The Top 5 Fictional Limb Loss Icons from Film and Television

Posted by SPS on Apr 23, 2020 9:48:26 AM

The Top 5 Fictional Limb Loss Icons from Film and Television

In the U.S., there are 2 million individuals living with limb loss, and the number is expected to double by the year 2050. For a community that nearly rivals that of the state population of Nebraska, representation in film and television is severely lacking. The representation that does exist primarily portrays amputees as villains, like Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, or Kingsman’s Gazelle. 

For Limb Loss Awareness Month, we’re shining a spotlight on limb-different fictional characters that have broken through Hollywood stereotypes. These characters are heroes with multidimensional personalities, complex motivations, and a spirit that we can all recognize in ourselves.

We apologize in advance for spoilers.

1. Hiccup – How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

“I wouldn’t kill him, because he looked as frightened as I was. I looked at him... and I saw myself.” - Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon

Based in a mythical Viking world, DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon tops the charts with teenage Hiccup, the sensitive inventor who befriends an injured dragon. Hiccup fashions a prosthetic fin for his dragon, Toothless, and learns the true kind-hearted nature of dragons. Living in a world that values dragon slaying over dragon friendship forces Hiccup to confront his society’s prejudices. He eventually wins them over in a thrilling battle against an evil dragon called the Red Death. After the battle, it is revealed that Hiccup has lost his lower left leg, and like Toothless, must wear a prosthetic.

Hiccup and Toothless are not defined by their prosthetic. In the sequels, Hiccup is never at a disadvantage for having lost a leg. The directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois gave Hiccup breathing room to be a complex and positive character, which is why Hiccup is #1 on our list.


2. Della Duck – DuckTales (2017 TV Series)

“Tales of daring do bad and good luck tales! Whooh ooh” – DuckTales theme composed by Mark Mueller

Della Duck from DuckTales

Developed by Matt Youngberg and Francisco Angones, the TV series, DuckTales, made a splash when the show introduced the daring space explorer and amputee, Della Duck. Della lost her leg during a crash landing on the moon. Resourcefully, she fashioned a “Pretty cool robot leg!” using debris from her space ship. The show carefully crafted Della with the help of Jack Richmond, president of the Amputee Coalition. The producers wanted to illustrate Della as a character who isn’t defined by her prosthetic. Because “Nothing can stop Della Duck!” we believe she is a fantastic representative of the limb loss community.

3. Imperator Furiosa - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

“You wanna get through this? Do as I say.” – Imperator Furiosa

Furiosa from Mad Max Fury Road Mad Max: Fury Road was co-written, produced, and directed by George Miller and centers around Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as they escape from a tyrannical ruler. Furiosa is a lieutenant who goes rogue to save the tyrants five enslaved wives. She is missing her left arm and wears an uncomfortable-looking prosthetic made from machine parts. Her missing limb isn’t remarked on during the movie, simply accepted as a part of her by the other characters. The movie doesn’t even explore how she lost the arm. Furiosa is an example of a great character because her limb loss doesn’t magically make her stronger, she doesn’t get a super-powered prosthetic—her strength is entirely her own.

4. Clyde Logan – Logan Lucky (2017)

“Did you just say Cauliflower to me?” – Clyde Logan

Clyde from Logan Lucky Described as “Ocean’s 7-Eleven,” the American heist comedy, Logan Lucky, was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and based on a screenplay by Rebecca Blunt. The plot is simple: newly laid off Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) recruits the help of his brother, Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Clyde Logan is a bar owner, war veteran, and transradial amputee. His character is contemplative and reluctant throughout the movie, but he still goes through with breaking out of jail and implementing his brother’s plan. Being an amputee doesn’t hinder Clyde, and it isn’t treated as a gag in the movie. He belongs on the list because his character is as capable as the other characters, and he isn’t enhanced by his prosthetic—Clyde is just a regular guy robbing the Charlotte Motor Speedway.   



5. Bucky Barnes – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

“He’s fast... strong... had a metal arm.”―Steve Rogers describing the Winter Soldier

 Bucky Barnes from Captain America: The Winter SoldierThe Marvel character, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941 and premiered in Captain America Comics #1. Since then, Bucky has had many iterations in television, films, and video games. In the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky falls from a train to his apparent death only to return in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as an assassin with a bionic arm. He operates under the code name “Winter Soldier” until Captain America restores Bucky’s memories.

Bucky’s back story is dark and complex, His character demonstrates that anyone can be a hero regardless of past trauma. Heroes inspire us to go beyond our limits and to fight for our ideals, which is why seeing diverse characters reflective of real people is so powerful. We’re hopeful more characters with disabilities are featured in he Marvel universe and excited to see how Bucky's character evolves in the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series coming to Disney+

These characters are moving the needle on inclusive representation in the media, but Hollywood has a long way to go. Movies and television screens need more stories with limb loss characters. Furthermore, stories need more acting roles played by actual actors with limb loss!

What do you think of our list of fictional limb-loss icons? Who should we have included or excluded? Leave a comment below and sign-up for our email list to stay up-to-date on the latest SPS happenings, O&P news, and more!



Topics: O&P Industry, News

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