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The Top Five Unexpectedly Bad-Ass Geek Heroes

There are a handful of surefire ways to pander to geek fantasies. One involves Kristen Bell in a slave Leia bikini. (Well played, Fanboys.)

Another involves an underdog character–underestimated because of his appearance and otherwise less-than-Alpha-Maleness–displaying heroic qualities, saving the day, finally getting noticed by the Girl, having the Girl find his expertise as a Dungeon Master both endearing and attractive, and subsequently losing his virginity.

Or at least that first part, anyway. The feasible part.

5) Alfred Pennyworth in LEGO Batman

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The MacGyver of geriatric, English manservants. Who knew a serving platter could be so formidable in the right, velvet-gloved hands?

4) Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Evil Witch Willow from Buffy

Willow’s character arc took her from an insecure, awkward, dork to a scary, onyx-eyed über-witch who cast a spell creating thousands of Vampire Slayers, thereby making the eons-old “Into each generation a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One.” no more meaningful than the proverb from a fortune cookie.

In fact, the model of dork-turned-dark was so effective that Whedon & Co. spun that tale again with the character of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Except instead of getting all dark-eyed and veiny when he went “bad-ass,” Wesley got beard stubble.

Stubble. The attitude of a tattoo, but with less commitment.

3) Yoda in Attack of the Clones

Yoda from Attack of the Clones

Sure, we knew from the original trilogy that he could deal out Jedi truisms like a ninja of wordsmithery.

But we didn’t discover until the sole moment of delight in Attack of the Clones that he could beat down a bitch like a lightsaber-wielding, spring-loaded muppet on speed.

2) Jason Todd, a.k.a Robin, a.k.a Red Hood

Jason Todd as Robin

Jason Todd had the distinction of wearing one of the gayest costumes this side of San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, and also of being the first of Batman’s sidekicks to get killed in the line of duty (as told in Batman: A Death in the Family).

Not someone to strike fear into the hearts and minds of Gotham’s criminal element.

So color me impressed when he returned to life and kicked off his new career in vigilantism as Red Hood by beating the Joker within an inch of his life with a crowbar. Nothing makes a statement like blunt force head trauma.

Especially when you were making your last statement with a tiny green codpiece and a pair of completely uncovered and apparently hairless legs.

1) Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

Felix Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica

BSG fans first came to know Gaeta as a wide-eyed, trusting, idealist. The impressionable youth among the hardened, crusty souls of the Galactica.

That was before Battlestar Galactica got its cynical mitts on him and throttled him like Sarah Palin throttles an Alaskan moose with her bare hands for dinner. Enthusiastically.

After becoming a spy for the human resistance on New Caprica, Gaeta racks up some serious bad-ass points when he stabs Gaius Baltar in the neck with a pen, baldly lies on the stand to incriminate the insidious Baltar during his trial, and–most recently–refuses general anesthetia during the amputation of his gunshot leg.

Ok, ok, we get it, Felix. You’re a tough guy. Yes, the Viper pilots will seriously consider not giving you any more swirlies in the locker room toilets.

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2 comments… add one
  • Morgan September 8, 2008, 6:10 am

    Heh. Okay, this was awesome. Glad someone is giving due credit to sweet little Gaeta’s stealth bad-assery (I mean… he stabs Baltar through the neck with a pen!). Some fine other picks here as well. Well done.

  • nickolai September 8, 2008, 9:55 am

    Alfred is badass. But why doesnt he use his serving tray as a weapon? The left-handed jab may work for anonymous henchmen, but Bane or Clayface would take him apart if he don’t get creative.

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