The other day, I was watching some 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) episodes of Doctor Who when I came across the episode “Dalek”. In the Episode (Minor spoilers here) A wealthy billionaire, Henry Van Statten, has built a collection of extra-terrestrial artifacts that includes a live Dalek which subsequently runs amok exterminating everything in sight. (For regular watchers of Doctor Who this is hardly a shocking outcome) What really caught my attention is that even after the Dalek has killed thirty or forty men, Van Statten is insisting that it be recaptured unharmed (Without a scratch on it’s bodywork, no less) and returned to his collection. The man is a serious D-bag, not caring about the lives lost for his collection, and only coming around to the fact that the Dalek is a serious threat when he realizes he may die himself.
The fact is, the d-bag is a time honored deus ex machina in genre movies and TV for showing the viewer that the fatal flaw in any emerging technology or situation is always someone’s stupidity. It also makes for some of the most satisfying moments in sci-fi when the story’s jerk gets his just desserts. Here are a few of our favorites: (Spoilers ahead)
John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) Jurassic Park
Why he’s a D-bag– He not only has the Hubris to play god, but thinks his tech is so bad-assed that three guys, two paleontologists, a mathematician and a couple of kids can contain an island full of the most dangerous predators that ever lived. Then after he realizes the folly of his techno-savvy ways he starts planning Jurassic Park 2.0 in his head, this time with more people for the dinos to eat when something goes wrong.
Just desserts: Ultimately unsatisfying… In the second movie, we find out all of his pets were destroyed and he was laughed out of his company. Poooor eccentric billionare. In the book though he gets eaten by compys while on a stroll, which is all kinds of awesome.
Gaius Baltar (James Callis)- Battlestar Galactica
Why he’s a D-bag– Baltar sells out his people to the Cylons, resulting in the near annihilation of the human race. Why? A booty call. Then he spends the next few years trying not to get himself killed for it. When he actually has a chance to stand up and redeem himself, He collabarates with the cylons again to save his sorry ass. Then has the nerve to start a sex cult that does little more than point out how everyone keeping humanity alive sucks.
Just desserts- Questionable. He winds up stranded on a planet with no technology surrounded by women that look just like his ex.
Richard Woolsey (Robert Picardo) Stargate SG1
Why he’s a D-bag– It’s his job. he gets assigned to help oversee the Stargate program by the International Oversight Authority, proceeds to calculate a dollar amount for each person in the SGC, (to better calculate the actual cost when someone dies defending the planet) and generally bitch about how everyone is running things, even when they save the world in front of him multiple times.
Just desserts– Nearly eaten by space beetles, then forced to take command of the Atlantis mission. (the Stargate equivalent of being sent to Siberia)
Albert Nimziki, Secretary of Defense (James Rebhorn) Independence Day
Why he’s a D-bag- Where to begin? this guy is a sniveling jerk from the moment he shows up. Lets see… he continues the Roswell cover up (even after the aliens show up) hiding it from even the President. He knows that the aliens have shielding technology but doesn’t warn anyone before we lose hundreds of American pilots. He insists that the only way to beat the aliens is to nuke them (along with us), and then insists that we should keep nuking them even after it obviously doesn’t work. He also has a tendency to insist any plan that isn’t his has no chance of working, and had the nerve to play the dead-wife-is -clouding-your-judgement card on the President.
Just desserts- Fired with gusto, joins masses of humanity praying for survival.
Walter Peck, (William Atherton)- Ghostbusters
Why he’s a D-bag- Peck is a smarmy EPA agent and god in his own little world, where having a sense of humor is obviously against the law. He gets into a pissing match with Venkman, which leads to him shutting down a piece of technology he obviously has no clue about… unwittingly unleashing all the ghosts in the containment grid on an unsuspecting New York city. Proceeds to blame the Ghostbusters for it all.
Just desserts- dissed by the mayor, and nearly drowned in a tidal wave of marshmallow fluff.
Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) – The Fifth Element
Why he’s a D-bag- Willing to cut a deal with an extra dimensional evil entity that is determined to end all life in the universe just to increase his profit margin. Zorg genuinely believes he’s doing so as part of “the circle of life”, and puts it that way to a priest. Double-crosses the Mangalores more than once with a smile.
Just desserts- Just as he deactivates a bomb he has set, a dying Mangalore activates a second one that kills him.
Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) Aliens
Why he’s a D-bag– Carter Burke is the best example of a D-bag on this list. Rather than streight up believe Ripley’s tale about the alien that destroyed her crew, he sends prospectors out to check her story (without warning them) which results in the loss of all personell on LV-426. He also keeps this tidbit of information to himself, resulting in the deaths of half a squad of marines. Even after his ruse is discovered, he’s still hoping to smuggle samples of the Alien back home for use as bio-weapons, which he can only do if he kills all the remaining marines in their sleep. All to line his pockets.
Just desserts– Everyone in the theater I saw this movie in the first time cheered when Burke gets Eaten by Aliens after locking the Marines out of their planned exit route.
Did we make any glaring omissions? Comment below…