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What the hell, hero?! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 worst things TV heroes have done.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the worst acts committed by heroes on television. We’ll be excluding protagonists whose morality is permanently compromised, like the titular serial killer from Dexter.
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#10: Jack Bauer Executes Someone at a Terrorist’s Instruction “24” (2001-10)
Jack Bauer does a lot of morally gray and illegal things in the name of protecting the United States, but this is arguably one of the most controversial. The third “day” of 24 sees a terrorist mastermind named Stephen Saunders hold the US government hostage under threat of unleashing biological weapons on the population. After learning of Ryan Chappelle’s investigation attempting to locate him, Saunders orders the president and Bauer to execute Chappelle. While Chappelle is given the option to do it himself, ultimately it falls to Bauer to kill his colleague for “the greater good.”
#9: Jack Harkness Kills His Own Grandson “Torchwood” (2006-11)
Here, the leader of Torchwood, the immortal Jack Harkness is given an impossible choice when an alien race known as the 456 demands humanity give them millions of its children. Faced with allowing a huge number of innocents to be abducted and horrifically used, Jack is able to stop them using the creature’s own psychic wavelength that is attuned to children—but only by using a child’s mind. The only one available is Jack’s grandson, Steven. Killing someone to save others is an awful thing, and it’s made even worse when it’s your own family.
#8: Facilitating Extinction “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2001-05)
Early in the show’s run, the Enterprise and its doctor, Phlox, are asked for help by an alien species called the Valakians who are suffering from a deadly disease. While there, Phlox discovers that a second race on the planet, the Menk, who are treated like second-class citizens, don’t suffer from it. Phlox then learns it’s genetic and that the Valakians are simply dying out. Despite discovering a cure, Phlox and Captain Archer decide not to give it to them; giving the Menk a chance to be the dominant species, ultimately condemning millions to die from an otherwise curable disease.
#7: Clarke Kills Everyone in Mount Weather “The 100” (2014-)
Young leader Clarke makes lots of hard and morally questionable decisions, but this is definitely the worst. Cut off in a control room and helpless to save her people from excruciating and deadly bone marrow extractions, Clarke and Bellamy use the controls at their disposal to let in lethal radiation to the level where the mountain’s entire population is located; killing everyone, including their own people, as well as the innocent children living there. While there is an element of mercy to the act, it’s still mass murder.
#6: Changing the Past “The Flash” (2014-)
Barry Allen may be the fastest man alive, but in his headlong rush to save people, he can make some costly mistakes. After a crushing loss, Barry decides to travel back in time to save his mother, a formative experience for him; altering the past and creating a new timeline. However, his memories begin to fade. To restore the timeline, he has to let her be killed again, restoring the timeline, but not without changes to his friend’s lives, including damaged relationships, dead relatives, and even erasing children from existence. “Now who’s the villain” indeed!
#5: Adama & Roslin Have 3% of Humanity Killed “Battlestar Galactica” (2004-09)
Commander Adama and President Laura Roslin make their share of tough calls, but one of their first is easily one of the most devastating. After fleeing the destruction of their homeworlds, the fleet is found by the Cylons every 33 minutes. When one ship fails to make a rendezvous, the Cylons don’t pursue. Yet, when it returns, the Cylons do as well. Although they can’t manage to hail them and a nuclear weapon is detected aboard, there still may be people aboard. Nevertheless, Roslin and Adama choose to destroy the ship, and possibly the 1,300 people aboard, to save the other 47,000.
#4: Willow Skins Warren Alive “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1996-2003)
Willow is one of the sweetest parts of Buffy’s Scooby Gang, but season 6 sees her struggling with an addiction to dark magic. She’s pushed over the edge though when her girlfriend Tara is accidentally shot and killed by Warren Mears when he tries to kill Buffy; after which she gives in to her darker impulses. Willow tracks Warren down and then tortures him, first using the bullet that killed Tara, then when he tries to reason with her, she abruptly flays him alive in an instant, before incinerating him. Willow could give a lot of the series’ “Big Bads” a lesson in cruelty!
#3: Daenerys Has Innocent People Crucified “Game of Thrones” (2011-)
Despite being one of the few morally good characters on Game of Thrones, even Daenerys Targaryen is not without her incredibly ruthless moments. While journeying to free the city of Meereen from oppression, Daenerys is appalled to see slaves, including children, crucified on road markers along the way. Upon helping the slaves liberate themselves, Dany has the same number of “Great Masters” crucified in retaliation, even if they were uninvolved. This kind of “eye for an eye” justice is hardly heroic and her advisers even try to dissuade her, but to no avail. It’s oddly fitting that the “Mother of Dragons” is so draconian.
#2: Carol Murders a Child “The Walking Dead” (2010-)
The murder of child is a horrific thing, and while Melinda May’s killing of a little girl on Agents of SHIELD was a contender, ultimately this Walking Dead instance stood out in our minds the most. Young Lizzie is a girl who believes that the zombies are her friends and doesn’t understand the danger they pose; leading her to kill her sister, and preparing to do the same to the infant Judith. Because the post-apocalyptic world cannot provide for her, Carol does what she sees as the humane thing, and tells Lizzie to look at some flowers, before shooting her in the back of the head.
#1: Genocide “Doctor Who” (1963-89; 2005-)
Renowned throughout time and space as a pacifistic hero who always seeks non-violent solutions, the Doctor is nevertheless responsible for genocide—make that genocides! While facing the evils of the universe, the Doctor has wiped out the last of several species, including his own people, at least, so it seemed. Granted in most of these cases, the Doctor was stopping these people and/or creatures from killing innocent people or to stop a terrible cosmos-ending war, but in doing so he’s often causing the extinction of whole species, even if they’re genocidal monsters like the Daleks. But does he have the right?