When you put together your starship’s crew, there are certain roles you just know you gotta fill. You got the captain, who leads the crew for better or worse; you got the science guy (the brains), who tells you what the weird anomaly that’s about to destroy the ship is doing; and you got your tough guy (the brawn), whose job is to look intimidating and kick the bad guys’ asses. You can have more, of course, but you just have to have these three at minimum. Being the captain is pretty sweet, and the science guy is living his dream, seeing all these rare and unknown phenomena. The problem with being the tough guy is that, well… when the new bad guys come to your corner of the galaxy, they tend to play by prison rules, which means they’re coming to kick your ass first. This happens to poor Worf so many times that he’s become the poster child of this sequence of events, what TVTropes calls “The Worf Effect.” The Borg, The Jem Hadar, random androids… Worf faced them all, and got tossed aside as a result.
But once in a while, it’s time for the Tough Guy to prove why we call him the tough guy and regain the respect he deserves. In honor of Defiance‘s Omec problem, here are 4 moments when they managed to do just that, and look awesome doing it.
4. Andromeda–Tyr Anasazi, “Its Hour Come ‘Round at Last”
While Tyr is the relative unknown on the list, he’s also the least likely to be defeated by an enemy to make a point to the audience. While his character went through some really weird spots by the end, if we focus on the beginning, there’s really one particular point where Tyr gets to prove he lives up to all his big Nietzschean talk. That moment is in the first season finale, in which the ship is invaded by the vicious Magog, who will literally tear them limb from limb and devour them, and there’s no hope of rescue. Imagine the Xenomorphs from Alien, but with the resources and capabilities of the Borg. Pretty bad. Tyr is left with the smart guy Harper, who’s completely useless in a fight under the best of circumstances. First, Tyr defends Harper singlehandedly while the latter dives into the ship’s system to try to figure out how to get out of this mess. Then, Harper emerges and they take out wave after wave with their guns, until the sheer numbers are too much. After using up every round in their weapons, things are looking grim, and Harper is freaking out. From there, Not only does Tyr convince Harper to go out fighting, but they fight off the horde with nothing but a few knives and the bone-blades on his wrists. Everyone was being awesome and mowing them down with blasters, but only Tyr and Harper choose to take these ravenous beasts on hand-to-hand. He even bites one back!
Naturally, since it’s the finale, it leaves them in quite the spot for the sake of a cliffhanger (and it is one hell of a cliffhanger), but no one can say Tyr Anasazi didn’t earn his badass status that day.
3. Star Trek: TNG/DS9–Worf, First Contact
All it takes is one quick look around Youtube to find videos compiling Worf’s many defeats at the hands of enemies; this ended up happening as a kind of unintentional side effect of using Worf as bar to which all other characters were measured in terms of toughness. By the time his character made it over to Deep Space 9, however, this had more or less died off, and Worf had one of his greatest moments during that show’s run. But people always choose that episode when trying to disprove the “Worf gets beat up” meme. I’m opting for another choice: Star Trek: First Contact.
In the movie, Worf is brought aboard the Enterprise (since the film is set while he’s assigned to DS9) and ends up helping to retake the ship from the Borg presence. This ultimately leads to him donning a spacesuit and heading out onto the outer hull of the Enterprise-E and fighting Borg in the vacuum of space. How many other Klingons can say they’ve done that? While the Borg do damage Worf’s suit, he comes back from that and destroys the deflector array that the Borg were outside to hijack. Plus Worf gets a pretty nice quip in, which is noteworthy enough on its own.
2. Stargate SG-1/Atlantis–Ronon and Teal’c, “Midway”
When Teal’c gets his butt handed to him, it’s typically by the Goa’uld that he formerly thought of as gods, so there’s a little more justification than most (indeed, it becomes a plot point later that he believed for quite a while that they couldn’t be killed). He also gets captured more often than outright beaten up, which tends to spare him from the same kind of montages Worf is subjected to. Teal’c’s counterpart over on Atlantis, Ronon Dex, occasionally had similar problems himself, getting shot with an arrow on his first mission with the team.
The reason Ronon and Teal’c are listed together is because their badass moment happens to occur while they’re fighting side-by-side. While they initially don’t get along, Ronon and Teal’c end up forced to work together when trapped aboard the Midway space station as it comes under assault by a Wraith team trying to make their way to Earth. They chase the Wraith into the SGC, where everyone has been stunned and the Wraith would be free to feed upon them. Highlights from their team-up include Teal’c taking out a Wraith with Ronon’s particle magnum gun, Ronon running a Wraith that was attempting to feed on Teal’c through with a pipe, and their hour-long sparring match in which neither would concede. Keep in mind, this is after the SG-1 finale, too, so Teal’c is significantly older than he was throughout that show and still kicks major ass, plus he’s never really fought a Wraith before and thus has no experience dealing with them. If only he’d had a chance to bust out his staff weapon, too!
1. Farscape, Ka D’argo, Peacekeeper Wars
D’argo goes through major character evolution over the course of the series, such that he’s outgrown the old tough guy role by the time it comes to an end. And even in the beginning, he kinda shares that role with Aeryn, who still has those Peacekeeper instincts in her. But D’argo’s people, the Luxans, share enough similarities with the Klingons that he makes a clear parallel to Worf. Kinda surprising Crichton never mentions that, really. D’argo gets hit with a lot of defeats early on, which can sometimes be blamed on his temper before he gets a handle on it. And really, he (like most of the other characters) was kept prisoner for years prior to the start of the show, so him being a little out of practice is equally understandable. Doesn’t help that his race has the rather lame “toxic blood” weakness, too.
Okay, so… D’argo’s greatest moment is, without a doubt, also his dying moments. He chooses to remain behind after being stabbed by a Scarran to buy the others more time. Since he passes off his Qualta Blade to Chiana, he’s left to fight without his signature weapon, but that hardly holds him back. Armed with a pair of blaster rifles and a callback to a previous episode, D’argo absolutely destroys the oncoming army of Scarrans and goes out in a blaze of glory as his friends and family escape. And having escaped, Crichton is able to put a stop to the brewing war that could easily rip apart the galaxy. Aeryn and John are so touched by his sacrifice that they end up naming their child after him: D’argo Sun-Crichton.
Any other scenes you can think of where these big tough warrior guys reaffirmed their toughness? Or perhaps you have another tough guy who’s ready to fight for a spot on the list? Let me know in the comments, or you can send me a message on Twitter @RetroPhaseShift.