10. Al Swearengen (Ian McShane, Deadwood)
I feel like it’s difficult to write about him without dropping some very extreme language, but I’ll do my damnedest. As you will see, “unique moral code” often means abiding by some kind of moral code, but one that allows you to shoot people or something. Not necessarily legal in the strictest sense. And this is Al’s brilliance. He is the definition of “above the law,” and even when… uhm. Law-abiding straightedges like Bullock try to question his behavior, he shrugs it off. He’s beyond all that. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a sense of what he finds right: the man certainly has a sense of loyalty, albeit usually to his own best interest, and he doesn’t want to see the camp pansy-assed and ruined by too much civilization.
9. Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds)
Is being upset that Nazis killed your family rational and sane behavior in the eyes of the law? Yes. Is swearing revenge against all Nazis rational and sane? Debatable. Is burning down your place of business to kill a crap ton of Nazis and killing yourself and your lover in the process rational and sane? Well, not really. But as far as Shosanna’s concerned, the answer to numbers two and three on that questionnaire are an emphatic yes. She’s determined to get her revenge, and there’s no cost too steep. She’ll kill whoever gets in her way, because it’s for a just cause. And when just causes are the case, there’s nothing that shouldn’t be done.
8. Beatrix Kiddo/The Bride/Black Mamba (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill)
It’s sort of the same as above. Is being upset that your former lover and former coworkers tried to kill you, put you in a coma, and took your unborn baby from you rational and sane behavior in the eyes of the law? Yes. Is swearing revenge against your former lover and former coworkers rational and sane? Debatable. Is going on a killing spree, attacking not only said former lover and former coworkers but all of their present associates until you reach the desired end, rational and sane? Well, probably not. But to Beatrix, who lives life by a warrior code of sorts, when your honor has been questioned, you do seek revenge, and probably bloody, bloody revenge at that.
7, 6. Adelle Dewitt and Topher Brink (Olivia Williams and Fran Kranz, Dollhouse)
“Unique” for different reasons. Both of them go on sort of a moral code journey over the series. Adelle, like Al, always has her best interests at heart, and she has the best interests of those in her care at heart, ultimately. Sure, she’s willing to let their personalities be erased and give them over for sex and near-death situations regularly, but when something’s got the possibility to grievously harm an Active she is there to put a stop to it, and when something does harm an Active, well. That something (or someone) is gonna die a brutal death, no questions asked.
My Topher’s a different story. At first, he seems to have no morals at all. He’s just blissfully playing with toys. But as time goes on, he’s decidedly more concerned about those around him. He’s upset when they’re harmed, and he’s gonna do what he must to prevent that from happening. Even when that means punching the love of his life in the face, or remote-wiping and exploding his double-crossing former boss. His actions aren’t particularly legal, ever, but he’s doing what he thinks right.
5. The Sons of Anarchy and associates (Ron Perlman as Clay, Charlie Hunnam as Jax, Katey Sagal as Gemma, Maggie Siff as Tara, jaysus there’s a ton of them, so here’s the imdb page)
The whole point of the Sons is outlaw justice. They’re not above shooting a bitch to prevent something more harmful in the long run from happening, to avenge someone, hell, even to make a point. They’re gonna beat people up whenever they damn well please. They’re gonna sell guns, they’re gonna produce porn, they’re gonna drink and screw and have a merry time. But they definitely have a sense of right and wrong: they’re loyal to the others in the club and the families of those in the club, and they do what they must for their people.
4. Hit-Girl/Mindy Macready (Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass)
Babygirl means to do right by the world. She’s gonna take down criminals because they’re criminals… but calling the cops is so overrated when beating them up and stabbing them and smooshing them in a car-crushing machine are also options. It’s slightly sadistic, it’s slightly messed up, it’s slightly not legal either, but it’s what’s right. Why not have a little twisted fun?
3. Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog)
Technically, the good doctor is a supervillain. He’s aiming for membership in the Evil League of Evil, after all. But he’s way less of a d-bag than the heroes around (“Captain Hammer, corporate tool” anyone?) and he does have a kind of code. “Killing isn’t elegant or creative. It’s not my style.” Sure, he’s not acknowledging that killing is also wrong both morally and legally, but he’s not interested in doing it. He’d rather reform things with his evil power than destroy them completely. And that’s… kind of neat.
2. Magneto/Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender, X-Men: First Class)
I specify baby Magneto ‘cause by the time he’s old and Ian McKellen he’s… pretty much straight-up a bad guy. But as a younger man, Erik’s got much the same mindset as Shosanna, actually. Nazis have killed his family, and he wants revenge. He also wants revenge on those who persecute those who are different, superhuman. He doesn’t believe peaceful coexistence can happen, and he’d rather assert himself than curl up in a ball in the corner. Is his viewpoint a bit skewed? Well, yeah. But he’s thought about it. It’s not just a snap judgment, it’s based on lots of empirical evidence. And if a few innocent bystanders have to get killed in the process of him making his point, so be it.
1. Malcolm Reynolds … and by extension, the rest of the crew (Nathan Fillion and everyone else, Firefly/Serenity)
“If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.”
“Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill ‘em right back.”
“I aim to misbehave.”
Mal is the ultimate antihero. He doesn’t follow the law; far from it, especially considering the Alliance’s law is kinda gō se. He’s not afraid to kill a person or a lot of people, though he doesn’t like when innocent folk meet their end on account of him. He’s willing to sacrifice his own life, but he doesn’t like when other sacrifice theirs for him. The man just wants to live his life, and he doesn’t much care if his life is that of a criminal, it’s the life that suits him. He’s going to do what he must to make sure people know how absolutely gorram stupid the unjust laws are, but he’s got his own code of loyalty mixed with a certain soldier’s sense of what’s right.
“Are you willing to die for your beliefs?”
“I am… ‘course, that ain’t exactly plan A.”
–your fangirl heroine.