6 Fictional Villains Who Accidentally Saved the Day
Remember when we told you how in Star Wars, a single TIE fighter pilot saved the rebellion by colliding with Darth Vader before he could shoot down Luke? Turns out he wasn't the only remarkably inept bad guy who ended up doing the heroes a huge favor. For example ...
RoboCop: Dick Jones Confesses to a Cyborg That Records Everything
The pivotal scene in RoboCop plays out like so: Through a combination of expert police work and being a robot, RoboCop tracks down the man who shot him earlier in the film. RoboCop finds out that the bad guy is working for Dick Jones, one of the top executives at OCP (the company that runs the police department). It turns out Jones ordered the assassination of fellow OCP executive Bob Morton as revenge for creating RoboCop and upstaging his own proposal for a technological law enforcer.
The problem is that as soon as RoboCop goes to arrest Jones, his body starts shutting itself down:
"If I can only act with my mouth, then by gosh it's gonna be the best mouth acting anyone's ever seen."
Jones, instead of just having RoboCop hauled out to a dumpster, patiently explains to him that he added a secret directive to RoboCop's program that prevents him from acting against any member of OCP management. During his villain monologue, he also admits to having ordered Morton's death -- but there's absolutely nothing RoboCop can do about it because of his programming. Finally, Jones sends his giant robot and a bunch of SWATs to kill RoboCop, because he can.
Holy shit. No amount of RoboCopping can get him out of this one.
Look! He's still human after all.
But the Villain Saved the Day:
Look, we know that flamboyant movie villains like to explain their master plan to the trapped hero -- James Bond has heard more confessed sins than your average priest. But boasting of your plan to RoboCop is like confessing directly into a security camera. He's a machine that records everything he sees and hears -- his memory is admissible in court as evidence.
And his fist is a flash drive.
We know Jones should have been aware of this because a) he was familiar enough with RoboCop's programming to insert a new directive and b) RoboCop was actually playing an audio clip of the killer shouting "I WORK FOR DICK JONES!" as he walked toward Jones' office.
Perhaps Jones was under the impression that if RoboCop dies all the files inside him stop existing, like someone who throws away a laptop full of incriminating porn because the monitor is broken. Following that analogy, the scene when RoboCop plays Jones' confession in front of the entire OCP board would be like the moment when the computer's owner finds out that one of his personal videos has 3,000,000 hits on YouPorn. Hey, Dick -- even if RoboCop "died," somebody could have recovered his hard drive (or whatever he has in there) and copied the files off of it to nail your ass.
Explaining the secret directive to RoboCop turned out to be a monumentally stupid decision, too: This is something that RoboCop couldn't have known otherwise, because this particular directive never shows up in his Robovision (unlike the others). When Jones is exposed, RoboCop more or less tells everyone at the board that he can't touch him because he's an OCP employee -- and so the OCP president kindly fires Jones on the spot to allow RoboCop to deal with him however he sees fit.
John McClane is a goddamn plagiarist.
If Jones hadn't told RoboCop that he can't hurt OCP executives, Robo probably would have assumed that the directive forbid him from hurting Jones only, regardless of where he worked ... which actually would have made a lot more sense as a directive anyway.
Return of the Jedi: Emperor Palpatine Sucks at Setting Traps
At the climax of Return of the Jedi, Luke learns that his friends have fallen into an elaborate trap: The Emperor intentionally leaked the plans of the new Death Star to the Rebels while making them think that it wasn't operational yet. As soon as all their forces are gathered at the same place, they find out that it totally was.
As the Emperor put it, "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design" -- yes, even meeting the damned Ewoks. The whole reason Han, Leia and the others went to Ewok-ville is that the Emperor secretly fed them the location to a shield generator supposedly protecting the Death Star, but that, too, was part of the trap.
In other words, the Rebels may think they're making some progress, but each victory just brings them closer to ultimate defeat. As they arrive at what they believe is their goal, they are essentially a woman tied up on the train tracks in front of an approaching train, only in this case the woman has tied herself there because she thought that's how you derail the train.
"If I had a mustache I'd be twirling it, but I am completely hairless."
But the Villain Saved the Day:
There's only one problem with that plan. As part of the trap, the Emperor makes the Rebels on Endor believe they're attacking the Death Star's shield generator. And as bait for said trap, he uses the actual shield generator. As a reminder, the Rebels have already blown up an unshielded Death Star before, and this one has a big-ass hole in the side. He knows it's completely vulnerable without those shields. It's like setting a mousetrap where the cheese is rigged to a bomb, and if the mouse doesn't eat it, you die.
They should have built a shield generator for the shield generator.
Sure, the Emperor had a bunch of Stormtroopers waiting to ambush the Rebels, but why even take that risk? Why not tell them the shield station was somewhere else? Like for example in any of the other eight nearby moons that don't have indispensable equipment in them, which they could've then blown to shit with the giant laser as soon as the Rebels landed.
OK, so telling them how to shut down the shield is one thing ... but did the Emperor also have to give them complete and accurate plans for the new Death Star? He could have easily fudged a few details, causing Lando to fly the Millennium Falcon into a wall.
"Well, GPS says to go right ahead, so ..."
When you think about it, the Ewoks did more to endanger the Rebel Alliance than the Emperor, since they delayed Luke's group getting to the shield generator with their off-putting hijinks, which could have been fatal to the fleets waiting for the shield to be taken down. That's right: The Ewoks are better villains than the Emperor.
As any Stormtrooper could have told you.
The Lord of the Rings: Sauron Lets Gollum Go, for Some Reason
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one huge underdog story; two semi-competent hobbits must destroy a powerful ring which, in the hands of the evil Sauron, could enslave all of Middle-earth. The only problem is that the ring can only be destroyed in the place where it was forged -- that is, an active volcano called "Mount Doom."
The other only problem is that Mount Doom is in a region called Mordor, and our awareness of tired Internet memes tells us that one does not simply waltz into Mordor, so two is out of the question. The other other only problem is that the only known entrance to Mordor looks like this:
And is protected by these guys:
And these other guys:
And these other ... things:
The hobbits somehow manage to reach Mordor, but what are they supposed to do now? If they are caught trying to sneak past the heavily guarded gate, the ring goes back to Sauron and everyone is screwed. And if they try to fight their way in, they risk getting trampled by a monster or, you know, anything else, because did we mention that these are just hobbits?
The only role in which a former child star can find success, because it reminds us of when they were small.
But the Villain Saved the Day:
The only reason that the hobbits were able to go into Mordor without fighting a million dudes was that they had the help of Gollum. And the reason they had that help was because Sauron let Gollum go.
Early in the first film, Gollum was dicking around Mordor one day when he was captured by Sauron and tortured for information about the ring, since Gollum himself was a previous owner. Gollum says, "The hobbits have it! One of them took it from me!"
"Shire! Baggins! He also called you a diiiiiiick!"
So Sauron knows everything he needs to know from this Gollum monster. So, now let's look at this from Sauron's perspective: His prisoner knows the hobbits, is obsessed with the ring and knows his way around Mordor. He has every piece of crucial information an opposing army would need if they were going to, say, try to destroy the ring or use it against Sauron. You'd think that would warrant being killed or at least thrown into a dungeon for all eternity -- and yet for some reason Sauron lets him go free.
"And now, kill the ... the ... there are some lady elves making out. What was I saying?"
Keep in mind that Sauron is a "kill first, don't ask questions later" kinda guy: He was a big fan of human sacrifice and, oh, the ultimate incarnation of evil. And yet he spares the insignificant life of a guy who knows enough about his plans to screw them, and who in fact does exactly that. Predictably, Gollum ends up showing the hobbits the alternate way into Mordor -- with ulterior motives, but still. He's also the one who unwittingly alerts the hobbits about Sauron in the first place, and the one who finally kills Sauron by dropping the ring into the volcano (along with himself).
It wouldn't be that hard to re-edit LOTR with Gollum as the real hero, because he already is.
Total Recall: The Bad Guys Don't Bother to Sedate Arnold
Near the end of Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is strapped to a chair and about to have his brain deleted. That's about as screwed as one can be. It's not just that the hero will lose; it's that in a few minutes he won't even exist because his mind will be replaced by an alternate personality (who happens to be a complete bastard).
"Tell me to go fuck myself."
The villain, Vilos Cohaagen, is basically the mayor of an Earth colony on Mars, but he's less concerned with mayoring and more with being evil. Cohaagen wants to destroy the rebels who are getting in the way of his greediness, so his subordinate (Arnold) volunteers to have fake memories implanted as part of a convoluted plan to infiltrate the group and kill their leader. And it works.
So basically, Arnold has been working for the villain for the entire movie and doesn't even know it. Everything that has happened up to the point where Arnold is captured has gone according to the (needlessly complicated but carefully executed) plan. The only silver lining here is that there's a pretty big chance that this is all a dream anyway.
"And for an extra $24.99, we trap you in a psychotic coma filled with busty mutants forever."
But the Villain Saved the Day:
At the last minute, Arnold breaks the restraints on his brain-erasing chair and kills everyone in the room. This, after patiently sitting there while Cohaagen gives his villain monologue explaining everything ... to a man whose brain he's about to erase anyway. This is what they did instead of, you know, sedating Arnold.
Cohaagen's scientists know that this extremely pissed off conglomeration of muscles is a trained killer, and they had more than enough time to put him under before they attempted to erase his mind ... but they just didn't bother. Because of that, this happens:
Arnold tears the chair apart and kills all the scientists with the pieces. Which, really, is the least you'd expect Arnold to do in this situation. If you've seen the movie, you might remember that Arnold had been successfully mind-wiped against his will once before -- that's because back then they took the basic precaution of sedating him. He did try to resist that time, but it only took one of those scientists a few seconds to give him a couple more shots and put him to sleep. So, what, was that the last sedative they owned?
Presumably Cohaagen knew about that previous incident (because, again, every single thing that happened in the movie had to be part of his plan), but despite this, and despite the violent deaths of several of his men at Arnold's hands, the only anesthetic method they employ in this scene is a condescending scientist telling Arnold to calm down.
"And don't force those restraints, please, they are extremely easy to break."
If all of this happened inside Arnold's head after all, his imagination leaves a lot to be desired.
We take that back.
And while we're on the subject of Schwarzenegger villains ...
The Running Man: The Network Puts the Girl on TV (Instead of Killing Her)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a former military pilot blamed for a massacre he didn't commit and, worse yet, the unwitting star of a future game show of Japan-level sadism. Arnold and two other convicts are sent into a game area where they are chased by a group of colorful killers called Stalkers. The winner is whoever manages to not die.
This is the most outrageous reality show they could conceive in 1987.
However, Arnold soon finds out that the corrupt TV government that pinned 200 murders on him isn't as trustworthy as it seems, since the "winners" of the show are killed anyway and stored in a warehouse within the game area. Although Arnold has come in contact with a group of rebels trying to bring down the corrupt officials (again), even if they help him escape the game he's still a wanted felon and the most hated man in the country.
Man, it sucks to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in the future.
But the Villain Saved the Day:
Basically, the entire reason the bad guys lost is Maria Conchita Alonso.
Cast in this movie so that Arnold's name wouldn't look exceedingly long in the poster.
She plays Amber, a woman working for the network whom Arnold briefly kidnaps as he tries to escape to Hawaii. Arnold is caught, but Amber starts believing he was really framed, does a little snooping around and finds a tape with footage that proves the entire coverup (including the part where the government is responsible for the deaths they're pinning on Arnold). Unfortunately, at this point Amber herself is discovered, and obviously they kill her right away because what she knows could bring down their entire organization.
Just kidding, they send her into the game.
"She discovered our horrible conspiracy! Let's put her on national TV."
Because they chose the least logical and most long-winded way of disposing of her, she and Arnold end up being rescued by the rebels and Amber hands them the stolen tape -- which is then broadcast to the public, proving that the government is evil. At this point the entire game-show-based totalitarian state crumbles, presumably, and everyone learns to live in peaceful anarchy.
Yeah, about that tape ... Amber was caught in the room with all the video files, searching through the cabinet where this extremely incriminating tape showing the military murdering hundreds of people was stored. And yet nobody noticed that the tape was missing. They knew she was there to steal that specific piece of evidence, but apparently they didn't even bother searching her, since she was able to carry the tape with her even after a full change of clothes.
She must have hidden it in her hairdo.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Belloq Doesn't Read the Instructions
By the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, it isn't just Indiana Jones who is screwed: it's the entire nonracist world. The Nazis are now in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, a biblical weapon of mass destruction that the film describes as capable of "leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions" -- basically, it's like God's version of the Sim City "Disasters" menu.
Tornado + alien attack = Fresh real estate for the Arcology park.
The Ark had been safely stored in an Egyptian temple for thousands of years, until U.S. intelligence agents learned that the Nazis were interested in it and sent Indiana Jones to find it first. And now, because Indy got himself caught, the Ark is on its way to Adolf Hitler, who is probably already thinking of which army he wants to wipe out first.
"I'll show you, Canada."
Obviously we all know what happens next (melting faces, exploding heads, hiding behind the sofa), but that was probably an incredible stroke of luck, or maybe even God himself intervening to save humanity, right?
But the Villain Saved the Day:
Actually, all the horror could have been easily avoided -- if only one guy had paid a little more attention.
Not him, but we're legally required to show you this picture somewhere in this article.
Rene Belloq, Indy's evil French counterpart and the guy who convinces the Nazis to "test" the Ark before delivering it to Hitler, evidently knew enough about the artifact to wear the right ceremonial garb and speak the correct Hebrew words to get it open, but he forgot one important detail: don't freaking look inside or you'll be killed.
Why would Belloq know that part, you ask? Mainly because it's right there in the Bible. According to the King James translation: "And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter."
"Ohhh, so THAT's what 'smote' mea --"
Obviously Indy did his homework better than Belloq, because he knew he had to close his eyes to be spared by the Ark's power. Presumably Hitler himself would have known how to use the Ark, too, since he was the one who first learned about it and who sent the Nazis to Egypt to fetch it. Meanwhile, it looks like Belloq sort of skimmed through the instructions and called it a day.
In the end it all comes down to Belloq being shitty at his job, which isn't really that much of a surprise considering that his entire archeological method consisted of "following Indiana Jones and stealing the shit he finds."
Douglas A. McDonnell is a regular participant in our Photoplasty contests. If you're looking for something else to do, then check them out, and maybe submit an entry yourself.
For more supervillain gaffs, check out 7 Badass Cartoon Villains Who Lost to Retarded Heroes and 5 Batman Villains Too Lame To Survive a Single Issue.
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