It’s that time of year again. No, not leprechauns, Shamrock Shakes, or green beer; what I’m talking about is the infamous Ides of March. Originally “The Ides” were marked by a series of religious observances and celebrations throughout ancient Rome. In 44 BC “The Ides” also marked one of the most notorious betrayals in recorded history, the assignation of Julius Caesar. As we revel in the infamy of this famous time of year, I thought it might be fun to revisit some of our favorite sci-fi and fantasy betrayals.
1. The Red Wedding
“My honored guests, be welcome within my walls and at my table. I extend to you my hospitality and protection in the light of the Seven.” – Lord Walder Frey
Yes, we start our trip down betrayal lane with perhaps one of the most recent, violent, and definitive betrayals in modern television history. This was the wedding heard round the world. Fans of the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novel series collectively cried out in horror over a decade before HBO’s dynamic ‘Game of Thrones’ brought those devastating words to life and forever cemented author George R.R. Martin’s place in storytelling history. No one is safe. Ever. Like, for seriously the man will kill off every character you ever loved!
2. Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader
“I hate you!” – Darth Vader
He saved the Emperor from Mace !#@$’ Windu and in that moment betrayed the Jedi Order and everything he had ever believed in and fought for. But seriously his betrayals ran far deeper, this guy murdered children. He cut down Jedi and janitors alike when he led the 501st in an assault of the Jedi Temple. In the years to follow he continued to hunt down and murder the remaining Jedi. He subjugated world after world in the name of the Empire. All the redemption, blue force ghosts, and warm fuzzies at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’ will never make up for that. This is one messed up fallen hero with a story as tragic as it was poorly acted. (See haters, I threw you all a bone there. Though I don’t see how you can sit there and tell me that ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was a bad movie. It was amazing!)
3. HAL 9000
“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.” – HAL 9000
Everyone’s favorite Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer makes the list as an example of not all betrayals being equal. HAL is not an inherently evil, bad, or otherwise flawed person. HAL is a computer, the most advanced AI in existence, but still subject to ones and zeroes and all the limitations that creates. HAL is responsible for maintaining the Discovery One’s systems during the long mission to Jupiter and back. HAL is tasked with accurately relaying all information to the crew. Unbeknownst to everyone else he also has orders to withhold the true purpose of the mission from the crew. This creates a conflict in HAL’s programming that is not readily resolved. HAL solves the problem logically by reasoning if the crew is dead there would be no reason to lie to them. So HAL betrays and murders all but one of the crew, David Bowman, who proceeds to shut HAL down in one of the most tense and emotional Geek Squad house calls ever to be put on film.
4. Benjamin Sisko
“So… I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it… Computer, erase that entire personal log.” – Captain Benjamin Sisko
‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ was not your father’s Star Trek and it certainly didn’t have your father’s Captain. Once The Sisko lost his hair and gained that goatee he transcended everything we knew and expected of a Starfleet Captain. He was gritty, flawed, and relatable. This was a man in an impossible situation. The Federation was at war with the Dominion and they were not winning. Sisko saw an opportunity to change the dynamic of the war and took it. He betrayed everything he stood for; every principle, ideal, and person when he brought the Romulans into the war. It was a betrayal born of necessity and desperation. One of Star Trek’s greatest strengths has always been its ability to engage the viewer, make us see a larger picture. ‘Pale Moonlight’ made us see war for what it is; a violent, destructive, sometimes necessary conflict in which no one comes out the other side clean.
5. Boomer Shoots Adama
“Thank you, sir.” – Sharon Valerii
I honestly don’t know where to begin. This is it. This is, for me, the greatest betrayal in recent history, if only for the sheer suddenness and game-changing nature of the event. Boomer’s story is a tragic one as well. We all knew she was some sort of unwitting Cylon sleeper agent. Her programming kept asserting itself and she clearly conducted several subconscious acts of sabotage. This duality of nature drove her into a deep depression and even a suicide attempt. She is eventually sent on a successful mission to destroy a Cylon Basestar and while being congratulated by Commander Adama pulls out a gun and shoots him. Repeatedly. It was so sudden, and so violent of a betrayal that it left a generation speechless. It deepened the mystery of the Cylons and made the audience question everything, and everyone. The war against the machines got real. I for one didn’t eat toast for a whole month after.
So who did we leave off of the list? Share your most memorable betrayals with us in the comments below.