Throughout the history of cinema, audiences have been introduced to countless characters that seem to have been eternally seared into their collective cultural consciousness. However, all the hard work done in a film’s narrative to create such a character can easily be undone by just one narrative slip in one poorly executed scene.
A particular scene may suddenly make characters perform actions or make decisions that are in deep conflict with what we’ve previously learned about them, and while this could indeed help to create a nuanced personality, there are several instances where things backfire, and the brilliance of the character is ruined.
The impact a bad scene can have on an audience’s impression of a character can be tremendous and can essentially ruin the entire experience of a movie. No longer is a given fictional person one who seems to crawl out of the screen into real life, but they are reduced back to the decisions of their writers and creators.
We’ve compiled a selection of characters whose very essence has been ruined by just one terrible scene. Interestingly, each of them is an antagonist, and they have also all appeared in a wide selection of texts, whether movies, comic books or anything in between. So, without further ado…
Five movie characters ruined by one scene:
Ernst Stavro Blofeld – Spectre
Playing a James Bond villain has always been difficult to master, but with Christopher Waltz at the helm in Spectre, he was always going to stand a fighting chance. Ernst Stavro Blofeld has battled against 007 several times throughout the spy’s career, so when he turned in Spectre, fans were keen to see what Waltz could offer.
He plays the villain to near perfection with an intensity that only the legendary German actor could muster. However, his efforts are undone somewhat when Blofeld explains his grudge against Bond and reveals that he is his foster brother, previously assumed dead. It’s an unnecessary scene that makes the villain suddenly seem a bit ridiculous.
Norman Bates – Psycho
As far as characters of an unsettling nature go, they don’t get more edge-of-your-seat than Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 horror film Psycho. The shy motel owner is played expertly by Anthony Perkins, and the thrilling tension of the entire movie surrounds the character as he slowly becomes its antagonist.
Hitchcock was known for his visual prowess as a director and his careful attention to storytelling, but the latter was undone in Psycho by its final scene. A therapist character arrives out of nowhere to explain precisely why Bates had committed so many murders, but in doing so, they take away his very mystery and what made him so interesting in the first place.
Bane – The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy is absolutely brimming with iconic villains, from Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of The Riddler to Heath Ledger’s eternally memorable effort as The Joker; the three movies featured some of the best superhero antagonists of all time and the final movie, The Dark Knight Rises, saw a tremendous effort by Tom Hardy as Bane.
There’s a deep emotional complexity to Bane, and he boasts the fact that he was able to actually break Batman’s back, such is his sheer strength. However, as their final battle nears, it comes to light (pun intended) that Bane is a mere underling serving the real villain of the movie, Talia al Ghul. He’s suddenly killed off, and his character’s legacy is largely tainted.
Kylo Ren – The Rise of Skywalker
With Darth Vader laid to rest, the task of being the Star Wars villain for the sequel trilogy of the 2010s was put on the shoulders of Adam Driver. The actor’s portrayal of Kylo Ren was brilliant in The Force Awakens when he showed his inner evilness by killing Han Solo, and then The Last Jedi almost saw a change of heart before he was sucked into the Dark Side once again.
That’s always been one of the best parts of the series in general: one’s inner battle between light and dark, and doubling down on Ren’s darkness after nearly becoming good was an especially interesting narrative move. But in The Rise of Skywalker, the decision was made to give Ren a redemptive arc, bringing back Palpatine as villain number one, largely ruining the story he’s been on in the first place.
Michael Myers – Halloween II
John Carpenter freshened up the horror movie genre with 1978’s Halloween, which focuses on Michael Myers, an escaped mental patient in a small town in Illinois, who sets about stalking babysitter Laurie Strode 15 years after he murdered his sister on Halloween night. The film is an absolute classic horror and is chock-full of tension and suspense.
Carpenter followed up on the success of the first movie with a 1981 sequel, but the well-constructed and mysterious character of Myers seemed to be undone by the decision to make him the long-lost older brother of Laurie. The siblinghood adds to the thematic interest, but his seemingly random choosing of victims had previously made him all the more terrifying.