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Best Tom Hanks Movies and TV Shows of the ’80s, Ranked

Tom Hanks is certainly a well-known and beloved actor today. He has had many easily recognizable and acclaimed roles over the years, including the popular romantic comedy-drama Forrest Gump, and lending his voice for Toy Story and all of its sequels as Woody. He’s still going strong, too, having appeared in this year’s release of Elvis, as well as Geppetto in Disney’s live action Pinocchio.

However, everyone’s career has to start somewhere, and for Hanks, it’s no different. His career began on stage, acting at the Great Lakes Theater in the 70s. Then, in the 80s, he not only made his first film and TV debuts, but started appearing in some of his breakout roles. Once he was nominated for his first Oscar in the 80s, his career really set off — and this was before many of the movies we now recognize him for today. Here are some of Hanks’ best performances from his early career, and some of what helped him in his claim to fame.


7 Bachelor Party

Bachelor Party is about a recently engaged couple, Rick and Debbie. Rick, who makes a living as a school bus driver, doesn’t impress Debbie’s wealthy parents, so they enlist the help of Debbie’s ex, Cole, to try and sabotage their relationship. While Rick’s friends throw him a bachelor party and Debbie goes off to a bridal shower thrown by her own friends, both parties begin to go wrong thanks to Cole’s meddling.

Rick tries to navigate around the binge-drinking and sex happening at his bachelor party and stay true to Debbie while both parties suddenly begin to collide. Hanks plays Rick here in one of his first starring roles. He brings just the right affable personality needed for the movie as someone who wants to stay faithful but experiences many temptations in one night. It’s a role that definitely wouldn’t have been the same with any other actor.

6 Punchline

The comedy-drama Punchline sees Steven Gold, a student struggling through med school, work as a stand-up comedian to earn money. It’s clear that he excels at stand-up, much more than his struggles with school. When he has a chance to go big, however, he cracks. His path begins to cross with Lilah (a delightful Sally Field), a housewife who wants to be a comedian but has no practice with it. Eventually she catches his attention, and Steven decides to teach her the fundamentals.

Related: Best Tom Hanks Movies, Ranked

While discovering how to make people laugh and be herself on stage, a friendship develops between the two, until Steven begins to develop feelings for her, making her struggle with her loyalty to her family and friends. Hanks plays Steven, bringing the comedy of the story to life and carries the movie just by seemingly being himself.

5 The ‘Burbs

Another comedy, though a darker and more notorious one from Joe Dante (Gremlins, Piranha), The ‘Burbs

Read More: Best Tom Hanks Movies and TV Shows of the ’80s, Ranked

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