(205) 870-1117 Mon - Sat : 6am - 10pm / Sun : 7am - 10pm Get Directions

Evil Tyrant Smackdown

September 06, 2012 | Brandon Ballard

Brandon’s the kind of guy who’ll pause the movie every five minutes to give you further insight into whatever comic book/fantasy novel/Grecian myth you’re watching — he’s a lifetime ambassador of all things nerdy and awesome. He predicts literary matchups for PostScript. This month: Joffrey from Game of Thrones takes on Nurse Ratched from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

 

Admit it. Sometimes you like to root for the bad guy. Maybe because they make us laugh (The Joker) or we can’t help but admire their intellect (Hans Landa), or perhaps we just find them downright adorable (Stay Puft Marshmallow Man). Occasionally, we end up liking the bad guy more than the hero! (Raise your hand if you think Luke is cooler than Darth Vader … yeah, didn’t think so.)

 

But there is one type of villain that we all loathe. Our hatred for them burns so hot that we find ourselves flipping off the screen or yelling expletives at the pages of our book. These jerkwads are usually characterized as nearly all-powerful beings that thrive on the misery of others. Cold and uncaring, they move through the story with no remorse for the pain they are causing or the lives they are ruining. We turn each page, hoping this will finally be the chapter where the hero blows up them up or feeds them to fire ants or whatever, but they just continue to sit in their seats of power with snotty little smirks on their faces, secure in their almighty doucheness. There are plenty of colorful titles we could use to describe one of these assholes (like that one), but let’s just settle for “Evil Tyrant.”

 

 

Joffrey Strengths

 

  • His ruthless bodyguard is called “Dog” for a reason. Think Cerberus, not the Poky Little Puppy.
  • He’s typical spoiled brat royalty. Gets whatever he wants from whomever he wants however he wants.
  • Utterly sadistic and completely devoid of compassion (remember, these are “evil” strengths).

 

Joffrey Weaknesses

 

  • Two words: Mama’s. Boy.
  • His family tree doesn’t branch quiet as much as it should.
  • Let’s face it. He’s a major character in A Song of Ice and Fire. Things never go well for them for very long.

 

Nurse Ratched Strengths

 

  • She works in a psychiatric ward during the 50’s, which means she can do whatever horrific thing she feels like doing to her patients and call it “treatment.”
  • For her, finding and exposing her patients’ weaknesses is like opening Christmas presents.
  • Her ward runs like a well-oiled machine powered by hatred and misery with her at the controls.

 

Nurse Ratched Weakness

  • Doesn’t know what to do with a man who she can neither scare nor humiliate
  • All it takes is one wardrobe malfunction to rob her of all control.
  • McMurphy’s big ole hands.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey gives us one of the coldest evil tyrants in all of literature. “Big Nurse” Ratched wields her power over the sad and pathetic patients of her ward with only one goal: control. She doesn’t care if the men gain any kind of rehabilitation or sense of peace. She just wants them under her thumb. She uses all the tools at her disposal to ensure her complete domination over their spirits. Control over the men’s diet, privileges, and medication is one way she maintains this position. She also has full authority to use violence, whether it be at the hands of her three hate-filled orderlies or electroshock “therapy.” Her specialty, though, is humiliation. The real reason she can keep all these men (many of whom are voluntary patients) in her grip is by constantly breaking them down and reminding them of all their weakness and faults to the point that they would rather submit to her than have to face what she has taught them is the truth about themselves. Or, as McMurphy puts it, “Hooowee, I’ve seen some bitches in my time, but she takes the cake.”

 

Remember that rich spoiled brat at your high school? The one who got wasted and wrapped his brand new Jeep around a telephone pole, only to have his parents buy him a brand new Hummer? And how he pantsed the kid with Down’s Syndrome in the middle of the cafeteria, but never got in trouble because his dad is the softball coach and his mom is on the city council? Now picture that same piece of crap with a crown on his head and an executioner by his side and you’ve got Joffrey Baratheon from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

 

This little weasel is pompous immorality in a can. When dealing with his subjects of his kingdom, pain is funny and suffering is entertainment. Usually, his choice on whether or not to sentence someone to death depends on how bored he is. No one this vile should be have so much power, but, since he’s royalty, there are thugs in armor and schemers in robes that ensure his position is concrete. Martin really does an excellent job in making us hate Joffrey. At no point in the series do we feel an ounce of respect or admiration for him. Yeah, he had a rough upbringing, but there’s no earth-shattering revelation of “a direwolf ate my hamster when I was a baby and that’s why I’m so messed up” that makes us feel sorry for him. He’s an evil little shit. Case closed.

 

So, who’s the worst? Which is the evilest tyrant? Would you rather be stuck in Nurse Ratched’s mental ward or in King’s Landing under Joffrey’s rule? It’s kind of close, but I’m going to give Joffrey the trophy for all-time biggest douchebag. While Nurse Ratched is the coldest witch to put on a white uniform, she actually had to earn her position of power. Being a woman (especially in the fifties), she most likely had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to a point where she would be given complete control over the staff and patients of the ward. She’s definitely a tyrant, but she earned it.

 

Joffrey didn’t earn squat. He was just born into power and decided to be a jerk about it. And that is perhaps the thing that makes us hate him so much. We are shown numerous times that he’s a coward. He never fights his own battles and rarely gets his hands dirty. He just barks orders and his henchmen carry out his wishes. He’s a despicable human being and if he weren’t sitting on the Iron Throne, his head would be on a spike three sentences into the first book of the series. So the next time your boss yells at you, or the head of your “neighborhood association” complains about your lawn, or someone in the state government makes a completely idiotic decision about just about anything, just be glad you’re not Billy Bibbit or Sansa Stark. (Who? Go read the books, suckers!)

 

If you love to hate evil tyrants, check out Napoleon from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, The Governor from Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics, or Professor Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

 

Brandon Ballard loves his job (teaching), his family (Brooke, Lily and Sophie), and Root Beer Tuesdays. He lives and writes in Birmingham, Alabama.

Comments are closed here.

May 2018 Books of the Month

May 06, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker ON SALE: May 8, 2018 A girl grieves the loss of her dog in an achingly beautiful wordless epic from the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of Journey. This year’s... read full article

March 2018 Books of the Month

March 01, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

Cal picked three books for Church Street Coffee and Books’ March 2018 “Books of the Month.” Copies will be available in the shop for purchase on and after their publication dates. If you read any... read full article

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON AND OTHER LIES I'VE LOVED

February 27, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

At the end of the preface to Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, she writes:   I wish this were a different kind of story. But this is a... read full article

Ordinary People Change the World

February 10, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

Cal has been selling books from the Ordinary People Change the World series written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos for a while now. I picked up two of the books from the... read full article

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A CHANCE?

February 08, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

The newest book written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom will encourage kids--and adults--to be brave and grab ahold of chances to do new things. What Do You Do With A Chance (one of... read full article

February 2018 Books of the Month

February 01, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

Cal picked four books for Church Street Coffee and Books’ February 2018 “Books of the Month.” Copies will be available in the shop for purchase on and after their publication dates. If you read any... read full article

WILD THINGS: THE JOY OF READING CHILDREN'S LITERATURE AS AN ADULT

January 15, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

In Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, Bruce Handy explores classic children’s books, engages their critics, and provides background information and details about the stories and their authors. Publishers Weekly... read full article

January 2018 Books of the Month

January 01, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon

Cal picked three books for Church Street Coffee and Books’ January 2018 “Books of the Month.” Copies will be available in the shop for purchase on and after their publication dates. If you read any... read full article

WE'RE ALL WONDERS and HERE WE ARE

December 23, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I recently read something on Facebook (that I think is actually true) about a tradition in Iceland where everyone exchanges gifts of books on Christmas Eve. Then they read their new books in bed that... read full article

Frederick Buechner's THE REMARKABLE ORDINARY: HOW TO STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN TO LIFE

December 08, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read several of Frederick Buechner’s memoirs and sermon collections. One reason his writing appeals to me is that he’s a master of writing about faith in a way... read full article

HUNGER: A MEMOIR OF (MY) BODY by Roxane Gay

September 28, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I read Roxane Gay’s Hunger in a few sittings on the day it was released. I am a fan of Gay's work and had been awaiting this book for a couple of years—since I first... read full article

GOODBYE, VITAMIN by Rachel Khong

September 25, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I’m a fan of Twitter although it wears me out sometimes. I need to take breaks from it, but it's probably my favorite of all of the social media options. When I finished Goodbye, Vitamin... read full article

Everyone's Story Matters: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

September 16, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

Yesterday a friend's Facebook post caught my eye. She's a therapist and lives in Orlando with her husband and three kids. After enduring the wrath of Hurricane Irma, she posted that The Fantastic Flying Books... read full article

Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

September 12, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

  During an appointment with the first therapist I ever met with, I asked him if there's something wrong with me because I've never had a best friend who lasted more than a couple of... read full article

John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien

September 05, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I must confess I've never read any of Tolkien's books. But after reading the children's book John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien written by Caroline McAlister and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, I'm now convinced... read full article

Grief, Resilience, and Option B

September 01, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

Since I married my husband almost twenty years ago, one of my greatest fears has been losing him to some kind of tragic early death. After I became a mama, this fear expanded to include losing... read full article

Author Interview: Gin Phillips on Fierce Kingdom, Writing, and Motherhood

August 14, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

Gin Phillips and I hung out on her back porch recently and talked about her new book, writing, and motherhood. Here’s some of what we discussed:   When did you start writing? I’ve always written... read full article

Making a Mark: She Persisted and Radiant Child

August 10, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I grabbed two children's books from Church Street a couple of weeks ago for my kids (ages 12 and 14) and me to read. We believe you're never too old for children's books and have been enjoying... read full article

A Review: Becoming Ms. Burton

August 03, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

Many conversations I hear about social justice issues are taking place among people who aren’t necessarily suffering from oppression. There are a lot of well-meaning people who talk about the effects of racism. They advocate... read full article

Author Interview: Kristen Iskandrian

July 28, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I got to spend some time with local author Kristen Iskandrian yesterday. We talked about books, writing, and her first novel Motherest which I definitely recommend. This coming-of-age story explores the dynamics of complex relationships... read full article
View More Posts

Login

Lost your password?