Ten of the best… Eighties Heroes

Despite living in a decade overrun with sci-fi heroes, there was a time when they were few and far between, when goodies were good and baddies were, well, outrageously camp. These heroes fought for truth, justice and fluorescent hand bands, and for those reasons alone they deserve our respect. Here is our tribute to the brave and the beautiful heroes of the 1980s…

 

 

 

 

 

 

top_ten10_screen210. Dutch
PREDATOR

Actor: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Eighties Appearance: 1987

When highly trained US forces can’t get the job done, there’s only one man who can and they call him Dutch. Killed, skinned and hung from the tree tops – that was the fate of most men that come up against the Predator, but the alien branch-dweller didn’t count on meeting the most effective killing machine to ever cover himself in mud and curl a bicep or two. Reluctant to lead his ragtag team into danger, Dutch leads by example, facing off against the alien humanoid and helping his female companion ‘get to the chopper’.
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top_ten09_screen19. Michael Knight
KNIGHT RIDER
Actor: David Hasselhof
Eighties Appearance: 1982

Not just a pretty perm, Michael Arthur (yes, you read that correctly) Knight is a former cop and crime fighting tour de force. Along with his supercharged buddy KITT, he’s a modern day (well, Eighties, at least) ‘Knight’ in shining armour, avenging victims and punishing the guilty. Given objectives by Devon Miles, the director of FLAG, Michael was selected for his all-round level of intelligence, fighting skill and general levels of awesomeness. Travelling across the United States, and occasionally Mexico, Knight and KITT would seek out wrongdoers and dish out his own brand of justice with the help of his friends K and O.
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8. Kyle Reese
TERMINATOR
Actor: Michael Biehn
Eighties Appearance: 1984

While endless praise and acclaim has been lavished on Arnie over the years, we should never forget that Kyle Reese was the original time-travelling hero. Sarah Conner’s (and all humanity’s) one hope of survival, Reese is one man protection racket, stopping what appears to be the unstoppable. A human resistance soldier fighting under (his son) John Conner, Reese comes from a future where machines have all but wiped out the human race and so he is physically, emotionally and mentally hardened, but eventually falls for Sarah and ends up giving his life for her when they are forced to face the Terminator. When it comes to man verses machine, Reese scores one for the oxygen stealers.
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7. Gary & Wyatt
WIERD SCIENCE
Actors: Anthony Michael Hall & Iian Mitchell-Smith
Eighties Appearance: 1985

High school geeks live the dream by using their computer, as well as the US Government mainframe, to create their own (super hot) woman who brings with her all the fun of the fair, showers (albeit in their jeans), boozing in blues clubs and hosting their own outrageous party. Popularity, fast cars and their fair share of trouser tents follow but it all goes awry in the end when, among other things, a rocket comes to visit, but thanks to a little bully bashing and a stiff shot of courage, the bra-wearing boys manage to set things straight. Living every teenager’s dream, these two are legends in the making; combining sci-fi with teen comedy, Gary and Wyatt manage to beat the bully boys at their own game and make it cool to be a geek.
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top_ten06_screen16. Ellen Ripley
ALIENS
Actress: Sigourney Weaver
Eighties Appearance: 1986

Challenging gender, not to mention genre stereotypes, warrant officer Ellen Ripley is one of the strongest ever female characters to take to the sci-fi stage. Outsmarting the xenomorphs and out-muscling most of her male cohorts, Ripley spends much of her life in hypersleep, emerging occasionally to spill green blood and save young girls in distress. The character of Ripley was never intended for a woman, it was written with a man in mind, but we’re certainly thankful that Ridley Scott had other ideas or else we would have been robbed of one of science fiction’s strongest leading ladies, who paved the way for a slew of future female protagonists.
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5. Alex J Murphy
ROBOCOP

Actor: Peter Weller
Eighties Appearance: 1987

After only just transferring from another precinct, officer Alex J Murphy is savagely murdered by Clarence Boddicker and his gang of no-good punks. Left for dead, Murphy is scraped up off the floor and pronounced dead in the hospital and his remains are used to build the most effective law enforcer known to man – Robocop. Driven by a set of prime directives, he begins to clean up the streets of Detroit, ever so slowly recovering the memories of his former life, and death. After the harsh realisation that he can never resume his old life, the cyborg officer then goes after his assassins, eventually killing Clarence and bringing down OCPs crooked organisation – proving that there has never been a better mix of man and machine.
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4. Luke Skywalker
STAR WARS

Actor: Mark Hamil
Eighties Appearance: The Empire Strikes Back 1980, Return of the Jedi 1983

The farm boy come saviour of the entire galaxy, Luke is hero not only to the Rebels but to a whole generation of sci-fi fans. From his humble roots on Tatooine, Luke seeks out Obi-Wan and then Yoda in order to become a Jedi Master and major player in the Alliance. Testing his mettle on Hoth, Cloud City and Dagobah, Luke then has to face some harsh truths, the worst of which being that the evil cyborg he’s been trying to dispose of is actually his father. After killing Rancors, avoiding an embarrassing situation with his sister, and seeing almost all of those he holds dear turn a watery shade of blue, Luke faces his fear and confronts his father and the prune-faced Palpatine in order to restore balance to the Force. Was there ever a more fitting hero than young Skywalker?
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3. The Ghostbusters
GHOSTBUSTERS

Actors: Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson
Eighties Appearance: Part I 1984, Part II 1989

What do you do if one day you’re sacked from your cushy research job at New York City’s Columbia University? Well if you’re three misfit parapsychology professors, the obvious thing to do is find an abandoned fire station and set up shop as a ghost removal service – no we don’t mean moving supernatural furniture across town into a nice new loft apartment, we mean the spectral investigation and removal of troublesome spirits. Maybe not, but it seemed to work for masseurs Stantz, Venkman and Spengler, who eventually manage to convince blue-collar everyman Winston Zeddemore to join the greatest ghostbusting crew to ever to strap on a proton pack. Despite a slow start, the Ghostbusters manage to save the Big Apple from the threat of the dangerous ancient entity known as Gozer and the slime-loving demon spirit, Viggo the Carpathian, as well as holding a street party with as much free marshmallow as you can eat. So when there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
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top_ten02_screen12. Marty McFly
BACK TO THE FUTURE

Actor: Michael J Fox
Eighties Appearance: Part I 1985, Part II 1989

Martin Seamus ‘Marty’ McFly is just about the coolest adolescent to ever come out of Hill Valley: he plays the electric guitar, has a cute girl on his arm, and his best friend is a scientist who invents a machine capable of time travel – just try and beat that. If you can forget the fact that he nearly does the dirty with his own mother when he travels back in time, he’s a role model for us all. Hoverboard in hand, Marty is quite the resourceful chap – managing to repeatedly repair rips in the space-time continuum and survive run-ins with Libyan terrorists, western gunslingers and (perhaps worst of all) knuckle head bully Biff Tannen. Travelling through time, Marty manages to save his family from several alternate realities and the world from possible implosion. Call him Calvin Klein, call him Marty Jr, call him anything you please… just don’t call him Chicken.
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top_ten01_screen11. Flash Gordon
FLASH GORDON
Actor: Sam J Jones
Eighties Appearance: 1980

Based on the eponymous comic book character, stud muffin Sam J Jones dons the trademark Lycra and prepares to do battle with intergalactic emperor Ming The Merciless. New York Jets star quarterback and bright-eyed all-American boy, Flash is the quintessential hero. After a near fatal plane crash almost robs him of his life, Flash blasts into space in order to face the threat head on. Using a mix of courage, brains and brawn, Gordon brings about the downfall of Ming’s imperial police state and gets the girl, all set to Queen’s magnificent musical score – what a guy. After battles with deadly tree beasts, tussles with burly Hawkmen and a run in with a rather sexy seductress, we’re amazed that “Gordon’s alive!”