25 Of The Most Controversial Heroes Ever

Posted by , Updated on October 19, 2022

Heroes give us hope. They make us remember that there is still something good in the world. Or do they? Well, it depends on your perspective…as always. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and the same can be said of heroes. Was Genghis Khan a hero? To some people in Central Asia he was. They even build huge statues to honor his memory. But if you move a little farther west you will start to get a different picture. He was also a warlord who brutally conquered tribes and killed thousands. On the one hand Churchill stood against what the Germans tried to do to his own people, but on the other hand he couldn’t care less about what his own people were doing to India. Columbus discovered America, and also helped start the slave trade. The list goes on. Now, not everybody on our list is there in a serious manner. Topics like this need to be lightened up a bit. So yes, we have included some humor. You will know it when you come to it. If there’s anything you can get out of this list though, it should be that history is never so cut and dry. These are 25 of the most controversial heroes ever.


Che Guevara

Che GuevaraSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

Although in super cool hipster circles his image stands for anti-materialism and being “against the man”…there are good reasons that this doesn’t sit well with many people who lived in his world.


Guy Fawkes

Guy FawkesSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

V for Vendetta basically made him a hero, but that isn’t quite the way he is seen in some parts of the world (England). Mainly because of the whole “I want to blow up a building full of people” thing.


Margaret Thatcher

Margaret ThatcherSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

Although some women today laud her as a great female leader, others focus on the fact that Margaret had a very legitimate fear…that she may be prosecuted for war crimes.


Winston Churchill

Winston ChurchillSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

Often seen as a great liberator, many of his views on things like eugenics differed very little from his German counterparts. Furthermore, nearly starving the continent of India really cemented his position as an anti-hero.


Peter Pan

Peter PanSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

So we’re going to try interjecting some light hearted fiction into this mess of moral grayness. But seriously, he cut off Hook’s hand for no reason and basically kidnapped a bunch of kids. What was heroic?


Julius Caesar

Julius CaesarSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

He was a brilliant and charismatic commander that did many things purely out of self interest. He basically ignored the Senate and Roman law and had no problems assuming power via force. And then he was stabbed to death. Suffice it to say he generated his fair share of controversy.


Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong UnSource: Reddit

In North Korea he is the savior of the people. Outside North Korea, he is basically a meme.



PiratesSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

Basically the Che Guevaras of the ocean, they are/were idolized by some and hated by others. That sentiment hasn’t changed, even today.


Henry Kissinger

Henry KissingerSource: Reddit, Image: Image: pingnews.com via flickr

He became famous for his effect on American foreign policy as a diplomat and advisor in Washington. Unfortunately, his Realpolitik (basically political realism aka “being an a-hole if necessary”) was definitely divisive. Some have even called for him to be tried for crimes against humanity.


Ocean's Eleven

Ocean's ElevenSource: Reddit, Image: amazon

If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s (sort of) a spoiler alert. They detonate an EMP bomb in a major city. Just think of all the airplanes, traffic, and people on life support that they just killed.


Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow WilsonSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Although he played a role in the creation of the League of Nations, re-segregating the government was definitely not a high point of his career. Or the fact that he has been accused of indirectly causing the Vietnam War by refusing to help Ho Chi Minh against the French (who then decided to look elsewhere aka China)


Andrew Jackson

Andrew JacksonSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

As the Cherokee will tell you, getting the military to force them out of their land was not cool. Although we have to admit, Manifest Destiny aka “this land is ours because we’re awesome” was first introduced by President James Polk.



JerrySource: Reddit, Image: momokacma via Flickr

As a kid you thought he was just the helpless little mouse trying not to be eaten by the big mean cat. Then you grow up and realize he’s a good-for-nothing thief and Tom is just doing his job to protect the house.


Queen Victoria

Queen VictoriaSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

During the Irish Famine she blocked the Turkish Sultan from sending in food because it was more than her personal contribution and she didn’t want to look bad. And that was after her government basically caused the famine in the first place! But good-guy Sultan smuggled the food ashore anyway.


The Vikings

The VikingsSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Similar to pirates, Vikings have been romanticized. If you just read a little bit about their culture though…you will be thankful for wherever it is that you live.



RomeoSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Everyone thinks it’s a beautiful and touching love story. No. It’s about a couple of teenagers that end up causing the deaths of numerous people, including themselves, because of their stupidity.


Hugo Chavez

Hugo ChavezSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Once again, it’s usually hipsters who didn’t actually live under Chavez that spout his greatness. The feeling is not reciprocated by many Venezuelans.


The Mafia

The MafiaSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Hollywood played a big roll in romanticizing the mafia, making them look slick and honorable. Talk to someone who lived under their control though, and you might get a different picture.


Christopher Columbus

Christopher ColumbusSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Often seen as the heroic discoverer of America, he neither discovered America nor did many historically significant heroic things. In fact, he played a large part in starting the slave trade.


Genghis Khan

Genghis KhanSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

Often seen as a hero in Mongolia and other parts of Asia, there are a number of good reasons that people might not think so highly of him in other parts of the continent. And yes, we know, he had a great social code etc etc. But that only goes so far when you’re busy raping and pillaging.


People recording themselves giving money to homeless people

People recording themselves giving money to homeless peopleSource: Reddit

Okay, these youtubers will symbolically represent basically any company/actor/politician/famous entity that is involved in “charity work”. Why? Because many of these people do good things for personal gain. Whether it’s votes, good press, or just happy feelings…the realists and pessimists of the world can see through that charade!


Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin RooseveltSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

Internment camps, war mongering, and fascism have all gone down in history as things that FDR’s hero image suffered from.


Ronnie Biggs

Ronnie BiggsSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

Once again, thanks to Hollywood, Ronnie’s train robbing gang was greatly romanticized. But in reality, he was little more than a thug. He ran off to Brazil, fought against being extradited, but then when he got too sick for Brazilian doctors to cure him, he finally agreed to return to the UK.


Santa Claus

Santa ClausSource: Reddit, Image: pixabay

He basically lets the other reindeer bully Rudolph until he realizes that he needs him on that foggy Christmas Eve.


Hannibal of Carthage

Hannibal of CarthageSource: Reddit, Image: wikipedia

An amazing general, but his motives were definitely not the protection and betterment of Carthage. His only motive was destroying Rome at all costs.