Today, I’d like to do something a little different. I’d like to present something that, at the very least, I find interesting.
I’m a big fan of science fiction, as you might know if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time. And having followed a lot of science fiction, I have of course come across a plethora of badasses. You know, the big, tough as nails bastards that you don’t want to fuck with.
And so, I’d like to present a little project I’ve been working on.
The Science Fiction Badass Scale
As the name suggests, this is not a top list of badass characters, as such. This is more an escalating degree of badassery, with iconic science fiction characters to mark milestones and provide examples of the degrees. (Keep in mind, these are based on my own observations, and though I do provide justifications for my choices, you are free to disagree.)
So, without any further ado, let’s start at the very bottom.
0.0: The Anti-Badass
A zero on the badass scale is someone who is pretty much the antithesis of a badass. As an example, Jar-Jar Binks (Star Wars: Episode I) is a clumsy, whiny coward who causes trouble for everyone around him. He’s the comic relief that manages to not be funny and is among the most universally hated characters of the entire genre.
0.1-0.9: The Almost Badass
A character that falls between 0.0 and 1.0 is a character who is, at best, someone we are told is a badass, but without doing anything to really justify the title. Boba Fett (Star Wars: Episode V) is renowned as the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy. However, in the movie where he plays a major part, his contribution is limited to pretty much just making a phone call to Darth Vader. Beyond that, nothing he does is particularly badass. Not even his supposed banter with Vader applies, since all he does is complain. This leads to Boba Fett resting neatly at a 0.6 on the scale.
Meanwhile, his father Jango Fett (Star Wars: Episode II) earns a slightly more respectable 0.7 for actually DOING something badass in his movie. He does, however commit several idiotic mistakes, such as using a highly traceable dart that leads his enemies right to him, as well as going up against Mace Windu in close combat. All of these not only results in his death, but means he too fails to graduate to the higher levels of badassery.
1.0: The Token Badass
A token badass is a character who we are often shown to be strong and tough, often the muscle in a group… only for them to be routinely thrown around and beaten by enemies to illustrate the seriousness of the situation. And frankly, there is no better character to exemplify this than Lt. Worf (Star Trek TNG), head of security on the Enterprise D.
Whenever they needed to make an alien look strong, Worf would be thrown on his ass by said alien. Of course, the downside of this is that, since it happened so often, it diminished Worf’s supposed badassery.
You might say he ended up being a Sheep in Worf clothing!
… ok, yeah, That joke was beneath me. I apologize.
2.0: The Confirmed Badass
This is your entry level, proper badass. Someone we’re shown to be badass and menacing. They’re there to be a scary, more effective version of a Token Badass, in that we see WHY they’re badass, and when they’re defeated, it’s a genuine big deal. However, as exemplified with Darth Vader (Star Wars: Episode IV, V & VI), he is, fundamentally, the second in command. Beyond the black mask, sinister breathing and red lightsaber, Vader is essentially just a henchman for the main villain of the movie, be it Tarkin or, later on, the Emperor.
3.0: The Standard Badass
At 3.0, you have your garden variety badass. A character that laughs in the face of fear, not backing down from a fight and kicking ass despite not having any amazing powers. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly) fit that description to a T. He’s to all intents and purposes a normal guy, a bit bitter about stuff in his past, but fundamentally a tough guy who’s not above kicking ass if needs be. Not to mention that, if you fuck with him or his friends, you can bet your ass he will make you pay.
4.0: The Advanced Badass
This is a character that, for better or worse, all but perfects what a token badass should be. They have the skill, the experience and the drive to do what they think is necessary. They’re not unkillable, but they are pretty much unbreakable. Ronon Dex (Stargate Atlantis), for example, was a former military officer that was captured, tagged and hunted for sport by an insanely sadistic alien race. He became a “runner”, and managed to survive as one for 7 years, simply because he was tougher than the aliens hunting him. Add to that, he’s an expert martial artist, excellent tracker and skilled marksman, and you’ve got a firm understanding of why he defines 4.0 on the scale.
5:0: The Elite Badass
This is it. The last tier. You don’t get more badass than this, without being a demigod (or the sci fi equivalent). This is someone that takes everything about the advanced badass and turns it up to 11. Where a standard badass looks into the face of danger and laughs, an elite badass stares in the face of danger… until they make it blink. I can think of nobody that personifies this better than Riddick (The Chronicles of Riddick), a man who is effectively lethal with everything and anything, from chains to knives to a fucking soup cup, and has defeated legions of bounty hunters, escaped from multiple maximum security prisons, killed an ascended despotic demagogue and survived being stranded on a planet with merciless alien monsters… twice.
Intelligence, instinct, skill and tenacity. This type of character combines all of those into someone you may want on your side, but who you absolutely, under no circumstances, want as an enemy.
(Of course, an honorary mention is the Doom Marine, but his inclusion is somewhat unfair in regards to this scale. With him, we’re dealing with a guy that hell itself fears. If anyone can claim to be the sci-fi equivalent of a demigod, it’s this guy. As such, he transcends this scale and exists outside it.)
Anyway, that’s the entire scale of badassery, from the Anti-Badass to the final realization of the concept. I hope you enjoyed it, and I strongly encourage you to expand on it and to argue, debate and discuss about where your favourites fit.