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Seven ‘Badass’ Horror Characters (Who Actually Aren’t)

Ash in Army of Darkness. Is Evil Dead 4 Still Happening?

There are certain character tropes that are prevalent in the horror genre. You have your final girls, you have your comic relief, stoners, and then you’ve got your badass alpha male heroes. Sometimes they’re obnoxious, sometimes they’re hilarious, and sometimes they’re the perfect mixture of both. But those badass horror heroes aren’t always all that badass.

Keep in mind, though, just because these characters aren’t as tough as they first appear doesn’t mean they’re not great. They present an image of aloofness, but might actually be far more sensitive than they first let on. Or they might talk about how prepared they are for any situation, only to reveal they are grasping at straws.

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That doesn’t make a character any less interesting. In fact, it often makes them more interesting than the one-note archetype a traditional badass falls into.

These seven characters are remembered for being tough-as-nails, take-charge types, but a lot of the evidence speaks to the contrary.

Rob Dyer (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter)

Rob enters into the movie with one mission: he’s here to hunt Jason. That’s his soul purpose and he’s been training for it for, well, I guess about a week since his sister died. And when he first encounters Jason, it does not go as planned. In fact, he dies screaming “Oh God, he’s killing me!” For some, that line is cheesy as hell, for others, it’s kind of haunting because Rob was so sure he was going to survive.

Rob in Friday the 13th; The Final Chapter Lefty (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)

Lefty at least gets a little bit in at the end and gets to fight Leatherface, but he still doesn’t kick ass in the way he seemed to suggest he would. And I think that’s mostly due to the fact that, as much as he wants to take out this family killing people across Texas, he also really seems to want to die. Everything about him suggests he’s on a suicide mission, which actually makes him a more interesting character.

Lefty in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2Dr. Loomis (Rob Zombie’s Halloween)

Dr. Loomis in the original Halloween series is pretty much everything he’s cracked up to be. He is willing to give up everything to protect the people that Michael would seek to destroy. He spends years warning the proper channels what a danger Michael actually is. In Rob Zombie’s films, though, he’s much more incompetent in his race to Haddonfield to try to stop Michael’s reign of terror. He never warns anyone. He tries to pin the blame on everyone else.

Malcolm McDowell in HalloweenJuno (The Descent)

Juno, right off the bat, is presented as the coolest, most level-headed thrill-seeking badass ever. But man, does she fail to live up to the hype. Not only does she actually murder one of her friends in the cave, but she’s the reason they’re all in that situation in the first place. She wanted the pride of discovering a new cave system for the first time. So, she lies to her friends. And when she accidentally kills one of them, she lies and says the monsters did it. Not cool.

The DescentDan Challis (Halloween III: Season of the Witch)

Don’t get me wrong, Challis is awesome. But he’s not a badass. He’s a very flawed, but pretty much average dude. That’s what makes him so appealing. He’s really blue collar for a doctor. But he’s the perfect person to follow in the unraveling of this bizarre mystery.

Halloween-3-Tom-AtkinsCreighton Duke (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday)

Once again, we have a false final chapter with a guy who claims to be much more prepared for Jason than he actually is. Duke seems to know everything there is to know about Jason. But once he actually comes face-to-face, he lasts a matter of seconds. Still, he’s one of the most memorable and entertaining characters in the franchise.

Creighton Duke in Jason Goes to HellAsh Williams (The Evil Dead Franchise) 

That’s right, topping the list is Ash himself, horror’s number one most celebrated badass. And don’t get me wrong, Ash steps up and gets the job done. But when you look at how different, how scared and nervous he is in the original film. He seems to evolve. But I don’t think he ever stops being that guy. All the way up to Ash vs. Evil Dead his first instinct is always to run. He talks himself up because he doesn’t actually believe in himself at all. He’s the cause of most of the problems in his life, but he will step up and do the right thing when he realizes he has to. Basically, when he realizes running isn’t gonna work.

Ash (Bruce Campbell) with a shotgun in Sam Raimi's 1987 cult horror-comedy follow up Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn.

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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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