The Things I Will Do if I Am Ever the Hero

   Those of you who read much speculative fiction are familiar with the plot device of having the hero do something consummately stupid, in order to prevent him from ending the book too quickly, which leads to much suffering and strife until the hero finally wises up. To counter this, and as an answer to Peter Anspach's Overlord List, I present the Things I Will Do if I Am Ever the Hero.

    DISCLAIMER:  The use of masculine/feminine pronouns and assignment of gender roles is not intended to preclude a reversal of gender roles. It is, however, intended to offend those who insist on the total elimination of all gender differences in society. Nyah.

  1. I will maintain no association with sidekicks who employ prostitutes. While such entertainment doubtlessly relieves my comrade of the wearying burden of the Heroic Struggle, the women met in this fashion tend to filch artifacts needed to defeat the Evil Overlord, act as his spies and/or assassins, carry unpleasant diseases, and (worst of all) get me in trouble with my True Love.
  2. I will design my ship's tactical systems so that I do not have to personally direct every single shot fired.
  3. I will ignore the Evil Overlord's arguments revolving around honor and/or morality. If he were really all that concerned about either, he would never have become an Evil Overlord in the first place.
  4. I will put surge suppressors in the circuitry of my ship, so that a shot striking some distant portion does not cause a control panel on the bridge to explode.
  5. When the Evil Overlord takes hostages, I will presume the hostages dead and hold a memorial service. Any promises made by the Evil Overlord regarding their safe return shall be summarily ignored. My loved ones will be warned to expect this.
  6. I will design my ships so that command and control functions cannot be hot-wired from a wall panel in the recreation bay.
  7. I will not walk alone and undisguised into a bar in the Evil Overlord's territory in order to meet with an ex-associate who said a bunch of damaging things about me in one of the Evil Overlord's propaganda pieces.
  8. I will design redundancy into all ship systems, so that the loss of one component will not cripple the entire vessel.
  9. When the Evil Overlord is hanging on the cliff by his fingers, I will not try to help him up. If time and means are available, I'll kill him then and there.
  10. When combat is imminent, my ships' computer will be programmed so that enemy troops that beam aboard will be immediately beamed into empty space, or the originating ship's reactor core, if that is accessible. It will also deliver a kilo of antimatter to the bridge of the ship in question.
  11. When I am advised to destroy a potent talisman captured from the Evil Overlord, I will do so.
  12. When the enemy ship decloaks and is arming weapons, I will immediately open fire on it, instead of waiting for it to fire three or four times.
  13. Anyone inquiring after the secret of my strength will be fed a line of plausible baloney as to how this strength can be lost. If the bogus advice is followed, the leak shall be properly investigated.
  14. When a comrade defects to the enemy, I will have all passwords changed, and as soon as it is practical I will have the computer disconnected, its memory flushed, and the approved software reloaded from the original secured CD-ROMs.
  15. Anyone who cannot be entertained by books, music, a good game of cards and a well-stocked bar will not be allowed to crew my ship. Hence there will be no need for a holodeck on my ship.
  16. Should my True Love be revealed as disguised Evil Scum, I will not wait for it to transform into a more powerful incarnation before blasting it to oblivion.
  17. After capturing a space station from an enemy, I will have the enemy's computer systems completely removed, melted down into slag, and dumped into the nearest stellar object. A new computer will then be installed.
  18. I will take no oath of unquestioning obedience, nor any oath of obedience to persons of unproved character.
  19. If a comrade of mine is a sanctimonious coward who continually gets us all into trouble through his greed, I shall, after the third or fourth episode of this behavior, act to preserve myself and other comrades only, and let him be destroyed by the mess he made for himself.
  20. I will reveal to each comrade a different clue for distinguishing me from an impostor, so that if one of them betrays me and an impostor is sent in my place, the others will still be able to catch on to the charade.
  21. Under no circumstance will I agree to not develop or employ any particular technology.
  22. I will never assume that an enemy is dead unless the remains are available for examination, and will keep in mind the possibility of cloning technology or resurrection magic.
  23. I will employ some manner of surveillance so that when I leave a room and a traitorous comrade gives me the Malicious Scowl or Wicked Leer to my back, I will have ample warning of his impending betrayal.
  24. Self-appointed prophets who deliver elliptically-worded warnings will be politely asked to phrase their utterances in plainer terms. If said prophet refuses the request, a five-year-old child will be consulted to explain the meaning of the prophecy.
  25. If I find myself born or drafted into a universe wherein the laws of nature do not obey consistent principles, I will depart for an alternate universe created by a more reasonable author.
  26. I will waste no time trying to get the rich to join in my rebellion. The only way to stay rich in the Evil Overlord's realm is to collaborate with him, and any rich people who truly feel guilty about this will serve the rebellion better by not openly joining.
  27. If my Mentor tells me that I am not yet ready to confront the Evil Overlord, I will quietly accept his judgement and remain to complete my training.
  28. If the Evil Overlord manages to off my Mentor, I will not go berserk and attack immediately, but retreat and hone my powers. If my Mentor couldn't defeat the Evil Overlord, I surely must wait a while before I can.
  29. I shall arrange my personal affairs so that it doesn't matter if someone learns my secret identity.
  30. If I am granted a vision of the future, I will not try to prevent anything that I see. It never works.
  31. If I am forced to make a choice between saving a friend/lover or fulfilling my mission, I will make my decision and stick with it. I will not waste time waffling between the two goals.
  32. If I am captured by the Evil Overlord and escape, I will assume that he is tracking me in some manner. If I am going to the hidden rebel base, I shall first go to an alternate location, change clothing, equipment and means of transportation, and then go to the hidden rebel base.
  33. If any of my associates mysteriously reappear after an unexplained absence and start acting strangely, I will immediately subject them to every test I can think of. The likelihood that they have been brainwashed, cloned, bought, or otherwise subverted by the Evil Overlord approaches certainty.
  34. Old flames that join the rebellion will be assigned duties that preclude contact with me. This not only protects me from any attempt by the Evil Overlord to use them as agents, but also keeps my True Love from leaving me in a fit of insane, if misplaced, jealousy.
  35. I will presume that the Evil Overlord is working to nullify my secret powers. I shall therefore obtain the means to fight that do not rely on these secret powers.
  36. If I have a technologically superior foe who is intent on eliminating my whole civilization, and I am offered a means of utterly annihilating this foe for all time, I will use it.
  37. If I must ally myself with the Evil Overlord to fight an even more powerful enemy, I will anticipate his inevitable betrayal, at the moment most advantageous to him, and take appropriate measures.
  38. I will never travel back into the past in order to prevent the current situation. It never works.
  39. No matter how sincere he looks, I will never shake the Evil Overlord's hand.
  40. When my powerful wizard friend fails to return at the appointed time, I won't wait until after my birthday to start my Perilous Journey. I will set out immediately.
  41. If it seems too easy to break into the Evil Overlord's super-secret fortress, that's because it is.
  42. If the Evil Overlord invites me to go on a hunt with him, I will decline the invitation.
  43. If I have a copy of the Evil Overlord's plans and my capture is imminent, I will not send the only copy of those plans away with a cute little sidekick. I will make many copies of the plans and send them away with many cute little sidekicks.
  44. I will install seatbelts in my space vessels, and have pressure suits and pressure locks at regular intervals.
  45. If I maintain a secret identity, I will keep my transformation ritual as simple and quick as possible so that I cannot be interrupted during it.
  46. I will not keep the Evil Overlord's plans secret from everyone but myself in order to "prevent panic."
  47. My secret fortress will include a holding room for any annoying kids, nerds, would-be love interests and other wannabe-types who follow me there and insist on joining my group. They will be kept in this room until the Evil Overlord is defeated. If there are holodecks available, I will throw the wannabe into it while he/she is asleep and activate the Epic Adventure program.
  48. When the Evil Overlord's Seductive Daughter tries to subvert me through her womanly wiles, I will keep in mind the diseases she is likely to have caught from all the netherwordly creatures with whom she is probably also consorting, as well as the possibility that the Evil Overlord has a hidden camera trained on me and is forcing my True Love to watch.
  49. Technology that chronically malfunctions will be removed from my ship.
  50. I will not gratuitously expose myself to enemy gunfire, hand-to-hand combat, or dogfights.
  51. I will remember that there are three dimensions in space and that I do not have to attack in the same plane as the opponent.
  52. I will not count on other rebels being as self-sacrificing as I.
  53. I do not need to give the Overlord a fair chance. Shooting him in the back works for me.
  54. I will never say "This one is mine!" and engage in a one-on-one struggle with the Evil Overlord or any of his henchmen.
  55. If my village allies defeat the elite forces of the Evil Overlord, I will take a few minutes to learn how they did it and incorporate the information gained into my strategies.
  56. If my True Love is captured and forced into marriage with the Evil Overlord, I will not attempt to rescue her until after the ceremony, unless said ceremony will irrevocably harm or alter her in some way.
  57. If she doesn't already know, I shall train my True Love in the art of unarmed combat, so that when the Evil Overlord uses her as a human shield she can slam her heel between his legs.
  58. To prevent my on-board computer from being reprogrammed by every Tom, Dick and Harry that sneaks on board, its software will be stored in ROM chips that are soldered to the motherboard; RAM will be reserved for data only.
  59. I will design the greatest possible degree of manual back-up into my space vessels, so that when my on-board computer begins to act strangely, I can power it down via a switch located next to my seat on the bridge, and yet not be left totally helpless.
  60. I will never allow someone to read the technical manuals and blueprints of my ship unless they work in engineering or operations and therefore have a need-to-know. All personnel will be properly cleared prior to assignment to engineering or operations. The technical manuals and blueprints of a totally fictitious craft will be freely available.
  61. If through skill or luck I defeat a better-armed opponent, I will at least try to get his/her/its weapons.
  62. If my starship's drive or weapons systems require lengthy charge times between uses, I shall research and develop equipment that can handle a heavier duty cycle.
  63. My ship's computer will have a clock rate of at least one megahertz and be programmed in C or assembler so that important calculations take a few milliseconds instead of an hour or so.
  64. When I and my companions sneak into the Evil Overlord's stronghold through some unorthodox route such as the main drain, and it appears to be completely unguarded, we will stop and discuss possible explanations for that observation, rather than simply praising our good luck and pressing blithely on.
  65. After killing a few dozen faceless, anonymous grunts in the Legion of Doom without a second thought, I will not suddenly take a merciful attitude with the Evil Overlord, his family, his lieutenants, or anyone else with a speaking part.
  66. When I kill one of the Evil Overlord's deer, I will not lug it to his castle and wave it in his face just to make some obscure point, only to wind up having to fight my way out of his castle. I'll just take it home and enjoy some venison.
  67. If a member of my crew can perfectly mimic my voice giving the commands to take control of my ship, additional security measures they cannot mimic will be added, such as palmprints or retinal scans.
  68. I will remember that if the Bad Guy tries to kill enough people, no one will mind too much if I kill him instead of merely disarming him. Especially if it looks like an accident.
  69. If my ship is constantly being bugged/robbed/invaded/taken over, I will replace my security officer, no matter how cool a character he is.
  70. If my weapons systems can be defeated by knowledge of their operating frequency, I will employ an arcane development known as "frequency-hopping."
  71. Before allowing crewmembers to take leave on a planet, I will ensure that they are welcome and that its government recognizes legal precepts like The Rule of Law, Trial by Jury, Presumption of Innocence, and so forth. I will also learn all of the local laws so that one of my crewmembers doesn't end up on death row for scratching his nose in public or some other stupid thing.
  72. If one of my crewmembers is unjustly imprisoned and/or condemned, and the officials with whom I speak express a marked disinterest in his actual guilt or innocence, I will not waste time trying to gather evidence that will exonerate the crewmember. Instead, I will immediately mount a rescue mission.
  73. If I am offered two explanations for a phenomenon, one a logical, scientific explanation and the other a load of New Age claptrap, I will accept the scientific explanation.
  74. My robots will be programmed to speak only when they have something useful to say. That way I will not be tempted to ignore them when they have critical information.
  75. When I state my intention to do something and one of my robots interrupts me, I will at least hear it out.
  76. I will wear different outfits from day to day, so that the Evil Overlord's henchmen will not be able to spot me at a glance.
  77. If I lose a hand and have it replaced with a prosthesis, the prosthesis will have a functional weapon built in to it. I can use it to surprise Bad Guys and open canned goods.
  78. When beaming into hostile territory I will instruct my transporter chief to beam me into a defensible position, with the landing party facing outwards in a circle. I will have my weapon in my hand (not my pocket) before I beam down.
  79. I will not have sex with anyone before a battle. They will either die or betray me during the battle.
  80. If I beam off of a vessel that is still hostile, I will arrange to leave behind as large an explosive device as I can obtain.
  81. High-sounding directives notwithstanding, I will never value culture above sentient life.
  82. I will not have both rotating and non-rotating sections on a ship. If I need rotational gravity, I will spin the whole ship. Any navigational computer that cannot deal with this will be replaced with one that can.
  83. If I get incriminating evidence about an enemy or a superior, I will make several copies, and store each in a different location. I will not surrender the sole copy to anyone. If ordered to destroy the copies, I will do so, after first making more copies.
  84. I will not try to make a comrade run faster by yanking on his/her arm. I will instead advise them to stop turning around to look at the pursuing danger (rats, lava, etc.).
  85. I will not make the sidekick wait somewhere while I go on ahead. He'll only get into worse trouble than he otherwise would.
  86. Every member of the rebellion will have DNA tests to bring any existing blood relationships to light.
  87. When five seconds can mean the difference between the survival and destruction of the galaxy, I will keep my wistful expressions of undying fealty, love, or regret to a minimum.
  88. I will follow the advice of my Chief Medical Officer. If I am not at 100% of my usual level of physical fitness, I will stick to desk duty unless the fate of something genuinely important hangs in the balance.
  89. When shooting bad guys, I will aim for the head and not the chest.
  90. When the bad guy is knocked senseless, I will disarm him as throughly as circumstances permit so that he can't suddenly regain consciousness with a weapon at hand.
  91. I will assume that all super-weapons are operational until proven otherwise, especially if they appear to be unguarded.
  92. My loyal, trusted and heavily armed bodyguards will always be on hand.
  93. I will never leave my True Love and/or family unguarded unless they can defend themselves.
  94. I will always pack as much firepower as I can.
  95. I will never allow my people to speak to prisoners alone, but I will sometimes appear to do so.
  96. I will maintain constant surveillance on all prisoners in case one of my people tries something behind my back.
  97. If I discover a mysterious pod in my home, barn, spaceship, or alien territory, I will not stick my face into it or pick it up to see if it is alive. Instead I will have it examined via remote-controlled robot.
  98. All critical data and software will be backed up in off-line storage.
  99. A random alien's claims about his/her/its race's cultural values and attitudes will be given no more credence than a random human's claims about human cultural values and attitudes.
  100. I shall instruct my comrades in the fine arts of tactical combat, such as dispersing assets, walking point, advance, flank and rear guards, etc.
  101. I will not throw infantry into close-quarter combat with creatures of leviathan stature, but shall turn such affairs over to the artillery crew.
  102. If my ship is whisked to the far side of the galaxy, leaving us with a seventy-year journey home, and a super-being offers to take us home instantly in exchange for having his baby, I'll agree and ask what we can get for two babies.
  103. I will not trust a being with an inordinate number of tentacles.
  104. I will always read the fine print.
  105. Being captured by the Evil Overlord is a good way to learn his secret plans, but I will exhaust all other options first.
  106. My weapon of choice will be the one that allows the greatest distance between me and my target.
  107. If anyone beams down and their personal communicator drops carrier, all life forms within ten meters of the last known location shall be beamed directly to the brig. A large well-armed security detail will be waiting.
  108. When I am forced to decide which of two identical people is the Trusted Ally and which is the Evil Doppelganger, I will stun them both and sort things out in the brig.
  109. When I make my escape from the Evil Overlord's encampment, I will sabotage as much of the enemy's pursuit capacity (horses, jeeps, rocket bikes, etc) as opportunity permits, sparing only enough for the use of my companions and me.
  110. If my trusty sidekick always blurts out the fact that I am carrying the most powerful magic object in the world, then I will get a sidekick who is less of a blabbermouth.
  111. All robots that serve with me shall be forbidden emotion chips.
  112. I will be courteous to all, whether friend, foe, or neutral. Especially neutral.
  113. I will wear a utility belt. Not everything I need will be kept there, but I will pretend that I am helpless without it in order  to fool the Evil Overlord.
  114. The people in charge of Sick Bay, Engineering, and R&D will not be the only people staffing those functions, nor shall they accompany away teams.
  115. I will treat law enforcement officials with respect, permit them to handle affairs that are within their capacity, and solicit their advice when circumstances allow. This will establish mutual respect and a good rapport.
  116. I will not ask "What does God need with a space ship?" and then order a torpedo strike. I will order the torpedo strike first, and ponder theology on the trip home.
  117. If I am facing a villain who exploits my one weakness (e.g. kryptonite) I will call another Hero who does not suffer from this weakness. I will also look into sidekicks who nullify that weakness (e.g. a dog that eats kryptonite).
  118. When sneaking into the fortress of the Evil Overlord, I will disguise myself as someone whose normal behavior I can emulate.
  119. My people will be assigned duties commensurate with their skills. I will not task pilots with leading a ground assault, infiltrating enemy camps, etc.
   The Things I Will Do if I Am Ever the Hero List is a group effort. The following people are to be congratulated on their contributory efforts, and if I am ever the hero will be accepted as sidekicks (addresses have been spambot-protected):

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Copyright 1998 by John VanSickle. Permission to quote for non-commerical use is granted, provided that this copyright notice is included. All other rights reserved.

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