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6 Evil Henchmen Who Sucked at Their Job

Six examples of movie henchmen that truly suck.

By Mike Richardson-Bryan     June 06, 2009
Source: Cracked.com


Imperial Stormtroopers
© Lucasfilm

Henchmen are an essential part of every plot to take over the world. Unfortunately, even the best henchmen let us down. Is it something inherent in the henchman archetype? Or is it just that we expect too much from grown men in form-fitting body armor? Honestly, we don't know. But we do know that it hurts every time, and nowhere more so than in the six cases below.

 

#6. Imperial Stormtroopers

 

Who Are They?

Soldiers of the Galactic Empire, as featured in the Star Wars franchise.

Why Were They Feared?

Stormtroopers started out strong. The way they stormed that Rebel blockade runner in Star Wars was pretty sweet. And the way they overran that Rebel base in The Empire Strikes Back was the epitome of cool (OK, so they let most of the rebels escape from Cloud City, but the rebels had inside help from known scoundrel Lando Calrissian, so we could let it slide). By that point, it seemed like Stormtroopers could do no wrong. But then something happened, something... awful.


Pictured: something awful.

What Went Wrong?

After convincing us that they were the baddest asses in henchmen history, Stormtroopers suddenly went all France on us. Somehow, a frigging army of Stormtroopers was outwitted, outmaneuvered and just plain outfought by a bunch of overgrown merkins whose most advanced weaponry was flint-tipped arrows. But that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that these weren't just any Stormtroopers. No, these were, in the Emperor's own words, his best troops, for fuck's sake.


Who were his worst troops.

Of course, no one wanted the Stormtroopers to win. Yes, we loved them the way only impressionable adolescents can love something, but we knew they were evil, and we wanted them to get their comeuppance in the end. But not like this. Losing as ignominiously as they did on Endor didn't just diminish the villains, it also diminished the heroic men and women who defeated them.

A Typical Stormtrooper's Last Thought:

"I can't see a thing in this helmet!"

 

 

#5. Cylon Centurions

 

Who Are They?

Robotic soldiers of the genocidal Cylon Empire, as seen in the original Battlestar Galactica and its spin-off, Galactica 1980.

Why Were They Feared?

Battlestar Galactica had its share of problems, including a monkey playing a dog, epic re-use of special effects footage and subversive Mormon overtones. The clear highlight of the whole enterprise was the Cylons, especially the Centurions, the cycloptic rank and file of the mighty Cylon Empire. And yet, the Centurions had their own share of problems. They were slow, they were clumsy, they were terrible shots, they were even worse pilots (and that's with three of them piloting each Cylon Raider) and, for some inexplicable reason, they were armed with swords. Swords, for fuck's sake.


"I'm not steering until he apologizes."
"You know we're crashing, right?"

But Centurions did have one thing going for them: they were unapologetically robotic. Up until then, most film and TV robots were little more than human surrogates, with personalities or character traits to which actual humans could relate, but there was nothing human about Centurions, no hint of humanity in that monotone voice. They were programmed to kill humans, and so they killed humans and that was that. And so what if they were slow and plodding? In a human, being slow and plodding makes you boring. But in a robot, being slow and plodding makes you a relentless mechanical menace. Plus, they were real shiny.

What Went Wrong?

But then, in the very last episode, Centurions went soft on us. In that episode, Starbuck and a Raider full of Centurions both crash land on a desolate planet. Bored, Starbuck rebuilds one of the Centurions for company. At first, the Centurion tries to kill Starbuck (yay!), but then Starbuck gives it a name (Cy, of course) and teaches it to play cards, whereupon its cold mechanical heart thaws and man and robot become the best of friends! Later, when more Centurions arrive, Cy sacrifices itself to save the life of Starbuck's son (don't ask), thereby ending its days as just another robotic Uncle Tom.

A Typical Centurion's Last Thought

"A sword? Seriously, a sword?! How did robot technology beat out weapon technology in the race to the finish line?"

 

 

#4. SPECTRE Henchmen

 

Who Are They?

Agents of the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (SPECTRE), an international crime syndicate, as seen in the early James Bond films.

Why Were They Feared?

SPECTRE henchmen are different: they don't wear masks or armor or colorful thematic costumes. Instead, their menace comes from their characterization, as with Dr. No (Dr. No), an evil genius with bionic hands; Red Grant (From Russia With Love), an Aryan superman whose only weakness is wine appreciation; and Emilio Largo (Thunderball), a swarthy dude with an eyepatch and an honest-to-goodness shark pool in his backyard. Admittedly, Bond killed them all in the end, but Bond was the epitome of 60s cool, so it wasn't so bad.


If he was any cooler, just looking at him would make your scrotum shrivel.

What Went Wrong?

But then the unthinkable happened: Sean Connery quit, and the producers hired George Lazenby to take his place. And in his one and only outing as Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Lazenby thoroughly demolished the Bond mystique. First, he chucked Bond's swinging über-bachelor lifestyle in order to settle down and get married; later, on the hunt for his wife's killer (*spoiler alert*), he slipped into a sporran and went undercover as a genealogist, of all things; and, finally, he caught up with his foe just in time for what one Wikipedia editor implausibly describes as "...a furious bobsled chase down Piz Gloria." Now, there's dignity in being killed by a suave super-spy, but there's no dignity whatsoever in being killed by this guy:

The producers tried to undo the damage--they even rehired Sean Connery to reprise the role--but it was too late, SPECTRE's once-sterling reputation was ruined. Clearly, no henchman worth his salt wanted anything to do with SPECTRE anymore.

A Typical SPECTRE Henchman's Last Thought

"Red wine with fish? What the Hell was I thinking? Dammit, I deserve to die."

 

 

#3. Cobra Blueshirts

 

Who Are They?

Soldiers of Cobra, an international terrorist group led by Cobra Commander, the world's most ruthless former used-car salesman, as seen in the Marvel Comic G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and the Sunbow animated series.

Why Were They Feared?

When Cobra started out in the comics, its frontline troops (known to fans as 'Blueshirts' on account of their uniforms) were serious dudes. Cobra might have suffered from questionable leadership (indeed, it seemed like anybody with a crazy name and unlimited access to a pimp's wardrobe could get a command position), but Blueshirts were out there getting things done--fighting, killing and dying--and they won their share of battles against the hated Joes. With an army of Blueshirts at its disposal, Cobra was a legitimate threat to world peace.

What Went Wrong?

When the franchise made the leap from comics to cartoons, Blueshirts got shafted. Leadership stayed as lame as ever, but Blueshirts were transformed from highly trained, highly motivated soldiers-of-fortune into wet sacks of stupid who forgot all about cover and couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. Seriously, they might as well have kept the safeties on and just made "Bang! Bang!" sounds, for all the difference it would have made. These new, unimproved Blueshirts suffered one humiliating defeat after another. But things were about to get even worse.


How will that solve anything??

In season two, Blueshirts were largely replaced by Battle Android Troopers (B.A.T.s). Now, it was the 1980s, and many people were losing their jobs to automation, but usually only to robots that actually, you know, worked. B.A.T.s, on the other hand, were even worse than Blueshirts--they couldn't aim, they sometimes couldn't tell friend from foe and they tended to explode whenever a Joe so much as looked at them. That's like losing your job on the assembly line to a robot that drinks on the job, loses all its money playing video poker and has to be replaced every week. No wonder Blueshirts hated America.

In the end, after meekly submitting to every humiliation imaginable, Blueshirts ultimately taught us two things: (1) that sucking is half the battle; and (2) that the other half is also sucking.

A Typical Blueshirt's Last Thought

"Is it too late to join HYDRA?"

 

#2. Z-Putty Patrollers

 

Who Are They?

Kung fu-fighting flunkies of the evil Lord Zedd, as seen in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Why Were They Feared?

The Rangers started out fighting arch-fiend Rita Repulsa and her legions of Putty Patrollers. Putties had some moves, but they never presented a truly credible threat, and the Rangers defeated them time and time again. Eventually, Rita's boss, Lord Zedd, took matters into his own hands, coming to earth and pitting his own legions of Putties against the Rangers. But these Putties were different. Empowered by the eldritch energies of Lord Zedd's mystical staff, these Z-Putty Patrollers were supposed to tear the Rangers a new morph-hole.


Grrr.

At first, it looked as if Z-Putties would succeed where the old Putties had so-often failed. Indeed, when they went head-to-head in episode one of season two, the Rangers found themselves clearly outmatched by Z-Putties. Things looked grim for the struggling Rangers...

What Went Wrong?

Until, that is, the Red Ranger stumbled upon the Z-Putties' only weakness: the large self-destruct buttons built into their chests in the form of Zedd's logo. Punching, kicking or even gently caressing that logo causes Z-Putties to literally explode into unrecognizable chunks of spandex.


Of course, a guy with an exposed brain probably doesn't think having a chest-mounted self-destruct button is such a big deal.

Now, children have pretty low standards for entertainment, but Z-Putties were an unspeakable new low. Once their weakness was exposed in their very first appearance, they presented even less of a threat than the old Putties, which is to say, no threat whatsoever.

A Typical Z-Putty's Last Thought

"Anywhere but the chest...anywhere but the chest... anywhere but the--ACK!"

 

 

#1. Orcs

 

Who Are They?

Demonic minions of Middle Earth heavies Sauron and Saruman, as seen in the Lord of the Rings books and films.

Why Were They Feared?

Creatures recognizable as orcs are as old as folklore itself, but it wasn't until the films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's books that we saw how badass they could be. These orcs (and their close cousins, the fighting Uruk-hai) were a Middle Earth fanboy's wet dream come true, kicking ass and taking names (then promptly forgetting the names and eating the asses).


"I will now cook and eat your ass, whatever-your-name-is."

The ambush that killed Boromir? Sweet. The assault on Helm's Deep? Rocked our world. The attack on Osgiliath? That was probably cool, too, but we were still thinking about Helm's Deep.

What Went Wrong?

Yes, everything was great... right up until that scene in The Return of the King when a few thousand Rohirrim arrive to take on the million-strong orc army besieging Gondor, whereupon the orcs--with their vast numerical superiority, their batteries of catapults and their reserves of tricked out super-elephants--panic and run screaming in all directions.

If that wasn't bad enough, later on, a few orcs are taken down by the increasingly chunky Samwise, Frodo's questionable life partner. Samwise, by himself, actually kills them .

Now, maybe thousands of heavy cavalry bearing down on you is something to think twice about, even if you're a big, bad orc, but a fucking Hobbit?

Honestly, it was as if orcs had a best-before date that expired halfway through the third movie, after which their raw animal courage curdled into the sour milk of craven cowardice.

A Typical Orc's Last Thought

"We have nothing to fear but--OH, SHIT! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!"

 

6 Evil Henchmen Who Sucked at Their Job is the latest of Mania's Weekly Cracked List, which appears at your online destination for genre entertainment every Saturday courtesy of our sister website Cracked.com.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 18
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FilchX 6/6/2009 5:10:14 AM

I' m fucked on shrooms, and this was the laugh I needed, Long live the Blue Shirts......CoooooBrrrrrrrA!

almostunbiased 6/6/2009 5:29:55 AM

You'd have to be on drugs to laugh at this.  Though some of these are right on the mark (especially GIJOE), I completely disagree about George being a poor Bond.  You can't blame him for the script.  Though I must admit I enjoyed that movie.  As for same, why does everyone always have to put the gay spin on Sam?  Plus Sam is the man, if you ever read the books.

everdreaded 6/6/2009 7:26:30 AM

Say nwhat you want but the Stormtroopers one was on the money...I'm thinkin about takin a toke and reading the whole thing over to laugh that one up...lol.

Wiseguy 6/6/2009 8:30:35 AM

I missed these pieces from cracked. I thought maybe Jarrod got tired of all the incessant bitching and stopped runningn these altogether.

I think the orcs' one was right on. How easily they were taken apart in the last film was the one very disappointing thing about the trilogy.

SaintDemon 6/6/2009 10:42:47 AM

Thanks for mentioning the putties. As a good I even questioned the use of the button on their chest. Good article.

jppintar326 6/6/2009 11:36:34 AM

The Battle Droids from Star Wars Episodes I-III made the Stormtroopers look like Albert Einstein.  I think that was George Lucas's point that the droids weren't very bright.  Still, they are now the comic relief in Clone Wars animated series.

Chopsaki 6/6/2009 11:53:18 AM

I'll stick up for the stormtroopers. Lucas originally wanted them to fight wookies but didnt have enough money for the suits so he decided to cut the wookies in half and call them ewoks. I dont think anyone would have thought less of them if they started getting there arms pulled off by wookies. At least we got to see wookies throw down in Revenge of the Sith. Oh to think of what could of been....damn you Wicket...

trollman 6/6/2009 1:16:49 PM

OK the deal with the orcs.  They basiclly took themselves out with all the infighting.  The inherint downfall of evil is it can't be trusted.  Even evil allys eventually screw eachother over.  The multitude of Orc Tribes vying for supremecy and then suddenly they get pushed into second place by the Superior orc the Uruk-hai, so now they have to fight twice as hard to be appriciated by those newcommer upstarts.  Old rivalries renewed and infighting begins.  Also, let's face it evil minions are not known for being smart. Orcs are cannon fodder.

Top it off with the sudden death of the supreem evil leader Suron. The various tribes said "Frakk it, I'm out of here."

LadyBrowncoat 6/6/2009 1:24:13 PM

 This made me laugh out loud.  It also made the inner role-playing-geek in me smile.  After all, I've played Star Wars and Stormtroopers were ridiculously easy to kill.  And orcs = kobols = arrow fodder.  I don't remember the Cylon centaurions being THAT bad, but I was 10 at the time and never really revisited the original series since then.

Cacaoatl 6/6/2009 1:58:09 PM

This list is missing one truly ridiculous Storm Trooper moment. No, make that two ridiculous moments. The first is when Obi-Wan is shutting down the power to the tractor beam and the two troopers guarding it are too busy bitching about work that they don't even notice the robed old man. The second is when they are chasing Han Solo and the blast door shuts and they are screaming: "Open the blast door! Open the blast door!"

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