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.