What about Ender Wiggin? Not epic enough?

The Doctor tops io9’s list of 8 Epic Heroes Who Committed Mass Murder. Just so. The case for (against?) him:

For a character who frequently makes moralistic pronouncements and shows plenty of righteous indignation towards other people’s actions, he is probably responsible for more deaths than any action hero or horror icon of the 1980’s. […] In his 1103 years, the Doctor has racked up a body count that could be conservatively tallied in the trillions. It’s gotten so bad, for a while he was able to defuse any potential conflict by doing nothing more than introduce himself.

And now that he’s gone off grid with the whole faked-death thing, not even his reputation can hold him accountable to what he chooses to do. Prepare yourself, universe, for the Doctor unbound.☕

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About tardishobbit

Reads. Writes. Watches movies. Occasionally stirs from chair. Holds an advanced degree in heuristic indolence. View all posts by tardishobbit

9 responses to “What about Ender Wiggin? Not epic enough?

  • Daniel Swensen

    Janeway should have been #1 and Anakin was not a hero. I have issues abound with this list.

    • mjschneider

      Some days I wonder if it’s possible to be an epic hero without committing mass murder.

    • Daniel Swensen

      You could, but why on earth would you want to?

      Ironically, The Doctor is the best poster boy sci-fi has for thinking, reasoning, or pseudoscience-ing his way out of situations and saving billions of lives without gunning people down, and yet they choose to peg him as #1 Mass Murderer.

    • mjschneider

      I think that tension is one of the reasons I find him so fascinating, and I suspect others do, too. He prefers to find nonviolent solutions, yet we all know he can do it the violent way if it comes to that. As the article sorta-kinda indicates, part of the reason he’s successful at avoiding violence is that everyone knows he can bring it. The fact that the show is currently in the process of critiquing deterrence as a strategy is a long time coming. Can he be the pacifist poster boy only because he is also the #1 mass murderer? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but the show seems to have formulated the question that way…

  • jubilare

    Who is the biggest hero/mass-murderer is a complicated question, but the Doctor would be pretty high on my list.
    I think my brother should keep his students in line by signing his name “Doctor W.” :P

    One good thing about such questions and lists is that it makes one stop and think. I look at my own stories and I find some very interesting patterns.

    • mjschneider

      Hopefully those patterns don’t include continuously blowing up the planets of hostile alien species.

      Actually, that’s pretty badass. Hopefully they do. ;D

    • jubilare

      Hehehe. Well, I do have these elves… but I digress ;)

      I was thinking more along the lines of your question of whether or not there are any epic heroes who are not mass-murderers, and what does mass-murder entail. Are Frodo and Sam mass murderers?
      Of the main protagonists in my current story, there are no pacifists. One comes pretty close to being a pacifist, another one is a borderline sociopath, and the other one… seems unlikely to commit atrocities, but under extreme duress, who knows?

    • mjschneider

      Frodo and Sam aren’t mass murderers, but they are allied with people that do a whole lot of killin’. I wouldn’t necessarily say that everyone who kills in fiction is a murderer, but heroism has for centuries been associated with combat prowess — the more lethal and ruthless, the better.

      I think extreme duress makes killers or cowards out of most people. There are probably very few who can face such circumstances with the moral courage not to violate their conscience and die with dignity. Again, I don’t condemn those who fight for survival, but most of us who maintain moral positions have not actually had those positions tested in an immediate way. I wish never to be tested in that way, but I pray that I’d have the courage not to betray my morals.

      At the same time, I love protagonists who are forced to compromise their morals in order to effect a greater good. Not that I love what they choose to do, but they fascinate me.

  • jubilare

    Neither Frodo nor Sam toss the ring over the edge, but that is their purpose, and that purpose entails the deaths of untold thousands. Of course, the lives of untold thousands also rests on the decision. My point being that the lines can be pretty blurry. Then again, sometimes the lines are very sharp.

    Very true. I was thinking, just last night… well… there is so much said of the greatness of Tolkien and of Lewis. People are always trying to find out what makes them great, but (maybe this is just lack of exposure on my part) I rarely hear someone mention the War and how it effected each of them. Perhaps Tolkien and Lewis stand apart because they walked through hell on earth.
    That thought gives me pause in my own writing. I trust in the grace of God, that if he wants me to write, which it seems he does, he will give me what I need to do it, but the little hells I have walked through are nothing, all-told. Like you, I hope never to face anything like what Tolkien, Lewis, and even MacDonald faced. My prayer is the same as yours, only with the addendum that if I survive such a thing, my art can convey the light in the darkness that I see in the work of those who have suffered and yet stand with Our Lord.

    It is interesting. It is also interesting to see the humanity in failures. Sometimes contemporary literature seems to lean so far into the damaged and human that it loses the perspective it could have on anything else, but Gawain always fascinated me, while Galahad did not.

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