It’s hard to be the hero. People expect you to be perfect all the time, and that’s just not realistic. Sometimes our heroes let their emotions get the better of them, and they make a rash decision that ends up costing them. Or worse, the hero failed and it ends up costing someone else–and now they have to live with the guilt of their actions. Here are four cases where the hero arrived on the scene only to make things much, much worse in the end.
This obviously includes some spoilers, so I’ve just listed the episode titles as a spoiler warning; if you haven’t seen that episode, read on at your own risk! Can’t blame the heroes for that one.
4. “Waters of Mars”–Doctor Who
Oh yes, you know this is going to be a tough list when this is our number four entry. The Doctor is no stranger to accidentally making things worse (or deliberately, as recent events prove), but when it comes to real screw-ups on his part, it’s hard to top “The Waters of Mars.” In it, The Doctor arrives at the site of a doomed Mars base, one that he knows represents a fixed point in time, and gets himself involved. He knows from the moment he sets foot there that there is nothing he can do to save them–and yet, the Doctor can’t help but try. It’s what he does. But where things go wrong is when he takes it a step too far. The Doctor effectively goes a little mad with power, declaring that he is no longer bound by the rules of time–the “Time Lord Victorious,” a moment that’s become infamous in the fandom as an example of what a truly unfettered version of the Doctor could do. It all sounds like it’s for a good cause at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is no longer about saving these people, it’s about him not having to feel helpless.
Ultimately, the woman he saves ends up killing herself just to set the timeline straight, because it’s obvious the Doctor won’t do it. The entire ordeal just becomes much worse as a result of his involvement, and the Doctor got a fresh lesson in humility out of it.
3. “Flesh and Blood”–Star Trek Voyager
This one starts a little further back; at the end of the episode “The Killing Game,” Janeway is able to negotiate a peace deal with the Hirogen commander by offering him holographic technology. This is typically a no-no as far as Star Trek goes, a clear violation of the Prime Directive. As with above, the motive behind it was a good one: Janeway and the Hirogen commander hoped that this technology would be put to use in such a way that the Hirogen could stop their wandering and hunting of sentient species and become a real society.
Obviously things didn’t work out that way, as the Voyager crew discover when they stumble across a Hirogen station that’s been overtaken by holograms granted full, EMH-like sentience. They were created to make the hunt more interesting, and apparently were too smart to be prey. Now, they’ve become a full-on rebellion, “liberating” holograms by slaughtering biological beings left and right, even if these holograms are barely more complex than Siri. So not only did Janeway not help the Hirogen, she got them all killed with this technology (and a bunch of random people who had nothing to do with it). Kinda goes to show why following the Prime Directive isn’t always such a bad idea.
2. “Different Destinations”–Farscape
When time travel gets involved in shows that don’t usually use it, things rarely go well. That goes triple for Crichton, who has terrible luck anyway, and it’s even worse when you wind up in a place where things barely went right the first time.
Crichton and Co. get sent back in time at the site of a battle which ended peacefully, and over the course of the episode, their presence brings about progressively worse fates. It goes from being a ceasefire to a loss for the Peacekeepers (but a victory for the “Horde,” as if that could ever be good) at first. The next set of changes destroys most of the planet, leaving it barely habitable and with millions of people who died in the full-blown war that followed. Then the ENTIRE PLANET disappears. Finally they’re able to salvage the situation somewhat and escape back to their own time.
The planet’s back, and habitable again, and there’s still a memorial for the battle there–only this time in memory of the senseless slaughter that took place. Oops.
1. “Trinity”–Stargate Atlantis
The Atlantis team discover an abandoned Ancient research base (there are a lot of those) that was looking into alternative power sources so powerful that they’d render ZPMs obsolete. Awesome, right?
Turns out the Ancients abandoned this research for a reason, and Rodney McKay, in his eternal arrogance, thinks that he can solve a problem they couldn’t in a short timespan. Even after seeing direct evidence of their failures and realizing exactly why they failed, he still thinks he can get a handle on this. And yes, after the experiment starts and immediately begins to go awry, McKay keeps trying to fix it until it’s almost too late. Or actually too late, depending on who you ask, because the device keeps running until the star system they’re in is destroyed. Fortunately the system wasn’t populated, but who knows what else was there? Even just in that research lab, there could have been other cool things that they didn’t get around to looking at before it got blown up.
That’s all for this week. Any other times when the hero failed and managed to screw things up royally? You can let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @RetroPhaseShift. If you enjoyed the article, be sure to share it!