24.7k voters

Movie 'Heroes' Who Were Actually Villains The Whole Time

Updated February 22, 2021 129.3k votes 24.7k voters 1.0m views16 items

List RulesVote up the movies that really didn't need a villain, since the hero was so awful.

Sometimes, our favorite movies are actually secretly terrifying. Upon even a cursory examination, logic can ruin even the most hallowed films. Be warned, then, that reading about some of these heroes with suspect morality might make it hard to ever look at them the same way again. See, these are movie heroes who were actually villains

It’s important to note these good guys who did bad things are not your typical anti-heroes, nor are they seemingly good guys who make a second-act heel turn. These are straight-up protagonists. We’re rooting for them because they are supposed to wear the white hat. We've been conditioned to believe that these people are doing the right thing.

Really, however, these heroes who act like villains are just pretending to be good guys. For example, is Leonard from Memento really the sympathetic amnesia-afflicted pseudo-detective who only wants to find justice for his wife? Or, is Leonard much more sinister, simply someone in need of the chase? Regardless of any feelings of blind admiration, it's important to examine our idols critically. It makes you realize that some of your favorite protagonists are actually the worst movie heroes in history. 


  • 9

    Mrs. Doubtfire In 'Mrs. Doubtfire'

    Mrs. Doubtfire, a classic 1990s family comedy, or a dark film about a deranged man? We root for Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams), a down-on-his-luck divorced dad denied custody of his kids because of his past reckless behavior, to reunite with his family. However, upon closer examination, perhaps it's better that Daniel just stay away?

    First off, Daniel is all but checked out and dealing with a substance abuse issue. He had it all: a great voice-over job, three wonderful kids, and a lovely wife named Miranda (Sally Field). When he loses everything, he dresses as Mrs. Doubtfire and gets hired as his kids' nanny to trick his family into loving him again.

    Jealous Daniel aims to selfishly sabotage his wife's relationship with Stu (Pierce Brosnan). His most sinister act in the film, which also happens to be extremely illegal, occurs when Stu and Miranda are dining at a fancy restaurant. Daniel knows that Stu is allergic to pepper, so he pours cayenne pepper all over his competitor's shrimp dinner. The over-seasoning causes Stu to suffer a reaction that almost takes him out. Daniel ultimately saves Stu because he feels guilty, but who wouldn't after doing something like that?

    Is the hero actually a villain?
  • V wants to bring freedom to the people who have been oppressed by a Fascist government. In order to wake up the populace and overcome this oppression, V takes some serious actions.

    But really, he manipulates his followers into sacrificing themselves. The whole thing where he sends out all the masks? He had no way of knowing the inevitable armed response wouldn't just take action against them all. Frankly, that's probably what he expected to happen. He also harms his "friend" Evey, and is a straight-up bad guy by any reasonable definition. He blows up multiple historical landmarks, denying future generations access to an important part of their history. Whatever, at least he's good at cooking eggs-in-toast and watching old movies over and over again. 

    Is the hero actually a villain?

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  • Andrew Garfield takes over Toby Maguire's mantle in this 2012 movie, and we immediately see Spider-Man get super arrogant. One of the best parts of the Spider-Man films is the difference between the geeky, awkward Peter Parker and his witty, charming superhero alter ego Spider-Man. In the Garfield films, Peter Parker is just cool from the beginning, and we don't get any of the much needed Parker/Spider-Man juxtaposition. 

    However, what shoves Garfield's Spidey towards actual villain-hood is his blatant disrespect for an expiring man's wishes. When Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) is taking his last breaths, he tells Spider-Man to leave his daughter Gwen (Emma Stone) alone. He explains that Spider-Man is going to make enemies, and it's going to get dangerous for the people that he is close with.

    Parker agrees to Stacy's wishes, but then (shockingly), he can't help himself and starts to see Gwen again. This selfish decision ultimately led to Gwen's demise in the next installment of franchise. Peter Parker caused this to happen. But for real this time. 

    Is the hero actually a villain?

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  • Sure, we're rooting for Happy (Adam Sandler) because the likable loser is just trying to save his grandmother's house from the mean ol' bank. Who doesn't love an underdog? And who doesn't just totally despite that smug Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald)?

    Because of Happy's loyalty to his sweet grandma, it's easy to dismiss the fact that the guy is a total maniac. Of course, it's played for laughs, but if we're being honest, his anger issues are totally out of control. On at least a few occasions, he probably should have been escorted off the golf course. What kind of dude picks a fight with Bob Barker? He also takes out his mentor, is a total creep to his original girlfriend, and (in the above scene) gets with an older lady only to never talk to her again. 

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