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Hugh Scott

25 Supporting Characters From '80s Movies That Don't Get Enough Credit

Reginald VelJohnson in Die Hard

Every movie has a star, most have a hero. Sometimes there other roles that get overlooked, or under-appreciated. This list is dedicated to those ‘80s movie characters that just don't get the credit they should. 

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Sallah - Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Indiana Jones is a legend. A hero. Everything anyone ever wanted from a big screen idol. Dr. Jones also probably wouldn't have survived the first half of Raiders of the Lost Ark if not for Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). Remember, it's Sallah who notices the monkey that died from eating the poisoned dates. 

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Queen Aoleon Joffer - Coming To America

When Eddie Murphy's character, Prince Akeem, wants to travel to America to sow his royal oats in Coming To America, it's his mother, Queen Aoleon Joffer (Madge Sinclair in one of her roles as a Queen), who encourages it. When Akeem declares his love for Lisa, it's Queen Joffer who tells him to run after her. She's a queen in name and in action. 

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Merlin - Top Gun

The are two critical moments in Top Gun when a pilot needs his "RIO" (the guy in the other seat). One is at the beginning of the movie when Cougar loses it after the first dog fight. He cracks under the pressure and his RIO, Merlin (Tim Robbins), helps Maverick (Tom Cruise) talk Cougar down to the flight deck. In the end, when Maverick needs to get back in the fight but is struggling with the loss of his RIO, Goose (Anthony Edwards), It's Merlin in the backseat that helps get Maverick back in the fight. 

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Fezzik - The Princess Bride

There is one person you can always count on in The Princess Bride and that is Fezzik, played by Andre The Giant. Sure, he threatens to crush Wesley's skull and he is the Brute Squad, but that's before we really get to know him. After drying Inigo Montoya out from the booze, they set out to help the man they once were ordered to kill and in the end, it's Fezzik with the four white horses to carry everyone to safety. 

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

Sarah - Adventures In Babysitting

Sure, Sarah gets herself in a jam on the edge of a skyscraper in downtown Chicago in Adventures in Babysitting, but she's also the one that convinces the mechanic played by a blonde Vincent D'Onofrio to help. In the movie, he may look like Thor, but at first, he's not interested in saving the kids, because they are short a few bucks on the car repairs. Sarah offers up her favorite toy and he's so touched, he gives them the car. 

(Image credit: Vestron Pictures)

Jake Houseman - Dirty Dancing

Dr. Jake Houseman, Baby's father in Dirty Dancing, played brilliantly by Law & Order's Jerry Orbach, is a bit of a villain at times in the movie. He's very old school and very over-protective of his daughters. He certainly isn't happy about Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) canoodling around. When the chips are down and Johnny's partner Penny is in trouble after a botched back-alley abortion, it's Dr. Houseman who steps in and saves her life.

(Image credit: Disney Pictures)

Yori - Tron

In Tron, it's Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) and Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who win the day by defeating the Master Control Program. But without critical information that Tron gets by contacting his user outside the grid, it never could've happened. To do this, Yori convinces the guard, Dumont, to let Tron get the info he needs from his user.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Lt. Bogomil - Beverly Hills Cop

Ronny Cox plays the hardass Lt. Andrew Bogomil in Beverly Hills Cop. At first, he's definitely not on Axel Foley's (Eddie Murphy) side. He orders Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggert (John Ashton) to follow Foley while he's in Beverly Hills. Bogomil comes around and ends up inventing a story to cover for Foley after they take down the drug traffickers.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Agent Oscar Wallace - The Untouchables

Agent Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) isn't the prototype of a Treasury Officer tracking the gangsters in the 1930s in The Untouchables. He's not the grizzled vet like Sean Connery's Malone, or the hard-charging Elliott Ness (Kevin Costner). What he is, though, is the guy that actually nails Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). It's his bookish nature that gets him examining Capone's accounts to discover that Capone has paid no taxes for years

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Carl Fox - Wall Street

Carl Fox, played by Martin Sheen, is Bud's (his real son, Charlie Sheen) father. Bud is caught up in the glitz and glamour of the go-go 1980s. Beach house, modern art, Darryl remember. He goes down some pretty dark roads in the movie, gaining insider trading info for the diabolical Gordon Gekko. The whole time, it's Carl  who tries to speak reason to him. Carl even lines him up with a job at his company that Bud once tried to kill with a deal. That's love. 

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Sgt. Hulka - Stripes

In the beginning, he was the drill sergeant. Sgt. Hulka (Warren Oates) is mean; he's tough; he drills the men in the platoon in Stripes, directed by Ivan Reitman, half to death. Like any drill sergeant, he never lets down his guard or shows his human side. That is, until the end, when the idiots in the platoon drive straight into communist Czechoslovakia. Using all his toughness and smarts, Hulka gets word to John (Bill Murray) and Russell (Harold Ramis) and together they break the rest of the platoon out of jail and get back safely to Western Europe, becoming national heroes. 

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Iona - Pretty In Pink

Iona (Annie Potts) is the best friend everyone needs in Pretty in Pink. She's the (slightly) older, wiser, big sister type for Andie (Molly Ringwald) and guides her through some of the most important parts of her life. When the brass tacks are down at the end of the movie and Andie needs a dress to the prom, it's Iona who gives Andie her own prom dress, making Andie pretty in pink. It's enough to bring a tear to your eye.

(Image credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures)

President John Harker - Escape From New York

Okay, so President Harker (Donald Pleasence) in Escape From New York isn't exactly a hero. In fact, the character is easy to despise. He's annoying, he's obnoxious, and he's almost ungrateful at times for the help he gets from Snake (Kurt Russell). For one brief moment, he is the hero. As Snake is being pulled to safety and off the prison island that is 1997 New York, The Duke (Isaac Hayes) appears with a gun and aims to kill Snake. Harker raises a machine gun and blows The Duke away, saving Snake, even if it was really Harker's own anger towards The Duke that motivated him. 

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Billy - Big

Like Iona, Billy (Jared Rushton) in Big is the best friend we all need. After Josh (Tom Hanks, who almost didn't get the role) "grows up," he's basically on his own. The only person who believes Josh's story, that a wish from a fortune-telling machine made him "big," is Billy. He takes it upon himself to locate the machine while Josh is wrapped up in his "adult" life. In the end, it's Billy that finds the machine so Josh is able to become a kid again. 

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Carl The Janitor - The Breakfast Club 

Carl (John Kapelos) is the eyes and ears of Shermer High School in The Breakfast Club. He's also quite the philosopher when he explains to Vice Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) that the kids haven't changed, he has, after Vernon says he thinks '80s kids aren't like kids of yesteryear. It's an important thing for everyone to remember: kids will always be kids. 

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Vasquez - Aliens

Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) is one tough marine. She might be the toughest of the bunch in Aliens. She proves how tough she is when she and Lt. Gorman fight down to their last bullet, holding the alien off so Newt and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) can escape. Vasquez and Gorman end up sacrificing themselves so the rest can get away. 

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Sato - Karate Kid Part II

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and Sato (Danny Kamekona) have, it's easy to say, a complicated relationship in The Karate Kid Part II. We learn that the reason Miyagi left Okinawa as a kid was because Sato had challenged him to a fight to the death over a girl. When Miyagi returns to Okinawa, Sato has not forgotten. In the end, Sato finds forgiveness, and we need more of that in this world. 

(Image credit: MGM)

Vijay - Octopussy

Sometimes even James Bond needs a little help. In Octopussy, a lot comes from Vijay (Vijay Amritraj), MI6's man in India. Not only does he help Bond get acclimated to the country, but he also drives the tuk-tuk in the chase scene, saving Bond and making the ultimate sacrifice when he's killed on a stakeout. 

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Sgt. Al Powell - Die Hard

It's easy to hear "pal" instead of "Powell" in Die Hard when John (Bruce Willis) is communicating with Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) of the LAPD. That's good, because Powell is a real pal to John. He's there to listen when John needs it, and most importantly, he's there with his weapon at the end so save John from the lone remaining terrorist. 

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Zev Senesca - The Empire Strikes Back

Zev Senesca (Christopher Malcolm) in The Empire Strikes Back has a small role. He's one of many heroes in the rebellion, but the reason Zev stands out is because he locates Han and Luke after their night in the cold on Hoth. Without Zev, we might not have our heroes to save the galaxy from the Empire.

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Da Mayor - Do The Right Thing

In Do The Right Thing, most of the characters do the wrong thing. The lone voice of calm in the movie is Da Mayor (Ossie Davis). He tries with all his might to educate the young and calm tensions at the end, but he, like many of our elders, is ignored and lambasted. He should be the hero that is needed at the moment, and would have been if any of us had been listening

(Image credit: MGM)

Mrs. Parker - A Christmas Story

Moms are always a good bet for being unsung heroes and Mrs. Parker (Melinda Dillon) in A Christmas Story is no different. Anytime Ralph needs his mom, she is there. From the fight with the bully to covering up for shooting his eye out, Mrs. Parker has his back. 

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Coleman The Butler - Trading Places

Butlers on film are often some of the most loyal characters, and Coleman (Denholm Elliott) in Trading Places is loyal not to one, but to both the characters he works for, Winston and Billy Ray (Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy). He even plays a big part in the scheme to get rich while bankrupting the Dukes and he ends up on the beach with them at the end, as he should.  

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Rufus - Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Speaking of loyal servants, Rufus (George Carlin) in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is just that. Serving Bill and Ted with all the info they need to fulfill their destiny. Sure, he worships them, but he does the hard work to get them where they need to go so that in his future, Bill and Ted occupy the spot of reverence they are meant to. 

(Image credit: United Artists)

Frank Tillman - Road House

Frank Tillman (Kevin Tighe) in Road House is the boss. He's the bar owner who hires Dalton (Patrick Swayze) and lets him run the show. That's enough to get him on this list, but in the end, he's also one of the people who saves Dalton's life when Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) goes to shoot him. A true hero in every sense. 

Next time you're watching a movie, pay attention to the supporting characters that truly make the difference. It shows we can matter in our own ways.

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