The 7 All-Time Worst Dudes In Outer Space

Between the alien monsters, the crazed androids and the malfunctioning ships, space is already totally scary before you start factoring in humans and all their potential awfulness. And yet, there's something about space that seems to attract a lot of arseholes. Case in point: All seven of these guys.

Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) has the very bad luck to be on the same ship as Jim (Chris Pratt) in Passengers. Image: Columbia Pictures

7) Lt Zander Barcalow, Starship Troopers

Planet Earth is already in a world of hurt thanks to an ongoing war with vicious alien bugs. On top of that, soldier Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) gets horribly dumped by his high-school girlfriend, Carmen (Denise Richards), who's training to be a pilot alongside Johnny's former rival on the "space football" field: Zander Barcalow (Patrick Muldoon). All of that taken together would be bad enough, but Zander is also a smarmy snob who rubs his higher rank and new closeness with Carmen right in Johnny's face. The fate of the humankind is at stake, and that's where your priorities are? There's a reason the entire audience cheers when the brain bug slurps through your skull in act three, Xander. A damn good reason.

6) Rockhound, Armageddon

Rockhound (Steve Buscemi), like all of the oil drillers who willingly follow Bruce Willis' Harry Stamper into space to annihilate a very inconvenient asteroid, is a good ol' boy, working-class-hero type. He also happens to be a genius. That is, until he comes down with, uh... "space dementia", which inspires him to straddle a nuclear warhead, act out scenes from Dr Strangelove, and start firing weapons that are (inexplicably) included with the drilling equipment, cackling, "This is so much fun it's freaky!" With the mission already hanging by a thread thanks to equipment failure, personality clashes and sheer ridiculousness, there's no need to further endanger everyone (by which I mean, the entire population of Earth), and yet he does it anyway. He's duct-taped to a chair for the duration, and this is the kicker: Just as the survivors are landing back on Earth, Rockhound suggests everyone just keep "that incident with me and the gun on the asteroid" under wraps, since they're all heroes now. ALL EXCEPT YOU.

Image: Fox Searchlight

5) Pinbacker, Sunshine

The Sun is dying and, like that one Twilight Zone episode, the Earth is slowly freezing over. After a first attempt to reignite the Sun fails, a second team of astronauts aboard the poetically named Icarus II are tasked with saving the world as we know it. This mission requires getting dangerously close to the still-fiery star, which is risky enough without the added peril of becoming addicted to staring at the Sun and achieving literal enlightenment. We know this is a thing from the Icarus II's sun-obsessed doctor (Cliff Curtis), but we get a real taste of its madness when we meet Pinbacker (Mark Strong). Once the captain of the Icarus I, he's now a fully insane, very crispy solar worshipper who does his best to sabotage the Icarus II's mission. See, he believes the Sun's death is God's plan, or something. The movie may be called Sunshine, but it is incredibly bleak, and doombringer Pinbacker is a huge, Freddy Krueger-looking reason behind that.

Image: EuropaCorp

4) Commander Filitt, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Even in a gorgeously art-directed future, where most of the galaxy's species are able to live together in some semblance of harmony in the titular space-station city, there's always gotta be one dickhead who's ready to make sure pain and suffering keep their place among the stars. Not only is Commander Filitt (Clive Owen) pompous and preening, he's completely soulless, having ordered the near-genocide of a race of peaceful, sparkly aliens to cover up his own battlefield blunder - and then making up a huge lie about a dangerous epidemic to keep anyone from discovering his deception. He also commands a terrifying squadron of hulking robot soldiers programmed to mow down anyone that gets in his way, but that's to be expected of someone capable of mass murder. Oh, and he's the main character's boss, so he's ostensibly pretending to be on the side of the good guys, which somehow makes everything worse.

Image: Columbia Pictures

3) Jim Preston, Passengers

After an accident aboard a colony ship jolts him out of long-term hibernation, Jim (Chris Pratt) doodles around for a year before growing desperately lonely - so he decides it'd be OK to awaken another highly attractive passenger, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). In doing so, he ensures that she'll grow old and die on the journey before reaching her destination, just like he will. Naturally, he lies and says her early revival was an accident like his, allowing her to fall for him before she realises the crap he pulled. She eventually forgives him and - even after they figure out a way to stick her back into stasis - decides to stay with him anyway, because Passengers is about people who make wrong choices. And even though (unlike pretty much everyone else on this list) Jim is a nonviolent guy who actually has, like, feelings and stuff, what he does to Aurora is so, so, so wrong.

2) Dr William Weir, Event Horizon

Deprived of much-needed time off thanks to an urgent last-minute assignment, the crew of the Lewis and Clark already regards the reason for their mission, Dr William Weir (Sam Neill), with a bit of disdain. But they have no idea what hell (literally) they're in for once they board the long-lost Event Horizon, a ship whose Weir-designed gravity drive has led it to some very dark places. Tangling with a haunted ship that preys on one's worst fears is plenty terrifying on its own. But then the troubled Weir becomes possessed by the ship's evil mojo, which leads to rampant murder, sabotage and grisly self-mutilation - not to mention a magical resurrection back from an indisputable on-screen death to cause even more fatal chaos. You can't get rid of him. Seriously, he'll even pop up in your PTSD nightmares after the fact. If you see Dr Weir anywhere near your spacecraft, do not let him on board.

Image: 20th Century Fox

1) Carter J. Burke, Aliens

You knew that Burke (Paul Reiser), the sci-fi character we all love to hate the most, was going to be number one on this list. The two-faced Weyland-Yutani sleaze pressures a shell-shocked Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) into returning to LV-426, despite the fact that she's already had enough alien encounters to last several lifetimes. Then, when the people who've been heroically protecting him start dying right and left, he puts his corporate bottom line above human lives, including the little girl who is the only survivor of his company's decimated terraforming colony. Fortunately, Ripley soon sees through his duplicitousness, and the very monster he was trying to bring back to his bosses ends up killing him. But despite his gruesome end, that combination of pretending to be a nice guy while plotting against everyone around him - plus his scheme to smuggle the alien back to Weyland-Yutani HQ, while knowing full well it could easily break free and wipe out the entire human population - makes him the most odious creep imaginable.

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    I submit Interstellar's Mann (Damon) as a case for this list expanding to eight. Gets lonely, makes up a lie which jepardises the entire rescue humankind mission. Dick move, doctor.

    For those that haven’t noticed it before, check out the Australian flag on Sam Neill’s arm. The Union Jack has been replaced.

      That's Aboriginal flag of Australia. Yellow is the sun, red is the earth and black is it's people.

        Err - that was my point. The Union Jack has been replaced by the Aboriginal flag - as part of the Australian flag (you can see the stars on his arm, and I remember the patch from when I saw the movie at the cinema).

          I've never seen that design before? I quite like how it looks to be honest.

    I never quite got why Jim Preston from Passengers was seen to be this goddamn awful dude. Essentially, he just killed Aurora. I mean, who hasn't killed someone in space before. Its not like he was an abusive person or anything. The same could be said for any parent who chooses to have a child. You're essentially setting in motion their death by giving birth. What that person chooses to do in their life, whether they like their life or not, is up to them. Aurora could have put herself back to sleep, but chose not to. Maybe she just didn't care that much for the life she was headed to anyway?

      Saw a good story about Passenger, that made it a much better movie. Quite simply, start the movie with her waking up to find Preston awake, and follow the story from there until The Reveal. From there, bounce back to the original story to show how it led to Aurora's wakening. Then flow to Act 3.

      Doesn't change that it was a dick move to essentially sentence someone to a very lonely life, but it made the movie better. Almost a horror. And I'm not sure Preston would have known they could go back to sleep via the autodoc, which is what makes it such a dick move.

      If he had, he woudnt have woken her in the first place.

        Wow, what a cool idea. We should re edit it! That would have been a better watch in my opinion.

        i believe that was nerdwriter

          That sounds familiar, certainly wasn't my idea :) I just remember how simple it sounded, yet how significantly it changed the tone of the movie, mostly for the better.

      Jim develops an unhealthy infatuation with Aurora, acts on that infatuation to sate his own desire which simultaneously negates Aurora's intended purpose and consent, and places her in a captive situation that, left unchanged, will directly lead to her death.

      That's the short analysis of it. The longer version details how the two stages of their romance are based on deception and elision, and attrition and heroism, respectively. Then we take all of the components and examine how they integrate with the historical cinematic view of romance and how it is presented and arranged through an unhealthy and controlling perspective.

      Jim's a pretty shit guy.

        Even though on my first watch I was like "dont do it!", I was reminded later by something I was reading regarding human interaction and its need for development. Most people forget that loneliness, can develop into a mental illness. He didn't do it instantly, it took him over a year. Loneliness can drive any human being to do something they normally wouldn't. So I never saw him as a bad guy, more someone who was mentally ill.

          I think that was what they were going for, and just didn't realise how people would focus so much on the act and not the reasons.

          In the end, it doesn't matter what the justifications were if its a dick move regardless. He could have every reason in the world, but in his mind he's still done something that condemns someone to the same shitty death sentence forced onto him.

          For the reasons you list, I think we're meant to sympathise with him enough to accept his reasons, but that's not what happened. So now its become this psychoanalysis of the decision, and reasons behind it, with everyone throwing their 2 cents in.

          Like you, I saw him mostly as someone slowly going insane from loneliness, but I also see that other side of the argument.

      1: If he hadn't woken her up they would all be dead.
      2: She still lived a life. Just a different one.

    I feel like Carters real crime is being stupid. The team rattle off this amazing list of weapons in front of him and he's still like 'I gotta get this uncontrollable Xenomorph weapon that will leave any area it inhabits a nest of murder waiting to sneak out in the chest of the first lost tourist that encounters it'.

    What? Dr. Smith from Lost In Space isn't number 1? Unbelievable.

    I dunno, Darth Vader is pretty evil... killed Younglings! Pure Evil!

      Ripley killed all the baby aliens.
      What's with that?

    Without a doubt the most evil dude is Benny from Total Recall.

    Luke Skywalker blew up an under-construction Death Star, with countless independent contractors on board. Clearly he's the worst!

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