Five Heroes who are Good at Being Bad

I got a request after writing “Five Villains We’re Glad Went Good” to write an article around characters who did the opposite—who went from good to bad. I was grateful because writing is easy; coming up with an idea is the difficult part. Oh, and, you know, writing well isn’t very easy either.

But after some research, I’ve decided to amend the premise (because rarely do major protagonists switch sides). Just a warning: There may be a few spoilers ahead.

5. Genie, Aladdin (1992)

Update: Fixed when Genie was bad.

Okay, you may want to say Genie doesn’t count, and that’s a legitimate opinion. See, Genie is a lot like Pokémon. We’re told time and time again that Pokémon are neither good nor bad, and that they only become so because of their trainers. If Genie has a good master, he does good, and if his master is evil, then he does evil.

For the entire time we see Genie, he is under Aladdin’s control, which makes him good by association. So, I’m going to group him in with the heroes.

But later, the lamp falls into the hands of the evil sorcerer Jafar, and Genie is forced to fulfill his every command, thus making him evil.

The amazing thing is that we still get to see Genie sympathizing with Aladdin while being forced to serve Jafar. As far as I’m concerned, Genie is pretty good at being bad.

4. InuYasha, InuYasha (2000-2010)

InuYasha is already a reluctant hero, not really eager to help anyone out but himself. While he eventually (kind of) gets over that, he still suffers from two fatal flaws. Since he’s a half-demon, once every so often he becomes fully human.

His second flaw makes him more of a danger to others than himself. If his life is in danger, and his sword, the Tessaiga, is out of reach, his demon blood will take over and transform him into a powerful demon. The longer he’s in this state, though, the more his human soul decays, and the more the mindless bloodlust of his demon self takes over.

It a pretty bad-ass fail-safe, but on more than one occasion InuYasha ends up almost hurting someone he cares for after saving himself.

3. Severus Snape, Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)

For those of us who didn’t read the books, Snape was the perfect bad guy. He was always acting shady and trying to become the defense against the dark arts professor. And he was always thwarting Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We just knew he was bad. Just knew it!

And then, in the first movie, we discover it’s not even Snape behind all the evil shit that’s happening. Not only that, Snape’s trying to stop it!

And throughout the rest of the movies (or books, if you read them), the same kind of thing kept happening: Snape seemed strangely evil all the time, but he kept saving the day when certain things went wrong. Finally, we discover that he’s one of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. But he’s also a member of the Order of the Phoenix, tasked with maintaining his undercover identity as a Death Eater.

The only problem was there were some (including me) who didn’t know whether he was good, pretending to be bad, or bad, pretending to be good. Then he kills Dumbledore, and everyone knows he’s evil. He takes over as headmaster and plays a key role in the defeat of Voldemort, sacrificing his own life, proving that he is the best actor in the wizarding world.

2. Vegeta, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT (1989-2005)

I caught some flak for failing to include Vegeta in my article “Five Villains We’re Glad Went Good.” Instead, I chose Piccolo, mostly because he’s my favorite character. But I would also say the Piccolo—in the beginning—is more evil than Vegeta. Piccolo is the great demon king who wants to take control of the world and kill anyone who could possible seal him away again. Vegeta, on the other hand, is one of the last soldiers—and the prince—of the Saiyan race. And as we find out, when he comes to Earth, he’s coming to do Frieza’s bidding: wipe out all life on the planet in order to add it to Frieza’s galactic empire.

Vegeta doesn’t like working for Frieza, and later rebels with the help of Goku, Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma. It’s a shaky alliance, and it seems like Vegeta just wants to beat Frieza to the Namekian dragon balls, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I guess.

So, I wouldn’t dismiss Vegeta as purely evil. However, he is really great at being a bad guy even when he’s supposed to be a hero.

The best example is from the Majin Buu saga, when he allows Babidi to take control over him and increase his power. Vegeta kills a lot of people after doing this, and then hunts Goku down to prove once and for all which of the two is the strongest.

Even after all this, Vegeta takes control and ends up sacrificing himself to try to destroy Majin Buu.

1. Kratos, God of War Series (2005-2012)

Kratos is a servant of Ares whom Ares tricks into killing his family. Out of rage and sorrow, Kratos leads a quest for revenge that ends in the death of the god of war. And at this point, I am totally with Kratos.

But then, in the second game, Kratos turns his attention toward Zeus and tries to kill him for taking away his power and killing him. This doesn’t work, but Kratos kills a lot of other heroes and gods on his way. Then, in the third game, Kratos leads an all-out war against Olympus, resulting in the deaths of half a dozen gods, including Zeus.

In the second game, I saw Kratos becoming mad, but I was still on his side. By the third game, I had decided he had completely lost his mind, but that I was going to continue playing anyway.

Kratos does a lot of killing—some of it needless, and all of it brutal. He’s a good portrait of an antihero. Though, the two PSP games, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta help us understand Kratos more, and it actually almost justifies his rampage in the latter games.

Got any others?

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  1. Um, been a long time since I saw Aladdin but I don’t recall Genie ever turning red (maybe I forgot about that?). Didn’t that happen when Jafar was turned into a genie?

    Otherwise, great article! Severus Snape was exceptionally well done IMO.

  2. Yes, I’m with J here… wasn’t Genie-Jafar the red one? As his last wish he wishes to be an all-powerful genie, and our blue Genie reluctantly turns him into one (or does he know what’s gonna happen?), and then the screenshot you show happens (Yes, it’s Jafar!). And then, and I recall this well from the SNES game, handcuffs appear on his wrists and he is trapped into a lamp.

  3. I felt like the whole Snape storyline was never quite played out to my satisfaction. Maybe it’s the whole “lost love” thing that didn’t sit well with me. Cool character, though.

    Whatever the case, I always love when the entire comments section turns into everybody pointing out the same mostly-irrelevant detail. That’s a cool scene, though, and the genie lifting the city up is one of the best visuals in the entire movie, IMO.

    There’s a nice moment in Bridge to Terabithia where one of the main bullies gets cut down to size and reveals a surprising bit of humanity. Given how cartoonish most bullies are in those sorts of movies, it was a welcome surprise.

    I know there are more; they’re right on the tip of my brain…

  4. …it’s funny that Kratos was the #1 Heroes good at being bad you mentioned in this article. That’s EXACTLY who I thought should have been number one before I even read the article. Haven’t played all the GoW games, he really starts to seem more insane than angry near the end; and what an end it was! Probably the most brutal and tragic video game story I’ve ever played, fitting of greek mythology, no? It just makes sense. Besides Vegeta being in the top 5, I really didn’t know who you were gonna include.
    Genie was a clever choice, and fun too. Severus Snape was a great choice as well; trust me when I say that people were truly divided on that one up until the final chapters of Book 7 (You were either team Good Snape or team Evil Snape -the original two teams! Not that Twilight crap).
    As for InuYasha, I haven’t really watched the show so I can’t comment on that character. I would say to probably include any of the GTA protagonists. As they are all heroes of the game, but pretty bad people as well, hahaha

  5. Nice idea for a list. I approve. How about Willow from Buffy? “Bored now” for the win. Ichigo Kurosaki’s evil alter ego is pretty psychotic as well. He could take Inuyasha’s for sure.

  6. There are a few X-Men that could have been thrown in the mix too like Gambit, who started out with the Brotherhood before joining the X-Men.

    Yes, that is the Genie when he is controlled by Jafar and not Jafar himself. Facepalm for all the people that think that image is Jafar.

  7. Seeing Kratos on this list, let alone number 1 over Vegeta, makes me want to vomit.

    There is nothing good about GoW and there is nothing good about Kratos. GoW is a mediocre, testosterone-injected shitfest made for bros who are too stupid to play REAL games.

  8. I’d say Lelouch was also really good. I mean, the whole show left me on the fence about who I supported, neither side was really good. At first I really supported him, because he was trying to do the right thing. After a while, I realized that while commanding his troops, he was referring to them as chess pieces and it hit me: he sees them as pawns, not people. These people who worked for him were just tools to be used for his goal. But at the same time, he cared about people and wanted to fight against the tyranny of Britania. He really smears the line between hero and villain, definitely more so than Light Yagami did. I say he could fit in either “heroes who are good at being bad” or “villains who are good at being good”.

  9. Segashredder88,

    The image I had mistakenly originally uploaded was of Jafar as a genie. The powers that be corrected my mistake once it was pointed out.

    Glad most of you like this! 😀

  10. unreality, I am disappoint. you include Vegeta twice (not that i don’t love DBZ) but NOT ZUKO!!! HE HAS THE EXACT QUOTE “WHY AM I SO BAD AT BEING GOOD!!”

  11. That image is the image of Genie when Jafar gets control of the lamp and orders Genie to cast Aladdin out of Agrabah. The part where he puts Aladdin and Abu in the tower and missile launches it out into the middle of nowhere. Then they have to trek back to Agrabah to defeat Jafar. They infiltrate the palace but they get caught. THEN Jafar wishes himself into a genie and gets all crazy… then gets bottled up into a lamp. Phenomenal cosmic power! itty-bitty living space.

  12. How is Revolver Ocelot or The Boss not on this list? Both pretended to supporting Colonel Vulgin while secretly ensuring that Snake would end up the victor.

    And I second Lelouch deserving a place here.

  13. Do you even understand the premise of GoW? Kratos is only the way he is after Ares made him kill his own family in the first one and after he kills Ares to be forgiven of his crimes the gods decide to make him the new GoW and not help him in the least.

    In the second game Kratos is put into the situation he is in because he learns that Zeus wants to kill him because Kratos is his demigod son. Zeus believes that Kratos is going to do the same to him that he did to Cronos so he decides to try to avoid the problem by killing him off. Obviously he fails which leads to the 3rd game when he finally goes after Zeus and finishes what he started to end the reign of the gods for good.

    He’s pissed for obvious reasons and goes after those who have wronged him. Please do a little bit more research into the games even if you’ve played them because you obviously don’t pay attention while playing.

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