7 Movie Villains Who Shockingly Saved The Hero’s Life

These villains ended up saving the lives of heroes for various reasons.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

kylo ren star wars

Many movies have simple conflicts at the center: bad people vs good people, and usually the latter win. Fortunately, however, much better movies exist, in which the lines of villainy and heroism get blurred and it is not so easy to say exactly which is which. Accordingly, we scoured some of the biggest franchises of all time, like Star Wars and the X-Men, and found the best instances in which a movie villain surprisingly saved the hero.

Blade Runner

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Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner is one of the defining science fiction dystopias of all time, showing us an eerie world of dense cityscapes in perpetual darkness, artificial beings yearning for freedom, and cool snake-dancing. It also has one of the greatest and most unexpected finales of all time, in which Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the human tasked with hunting down a group of escaped Replicants, finally faces off against their murderous, desperate leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). 

Well, facing off is putting it generously. Despite being an expert Blade Runner and armed, Deckard is no match for the artificially designed combat model that is Roy, who turns the tables and chases him to a rooftop. This results in Deckard dangling helplessly from a ledge, while the bloodied Roy, only moments from predetermined deactivation/death, chooses to use his last moments to save the very man who meant to kill him. Who’s really the movie villain here?

X-Men 2

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The same can be asked of Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen), the primary antagonist of the X-Men series of films. While one can debate the ethics of the Mutant leader’s plans to subjugate the homo sapiens species that seeks to destroy his own, it cannot be denied that his level of casual murder makes him a movie villain in at least the short term.

However, in the second and best installment of the series, all would have been lost without Magneto. Nearly all of the X-Men are in the X-Jet when it is attacked by two fighter pilots, who manage to damage the aircraft enough to cause it to go into a fatal tailspin before Storm (Halle Berry) dispatches them. It is likely all of them would have died horribly (even Logan), if not for the Master of Magnetism deciding to use his powers to save their lives, at least for as long as they are useful to him.

The Rise of Skywalker

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The Rise of Skywalker is the last new Star Wars movie to be released in theaters to date, and likely the most controversial. But if you can get past the whole “the dead speak” thing and all the other stuff, there is actually a lot of fun to be had with the finale to the sequel trilogy.

For example, there’s the scene in which Star Wars movie villain General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) unexpectedly saves the lives of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) by blasting his own Stormtroopers before they’re executed. The fun bit: Hux didn’t save them for any belief in freedom or the resistance, he just hated Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) so much that he’d do anything to screw up his plans.

Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park kicked off one of the most massive franchises of all time, both in terms of box office grosses and the size of its participants. The first movie was a staggering leap forward in terms of special effects, astounding audiences with its incredibly realistic on-screen dinosaurs. Of all of those, none was more terrifying or a perfect movie villain than the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.

But when the human heroes of the film finally seemed to be pinned down by the cunning velociraptors and about to be devoured alive, it is the T-Rex who unexpectedly shows up to save their lives by tearing the comparatively tiny raptors apart to the triumphant strains of John Williams’ orchestral theme. Sure, the T-Rex might have just been hungry, but she still saved the day.

Return of the King

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As Gandalf (Ian McKellen, again) once suggested, Gollum (Andy Serkis) is less a force of evil than a horribly misused wretch to be pitied. However, given that the former Smeagol is pretty fine with beating to death with a rock anyone who gets in his way (or looks tasty) and delivers Frodo (Elijah Wood) to giant spiders as a meal, he is pretty definitely a movie villain.

However, Gollum does end up saving Frodo’s life and basically everyone else in Middle Earth, if only for his own selfish reasons. When the Hobbit cannot bring himself to withstand the lure of the One Ring any longer and decides to keep it for himself at the mouth of Mount Doom, it’s Gollum who bites off his finger and inadvertently saves the lives and free wills of every living being in the world.

Star Trek V

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is not considered a high point of the franchise, to say the least. However, the William Shatner-directed movie does have an excellent villain in Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), Spock’s half-brother and renegade Vulcan. Over the course of the film, Sybok uses his Vulcan mental powers to gain the loyalty of the Enterprise’s crew and cause them to mutiny against Kirk in an insane mission to meet God at the center of the Galaxy.

However, when Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Sybok eventually encounter “God,” it turns out to be a short-tempered malevolent entity that the Vulcan sacrifices himself in combat with to gain the others the opportunity to escape.

Return of the Jedi

And finally, we come to the greatest example of a movie villain saving the hero of all. After three movies worth of torture, genocide, and cutting off limbs, Sith Lord Darth Vader finally decides to turn on Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and prove himself a Jedi in the end.

As Darth Sidious venomously shoots bolts of pure Dark Force energy into his son Luke, the former Anakin Skywalker lifts up the old man like a ragdoll and throws him down some kind of massive exhaust vent. Of course, that involves taking the brunt of his former master’s Dark Force lightning and his own death. Still, a pretty heroic moment for a villain.