The 5 Worst Things Almost Done to Beloved Characters
Are fictional characters ... alive? Now, you might think that's an incredibly dumb question that a sad, pathetic loon with only a casual relationship with reality would ask (hey, how about you say that to my face, hypothetical person whom I've just made up?!). But consider this: if the people in movies, TV shows, and video games aren't real, how come you're about to feel so sorry for the following fictional characters who almost had to go through some of the most horrifying experiences you could ever imagine ...
Inara Serra (Firefly): Gruesome Gang Rape
Being a Joss Whedon fan is like suffering from bipolar disorder. One second you're worshipping him for making Firefly -- a beautiful sci-fi western about space smugglers -- and the next you want to make the wombat-faced sonofabitch wear his intestines like a scarf for killing off your favorite characters on the show.
I love you! Eat shit!
But, in the end, I suppose that's just a testament to how well the characters are written. You can't help but become obsessively attached to them. Hell, I still want to know how the lives of the Firefly crew would have turned out. Like, would Nathan Fillion's Malcolm Reynolds ever get with Morena Baccarin's Inara Serra, the hooker with a heart of gold? True, he does tease her mercilessly about being "a whore," but there is so much sexual tension between the two that you could totally see them banging hard enough to disprove the tagline of the first Alien movie.
Preferably with as many close-ups as possible.
Then again, maybe their relationship would never have become physical, especially if Whedon had gone ahead with his plan to have Inara raped by space cannibals.
One of the main villains in Firefly is a "race" of insane, bloodthirsty humans called Reavers whose hobbies include sexual assault, feasting on human flesh, and making scarves out of their victims' intestines, though not always in that order. And, according to the show's executive producer, Whedon once considered doing an episode where this outer-space version of the Sawyer family kidnaps Inara and violently lives up to the first third of their reputation.
But before being taken by the Reavers, the ever-ready space escort injects herself with a drug that will kill anyone who comes into sexual contact with her, allowing the character to ultimately survive her horrific experience, at least physically. Or, to put it in a more accurate/horrible way: Inara was supposed to kill a ship full of crazed-out rapists with her vagina.
Because Whedon is a feminist, dammit!
Jor-El (Superman: Flyby): Self-Disembowelment
Superman is one of the most enduring symbols of hope and inspiration, but have you ever wondered where does he get his inspiration from? The Kents, his adoptive Earth parents, are the ones who give Clark his moral center, but it's only thanks to the holographic recordings of Jor-El, Sup's biological dad, that he realizes his destiny as Earth's own mixture of E.T., Moses, and Jesus (Je.T.ses ...?).
"So, I don't want to see any bullshit ties or anything like that next Father's Day.
I'm thinking cash or 50-yard-line tickets."
Essentially, Jor-El is Superman's Superman, which is why you've never seen a movie where the climax consists of Jor-El committing brutal suicide with a piece of rock. Well, in 2002, J.J. Abrams tried to change that. Twelve years ago, the man who would go on to direct the Star Trek reboot and Star Wars: Episode VII wrote a draft for a horrible movie, working title: Superman: Flyby, in which Krypton never explodes. Instead, Superman is sent to Earth to protect him from a civil war led by Jor-El's brother, Kata-Zor, who eventually imprisons Jor-El and later attacks Earth, where his son Ty-Zor "kills" Superman, because apparently "Zorhead" is a very common insult on Krypton.
Now, usually death is like a mild case of stage fright for Superman: all it takes is a little pep talk for him to get over it, and the same thing was meant to happen in Flyby, with Jor-El delivering the anti-death speech that brings his son back to life. The problem was that, at the time, he was rotting in Kryptonian jail, leaving him with only one logical choice. Obviously he'd have to get in touch with the dying Clark in Kryptonian Heaven after slicing open his stomach with a rock he sharpened on the floor of his prison.
"Just ... try to do it with a lot of hope and inspiration."
Moreover, Abrams didn't want this to happen off-camera. No, he envisioned long close-ups on Jor-El's pained face and the lake of blood pooling under him as he carves a picture of a middle finger aimed at Superman fans into his guts. Because, you see, it couldn't have been, say, Lois Lane's voice that brings Superman back to life due to ... that is ...
"Bam! Lens flare in your face!"
However, this completely unnecessary death of one of the most inspiring characters in cinema history isn't the main reason why you should be happy this script never went to film. That honor belongs to a sequence early on in the movie where the Kents are changing baby Clark's diapers and are horrified to discover that Kryptonian poop is way smellier than human poop.
You thought that I was kidding, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?!
The Doctor (Doctor Who): PTSD Acid Trips
When I first heard about Doctor Who and what it's all about, it spoke to me on a deeply spiritual level as a lifelong lazy bastard. The show tells the story of a time-traveling alien who had been played by eight different actors so far when I started watching it, but get this: unlike James Bond, it all makes sense because the guy can magically regenerate into a whole new body, each time with a totally different personality. I found the idea so beautiful in its simplicity and efficiency that I spent the next few days looking like a low-budget human unicorn due to the brain erection it gave me.
Five minutes later, I got a call to audition for the show.
But even the BBC must have felt that this plot point was a little too much like cheating, which is probably why to make up for it they planned to make the regeneration the most horrifying thing ever.
The modern Doctor's regeneration is a pretty straightforward thing: the character's body explodes with light like an ejaculating star that hasn't gotten laid in years, and ... that's it, really. Occasionally there is some talk of post-regeneration trauma, but no indication is ever made on the show that the Doctor has just taken LSD during a PTSD episode -- yet that was actually the original inspiration for the process. Seriously: an internal memo from 1966 reveals that the BBC wanted the Doctor's regeneration to involve him reliving the most "unendurable" moments of his life and freak out as if he was in the middle of a bad acid trip.
Because Mr. Reaper doesn't like it when you continue to make an asshole out of him.
So forget a glorious, phoenix-like rebirth in a cascade of warm, bright light. Imagine every incarnation of the Doctor in the fetal position on the floor as his mind is flooded with nightmares until he breaks to the point that he has to be replaced with a new model.
Now, some might argue that it's possible the character does go through something like this every time he changes, and we just never see it. But, come on, is this really the face of a mental wreck with a mind eaten away by trauma and brain-bending psychedelic episodes?
I withdraw the question ...
Jimmy Olsen (Superman Comics): AIDS
I freaking love Superman comics, but I also admit that they are incredibly hard to write. The main problem is that it takes a lot of talent to come up with new and exciting stories about a bunch of characters whose roles are pretty much set in stone. As mentioned before: Superman is a symbol of hope, Lois Lane is his spokesperson/occasional girlfriend, and Jimmy Olsen, the young photographer for the Daily Planet, is ... well, us.
Because he has no fashion sense?
He's the wide-eyed, innocent youth of America that looks up to Superman as a role model and strives to be a better person thanks to him, and doesn't that just make you so angry?! Oh, so Jimmy fucking Olsen thinks he's better than us just because he never got drunk and vomited all over a small child at a church fair? "Fuck that guy. I hope something horrible happens to him," you might be thinking, in which case you would have fit right in at DC Comics in the 1980s. Why? Because back then, the people working there hated Jimmy Olsen so much, they once planned to kill him off by giving him AIDS.
Hey, you can't argue that it wouldn't have made canonical sense.
Thirty years ago, people across America finally started to realize that, shit, AIDS exists and is scary as shit, so naturally big comic book companies wanted to inject current events into their storylines by having one of their characters come down with the disease. A vote was held at the DC office, and after they threw out the hundreds of counterfeit votes for Robin that writer Jim Starlin stuffed in the box (no, really, that actually happened) it was decided that Jimmy Olsen was the lucky winner. That's when someone remembered that the actor who portrays Olsen in the Superman movies is actually gay in real life (though that person was probably actually thinking of the actor in the old Superman TV series). In any case, this caused everyone in the office to stop believing that this idea could fly, and that was the end of that. Or was it?!
A couple of years later, the company revisited the idea in the worst way possible by creating a brand-new character called Extrano just so that they could infect him with HIV. And, of course, they made him a super gay Peruvian wizard, presumably to give people some valid fucking reasons to not respect comic books.
This. This was ALL the reasons.
Gordon Freeman (Half-Life): Fatal Alien Rape
Admittedly, I'm cheating a little because player-controlled characters in video games don't really get hurt, except for when they do, but that's not the case here. Yes, Gordon Freeman, the mute protagonist of Half-Life, is always destined to survive the events of the game unscathed, so even if he "dies," it just means that you screwed up and have to reload the game and try again, without giving a second thought about Freeman's well-being.
But what if he was raped to death by an alien tentacle sheep? That sounds like it would be enough to leave a big Brown Mesa in most players' pants.
What you're seeing up there is an alien called Mr. Friendly that almost made it into the first Half-Life game. You can still find its model in the data for the game, but to learn more about it you have to turn to the book Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, by David Hodgson, in which we learn that Mr. Friendly was actually meant to be one of the most innovative monsters in gaming history. Valve reportedly planned for the creature to be able to knock off Gordon's glasses and cause the screen to become blurry, adding a whole new layer of immersion to an already pretty spectacular game.
However, this would then be followed by the creature restraining Freeman with its tentacles and jackhammering its penis into him until Freeman died, because, hey, can you think of a surer way to motivate players to get better at the game?
"New idea! If the player dies enough times, their computer explodes!"
As mentioned before, the data for Mr. Friendly does exist out there, meaning that Half-Life's managing director, Gabe "God" Newell, was at one point serious about using this literal rape-monster in the game. If you're wondering why, you have to ask yourself who was Half-Life made for, and let me stop you right there, because I doubt any of you have answered: "12-year-olds with homophobic tendencies." Yet that was how Newell saw Valve's target audience at the time, and therefore wanted to use Mr. Friendly to freak them all out, because the essence of gaming has always been wish fulfillment. Only, back then it was his own twisted wishes that Newell was interested in fulfilling before someone, presumably, slapped him back to his senses.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more from Cezary, check out 4 Famous People Who Accidentally Created Classic Movies and 4 Complex Concepts You Didn't Know Movies and TV Taught You.
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