BySam Plank, writer at
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Sam Plank

If Tom Hanks is trying to convince everyone on the planet that getting into an airplane or boat with him is a bad idea, he's doing a fine job of it.

In Sully, his latest movie full of in-flight terror (a movie inspired by true events at that), he plays Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who famously landed his plane in the Hudson River without losing the life of a single passenger or crew member. Here's the trailer in case you're still on the fence:

Have you noticed a trend with Hanks' movies? Not all of them are all about travel trouble, but enough have been to make this list possible! Let's pretend you're a character in a Tom Hanks movie. Ranked from one to eight, one being mildly inconvenient and eight having the highest body (and sports ball) count, here are all of Tom Hanks' disaster movies that will make you think, Why would anyone ever want to travel with him?

1. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

  • Release Date: December 25, 2002
  • Director: Steven Spielberg

While nobody perishes in any plane crashes, two bad things do happen to you in this movie. First, as you're traveling with Tom, he tells you that your father has died. Nobody wants to get that news, especially on a plane. Then, to make matters worse, when Tom is escorting a fugitive and you're just another passenger, that fugitive escapes Tom's custody, putting the public at risk. Granted, the criminal is only a counterfeiter, but still.

2. The Polar Express (2004)

  • Release Date: November 10, 2004
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis

Ignoring how awesome this movie is to watch every Christmas, that scene where the train jumps off the tracks and skates across the ice is nerve-wracking. And then, you end up in a crazy place like the North Pole. Of course, that was the intended destination, but trains were made to stay on train tracks, Tom!

3. The Terminal (2004)

  • Release Date: June 18, 2004
  • Director: Steven Spielberg

While there are no onscreen deaths, the country that you and Hanks' character are traveling from has broken out into civil war. And you and Hanks? You both end up living in JFK for nine months. The good news is, at least you'll have a friend who can speak your language.

4. Cloud Atlas (2012)

  • Release Date: October 26, 2012
  • Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski (as Andy Wachowski)

If you're along for the ride in this one, then you get to have a front row seat to Hanks' character, Dr. Henry Goose, attempting to poison a lawyer on a ship in 1849 so he can steal his stuff. Not only that, he does it while making the guy think he's getting help. The movie is loads more complicated than that, but yet another reason not to travel with Hanks in any way, shape, or form.

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5. Sully (2016)

  • Release date: September 9, 2016
  • Director: Clint Eastwood

No deaths doesn't necessarily mean nothing bad happens on your trip. While piloting the plane, geese take out both engines barely after take off, and Captain Sully is forced to land in the Hudson. One poor lady you're traveling with ends up with not one, but two broken legs, though there are no other reports of serious injuries. Just think, that unlucky passenger could have been you.

6. Apollo 13 (1995)

  • Release Date: June 30, 1995
  • Director: Ron Howard

Congratulations! If you're an astronaut in this movie, you survive. Miraculously, all three astronauts made it out of this movie — I mean, this space disaster — alive, but yet another means of transportation is scratched of the list. Getting on a spacecraft with Tom Hanks is not highly recommended. Plus, apparently, there's a chance you'll get rubella if you're slated to fly into space with Hanks.

7. Captain Phillips (2013)

  • Release Date: October 11, 2013
  • Director: Paul Greengrass

This time there are deaths, but none of the good guys die, just the pirates who take over Captain Richard Phillips' ship. So if you're one of the good guys, you're in luck. If not, well, you're probably not making it out of this movie alive. Sorry.

But, alas, never fear. Navy Seal snipers, while on a floating, moving ship, were somehow able to shoot and kill the pirates from a distance, while they were on a floating, moving lifeboat with Captain Phillips. I guess that shows you that not all of Tom's luck is bad, but still. It should be becoming painfully obvious that no form of travel is safe from Bad Luck Hanks, not even a ginormous cargo ship.

8. Cast Away (2000)

  • Release Date: December 22, 2000
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis

This is as bad as it gets! The total airplane crash-related death count for this Tom Hanks disaster movie is four pilots, the entire plane, and one bloody volleyball named Wilson. While Tom does live, your fate as his companion would be up in the air seeing how he's the star of the show. If you did survive, you would have to battle with Tom and a volleyball for sacred space on the makeshift raft. Scratch airplanes and rafts thanks to this movie.

Modes of transport that are not safe with Tom Hanks around:

  • Passenger jets
  • Single-engine planes
  • Trains
  • Sailing ships
  • Cargo vessels
  • Space shuttles

No matter where you go with Tom Hanks, or how you do it, your odds really just aren't looking good!


Which Tom Hanks disaster movie did you like the best?


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