When it comes to presidents, America is often deeply divided. Someone can get elected into office even if half of the country considers them a straight-up supervillain and from that point on, chaos reigns and the weight of the discourse is crushing.
But how bad can a presidency get? What are out warning signs a president is going to turn America into their villainous empire? At which point should we form a spandex-clad resisitance?
Well, sci-fi and fantasy have already show us some of the worst case scenarios when it comes to an evil or utterly incompetent U.S. president. Here are the top ten worst. So read along and keep the traits of these despots in mind- if you see something that reminds you of someone in charge in real life, it might be time to break out the spandex. But there's also a comfort too. In most of these scenarios, the bad guy gets taken down, provided the heroes don't give up.
President Cole from Read or Die
Not only is the President of the United States in Read of Die immoral, he’s grossly incompetent. He’s easily manipulated by an evil organization that plans to resurrect the British Empire and take over the world, working with them in exchange for promised power. But instead of power, the organization blackmails him by threatening to reveal his various affairs (like the American people would care about that kind of thing anymore).
On top of that, he repeatedly wets his pants when faced with danger and also nearly destroys everything with nukes due to his fear. Considering the time period this anime was produced during, it’s probable the guy is meant to be a parody of George W. Bush.Advertisement
The Smiler from Transmetropolitan
Gary Callahan, also known as “The Smiler” hid a sinister agenda behind his constant grin. He presented himself as a compassionate, caring president but privately admitted that he hates people and wants to use his position as president to terrorize and oppress them. He sends assassins after those who oppose him and even assassinated his own wife and daughter to gain public sympathy. It’s revealed that he’s actually done this many times- every time the people seem to be turning against him, he kills someone close to him to get people to feel sorry for him. He is eventually exposed and tried for his crimes. But even after all his crimes, he still has die-hard supporters who give him donations. Sadly, that’s not unbelievable.
Lex Luthor from DC Comics
When Lex Luthor was elected president of the DC Universe, it seemed absurd. How could the American people elect a businessman with no political background, who is openly against humanity’s savior, Superman and any other “illegal aliens”, has driven several of his companies into the ground to his reclklessness, builds ominous, huge towers bearing his name and has been charged with multiple crimes, as President? Surely humanity could never sink THAT low? But there are some people who would say that seems a little more realistic now.
To be fair to Lex, he actually did earn all his vast wealth on his own through genuine innovation and intelligence. On the other hand, he’s also smashed up half of his home city trying to punch Superman to death while piloting a giant robot a couple times.
Not even Superman trying to dissuade the people stopped them from electing a supervillain as president. Lex’s presidency didn’t exactly go smoothly. He allowed an alien invasion to happen so he could look heroic defeating them and then his hatred of Superman quickly got the better of him. He lied that Superman was causing a astroid to go on a crash course collision with Earth and then he put a bounty on the guy. Then he just couln’t resist jacking himself up on super-sterioids, jumping in some power armor and fighting Superman himself. During the fight, he confessed that he gave the powerful monster Doomsday to the supervillain Darkseid in exchange for weapons and Batman secretly recorded it. Luthor was then impeached and his business also went bankrupt.
So in the end, Luthor was a pretty bad president, but he sure went out with bang. Let’s hope they don’t actually keep power armor and super-steroids at the real White House.
Norman Osborn from Marvel Comics
Norman Osborn is Marvel’s equivalent to Lex Luthor, a wealthy businessowner who weilds his money as power and is really obsessed with killing one dude. He didn’t ever get elected President in the main Marvel Universe, though he did manage to become head of National Security somehow. However, there is an alternate universe where Osborn is president (actually there’s probably a few).
In Earth-9997, an industry collapse, famine and mutation of the entire human race distracted people enough that he was able to use his wealth to get himself the presidency. Unsurprisingly, he used his position to help his company, Oscorp, get a monopoly on US industries. He also unleashed mind controlling parasites on humanity. He was eventually assassinated by another supervillain.
Red Skull from Marvel Comics
There’s a lot of fear about the current rise of Neo-nazis as of late and even fears about Nazis taking over the White House. Well, this is exactly what happened in the alternate universe of Old Man Logan. In this world, the Red Skull, probably the biggest Nazi supervillain in comics and Captain America’s archnemesis, took over as President of the United States after wiping out most of the country’s superheroes. He let America descend into a hellscape ruled by other villains while he decked out the White House in Nazi regalia and cackled over his conquests.
Red Skull ended his stay in the Oval Office in a very fitting way- Wolverine killed him by decapitating him with Captain America’s shield. Getting rid of Nazis- it’s the American way. Hopefully we’ll always remember that.
Zartan from G.I. Joe: Retaliation
In the G.I. Joe movies, the evil villain Zartan is able to assume the identity of the current President of the United States, Jonathan Pryce. He somehow disguises himself to look exactly like him and imitates him perfectly. Zartan is a part of the ruthless terrorist organization Cobra, so as you can imagine, his first act is to frame Americas heroes, the GI Joes, and then order them killed in an air strike. He then gathered all the world leaders together and blackmailed them into giving up their nuclear weapons. He then promptly nuked London.
He's ultimately betrayed and killed by a member of his own team, Storm Shadow, and once he dies his disguise falls away and everyone sees him for what he is.
President Snow from The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games depicts a dystopian future where America has become “Panem” and is ruled by the tyrannical President Coriolanus Snow. The country under president Snow suffers from a severe class divide with upper class citizens of the Capitol, Snow included, living in wasteful luxury while the rest of the districts, the “lower class”, struggle just to survive. In an effort to keep the lower class from revolting, he pits children against each other in televised battles tothe death that are treated like a reality show. He poisoned all of his political allies, blew up Katniss’s entire district in retaliation for her rebellion and tortures a ton of people. Like all fascists, he uses fear to control people, though he acknowledges hope is ultimately more powerful.
In the end, Snow is overthrown by the rebellion. The rebellion’s leader and replacement president, Alma Coin, was apparently as ruthless as he was, bombing her allies own children gain victory over him. But before she can take power, Katniss kills her to avoid a repeat fascist regime. Snow dies immediately after, choking on his own blood.
The President from Escape from L.A.
Escape from L.A. depicted an ultra-conservative president rises after Los Angeles is devastated by an earthquake. The president declares that the earthquake was a punishment from God because Los Angeles is a festering pile of sin. He becomes president for life of the new “moral” America, outlawing atheism, alcohol, sex outside marriage, freedom of religion and so-on. He’s even willing to execute his own daughter (who he named “Utopia” so viewers could be hit with a anvil’s worth of forced irony) when he perceives her as a traitor.
He turns Los Angeles into a huge prison and anyone who breaks the law loses their citizenship and gets deported to LA if they don’t repent and choose death. He's a fan of walls, too. A huge one is built around Los Angeles to keep all the non-citizens contained.
The President seeks global domination through a superweapon, but his plans are foiled by Snake Plissken, who gives him the wrong remote and then disables all the technology on Earth. It’s probably not the BEST solution, but at least it prevented the prez from blowing up Cuba.
Morgan Clark from Babylon 5
Morgan Clark got the presidency not just of America, but of the entire Earth Force, in a brutal way...and things just got worst from there. After being elected Vice President, he assassinated the President and then took over the position. He started a propaganda machine that tore down any who would stand in his way, labeling them traitors to Earth. His zealous hatred of space aliens caused him to employ a fascist paramilitary organization and enforce martial law. He bombed anyone who opposed him and even took to killing any refugees who were trying to escape the nations he was bombing. People rose up to resist him and rather than be captured, he committed suicide. In the end, he was the real traitor to Earth.
Bob Booth from Judge Dredd
In the world of the Judge Dredd comics, Earth has become a cursed wasteland thanks to the actions of one president. Bob Booth managed to get elected by hacking America’s electronic voting (Russia, surprisingly, was not involved). He quickly stirred up America’s ire against other countries and sent troops to seize oil reserves from foreign lands. Anyone who went against him was assassinated.
The rest of the world wasn’t happy, so Booth decided to start a nuclear war with the other countries. He believed America would be protected from nukes, but it wasn’t. In the devastation that followed, Booth tried to hide away with his robot army. But he was seized and tried for war crimes. He was sentenced to 100 years in a suspended animation prison.
When he was revived later, he was sentenced to a lifetimeof farm laboring. However, he took over the farm and started a guerilla army. He planned to conquer America and become president again, but when he was taken hostage and used as a human shield, his troops didn’t hesistate to shoot him, feeling no loyalty to him as president and considering him replaceable.