Some movie heroes should have just stayed in bed and let things work themselves out. Look, making a bad situation worse may help the plot along, but it’s not so great for your stress level, you dumbass movie hero.
Not that it isn’t entertaining to watch someone throw themselves right under the Crazy Bus. The following so-called protagonists didn’t just worsen their own problems; without them, the problems never would have existed in the first place.
6. Bowman and Poole, 2001
The main dramatic point in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey revolves around the AI known as HAL 9000, which completely controls the systems of the spaceship our heroes reside in. HAL states to protagonist David Bowman early on that he is infallible and incapable of error, so you know things are going to turn out great.
After HAL erroneously diagnoses a fault in one of the ship’s components, Bowman and crewmate Frank Poole get a little sketchy, since their asses are in the hands of the supercomputer. They shut themselves in an airtight pod and have a little discussion; if HAL fucks up again, they’re pulling the plug. They’re confident HAL can’t hear them, and it can’t- but it can see them.
They have this conversation in full view of the sentient, super-powerful machine, which simply reads their lips and decides that it’s humans vs. computer at this point. It doesn’t take long before things start getting deathy. Multiple deaths that could have been avoided if Bowman and Poole had taken the simple extra precaution of covering their fool mouths.
Bowman and Poole cock everything up.
5. Ashley J. Williams, Evil Dead II
In Evil Dead II (which is absolutely not just a higher budget remake of Evil Dead, that’s just ridiculous) the trouble starts when Ash and his friends decide to smoke some dope and play some tunes. OK, so that’s not quite accurate. They decide to smoke some dope and play a reel to reel tape of someone reciting passages from the goddamn Necronomicon, which may sound like a good time, but we assure you it is not.
You’d think Ash would have learned from the events of the first movie, because this is a sequel, not a remake, dammit, but before long all manner of crazy bullshit is breaking out all over everywhere, Ash is cutting up his dead killer zombie girlfriend with a chainsaw and literal geysers of blood also make an appearance.
In fact, judging by the end of the movie and the entirety of the next, Ash has a pretty bad habit of causing his own problems. Good show, Ash. You guys probably should have just listened to Abbey Road or something.
Ash blows it hard.
4. Nick Rice, Law Abiding Citizen
In the underrated 2009 thriller, Jamie Foxx’s prosecutor Nick Rice decides to cut a deal involving two thugs who murdered the family of nice guy Clyde Shelton, imprisoning the less-guilty of the two on the testimony of the super-guilty one. Happens all the time, right? Gotta break a few eggs to reverse-engineer a chicken, or whatever the saying is.
However, it turns out Clyde is not so nice- he’s a government trained killing machine, and he’s not a big fan of the deal. In fact, his specialty and trade happens to be subterfuge, mindfuckery and killing people while not even in the same area code, and he thinks Nick Rice is a real asshole.
Nick might should have pursued the truly guilty party a little harder- it seriously would have turned out way better for everyone involved, guilty party included. We’d prefer six life sentences to what happens to that guy.
Nick buggers himself.
3. Captain Kirk, “Star Trek – Space Seed”
In the original “Star Trek” episode “Space Seed”, several questionable decisions are made with regard to the super-soldier Khan- not the least of which is to thaw him out in the first place, and to allow him valuable alone time with an impressionable, easily manipulated female crew member.
While this almost results in the Enterprise’s destruction at the climax of the episode, the next and possibly worst decision- to drop the fucking charges against Khan and exile him instead of putting him on trial- endangers the ship and its crew again decades later, after Khan has had plenty of time to stew in anger and plot his revenge.
In the tellingly titled 1982 film Star Trek II – The Wrath Of Khan, the crew happens upon Khan, who doesn’t waste any time with pleasantries before ear-bugging Chekov and fucking up Kirk’s shit so hard that he wails Khan’s name in anguish. Those are, like, the only two parts of that movie anyone remembers, right?
Anyway: fuck a duck, Kirk, why didn’t you just kill the guy? Totally should’ve killed the guy. Who are you, Batman?
Kirk, under the authority vested in him by Starfleet command, ensures a giant clusterfuck for everyone decades hence.
2. Evan Treborn, The Butterfly Effect
The ostensible hero of The Butterfly Effect is a textbook example of this trope; Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) is a walking, talking This Trope. Literally everything he does leads to a different problem that he has to fix; then, his solution to that problem leads to an even greater problem that he has to fix; and on and on ad infinitum. Which sounds like the bumbling antics of a loveable doofus like Kutcher, only in this movie it leads to one abjectly horrifying situation after another.
If you haven’t seen the movie, then hey, spoilers: Evan himself goes from mildly screwed up but pretty well-adjusted kid, to prisoner, to double amputee, and finally to inmate in a psych ward. His girlfriend becomes a junkie hooker, his mom gets lung cancer, his best friend goes crazy… all while Evan insists to himself that his next leap will be the leap home, and Dean Stockwell calls him a stupid asshole.
At any rate, depending on the version you watch- theatrical or director’s cut- it all leads either to a tidy wrap-up of all the bullshit Evan spent the whole movie causing, or an incredibly dark non-ending. We’ll let you guess which is which. (Hint: watch the director’s cut.)
Evan fucks up…
1. Tommy Jarvis, Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives
In the opening scene of the sixth entry in the venerable Friday The 13th franchise, whackjob Jason-killer Tommy Jarvis has a terrifying nightmare in which he is Corey Feldman. And that’s not even the scariest part: he witnesses Jason rising from his grave, in the middle of a dark and stormy night, pissed off and ready to get stabby.
In order to ensure that it was just a nightmare, Tommy drags a dumbass friend who should really know better out to Jason’s grave in the middle of a dark and stormy night and freakin’ digs him up. Stay with us; that’s not even the second-stupidest thing Tommy does in the first five minutes of this movie.
Tommy uses a machete, Jason’s weapon of choice, to hack on the corpse for awhile before symbolically throwing a symbolic goddamn hockey mask at said corpse. OK, that is the second stupidest thing Tommy does in the movie’s first five minutes.
What’s the stupidest thing, you ask? That would be impaling Jason with a giant metal pole from the cemetery’s gate. Made of metal. In a thunderstorm. And what do you suppose happens next?
If you answered “freak bolt of lightning”, then congratulations, you’re much smarter than Tommy. The electrically reanimated Jason equips himself with the hockey mask and machete that Tommy conveniently supplied for him and figures he woke up just in time for the killing spree. And hey, whaddya know- he’s right!
Fun fact: Jason Lives had by far the highest body count (18) of any Friday The 13th movie to that time (until Jason X topped it in absurd fashion with 28). All deaths that could have been avoided if Tommy had been less of a wussy about his nightmares. Nice going, champ!
Tommy fucking blows it.