Action Movie Hero Names You Can Count On.

What’s in a name? A lot, especially when it comes to action heroes. When you think about it, action movie lead character names follow their own unofficial guidelines: first and last names shouldn’t exceed two syllables; they almost hearken back to Westerns; and they have more than a slight tinge of machismo to them.

For this piece, I tried to answer the question: Which character name was the coolest in an actor’s filmography?

UAMC Hero Name Rules

Here are some rules I established:

  1. No actor could have more than one entry. It made it tough for someone like Chuck Norris who has a lot of macho protagonist names, but I worked through it for you people.
  2. If a character was played by two separate actors (“Matt Hunter” was played by both Norris and Michael Dudikoff), it had to be eliminated.
  3. Bonus points were given for a name if it was the lead in a series. For example, as awesome as “Chato” is for a name, it was dwarfed by another Charles Bronson character name because of legacy.
  4. How cool did it sound?
  5. No names from The Expendables series could be used. I’m absolutely certain they were written to be intentionally ridiculous: Barney Ross, Lee Christmas, Yin Yang, Toll Road, Hale Caeser, Billy the Kid, Jean Vilain, Booker, Drummer, Trench, Stonebanks, Doc, Bonaparte, Galgo, Mars … (It’s like Sylvester Stallone wanted to make the most over-the-top action cinematic trilogy of all time, and I’d argue he succeeded.)

What follows is the format I used:

Actor: Character Name (movie or series in which it appeared)

(Note: These are only listed alphabetically by actor name, not by how cool I think they are.)

The Most Ultimate Action Hero Names

Scott Adkins: Boyka (Undisputed series)

Charles Bronson: Paul Kersey (Death Wish series)

Tom Cruise: Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Top Gun)

Mark Dacascos: J.T. Dillon (Instinct to Kill)

Michael Dudikoff: Joe Armstrong (American Ninja, American Ninja 2, American Ninja 4)read more here!

Mel Gibson: Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon series)

Dolph Lundgren: Wellman Anthony Santee (Army of One aka Joshua Tree)

Liam Neeson: Bryan Mills (Taken series)

Chuck Norris: J.J. McQuade (Lone Wolf McQuade)

Cynthia Rothrock: China O’Brien (China O’Brien series)

Arnold SchwarzeneggerJohn Matrix (Commando)

Steven Seagal: Mason Storm (Hard to Kill)

Wesley Snipes: Simon Phoenix (Demolition Man)

Sylvester Stallone: John Rambo (Rambo series)

Jason Statham: Chev Chelios (Crank series)

Patrick Swayze: Dalton (Road House)read more about this flick here!

Jean-Claude van Damme: Luc Deveraux (Universal Soldier series)

Bruce Willis: John McClane (Die Hard series)

Don Wilson: (TIE) Jack Dillon (Blackbelt); Dillon (Showdown in Manila)

Because this is the internet, either someone will think I omitted someone (I purposefully left out many Asian martial artists, because most of their movie characters were given ethnic names and not really Westernized ones), or someone will disagree with one or more of my suggestions. So, have at it. Let me know your thoughts, opinions, suggestions or disagreements.


Part Tony Manero, part Rocky Balboa, John Acquavita is a N.Y.-area transplant currently living in Ohio. He uses his “particular set of skills” to contribute to various websites covering 1980s-era action movies.

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