Outcasts appear in all types of movies, whether the story is told in an animated version or live action. Sometimes these characters have defining characteristics that push them away from others whereas other times they would rather stay out of the spotlight and away from the status quo. Regardless, we can unpack several characters that bounce back from being outcasts or use this as their secret superpower. If you enjoy movies that focus on unique or outcast characters, check out our top fifteen picks for movies about outcasts.
Disney Movies About Outcasts
Disney often creates movies that feature outcasts, but oftentimes, this is what ends up making them a hero. These stories teach young children, but really everyone, that it doesn’t always benefit you to fit in. People who are different can make a difference in the world, so it only makes sense that we feature some of those movies in our movie round-up.
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney+ and Crackle (1996)
Our first Disney outcast selection is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where the main character Quasimodo is disfigured and thus shunned from society, locked away in a tower as the bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral. His only friends are the gargoyles until a chance meeting with Gypsy Esmeralda lifts his spirits. When Quasimodo’s sinister guardian Frollo sets his sights on Esmeralda, Quasimodo must try to keep her out of his clutches.
- IMDb score: 7.0
4. Encanto, Disney+ and Prime Video (2021)
Our next selection, Encanto, may sound a little weird at first since this movie is all about family, but serious rifts are hiding under the surface. The main character Mirabel is the only member of her family who doesn’t have powers, and she gets shunned by her grandmother and family members. When the magic surrounding the Encanto falls into danger though, it’s up to Mirabel to save her family and bring them back together again.
- IMDb score: 7.2
3. Dumbo, Disney+ and Prime Video (1941)
One of the most classic Disney films, Dumbo is about a circus elephant that unfortunately has comically large ears that make him a laughing stock to both humans and elephants alike. When his ears cause an accident that injures the other elephants, he is made to dress like a clown. But when he realizes his enormous ears allow him to fly, Dumbo finally regains the love of the fans and elephants he always wanted.
- IMDb score: 7.2
One of my favorite animated outcast movies is Wreck-it Ralph, where Ralph is the bad guy in his video game and is ostracized by his game-mates because he is labeled the “bad guy.” When he becomes tired of the act, Ralph decides to take matters into his own hands and infiltrates another game to prove he is a hero. When he unleashes a deadly bug on another game though, Ralph must become a hero to save everyone in the arcade.
- IMDb score: 7.7
Our best selection for the movies about outcasts from Disney is The Lion King. Simba gets wrongly blamed for the death of his father Mufasa, and must disappear into the wilderness instead of being caught. For years Simba grows up away from his pack, while his uncle Scar decimates the lion’s hunting grounds and lands. When Simba meets Nala again, he realizes that the only way to prove himself is to head back to Pride Rock and take what was rightfully his all along.
- IMDb score: 8.5
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High School Outcast Movies
If you went to high school, you can understand what it’s like to be an outcast or watch certain people struggle to fit in. Usually, this is the biggest motivator for people to make new friends or try new things because they are seeking ways to feel like a part of the core group. In all five movies we selected, you can see more of a humorous look at what it means to be an outcast and how these characters combat their social labels in high school.
5. American Pie, Vudu and Prime Video (1999)
Our first selection of high school movies about outcasts is American Pie, a raunchy and hilarious view into the rise to adulthood and losing one’s virginity. A group of friends seems like they are the only ones who haven’t lost their virginity, and it pushes them away from all of their other classmates. In order to prove themselves, they take action to lose their virginities and the results are quite shocking.
- IMDb score: 7.0
Napoleon Dynamite is another classic that deserves a spot on our list, because the main character Napoleon has trouble fitting in, and it only gets worse when his uncle Rico shows up to keep an eye on him after his grandmother gets injured. With no allies at home or school, Napoleon befriends the new kid Pedro and together they launch a plan to run for class president.
- IMDb score: 7.0
3. The Edge of Seventeen, Fubo TV and Hulu (2016)
Awkward high school junior Nadine already struggles to make friends and figure out her social groups in The Edge of Seventeen. Still, when her all-star brother starts dating her best friend, she becomes inexplicably alone in the world. But, an unexpected friendship with a thoughtful teen will give her the glimmer of hope that she needs to see that her life isn’t so terrible after all.
- IMDb score: 7.3
2. Superbad, Vudu and Apple TV (2007)
You may think that this movie is a little odd for an outcast list, but even though the two main characters are thick-as-thieves they are still separate from the greater high school population. In Superbad, these two friends are invited to a house party and try to score alcohol and girls to finish off their high school career. But, when one of them falls in with two inept cops, things get a little complicated.
- IMDb score: 7.6
Our last choice in the high school movies about outcasts list is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, one of the best adaptations from book to film. Socially awkward teen Charlie doesn’t fit in anywhere and is a wallflower until two charismatic students come along to help him learn about friendship, first love, and all the joys of high school. But, as the day draws closer to when they will leave for college, Charlie’s inner sadness will threaten all that he has gained.
- IMDb score: 7.9
Social Outcast Movies
What does it mean to be a social outcast? Someone who isn’t accepted by society or more specifically, a particular social group.
Characters who feel like social outcasts often end up embracing their label and becoming stronger in the end. Other characters, however, are written to be evil and antagonize the hero of our story. In that case, their social outcast label is the first sign of the pain that is to come. We only enjoy watching the latter example on screen because, in life, you have to push through your hardships or things will get pretty messy.
Two social outcasts take the form of teen misfits Gary and Wyatt, who accidentally design the ideal woman brought to life with a freak electrical accident. Lisa brings newfound confidence to the two outcasts, giving them new clothes, cars, and the ability to stand up to jerks like Ian and Max. Weird Science is a journey of two friends trying to find a place in the world with a little help from the supernatural and is one of my favorite 80s movies.
- IMDb score: 6.6
The first time I watched Shazam! I loved how they took a band of misfit foster children and turned them into superheroes. It’s a perfect match for our outcast movie list and shows that a family can be found anywhere, even in places you don’t expect it. When Billy Batson is chosen to become the new superhero Shazam, he must navigate his newfound powers before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana can get to them first.
- IMDb score: 7.0
3. X-Men, Starz and Prime Video (2000)
A classic superhero series all started with the first film X-Men in 2000. Even though they are still human, the next chain of human evolution causes each to be born with powers that manifest themselves at puberty. In a world filled with hate and prejudice, they must navigate the world as social outcasts, while other mutants believe that humans and mutants should never co-exist. It’s the perfect social outcast movie where two sides of the same group are shoved apart by differing beliefs, showing that there are many sides to an outcast.
- IMDb score: 7.3
Stephen King’s first horror novel-turned-movie Carrie is next on our outcast list, where withdrawn and sensitive teen Carrie constantly faces taunting from classmates and abuse from her mother. When strange occurrences start happening around her, she believes she may have supernatural powers, but things take a happier turn when she is invited to prom…or does it?
- IMDb score: 7.4
1. Joker, MAX and Prime Video (2019)
Our final choice on our movies about outcasts list is Joker, a newer movie about the famed villain that brings a new light to the societal hardships he had to endure before becoming Joker. Failed comedian Arthur Fleck tries to portray a normal life while also working a day job as a clown. Increasingly isolated and bullied by society, Fleck begins his descent into madness and becomes the smiling character we all know so well.
- IMDb score: 8.4
Being an outcast is not always a bad thing. Many times, outcasts are created because they do not fit the “norm” whether that be in physical appearance, high school age, or social culture. These norms are often established by an outcast’s peers, so it’s interesting to watch how the stories evolve. On one hand, you see Disney movies that teach valuable lessons about kindness and believing the best in people. You see young adults grow into themselves. However, on the other hand, you see people who blame their horrible behavior on the fact that they grew up as an outcast.
Either way, these movies about outcasts shed a harsh light on our current society and how treating people in groups can impact others deep down. These stories are entertaining, especially as these outcasts must learn to fit into their world without complete acceptance, or choose to let it change them for the worse.