George Bailey is a fictional character in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. He is played by James Stewart. He is based on George Pratt, a character in Philip Van Doren Stern's The Greatest Gift.
Throughout the story, George is shown as a selfless person since childhood. He saves his younger brother Harry from drowning, after Harry accidentally sleds down into icy water. Rescuing Harry causes George to lose his hearing in his left ear. He saves his boss, Mr. Gower, from jail time when Gower accidentally puts poison in a customer's medicine bottle. From a young age, George always wanted to go to college and to travel and see the world. However, he keeps having to postpone the fulfillment of these ambitions, time after time.
When his uncle loses $8,000 and George doesn't know that his rival, Mr. Potter, has it, George is on the verge of committing suicide by jumping from a bridge. However, his guardian angel, Clarence, stops him. Clarence shows George what life in his hometown, Bedford Falls, would be like if George hadn't been born. When George realizes suicide is a mistake, he goes back to the bridge and utters his famous line, "I want to live again." He soon returns to his world, and the citizens of Bedford Falls come to greet him and donate money to replace the missing $8,000.