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Max Rockatansky

Max Rockatansky (known aliases include Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Raggedy Man and The Man with No Name) is the title character and protagonist of the post-apocalyptic action films from the Mad Max franchise, which spans 1979 to 2015. He appears in the films Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Mad Max: Fury Road. Created by director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy, the character was played by actor Mel Gibson in the first three films, and by Tom Hardy in the fourth.


Mad Max

In Mad Max, Max Rockatansky is a Main Force Patrol officer fighting for peace on the roads of a dystopic Australia. Max is quiet, rarely speaking to any great extent, and never paying much attention to his steadily increasing reputation. He and his wife, Jessie, have an infant son, referred to only as "Sprog" (Australian slang for 'child') in the movie.

Though the best officer on the force, he is secretly afraid that he is becoming as cold and heartless as the criminals he pursues. He reaches a breaking point when a gang of criminally insane bikers known as the Zed Runners burn Max's partner Goose alive inside a borrowed ute. The sight of Goose's burnt body convinces Max to quit the force and goes on holiday with Jessie and Sprog. But it only leads to a chain of events that results in the Zed Runners killing off Jessie and their child. Overwhelmed with grief and rage, he goes AWOL from the MFP, stealing their Pursuit Special and systematically pursuing and killing each gang member responsible. Max is injured in an ambush set for him by the Zed Runners' leader Toecutter, where he is shot in the left leg and has his right arm run over at the elbow. Despite his injuries, he manages to fatally shoot gang lieutenant Bubba Zanetti and pursues the Toecutter to his death. After hunting down final gang member Johnny the Boy and leaving him in a death trap, Max drives out into the wasteland, leaving the fading remnants of civilization behind him.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

In this film, set about five years after the first film, Max, while wandering the wasteland of the outback in his new home, the battle scarred Pursuit Special, discovers a besieged group of people manning a remote oil drilling station and refinery. After losing nearly all of his remaining worldly possessions, including his dog and his car, Max, with few options left, agrees to help the refinery's denizens to escape through hordes of marauding motorcycle gang members. In this film, although Max has lost everything, he is able to find, at least in part, his humanity once again. However, he still cannot form any significant bonds with others and chooses to continue wandering the Earth alone.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

In this installment of the Mad Max series, it has been twenty years since Max Rockatansky left his life behind him following his revenge killings of the Toecutter and his gang, and fifteen years after his defeat of the Humungus. Since that time he has wandered through the outback, scavenging whatever he needed for survival. His hair has grown long, and very few remnants of his old police uniform remain recognizable. In this movie, Max is able to come full circle, regaining his humanity and soul once again, and sacrificing his own well being for the sake of others.

Mad Max: Fury Road

An addition to the franchise, Fury Road finds Max haggard and alone with his Pursuit Special. After his Interceptor is wrecked and he is captured by a mutant gang known as the "War Boys", he is imprisoned and used as a live blood donor for the gang. Strapped to the hood of a car in pursuit of the War Boys' renegade general, Imperator Furiosa, Max escapes and reluctantly helps Furiosa in her quest to help five women escape from the War Boys' despotic leader, Immortan Joe.


During the first two films, Max makes use of a Pursuit Special, though he drives a different vehicle (an MFP Interceptor) earlier in the first film. Between the second and third films, after the destruction of the Pursuit Special, Max acquires a camel-drawn wagon, which is later stolen from him. He later steals it back after it has been upgraded to run on its own power and uses it during the final chase sequence. He wears the MFP issue uniform of black riding leathers, which become ripped and patched through the course of the series. During his time with Main Force Patrol, he is armed with a revolver, which he does not use. After the deaths of his family, he favours a sawn-off shotgun, which he uses in the second film, too. In the third film, he uses a more traditional shotgun, and, after accumulating even more weapons, surrenders them all in Bartertown, which The Scotsman calls a moment of self-parody.


Max's most apparent skill is combative driving. At the time of Mad Max, he was considered the "top pursuit man" in the MFP. He can easily pursue or evade gangs in the wasteland, whether overrunning another vehicle at high speed or ramming vehicles off the road. This skill is apparent with trucks as well as automobiles. He drives a tractor-trailer truck after sustaining serious injuries in the second film. He can also shoot accurately with one hand while driving with the other.

Max displays fast reflexes in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior by grabbing a snake before it can bite him and in Mad Max: Fury Road stomping a two-headed lizard that runs towards him from behind. This leads Auntie Entity to choose him to kill Master Blaster in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, as he was the first to survive her "audition".

Max also displays a fair amount of mechanical and electronics ability, performing minor repairs on his own vehicle and rigging two to explode should someone tamper with them or his fuel tanks. He also improvised a time delay fuse with only a cigarette lighter, a lamp housing and the leaking fuel of an overturned vehicle.

Rockatansky is a survivalist in the wasteland and can tolerate discomfort and pain in achieving a goal. But unlike many movie protagonists, Max is susceptible to realistic and sometimes permanent injury. His left knee is blown out by a gunshot towards the end of the first film. He walks with a slight limp with the help of a leg brace in the second film, and the knee is still tightly bandaged in the third film. An injury to his left eye as a result of the crash of the Pursuit Special in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is evident years later in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.


Entertainment Weekly ranked the character eleventh on its list of the top twenty "All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture" in April 2009. The magazine also listed the characters portrayed by Kevin Costner in Waterworld and The Postman as "copycat descendants" of Max Rockatansky. Total Film ranked him #75 in their Top 100 Movie Characters of All Time.