In most movies and TV shows, the Good Guys tend to be, unsurprisingly, good guys. Sure they may be a little rough around the edges and little overly fond of socking bad guys and making snarky comments, but all in all, they're heroes for a reason. But some heroes are so violent, nasty, or downright despicable that they barely deserve the name. With their record body counts and destruction-fuelled rampages, it's hard to tell just what it is that separates them from the bad guys.
Source: United Artists
10. The Man With No Name
The original avenging madman, Clint Eastwood's quiet, stone faced Western hero is so iconic that he doesn't even need a name. The star of a dozen different movies, Eastwood's Man With No Name is pure malevolence in a cowboy hat and long jacket. The scariest part of this psychotic cowpoke is his total lack of emotion when it comes to taking out the garbage. The details may change from flick to flick, but basically he shows up, finds a group of various dirty scuzzballs doing various dirty scuzzball things and proceeds to fill them full of smoking hot lead as fast as humanly possible.
And that's it. If he has any moments of regret at the frankly shocking piles of corpses he leaves behind everywhere he goes, The Man With No Name never lets on. He just kills and kills some more. A cold, heartless machine, he doesn't take any satisfaction in his slaughtering. There's no rule saying you have to like being a ruthless killer of bad guys, but at the very least you can take some pride in your work.
9. The Terminator
Source: Orion Pictures
In the first Terminator movie, the Terminator is a lot like Eastwood. He's a cold, ultraviolently efficient machine designed only for killing. The only difference is he kills cops instead of bad guys. It isn't until the sequel Terminator 2 Judgment Day that he becomes a hero. But unfortunately his turn to the light side doesn't include any upgrades or patches in his morality or ethical programs. He still shoots, slices, burns, and blows up everything in sight. In fact, he destroys even more property than he did in the first one. All that's changed is he wants to protect the hero instead of kill him. And, oh yeah, he learns how to crack a few wiseass comments.
Schwarzenegger plays him with a lot of charm, but all the jokes in the world can't change the fact that he's basically a robot that murders everything he lays his eyes on.
8. Capt. Willard (Apocalypse Now)
Source: American Zoetrope
One of the most tragic dudes on this list, Captain Willard is a drunken soldier haunted by his service in Vietnam and unfit for anything but a life of murder and war. Although he does have a totally awesome tan. Assigned by the army to take out the rogue Colonel Kurtz who's decided to set up his own shop with a ragtag band of mercenaries and only wear black pajamas, Willard travels down a muddy river hell-bent on killing Kurtz even as he comes to sympathize with his particular brand of nutty cultism.
The only problem is that until Kurtz shows up in the third act, Willard is pretty much the worst guy in the world. He puts his young escorts into all kind of harm's way, kills civilians, and generally sits around smoking endless cigarettes and looking like a world class a-hole. But like all the best a-holes, he's a survivor. At the end of the movie, he and the stoned surfer are the only two to make it out alive. Proving once and for all that when the craziness gets turned up to 11, you've got to be pretty evil to be good.
7. The Bride (Kill Bill)
Source: Miramax Films
Okay, Beatrix Kiddo had a pretty good reason to be pissed off. Nine months pregnant, she's forced to see all her friends ruthlessly gunned own by a cadre of the world's greatest assassins, shot in the head, and left for dead the day before her wedding. Understandably, she's going to want some payback. And she gets it in the bloodiest ways imaginable. Armed with her razor sharp sword and high fashion wardrobe, Kiddo slices and dices her way down her list of the people who wronged her. Filling the air with screams and the gutters with blood, she makes everyone who crossed pay dearly. The audience cheers her on as she hacks of limbs, yanks out eyeballs, and dismembers dozens of people in her quest for vengeance. It helps that she looks pretty hot doing it. Being attractive helps a person get away with a lot of evil stuff.
6. V (V for Vendetta)
Source: Warner Bros.
Fighting evil isn't always straightforward. Sure, there are times when you can just throw on a white hat, march down to the bad guy's hide out, and drag him off to jail. But what about when you're a lone voice of freedom waging a lonely war against an all powerful Fascist regime? A white hat alone just isn't going to cut it. No matter how nice it is. When faced with an incredibly powerful foe that has massive resources and isn't afraid to destroy anything or anyone to maintain its power or achieve its goals, sometimes you got to get a little nasty. And few heroes fight as dirty as the revolutionary V in V for Vendetta.
Driven mad (and given superhuman abilities) by years of torture and experimentation in a concentration camp, V breaks out and begins a one-man campaign to bring down the government. But instead of using reasoned pleas, grassroots organizing, and bake sales to get his point across, he opts for explosions. Big ones. Sure, he may have a point, but did he really need to burn down half of London to make it?
5. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)
Source: Columbia Pictures
For most of Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle is a strange loser who spends his days watching pornos, driving cabs, looking intense and weird, and making awkward passes at Cybil Shepard. But once his madness kicks in the second half of the film, Bickle gets a few ideas on how to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, his first brainwave is to kill a candidate for the U.S. Senate. When that doesn't work, Bickle turns his energies to a more local problem and decides to "liberate" a teenage prostitute from the ubervile hands of her pimp Harvey Keitel.
In a different movie, Travis Bickle would have been the ultimate hero: a good man who just couldn't take the crime and humiliation of modern urban life and decided to do something about it. But in this movie, he's anything but a good man. Yes, he saves a young girl from a life of degradation and misery, but he does it by brutally murdering several men. Even worse than that, he's just weird, man. His oddball theories, massive gun collection, and supreme creepiness make him pretty hard to root for. At least he looks really badass in a mohawk
Source: Universal Pictures
The hero of hundreds of books, comics, and a couple awesomely cheesy Schwarzenegger flicks, Conan the Barbarian was arguably the toughest dude ever to pick up a giant sword, strip down to his underwear, and fight evil. Conan thought nothing of hacking and slashing his way out whatever bowl of soup he wound up in. Granted, Conan lived in a different time. Back in the old days when the forests and desert wastes were full of savage warlords, merciless thieves, and evil wizards, a guy had to kick a little ass now and then to make his way in the world.
Still, even for a barbarian wandering a lawless hellscape he was pretty cruel. More so than other characters on this list, Conan isn't even all that interested in fighting bad guys. If his bloody deeds help out someone in trouble, so be it, but Conan is mostly just interested in staying alive and lining his own pockets. On second thought, Conan would fit into the modern world just fine. As long as he put some pants on.
3. Dexter Morgan
Dexter Morgan is a top-notch blood splatter analyst which, besides looking pretty freaking cool on a resume, also forces him to operate in a world of unspeakable terror. Police use his expert skills to help them investigate crime scenes and bring the most horrible monsters imaginable to justice. Every day, Dexter has to face the darkest impulses of bloodthirsty serial killers and homicidal maniacs. Luckily for him, he's sort of into it. Yes, as well as being instrumental in catching serial killers, Dexter Morgan is one himself. Possessed with an uncontrollable rage and a very itchy killing finger, Dexter realizes that the only way he's going to make it through life is to kill as many people as he can. Butchering people is kind of like his coffee. He's useless without it.
The only reason he's the hero of the show instead of its worst villain is he and his father decided early on that he would only kill other killers. His father was a really understanding guy. So Dexter goes about his daily life, does his job the best way he knows how, and every once in a while tears some sick bastard apart with a chainsaw. Is he really all that different from anyone else?
2. Jack Bauer (24)
Source: 20th Century Fox Television
Nobody's saying that Jack Bauer doesn't have a really, really crappy job. Most days when he shows up for work, he just hangs around and goes over transcripts of Afghan farmers' cell phone calls. But once a year, he has a terrible day. Over the course of eight TV seasons, Bauer has single-handedly had to pull America's ass out of all kinds of different fires, and he isn't afraid to get as nasty as he wants to be doing it. Whether it's picking up a heroin addiction to go undercover or spending months in a Chinese prison camp, Bauer knows a thing or two about going the extra mile for his country.
Unfortunately, sometimes he goes way too far. Bauer's devotion to duty isn't just limited to barking orders into cell phones. He'll also resort to murder, torture, and dismemberment if that's what it takes to keep us all safe. Jack is so fond of torture that he's even become a sort of a poster boy for one of the War on Terror's more prickly moral quandaries. Is it okay to torture a suspect if it saves innocent people's lives? Even Supreme Court Justice and real life badass Anthony Scalia has praised Bauer's willingness to turn up the evil in the service of good. And that dude is psychotic!
Source: 20th Century Fox
Most superheroes are pretty square. Superman may be the strongest being to walk the earth, but you get the feeling he'd rather be making apple cider with his parents than giving a major beatdown to some punk with a death ray. Most of the other guys in capes follow suit. They fight crime, but they never go too far. But there's one major superhero who isn't afraid to get his hands (and claws) dirty...Wolverine.
Although he's been toned down somewhat for recent comics and movies, Wolverine still remains one of the baddest stone-cold killers to ever have his own Saturday morning cartoon show. A guy who's superpower is basically six razor-sharp knives that come out of his arms, Wolverine has been hacking and slashing his way through bad guys for 30 years. With his unbreakable bones and accelerated healing factor, Wolvie can survive just about anything thrown at him. He's been shot, cut, burned, blown-up, and nearly disintegrated, but he always comes out with claws blazing. Because like all the heroes on this list, Wolverine knows that sometimes you got to be very evil to do good.