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Moral Event Horizon

In TV Tropes terms, "The Moral Event Horizon" refers to when a villain does something so terrible that they have crossed the point of no return. They have established themselves as irredeemably evil. This term is named after the part of the Black Hole that once crossed there is no escape. Anything that goes past the Event Horizon is lost forever. So its an appropriate label. Note that while a crossing of this can also establish a villain as pure evil, it needn't be so. They've just established themselves as irredeemable. Pure evil and irredeemably evil, while usually going hand in hand, don't always have to.

On that note, this is a list of various fictional characters and their Moral Event Horizon crossings. I may add to this list later.

List items

  • This one shouldn't come as any surprise. While always portrayed (except in the 50s and 60s) as a violent and sadistic psychopath, Joker is generally believed to have crossed into Complete Monster territory in the story The Killing Joke, where he shot Barbara Gordon in the spine and took a picture of it. He is also heavily implied to have sexually abused her as well, or at the very least, stripped of her clothes. He then forced Gordon to look at these images in an attempt to drive him insane. And if all of this wasn't enough, just a few months later he savagely murdered Jason Todd with homicidal glee. In addition, several alternate versions of the character have crossed the Moral Event Horizon, namely the Kingdom Come version (killing everyone in the Daily Planet, including Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Lois Lane), the JLA: The Nail version (murdering Robin and Batgirl with sadistic glee and forcing Batman to watch), the Nolanverse version (killing Rachel and using it turn Harvey Dent into Two-Face), the Jack Nicholson version (planning to kill everyone in Gotham with poisonous balloons), the Arkham-verse version (killing Talia and then mocking Batman's loss), and the DCAU version (his torture and brainwashing of Tim Drake)

  • Murdering Gwen Stacy

  • Mercilessly running Elektra through with her own sai with a big sadistic grin on his face.

  • Murdering Aquaman's child, who was just a baby. As it stands he owes Aquaman big time, as anybody else would have killed him for doing that.

  • Orchestrating Iris West's murder probably. It was later a driving factor behind Barry's "accidental" killing of him.

  • Destroying Coast City

  • Aiding Mongul in his destruction of Coast City, an act that also helped drive Hal Jordan off the deep end.

  • Destroying an entire country, and just to prove a point no less. Notably, Gail Simone also sites this as the reason why she never writes Cheshire as anything other than a total monster.

  • Cutting Catwoman's heart out, leaving her on life support, for no other reason then to spite Bruce.

  • His brutal torturing of Stephanie Brown, which until retconned to say otherwise, also killed her.

  • Hard to say with the mainstream version, since he's kind of just always been shown to be pure evil, but his Ultimate version's got a particularly nasty candidate: throwing a baby out a window.

  • Honestly? He probably crossed this long before becoming the Sith Master we all know. This guy killed his own parents.

  • "Wipe this pathetic planet from the face of the galaxy"

  • Whether or not this one happens is entirely up to the player. If you choose the Dark Side resolution of the game, Revan either has to murder both Mission and Zaalbar in cold blood, or perhaps even worse, have Zaalbar kill Mission for you. To clarify: you just abused Zaalbar's life debt to you (mixed in with a healthy amount of force persuasion) to get Zaalbar to kill his oldest friend. Talk about messed up.

  • Wiping out all life on Kataar save for Visas Marr, who he took in as a slave.

  • Most would say his MEH crossing was killing Qui-Gon Jinn, but in fairness, Qui-Gon's a Jedi, Maul's a Sith. Nothing personal there. What is NOT nothing personal however, is murdering a bunch of innocent people (including, its implied, children) just to get Obi-Wan to come after him, and the only reason he wants to do that is for some lousy revenge.

  • Destroying Alderaan just to show that the Empire could.

  • This sociopath pretty much crossed it in her very first appearance.

  • Murdering her most trusted servant in cold blood after years of loyal servitude to her that was motivated by an attraction to her. Not to mention she also called him "her greatest disappointment" while doing it. Ouch. Thankfully though, she got her just desserts not that long afterwards.

  • Massacring the original Hellions, which is not only bad on its own, but also served as the driving force behind Emma Frost's return to her original "Ice Queen" persona.

  • They cross this in the opening pages of their first appearance, "G-d Loves, Man kills" when they murder two innocent children (and their parents) JUST for being mutants, coldly stating that they have no right to live. Then they string their bodies up to a nearby swing set as a warning to other nearby mutants. Needless to say, they immediately establish themselves as Complete Monsters.

  • Thanks to bad writing and gross mis-characterization, Bishop has now crossed this as well. Here's hoping it eventually gets retconned away.

  • Causing Wally West's wife Linda to have a miscarriage. She got her children back and gave birth to them anyway but still...

  • Either his murdering Kyle Rayner's first girlfriend and then stuffing her body in the fridge, or else murdering Kyle Rayner's mother.

  • Murdering his own family and leading the Black Lantern Corps during Blackest Night.

  • Stripping Ganthet of his emotions, and, if the solicitations for the latest upcoming Green Lantern crossover event are to be believed, their plan to ditch the Green Lantern Corps all together and replace them with a "Third Army" that they plan on using to take out ALL of the different Lantern Corps, including the Green Lanterns. With all of this the Guardians have gone from nasty, humorless, but arguably well-intentioned jerks to straight up villains. I'll wait until the actual story comes and go before I decide whether I approve of this or not.

  • With a body count as large hers, this was inevitable.

  • The entire mess with the Annihilation Wave, especially when one remembers that his goal was to wipe out all life in the galaxy.

  • Can't say for sure what his comic book's MEH crossing is, but his movie-verse crossing would be either killing Phil Coulsen, or stabbing Thor after being offered a chance to help him stop the Chitauri invasion.

  • Hard to say with his 616 version, though I'd argue having Aunt May shot is a solid candidate. His MCU counterpart crossed it when he murdered Ben Urich.

  • The Ultimate Marvel Universe of Reed took a running leap over this that catapulted him straight into pure evil territory recently when he DESTROYED WASHINGTON DC.

  • Murdering Ted Kord

  • Raping Sue Dibny and bragging about it.

  • Raping Jessica Jones

  • Was dying and convinced her arch-enemy Firestorm to use his powers to save her life and give her her lost powers back. The first thing she did once this was done? Attack Firestorm. Talk about ungrateful.

  • Destroying Earth 15.

  • Laying siege to the Blue Lantern homeworld for no other reason then because they could.

  • Either subjecting Batman to psychological hell in The Labyrinth, or making a series of unprovoked assassination attempts on various Gothamites, most of which were successful.

  • All of them cross it at once (save Karn and his late mother), when they try to cut open Benjy Parker. This is lampshaded by 616 Spider-Man.

  • Any one of the many times he's tried to destroy the Earth (or at least wipe out all life on it) could probably count.

  • Destroying Stamford Connecticut. And what makes it even worse is that the public is so caught up on unfairly blaming the superhero community that they seem to have almost entirely forgot who the real perpetrator was.

  • Murdering Goliath in cold blood. Way to go Stark and Reed. You really knocked this one out of the park.

  • All of his manipulations concerning the Hulk, which are to blame for the entire World War Hulk event, and culminating him (almost) fatally stabbing Rick Jones.

  • Well, if the character image isn't it, I'd say its either his murdering of Jean deWolffe (who was also his ex) or murdering a priest who he had confessed his crimes to. In fairness, this guy is implied to be suffering from insanity, in which case he can't be held as accountable for his actions, but still.

  • Varies depending on which version of him it is, but for the movie version it would be using a Rail Gun to completely level an entire city as a show of force, and in GI Joe Resolute doing the exact same thing, only with a satellite laser cannon instead, and targeting Russia.

  • The 4Kids TV version of the character is revealed to have crossed this before the first episode when he is put on trial for multiple counts of genocide. And that is of course to say nothing for any of his heinous actions in the show proper.

  • Its revealed in the most recent Kingdom Hearts game (3D: Dream Drop Distance) that the members of Organization XIII's faked emotions actually weren't as fake as they all thought. It was a sign that they were slowly but steadily regaining their lost hearts naturally, and thus there was never any need for their plan in the previous games. But Xemnas manipulated and lied to the other Organization members, convincing them that their returning emotions were a facade and that the only way to get their hearts back was to go through with their plan of creating Kingdom Hearts. In effect they were all his pawns and thanks to his actions they all ended up dead. Sora is rightfully outraged and disgusted to learn all of this.

  • His horrible treatment of Xion, a character I admittedly have something of a soft spot for (don't laugh)

  • While it could very easily be argued that due to his being indoctrinated by the Reapers the entire time, Saren can't be held accountable for any of his actions in the first Mass Effect game, which is also the only one he appears in. But while that is a fair argument, talking to David Anderson reveals that Saren was pure evil BEFORE joining up with the Reapers. Namely, he had an entire refinery destroyed, which killed a large number of innocent people, and then pinned the whole thing on Anderson, just to keep humans out of the Spectres. In other words, he slaughtered a bunch of innocent people out of simple racism.

  • "Long live the king"

  • Gleefully and without remorse ordering a plane that had children on it shot down and then mocking Mr. Incredible's loss. Alternatively, one could make the argument that his mass murdering of superheroes just so he could pretend to be one could also qualify.

  • Nearly killing Aang would probably qualify, or alternatively making Zuko her scapegoat later by giving him the credit for what she knew was a lie: that Aang was dead.

  • Probably wiping out a species that was completely loyal to him, though any of his planet-busting moments could also count as candidates.

  • Oh, this is an easy one: destroying the Earth.

  • Pretty much invoked when he made a literal deal with the devil and became an utter monster that slaughtered his own men and raped Casca while forcing Guts to watch.

  • With this animal, it's not a question of IF he crossed the MEH, the only question is WHEN. He's got so many candidates it's hard to decide, but I think probably his most infamous moment; murdering Elia Martell and her children and also raping the former, has to be it.

  • Like his favorite thug, this guy has so many candidates for crossing the MEH it's hard to say which one's it. For my money, I'd say his having Tyrion's wife gang-raped just because he hates his son that much.

  • Murdering Ned Stark on a whim, which also starts a war.

  • Alternate version of the character only. In the (in my mind anyway) awesome Elseworlds story JLA: The Nail, a Kryptonian-powered Jimmy Olsen (trust me, its way better then it sounds) is revealed to be the main villain. His MEH crossing is when he casually murders the Amish Foster parents of that DCU's version of Kal-El, who here never became Superman but was instead taken in by an Amish family.

  • Doctor Doom is an interesting case, which is why I saved him for last. He has more candidates for crossing the Moral Event Horizon then just about anyone else, but because most fans (including myself I might add) like his noble, honorable, affable nature so much, the writers have always been forced to retcon his MEH crossing candidates out of existence. Doom mocks your belief in the Moral Event Horizon!