrills audiences worldwide, be it in Disney’s 1967 classic or 2016’s star-studded remake. Our young hero was raised by a pack of wolves who discovered him in the jungle as a baby. Along with his friends Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the panther, Mowgli bravely holds his own against the wild’s most dangerous beasts including the outlandish King Louie and the fearsome Shere Khan.
Another orphan made famous by a Disney classic, poor Cindy has been suffering since her days as an ancient folk tale. Left in the care of her wicked stepmother and cruel stepsisters, Cinderella lives as a slave in her own home, forced to cook, clean and wear nothing but old rags. Despite this, she is kind and gentle, even making friends with the mice that live in the kitchens. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella always makes it to the ball and triumphs over her oppressors in style. Plus she has great taste in shoes.
4. Harry Potter
Like Cinderella, being orphaned left J.K Rowling’s iconic boy wizard stuck with his horrid relatives (Though they were kind enough to let him sleep in the cupboard under the stairs!) Regardless of his bleak summer holidays, Harry is not only a courageous, born leader, but also a wizard so powerful that he defeated the evil Lord Voldemort when he was still a baby! He then had to deal with the most stressful teenage years anyone could imagine, having to juggle his magical education with saving the world and living up to the huge expectations his peers and mentors placed on his skinny shoulders.
Most superheroes are orphans. Spiderman, Superman… But none are as enduring as the dark knight himself. As a little boy Bruce Wayne witnessed the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of a mugger, and using his wealth, intelligence and resources, he grew up to become every criminal’s worst nightmare. While he may beat his foes to a bloody pulp, Batman will never kill, never stooping to the level of the evil that stole his family. The story has been told and retold since his first appearance in 1940, but never more chillingly than 2005’s ‘Batman Begins’, in which Christian Bale dons the blacks cape and spends the next two films fearlessly fighting terrifying opponents like Bane and The Joker.
6. Oliver Twist
Poor Oliver is orphaned at birth and spends his early years in a Victorian workhouse, starving under the tyranny of Mr Bumble. After being nominated by his fellow orphans, Oliver dares to ask for more food, outraging the greedy, cruel workhouse establishment. He also valiantly stands up for his dead mother at the undertaker’s he is apprenticed to before escaping to London. Famously brought to life by Mark Lester in the 1968 musical, Charles Dickens’ legendary orphan isn’t quite built for picking a pocket or two, despite encouragement from Fagin and the Artful Dodger. Instead he proves destined for a more noble path, standing against the evil ways of the brutish Bill Sikes and escaping to a life of honesty.
7. Daenerys Targaryen
OK so she’s not from a Hollywood movie, but Game of Thrones is as close as TV gets. We first meet Daenerys, played by the brilliant Emilia Clarke, as a frightened, timid girl, cast out of her kingdom and wished dead for the crimes of her late father. Now, she is the Mother of Dragons, an elegantly regal but fearless champion of freedom and righteousness. Over six seasons she has freed slaves, walked through fire and faced off against warlocks, slave owners and masked terrorists. The fact even three huge dragons and hordes of Dothraki barbarians kneel before her make Daenerys even more formidable. Is there doubt in anyone’s mind that the Iron Throne will be hers?