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Top 10 Tough Guy Heroes – Vote for Your Favorite

Who doesn’t love a badass tough-guy hero, in whichever form he presents himself? Vote for your favorite, add your own to the list, and come back to see which one wins the vote!

#1 Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein

Picture it: Vegas. The 70’s. Things are happening. Casino things. Mob things. Things that blow up. In the center of it all, Hero: Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, played by Robert DeNiro in Scorsese’s 1995 masterpiece, “Casino.” Ace, who’s based on a real person, Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal, is a talented sports handicapper who’s sent out to Vegas by the mob to help run the Tangiers (the Stardust in real life) and skim a little off the top before the IRS finds out about it.
Ace is accompanied by Nicky (Joe Pesci), his childhood friend who also happens to be a total sociopath who enjoys the act of murder, sometimes armed with nothing but a pen. Good times! What happens next involves hustling, cocaine, affairs, beat downs, shallow graves, wire taps and some pure cinematic genius. Miraculously, Ace manages to make it out alive and unscathed, which makes him a true hero in our book.

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#2 Maximus Decimus Meridius

“The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an Emperor.” That pretty much sums up ancient Roman Hero Maximus Decimus Meridius, played by Russell Crowe in Gladiator, but allow us to elaborate. It’s 180 A.D. Maxiumus has just obliterated the Germanic barbarians, and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius loves him like a son. In fact, he even offers him the seat of Emperor, so he can restore power to the Roman Senate. When Aurelius’ good-for-nothing, weirdo son, Commodus (played by Joaquin Phoenix, who by the way, lusts after his own sister, Lucilla. Ew.) learns his father has chosen Maximus to take the throne over himself, he kills his father and declares himself Emperor. Maximus gets the hell out of Dodge, only to return home and find his wife and son murdered and crucified. Bad day. But things got worse. Slave traders nab him and take him to North Africa, where he’s bought by the head of the local gladiator school. There, he proves his dominance and becomes a crowd favorite. Soon after, Maximus finds himself fighting in the Roman Colosseum, where he continues to obliterate everyone who crosses his sword. When Commodus goes to congratulate Maximus in the arena, Maximus tries to hide his identity, but at further prompting, he defiantly declares:
"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
And have vengeance he does. As Maximus continues to win and gain the love of the Roman people, his former army join forces with Lucilla in a plot to overthrow Commodus. The Emperor Commodus finds out, and challenges Maximus to a dual in the Colosseum. Because he knows he can’t win on his own, cowardly Commodus stabs Maximus in the lung before battle, and covers his injury up with armor. Despite a hole in his lung, Maximus kills the Emperor in the arena, and just before he joins his own wife and son in the afterlife, returns the power to the Roman Senate, just like Aurelius wanted. And all of these manly, heroic, and noble deeds were performed while wearing a leather skirt and mandals. If you can still be a badass dressed like that, well, you’re A-OK in our book.

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#3 Andre The Giant

With a baby face, intimidating 500 lb. physique, and the ability to man handle anyone that crosses him, it’s no wonder André The Giant was a worldwide hero. André Roussimoff was born in Grenoble, France in 1946. At birth, André was an average sized baby, but due to acromegaly, a syndrome that causes the pituitary gland to produce excess growth hormone, André shot up to his 7-foot-4 stature by the age of just 19.
After breaking into the wrestling circuit under the name “Monster Roussimoff” and having mild success in Canada, André paired with famed wrestling promoter Vince McMahon in 1973 where he was dubbed “André the Giant.” Appearing in a total of six career WrestleManias, André shocked audiences when he defeated Hulk Hogan in the 1988 World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championships to take home the title and become known as “The Eighth Wonder Of The World.”
Aside from wrestling more than 300 days a year, André even found time to hook some acting gigs under his belt, including starring alongside Robyn Wright as Fezzik in “The Princess Bride.” In his free time André became a famed card player and gathered an extensive wine collection. He was even known for overturning a car with men inside it after being taunted in a bar.
Sadly, André passed away from an apparent heart attack in France in 1993. But though he’s gone from this earth, André’s legacy lives on. He’s the face that inspired artist Shepard Fairey’s OBEY campaign and the book “Andre The Giant: Life and Legend.” Long live the Eighth Wonder of the World.

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#4 Andrew Dice Clay

There are a lot of things we can thank the good ol’ borough of Brooklyn for. First there’s Brooklyn Gin. Then, we have Michael Chernow serving up the best balls BK has to offer at The Meatball Shop. And finally there’s America’s most infamous funny man, Andrew Dice Clay. This Brooklyn-based hero made his claim to fame with his often crude humor (to put it lightly) in the late ‘80’s. Long before Clay became the first celeb to hear the words, “You’re Fired” by the Donald on “Celebrity Apprentice 2,” Clay began his career as a stand-up comedian. He became notorious for his lewd jokes and his routine of beginning all of his shows by standing on stage smoking a cigarette in silence in front of the audience, a tradition he still continues today.
This foul-mouthed Hero became the first comedian in history to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row. Subsequently, he also became the first comedian to be banned from MTV after reciting offensive “Adult Nursery Rhymes” at the VMA’s. But don’t worry, that little ban from the network didn’t hold The Diceman down. Aside from making appearances in the TV series “Diff’rent Strokes” and alongside the Brat Pack in “Pretty in Pink,” Clay also starred in the TV series “Hitz” and “Bless This House.” He even had a short-lived reality series “Dice: Undisputed” that aired briefly on VH1.
More recently, you may recognize Clay from his guest role on HBO series “Entourage,” where he played the erratic and emotional co-star on Johnny Drama’s TV series “Johnny Bananas” (we can only hope that he’ll reprise this role in “Entourage the Movie”). Currently, the Diceman resides somewhere in Jersey with his third wife, and if you’re looking to get your fix of Clay, don’t bother driving out to Jersey. He’s currently starring in the Woody Allen film “Blue Jasmine” or you can catch his Sirius radio show “Out of the Cage.” He’s even landed himself a book deal to publish his memoir “The Dirty Truth.” Comedian, Actor, Reality Star, Author, that’s not bad for a boy from the BK huh? Oh, and if you’re wondering, MTV lifted the ban on Clay back in 2011. Long live the Diceman!

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#5 Zorro

As a man surrounded by mystery and intrigue yourself, you can relate to a masked crusader like Zorro. A cocky outlaw, he defends the defenseless and mocks their oppressors with his cunning wit. You can identify him by his trademark mask, flowing Spanish cape, and flat-brimmed black hat. And if you’re still not convinced, look for his token “Z,” sword-cut with three quick strokes (a little more classy than your toekn initials in the snow). Zorro uses his incredible athleticism and swordsmanship to stay one step ahead of his adversaries. Using his bullwhip as an acrobatic instrument, Zorro can swing through gaps between city roofs and he always manages to land on his feet after a steep fall. In addition to his sword and bullwhip, he ingeniously transforms his ensemble into weapons as well. Using his cape as a blind, a trip-mat and a disarming tool and his weighted boots and hat as flying hazards he quickly turns the tables on his pursuers. A skilled horseman, you rarely see Zorro without his trusty steed Tornado. The jet-black stallion helps him get in and out of harm’s way in a hurry. You’ll recognize him from the iconic pose at the close of the movie or TV show with Zorro rearing up, sword raised high. Now that, my friend, is what we call an exit!

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#6 MacGyver

Last time you got locked out of the house you pulled a MacGyver, and used nothing but a cufflink and a Chinese take out menu to get back in. Taking inspiration from the man whose name became a verb, you’ve been able to get out of more than one sticky situation. Secret agent MacGyver made a name (and a verb) for himself by using everyday objects to perform extraordinary feats. By employing his knowledge of chemistry, physics, and outdoorsmanship, he resolved life-or-death crises by creating complex devices improvised by common household items. Diffusing missiles and hotwiring a car with a paper clip, combining salt, sugar and weed killer to make explosives, using a ball-point pen case to fix fuel line, using rock & string to make a rifle shoot by itself, making shoes from duct tape and a plastic mat, developing surveillance film using first-aid kit chemicals and orange juice, crafting a homemade kite to attract lightning bolt and blow off a cell door are all in a day’s work for this renegade scientist. The guy regularly cheats death with nothing but with a Swiss Army Knife and a roll of duct tape, and that friends, makes him a hero in our book.

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#7 Mickey Goldmill

Sometimes, the real Champ isn’t always the guy in the middle of the ring, getting his pulp pounded, but the guy who’s standing ringside, poised with a tub of Vasoline and some strong words of encouragement. In the classic Rocky movies, that guy was Mickey Goldmill (played by the late Meredith Burgess). Mickey started out as a boxer himself, a pro from 1922 to 1943. Despite an impressive record of 72 Wins, 70 K.O.’s and only 1 Loss, he never managed to garner himself too much fame. Years later, he would own Mighty Mick’s Boxing and spin dust into diamonds when he turned local club fighter, Rocky Balboa into a champion as his head trainer. The sharp-tongued tough guy whipped the Italian Stallion into fighting shape with some pretty unothodox training drills, like tying his ankles together to teach him footwork, and making him chase chickens for speed, promising Rocky, “Ya gonna eat lightning and ya gonna crap thunder!” And crap thunder he did. Under Mickey’s tutelage, Rocky went on to beat his arch nemesis, Apollo Creed, and eventually Clubber Lang, after Mickey sadly succumbed to a heart attack after a run-in with Clubber before the fight. His last words to Rocky were, “I love you kid, I love you.” Aw, Mick, we love you too. Tissue, please.

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#8 The Ultimate Warrior

It takes some pretty huge cohones to strut around in public wearing nothing but facepaint, body grease and scant neon skivvies, but The Ultimate Warrior knows how to own it. And we respect that. Hailing from “Parts Unknown,” this terrifying, cryptic-speaking, musclebound Superstar rocked the WWE Universe with his debut in 1987, and would go on to dominate the WWE Championship Title. In SummerSlam ’88, The Ultimate Warrior bested The Honky Tonk Man in just 30 seconds, winning the Intercontinental Championship. His Gorilla Press Slam got the better of even his most formidable competitors, like “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Mr. Perfect. But his shining moment came about in Toronto’s SkyDome at WrestleMania VI, where Warrior took down the legendary Hulk Hogan in front of 67,000 screaming fans, earning himself the rare double title of Intercontinental and WWE Champion.
Warrior would defend his title successfully for nine months before losing to Sgt. Slaughter in 1991’s Royal Rumble. then go on to forge a rivalry with “Macho Man” Randy Savage, eventually defeating him in an unforgettable Retirement Match at Wrestlemania VII. Wherever Mr. Warrior is today, we salute you, and hope and pray that you’re still rocking those dayglo tightie brighties. No one could do it better than you.

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#9 Apollo Creed

While the most obvious hero of The Rocky Series would undoubtedly be the afore-mentioned Rocky, one MUST pay one’s respect to the Italian Stallion’s foe-turned-friend, the magnificent powerhouse, Apollo Creed. Sure, Apollo gets style points for prancing around in silk stars and stripes boxing trunks, dressed like Uncle Sam, but the real reason you’ve got to respect Apollo goes far deeper than that.
It takes a strong man to turn your number one adversary into a friend, but Apollo had the integrity to recognize a kindred spirit and a great fighter in that greased up meatball, which allowed him to get past his initial shit-talking (i.e. the classic threat to “drop you like a bad habit”), and come to be Rocky’s manager and tight friend. And of course, Apollo was a true patriot at heart, refusing to let a commie Russian (sorry kids, it was the Cold War after all) force him to surrender, fighting for the pride of America ‘til the very end. We would also be remiss to omit Apollo’s incredible litany of badass nicknames that every hero needs: The Master of Disaster, The King of Sting, The Dancing Destroyer, The Prince of Punch, The One and Only, and The Count of Monte Fisto. Touche, Apollo Creed. Touche.

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#10 John McClane

He’s a foul-mouthed, trash talking, chain smoking, gun-toting, ex-Marine, New York cop who’s not afraid to run through shards of glass to single-handedly take down a group of greasy German thieves and save a bunch of hostages, including his ex-wife Holly, while screaming “Yippee-ki-yay Mother F*ckers!” We’re pretty sure that’s actually the Webster’s definition of “hero” word for word. John McClane is indeed a modern-day cowboy, and nobody you want to f*ck with. In the original Die Hard, McClane kills Hans Gruber by defenestration, or throwing him out a window (which is definitely one of the coolest-sounding ways to kill a Faux Euro-terrorist). Die Hard 2 sees him regain control of the Washington Dulles International Airport, after mercenaries hijack airport communications and threaten to crash a bunch of planes (wife Holly also happens to be on one of those planes–is it us, or is that broad nothing but bad luck?). In the third and fourth movies, Die Hard With a Vengeance and Live Free or Die Hard McClane saves the day once again, with the help of Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Long, respectively. Most heroic action in his final flick? Shooting through his own shoulder to kill the bad guy. Yippee-ki-yay indeed, Mother F*ckers!

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