Being good is boring. Year after year we’re forced to watch countless movies where the hero of the story is a cookie-cutter do-gooder idolized by an army of admirers from every race, creed, color, and gender. That may work on celluloid, but in the real world people aren’t always so benevolent. And throughout history, society has always had a natural inclination for cheering on the bad guys.
From outlaws such as Jesse James to maniacal killers like Charles Manson, there is little doubt that viciousness and violence stir the imagination more than altruism and generosity. Not only do these sociopaths headline the nightly news, they're the stars of pop culture as well. Despite Hollywood’s insistence on giving us heroes they can slap on the side of lunchboxes, it’s always the criminals and scoundrels that really sell tickets. And the makers of the upcoming Riddick (opening September 6), the latest chapter in the Vin Diesel sci-fi series, are banking on this.
However, every once in a while, tinseltown gives us the best of both worlds: a hero with the heart of a hardened crook. These criminals turned heroes have the moral ambiguity and edge that we admire, but they also do the right thing in the end, which makes us feel a lot less guilty about cheering them on. To celebrate some of our favorite antiheroes, check out or rundown of The 10 Greatest Actions Heroes That Started as Criminals.