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Why We Love Underdogs

by Mary Flom

Do you have a favorite Underdog movie?  A few classics come to mind…

  • “Rudy” The story of Daniel Rudy Ruettiger whose life dream was playing football at the university of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles.
  • “The Karate Kid” A bond forms between a martial arts teacher and a boy who is being bullied.
  • “Rocky” This is a story of a small-town boxer who gets a chance to do the impossible!
  • “Remember the Titans” A tale of a team who learns to trust one another and achieves what no one thought they could.
  • “Moneyball” Coach Billy Beane took a team of nobodies and turned them into a force to be reckoned with.

“Cool Runnings,” “The Mighty Ducks,” “Braveheart,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Mulan,” “Miracle,” and the list could go on and on.  While all of these movies could easily illustrate my thoughts on why we love underdogs, I’m going to pick one of my favorites: Lord of the Rings.

Hero of the Story

If you’ve never seen the LOTR Trilogy, consider bingeing on your next day off.  Frodo Baggins is the hero of this story.  He, along with his hobbit buddies and new friends, set out on a quest to save Middle Earth.  Frodo is the underdog in this story because he’s not the classic hero type.  He’s a humble hobbit who lives a simple farm life.  Hobbits are small creatures who aren’t known for their strength.

Frodo struggles throughout the series to believe in himself and his ability to complete the quest.  We can all relate right?  There are times where we haven’t felt smart enough, good enough, strong enough or you fill in the blank.  We love underdogs because we’ve all felt like one.  Here’s the thing though…underdogs push through their fears and give it their best.  They become our heroes because they help us believe we’re capable of hard things too.

Frodo’s Guardian

Samwise Gamgee is one of Frodo’s hobbit buddies that many believe is just as much of a hero as Frodo.  Samwise is equally (if not more of) an underdog in this story.  He takes it upon himself to be Frodo’s guardian.  Without Sam, Frodo never would have made it to the end.  Their friendship illustrates the beautiful thing that happens when we connect our lives with others.  When we decide that we’re not going to go through life alone, but we are going to choose to invest in others around us even if that means we’ve got to carry someone up a mountain a time or two.  Samwise wasn’t caught up in being the hero of this story.  He humbly decided to serve his friend no matter the cost.  This is another reason we love our underdogs.

Small Acts of Kindness

My last thought on this subject is so eloquently summed up in this quote from LOTR, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”  We are all capable of great things.  “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check.  But that is not what I have found.  I have found that it is the small every-day deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  “Small acts of kindness and love” (Gandalf).  Heroes can be people like you and me who choose small acts of kindness and love, who push past fear, and who lean into community.


I’d love to hear what your favorite underdog movies are.  Comment below and tell us why it’s your favorite!




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