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The Angriest Old Men in Sci-fi and Fantasy

The Angriest Old Men in Sci-fi and Fantasy

By Tim Butcher

Some people chill out when they get older. But some people get angry. They get spiteful and bitter, and develop an unnaturally intense dislike of kids going on their lawn. And it’s not just in the real world– in sci-fi and fantasy, there’s no shortage of super angry old men. Here are a few of our favorites.

Batman

Batman isn’t exactly a laid back dude in his twenties and thirties, but the Caped Crusader in old age is something else entirely. There have been a few versions of the Bruce Wayne as a pensioner, but one of the most memorable is from the animated series Batman Beyond. In the show, having hung up his cape and cowl decades previously, Bruce becomes mentor to a plucky young teenage replacement, Terry McGinnis. And he takes to the role of angry-old-sensei like a duck to water, barking commands to his young protégé with all the patience and good humour of a drill sergeant with a hangover. Watching Batman as an old guy basically makes you realize he’s been waiting to get to that age his entire life. Finally he can be as grumpy as he wants!

Solid Snake

Does Solid Snake count as old? Admittedly, he only has the appearance of a care-home resident in Metal Gear Solid 4 because his clone genes are causing him to age super fast. But although he’s only around forty-five in biological years, he’s managed to develop the mental attitude of an embittered old war veteran. Old Snake barely communicates throughout the game except to berate the people around him—and that’s when he’s using words at all; usually he’s just clutching his back and groaning. Still, that grey mustache does look pretty fly.

Gandalf

Obviously, Gandalf is the opposite of angry most of the time. His reputation as a kindly father figure is justly deserved for the most part. But if you tick him off? Oh boy, stand back. He only loses his temper a few times in the LOTR saga, but when he does, you get a real taste of just how dangerous he can be. It’s up against the Balrog in the caverns beneath the mountains of Moria that his scary side finally truly emerges—shouting those immortal words, he sends a thirty foot tall fire beast hurtling into a chasm, decimating a bridge in the process and only getting snagged himself when the demon scores a lucky passing blow.

The Vulture

Although there have been various versions of Spiderman villain The Vulture in the Marvel Canon, it’s gotta be his Golden Age depiction as a cantankerous old coot that sticks most in memory. Although he wasn’t Spidey’s most threatening adversary (his power was basically that he could fly a bit), he could give him a damn good yelling at—and he had the ability to bore him to death by starting anecdotes that seemingly never ended. Then again, what are you supposed to do against an elderly supervillain? Punch him? Public opinion would turn against you in a nanosecond!

Emperor Palpatine

If the other characters on this list are angry in a kind of obvious way, Star Wars’ Emperor Palpatine is more of a seething, slow burning rage type of guy. After all, he’s been plotting to take over the galaxy ever since he was a younger and slightly less evil Senator—its only decades later that his plans finally come to fruition. But when we do meet him in Return Of The Jedi, it becomes pretty clear just how vicious the old guy is, as he gives poor barely-a-Jedi-yet Luke the human lighting rod treatment. So, let us never forget: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, etc etc.

The Twelfth Doctor

Well, we never thought we’d end up including the good Doctor on a list like this, but with Peter Capaldi about to take on the role, who knows? Could he be the first angry old man doctor? A look at Capaldi’s performances in various other roles—particularly his turn as a foul-mouthed spin doctor in BBC sitcom The Thick of It—doesn’t do much to reassure. Let’s just hope he’s more like William Hartnell, the First Doctor: a bit snippy, but more like a lovable grandfather than a hate-filled rage monster.

Who's your favorite cantankerous cuss?

Tags: movies, tv, superheroes, batman, superman, books-and-comics, old men

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