Article Thumbnail

The Definitive Ranking of Every Time Tom Hanks Has Said ‘Fuck’ On-Screen

With his reputation as the nicest guy in Hollywood, it might seem like Hanks never curses. But as 10 of his films prove, that motherfucker curses up a fucking storm!

Having played characters like Fred Rogers, Walt Disney and Woody from Toy Story, Tom Hanks has earned a reputation as one of the most family-friendly guys in Hollywood. That, coupled with his reported kindness and general lovability, Hanks’ nice-guy status has taken on almost mythic proportions, even to the point where people have wondered — via a few forums and tweets — if he’s ever said the word “fuck” in a movie. 

Well, I assure you, he has. He even accidentally said it live on Good Morning America. So, yes, Hanks has indeed said “fuck” in movies, and I’ve searched the transcripts of every single one of his films to document every time it’s happened. As of March 2022, Hanks has said “fuck” precisely 32 times in his motion picture career across 10 different films. And so, to be sure that no one will question Hanks’ fuck-spouting credentials ever again, I’ve laid out each of those movies, noted their number of “fucks” and then ranked them each by their very best “fuck.”

How am I ranking them, you ask? 

Admittedly, it may not be as scientific as measuring Al Pacino’s decibel levels when he screams, but I’ve decided to rank Hanks’ fucks by general “gusto” and overall effectiveness. Why not just rank them by how often he says “fuck,” though? Because no one wants to see a list where the inconsequential “fucks” in the forgettable Punchline outrank the one really effective “fuck” in Saving Private Ryan — not even that foul-mouthed fucker Tom Hanks would want to see a list like that. So, “gusto” it is. If you’ve got a problem with that, let me quote Hanks in Catch Me if You Can: “Go fuck yourselves.”

Let’s get the fuck on with it, then. 

10) The Green Mile (1999)

Hanks’ Character: Paul Edgecombe, the corrections officer in charge on death row

Who He’s Cursing At: His boss at the prison, played by James Cromwell

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives: 1

Best Fuck: “Percy fucked up, Hal.”

Fuckography: As with most films where Hanks says “fuck,” he only says it once in The Green Mile. However, unlike most other “fucks” in his repertoire, this one is entirely inconsequential. It occurs just after the character Percy, an asshole corrections officer, fails to wet the sponge on a prisoner’s head prior to executing him, which results in a horrific fire as opposed to a speedy execution. Afterwards, Hanks is furious, and he convinces Percy to transfer to a different post at the prison. 

When Hanks’ boss comes in, demanding to know what happened at the execution, Hanks covers for Percy by telling the boss that Percy simply “fucked up.” His tone is calm and even a bit apologetic and the “fuck” didn’t really add much of anything to the scene — that’s why it’s at the bottom of the Tom Hanks’ fuck heap. 

9) Bridge of Spies (2015)

Hanks’ Character: James B. Donovan, an American lawyer defending a Soviet spy

Who He’s Cursing At: CIA Agent Hoffman, played by Scott Shepherd

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives: 1

Best Fuck: “Well then, I have fucked it all up.”

Fuckography: Bridge of Spies is a movie about exchanging a Soviet spy for an American prisoner, but when Hanks’ character decides to switch the deal to get two prisoners from the Soviets, Agent Hoffman tells him he “fucked up.” Hanks disagrees, but admits that if the the deal does go south, that he would have “fucked it all up.” He’s being a bit wry and funny during the exchange, so he gets a bit of mileage out of the “fuck” for that. Still, it doesn’t amount to much.

8) The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

Hanks’ Character: Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street trader

Who He’s Cursing At: The president of his building’s co-op board, played by Kurt Fuller

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives: 3

Best Fuck: “If you’re so fucking scared, why don’t you move out?”

Fuckography: Hanks’ character says “fuck” casually a few times in this movie, but none carry much weight. The best usage is probably when he’s cursing at the loathsome co-op board president. He’s a bit angry during the scene, and he’s holding a gun, which probably gives it a bit of gusto, but it’s about as memorable as the movie itself, which was a notorious box office bomb back in 1990. 

7) Punchline (1988)

Hanks’ Character: Steven Gold, a stand-up comic

Who He’s Cursing At: Sally Field, who plays a fellow comedian 

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives:  11

Best Fuck: “Leave me the fuck alone!”

Fuckography: The movie where Hanks says “fuck” the most is Punchline. The copious “fucks” add to Hanks’ character in the film, as he plays a cynical, seemingly uncaring comedian. Taken individually, however, most of the “fucks” don’t mean much. One of the few that do is when he botches a set in front of some talent scouts. When Field tries to comfort him, he responds with a crying, emotional, “Leave me the fuck alone.” For a movie that’s fairly forgettable, the scene is effective and offers something of an early peek at Hanks’ later dramatic work.

6) Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

Hanks’ Character: Charlie Wilson, a playboy U.S. representative who’s secretly backing the people of Afghanistan in the Soviet-Afghan War

Who He’s Cursing At: A CIA agent played by Philip Seymour Hoffman

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives: 6

Best Fuck: “Who the fuck… Who the fuck are you?”

Fuckography: Wilson is a hard-partying, womanizer who curses fairly casually. Easily the best “fuck” in the movie is when Hoffman tells him that he bugged the bottle of scotch he just gave him. Hanks reacts with an incredulous, “Who the fuck are you?” It’s pretty damn funny. 

5) Nothing in Common (1986)

Hanks’ Character: David Basner, an advertising executive

Who He’s Cursing At: His boss, played by Barry Corbin

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives:  1

Best Fuck: “Don’t you ever fucking touch me again!”

Fuckography: Hanks plays an ad man who’s put under stress when his dad — played by Jackie Gleason — moves in with him. Some of that frustration comes out when his asshole boss demands that he come to New York for a client. After being repeatedly told to come along, Hanks angrily refuses, and tells his boss to never touch him again. It’s Hanks’ very first “fuck” onscreen, and it’s a good one.

4) The Post (2017)

Hanks’ Character: Ben Bradlee, editor in chief of the Washington Post

Who He’s Cursing At: A fictional, composite character in this true story, played by Bradley Whitford

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives:  1

Best Fuck: “Like fucking freedom of the press!”

Fuckography: This is Hanks’ most recent “fuck.” At the script level, Bradlee was supposed to have a few more “fucks” uttered by his character, but when the movie came out, only one remained. It was a good, assertive one, though, as he’s telling a board member for the Washington Post that “fucking freedom of the press” takes priority over protecting government secrets about the Vietnam War.

3) Cloud Atlas (2012)

Hanks’ Character: Dermot Hoggins, a frustrated gangster-turned-author who wrote the book Knuckle Sandwich (really)

Who He’s Cursing At: His publisher, played by Jim Broadbent

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives:  6

Best Fuck: “I don’t give a fuck what happens when I’m dead, I want people to buy me book now!”

Fuckography: In the confusing clusterfuck that is Cloud Atlas, Hanks plays six characters, and one of them is easily his most vulgar role ever. The only reason why Dermot Hoggins is outdone by Steven Gold from Punchline for sheer number of fucks is because he, and his abysmal British accent, are only on screen for a few minutes. During that time, he gripes to his publisher about his poor book sales — spouting out six back-to-back “fucks” in his angry rant — before chucking a literary critic over a balcony. The scene is a bit amusing — perhaps because it’s so entertainingly miscast — but I still don’t think it’s enough to ever convince me that Cloud Atlas is worth watching.

2) Catch Me If You Can (2002) 

Hanks’ Character: Straight-laced FBI Agent Carl Hanratty

Who He’s Cursing At: Two fellow FBI Agents

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives: 1

Best Fuck: “Go fuck yourselves.”

Fuckography: Hanks’ “fuck” in Catch Me If You Can is easily his funniest “fuck” of all time. In the scene, two other FBI Agents are asking Hanratty why he’s always so serious, and to prove he’s not such a stick in the mud, Hanratty offers to tell them a joke. He begins by saying, “Knock, knock,” to which they answer, “Who’s there?” Hanratty then replies, “Go fuck yourselves.” 

What really sells the humor is the way Hanks plays it. When he’s about to deliver the punchline, Hanratty knows how funny it is, so he pauses, grins, holds back a chuckle and delivers the blow. It’s just a few seconds long, but it’s downright masterful acting.

1) Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Hanks’ Character: Captain John H. Miller, a WWII captain on special assignment to retrieve Private James Ryan and return him home

Who He’s Cursing At: Vin Diesel, who plays a soldier who’s ignoring his command to leave behind a child from the battlefield

Number of “Fucks” Hanks Gives: 1

Best Fuck: “We’re not here to do the decent thing. We’re here to follow fucking orders!”

Fuckography: Hanks’ best “fuck” ever originates from what many still consider to be his best film, Saving Private Ryan. Diesel’s character, Private Caparzo, insists that bringing the child from the battlefield to a safe place is “the decent thing to do.” Miller refuses, shouting at Caparzo, “We’re not here to do the decent thing. We’re here to follow fucking orders!” Shortly afterwards, Caparzo ends up dead by a sniper because of his actions. It’s one of countless emotionally effective scenes in the film, and this is the “fuck” most often cited online when people ask if Hanks has ever said it in a film. 

Of course, by now, you know he has, and he’s pretty fucking good at it. My ranking method here may not be scientific, but I think I’ve got these in the right order. And if you disagree, well, I’ve got a “knock knock” joke to tell you.