Tom Hanks is a prolific and beloved actor who has created some of the most iconic and lovable characters in recent cinema history. But god help you if you’re anywhere near his characters when they leave the friendly confines of their home.

His films have spanned all genres, but they have one thing in common: an inordinate number of Hanks’s characters get into a whole mess of trouble whenever they travel. Whether it’s traveling to New York City from the Jersey suburbs, orbiting the moon, romping about post-war East Berlin, wandering on a desert island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, or exiting a plane in the Hudson River, Hanks does not do well when he leaves home.

To prove our point — that tragedy lingers around every corner for this guy — we’ve come up with the handy guide below to highlight all the places you shouldn’t go with Tom Hanks based on his many, many movie roles.


All Josh wanted to do was get out of his boring, monotonous tweenage life in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Thanks to the help of a magic fortune teller, he was able to do just that — and in a far bigger way than he could ever have expected. Fast forward 20 years of physical development, and he’s in New York as Vice President in Charge of Production at a toy company, acing his gig and romancing a woman two decades his senior. It was fun at first, but then reality and heartbreak hit. Obviously, Hanks’s Josh should have stayed home.

Forrest Gump

Trouble followed Forrest from the second he went running away on the streets of Greenbow, Alabama. Whether it was in Vietnam; the Bayou; Washington, D.C.; or highways across America, he was always right smack in the middle of some traumatic event no matter how hard he tried to be a good person.

Apollo 13

Jim Lovell pursued his dream of going to the Moon — and surprise, surprise — he hit major trouble on the way. While Jim wasn’t responsible for the liquid oxygen explosion that sent the Apollo 13’s moon lander flying off course, we sure could chalk it up to the bad luck he has whenever he ventures out into the world.

Toy Story

As Woody, Hanks once again is directly to blame for the Toy Story fiasco. After all, he’s the one that got into the fight with Buzz Lightyear that got them stranded at Pizza Planet. The fact that this same kind of thing happens two other times just can’t be ignored. Shame on any toy that agrees to leave the house with the old-school cowboy plush.

Cast Away

Chuck Noland, loyal FedEx employee, just had to interrupt his Christmas vacation to hop on a plane and solve a simple corporate dispute with a Malaysian executive. He just had to give his longtime girlfriend a shiny gold box with a bow on it before he left, and he just had to say “I’ll be right back” before boarding the plane that went down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The signs were there, but thankfully the only person that had to endure the trip with the eventually-bearded Chuck was Wilson the Volleyball.

Road to Perdition

Mild-mannered yet still grumpy, Depression-era mob enforcer Michael Sullivan and his son witness a mob killing gone wrong and have to hightail it out of suburban Illinois for big city Chicago. Bad move. Because of their wrong-place-wrong-time situation, they’re both witnesses to murder and have to spend the rest of the movie avoiding hitmen out to silence them. We can add a car as well as airplane and spaceship to the list of conveyances in which you should steer clear if Hanks is nearby.

Saving Private Ryan

Hanks brings seven other men on his World War II mission to find Private Ryan, and only two make it out alive. Between this, his terrible Parisian vacation in [The Da Vinci Code(, and trying his damnedest to arrest Leonardo DiCaprio all over the Napoleon’s homeland, Hanks should just avoid France altogether.

The Terminal

We’d want to get out of the fictional Eastern Bloc nation of Krakozhia too, and though we’d remember to fill out the proper immigration paperwork, we can’t really blame Hanks for what happened this time. He had no idea a civil war would cause the U.S. to suddenly no longer recognize Krakozhia as a sovereign nation, and thus keep him out of the country. Worst vacation ever.

Cloud Atlas

Plane, car, spaceship, and now sailboat. Hanks plays a lot of people in the Russian nesting doll mosaic narrative of Cloud Atlas, but during the “Pacific Islands, 1849” sequences he’s a conniving doctor who covertly poisons an evil American lawyer during their voyage to steal his valuables. As if you needed any more proof that you shouldn’t go anywhere with this dude, he appears in the “San Francisco, 1973 sequences as a nuclear power plant scientist whose plane explodes.

Captain Phillips

It takes an especially unlucky dude like Hanks to be the blue collar captain of a commercial container ship and have it be boarded by pirates in 2013. Granted, Hanks is playing a real-life dude who went through the same ordeal off the eastern coast of Africa, but he probably could have learned a thing or two from watching Hanks movies to know enough and not leave home.

Bridge of Spies

France isn’t a Hanks-safe zone, and neither is post-war Berlin. James B. Donovan takes a trip beyond the Iron Curtain on orders from the U.S. government to free a captured American pilot and single-handedly win the Cold War. While nothing as grievous as what happens to him in Saving Private Ryan happens here, the tense, continual tête-à-tête scenes of Hanks and any number of other dudes talk-arguing is super stressful.


Seriously you guys, we told you, don’t get into a goddamn airplane with this guy. But hey, American hero Tom Hanks will probably save your life in the end anyway.

Photos via Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown

Sean is a Brooklyn-based writer with several degrees in English literature. When he’s not digging up culture stories for Inverse, he’s listening to Harry Nilsson and mining obscure movie facts for Mental Floss.