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Fatal Flaw / Film

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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future's Marty McFly and his compulsion to prove that he's not "chicken". This is eventually stamped out through Character Development.
  • Plunkett & Macleane's main character Macleane has a weakness for women and gambling. Both get him into serious trouble.
  • Star Wars:
    • In the prequels, Anakin Skywalker's fatal flaw is his arrogant insistence that he can do anything and his inability to let go of that which is important to him, ironically causing him to turn to The Dark Side in his narrow-minded effort to save Padmé at all costs.
    • Also in the prequels, Obi-Wan Kenobi's fatal flaw is his overprotectiveness of Anakin. It also largely contributed to his uneasy Master-Apprentice relationship with Anakin, who was very emotional and rather unstable, which lead to Anakin turning to The Dark Side. By the end of the prequel trilogy, Obi-Wan had loved Anakin too much that he couldn't see what he had turned into.
    • As with most Sith Lords, Palpatine's flaw is his incredible hubris and overconfidence. This is what doomed many other villains in early stories he was a part of, including his own mentor, and eventually doomed him as well.
    • Kylo's impulsive rage and need for revenge can dominate him and his thought processes. He lost his chance to crush the Resistance because he was so fixated on killing Luke.
  • Carlito's Way has a variation of this trope. Carlito's Fatal Flaw is either his determination to keep his "reformed" status, or his ties to his criminal past. If he had gotten rid of one of the two, there might have been a happy ending.
  • Jigsaw's MO in Saw films is setting people up in traps (or as he calls them, tests and "games") where someone must overcome their Fatal Flaw or be destroyed. Nine times out of ten, they lose.
    • Jigsaw's own fatal flaw is his envy. After the death of his unborn son and his cancer diagnosis, John is really just bitter and angry at the world, lashing out at people who 'waste' the lives that he could never have. It ultimately consumes him to the point that it kills him and leads to the death of his ex-wife, the only person in the world that still mattered to him.
  • Full Metal Jacket's resident Drill Sergeant Nasty, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, has a fatal flaw in his inability to deal with issues without using force, which ultimately gets him killed when his personal Butt-Monkey, Private Gomer Pyle, undergoes a psychotic breakdown (thanks in large part to his own treatment of him) and shoots him down after Hartman approaches him in his usual style instead of calling the MPs when Pyle has a loaded gun in his hands.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
    • Khan's obsession with taking his vengeance on Captain Kirk blinds him to some very bad mistakes and ultimately destroys him.
    • Kirk's hubris is his own fatal flaw; his unshakable belief in his own ingenuity and command instincts. Therefore he's taken off guard by something that even raw cadet Saavik saw coming. And he arrogantly believes there's no such thing as a situation that he can't win. As his character develops throughout the film, he learns just how misguided he's been.
  • The Corleone Brothers in The Godfather all inherited a trait from their father (Sonny's charisma, Fredo's heart and Michael's cunning) which they don't have in each other. Had they worked together, they would have been unstoppable.
  • In The Hobbit trilogy, Thorin's biggest flaw is his pride, as lampshaded by Gandalf.
    • His grandfather Thrór became so greedy and obsessed in filling his halls with gold that it attracted Smaug and eventually led to the downfall of Erebor.
  • Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood thrives on animosity and he goes after enemies with a will. He ends up driving away the boy who he treated as his son and kills his arch-enemy without thought of consequence.
  • CLU in TRON: Legacy suffers from an unquenchable need for perfection. He inherited this from Kevin Flynn when he was programmed, but unlike Flynn he is a program and is unable to learn from his mistakes.
  • Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade suffers from multiple flaws: ambition, greed, and vanity. Her ambition to get the holy grail at all costs turns fatal when she's faced with the decision to reach for the grail or give Indy her free hand. Overcome with greed, she reaches and cannot stop herself. Indiana can't hold her because, in her vanity, she wore fancy leather gloves on her hands, which promptly slips off. All these flaws contribute to her long plunge of a Death by Materialism.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Ron always reads what's on the teleprompter.
  • Rocky from Angels with Dirty Faces is loyal to a fault.
  • GoodFellas
    • Tommy's Hair-Trigger Temper, which drives him to kill a made man and leads to him getting whacked himself when his bosses find out about it.
    • Henry is greedy and set up his own operation that gets him arrested. Worse is that he clearly hasn't learned anything by the end.
    • Jimmy's solution to everything is to Kill 'Em All. Henry turned against him as a result.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Johann tells the eponymous character his fatal flaw is his temper. He is soon proven correct when HB loses his cool and slugs him.
  • Norma from Sunset Boulevard is obsessed with being a movie star again despite her talent in finance. Made worse by her Butler Max who indulges her fantasy because he loves her.
  • X-Men Film Series: For Professor X, it's arrogance. He has a habit of attempting to control those who are close to him, with or without the help of his psychic abilities. He's more inclined to do this with the women in his life (e.g. his foster sister and his surrogate daughter) than with the men. This paternalistic attitude stems from him being born in the early 1930s as a privileged male (Xavier was a male chauvinist in X-Men: First Class), and as a highly skilled telepath, he thinks he can understand a person better than s/he can know him/herself, and therefore he believes that he knows best in terms of what it is they truly "need."
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: Upon meeting Jean Grey, Xavier had placed constraints upon her powers which then led to the creation of the Phoenix, a Person of Mass Destruction who ends up vaporizing a lot of people, including Charles himself. Under the circumstances, her vast raw power, disregard for the sanctity of other minds, and the fact that her parents seemed to be outright afraid of her (and not without reason—pre-teen Jean is quite different from her warm-hearted and motherly adult self), this perhaps was not unwarranted.
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Trying to control Raven's life drove her away from him, which eventually resulted in her becoming the assassin Mystique who shared Magneto's goal of mutant supremacy.
      • Instead of trusting Moira to not divulge his and his students' location to her CIA superiors, he simply erases her memories of them. To be fair, Charles was worried that the CIA would torture her for information, but it's still a symptom of him of not having faith in a woman whom he cares about (an Implied Love Interest, in this case).
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Part of 1973 Xavier's Character Development revolves around realizing this and learning to trust instead of control. It pays off when he proves just how much he trusts in Raven's good nature to do the right thing, instead of attempting to manipulate her. She doesn't murder Trask, and the bad Sentinel future is averted.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse:
      • Xavier "repairs" the tragic mistake he had made with Jean in the original timeline by encouraging her to embrace her Phoenix power to its fullest extent, which allows her to defeat Apocalypse, and she ends up saving the world instead of becoming a mass-murdering villainess. By doing the opposite of what he did to Jean in X-Men: The Last Stand, Charles' fate is also reversed—he is rescued by her instead of being disintegrated.
      • He restores the memories that he took away from Moira in 1962, and although the long-term consequences with her are less severe than with Raven or Jean, they still bite him in the ass in a more subtle way. Xavier remains utterly smitten with Moira 21 years later (he's even jealous when he learns that she has an ex-husband), so his decision to rob her of a chunk of her past also robbed him of a potentially meaningful romance.
  • In Draft Day the expected number 1 overall pick Bo Callahan is a great player and has the raw talent to become a franchise quarterback, but Sonny eventually didn't draft him since Callahan has personality problems.
  • Gladiator
    • Maximus is an ardent patriot and his worst mistakes come because of his love of Rome. His acceptance of Emperor Marcus Aurelius' plea to help make it a republic again gets his family killed. His choice to become a Rebel Leader and try to make contact with his army gets him and his fellow gladiators killed.
    • Commodus likes to look cool all the time. His arrival in the German battlefield needs to be dramatic and his entrance into Rome needs to be a triumphant procession. Instead of disposing of Maximus outright, he makes it a Duel to the Death at the Colosseum. Maximus kills him despite being mortally wounded.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers/Captain America's greatest trait and one of his major flaws is that he is a Determinator. He will refuse to stand down and compromise over things that he believes are worth fighting for. This leads to him going to extreme lengths to protect his friend Bucky from people who want him to pay for his crimes as the Winter Soldier, as well as refusing to sign the Accords due to his belief that the heroes are the best ones to make the judgement call, not the government. All of this only leads to escalating the conflict in Captain America: Civil War.
    • Tony Stark's pride, impulsiveness and It's All About Me tendencies are his primary flaws. His "run before you can walk" philosophy resulted in him and Pepper almost getting killed by the Mandarin because he basically told the Mandarin on live television, "here is my address, come fight me". His desire to protect the world and save his friends without any real plan or even discussing things with said friends lead to the creation of Ultron. He has a very hard time giving up being Iron Man and because of this, in Civil War, Pepper breaks up with him because being Iron Man is more important than she is.
  • Wall Street: Bud Fox is too wide-eyed about Gordon Gekko's schemes, as Gekko is solely driven by greed and wants him to obtain insider information on companies by any means necessary, even if it's illegal. Bud also wanted to be like Gekko, but doesn't realize the costs of having such a lifestyle until it was too late.
    • For Gekko himself, it is his Greed and excessive hubris. Being a Corrupt Corporate Executive, he is solely driven to make a quick profit by using Bud Fox to obtain information via illegal methods. His New Era Speech to a group of investors even exemplifies his MO: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." It costs him greatly, as his reputation, career and familial relations are in complete tatters, as shown in the sequel.
  • James Bond:
    James Bond: World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they are Napoleon. Or God.
    • From Russia with Love:
      • Kronsteen's arrogance and status as the Know-Nothing Know-It-All bites him hard in the ass. When asked by Blofeld to defend his plan, he could with ease, but doesn't think it's necessary. Instead, he simply remarks, "Who is Bond, compared with Kronsteen?" That's a bunk answer and it lets Klebb off the hook. The competition wasn't between Bond and Kronsteen, it was between Bond and Grant. Kronsteen stupidly lets Klebb change the parameters of the argument and pays for it with his life.
      • Rosa Klebb's fatal flaw is not properly vetting her people. Kronsteen says that his plan went wrong when Klebb chose Grant as Bond's assassin, and he has a point. She could have investigated Grant better and possibly uncovered his fatal flaw (which happened to be Greed), even though on paper he was totally the right guy.
      • Donovan "Red" Grant's greedy nature leads to his downfall in the film. For all the Bond Villain Stupidity mentioned elsewhere, none of it would actually have mattered if Bond hadn't been able to dupe him into trying to steal the fifty gold sovereigns from one of the two field equipment briefcases, which causes him to unwittingly activate a tear gas cartridge that gives Bond the opening he needs to take it down.
    • Goldfinger and his Greed, his obsession with all things related to gold, and a penchant for cheating.
    • Thunderball: Fiona Volpe's vanity and ego. Count Lippe and his Greed. Angelo Palazzi's Smug Snake behavior. And when Emilio Largo decides to betray his mistress, it costs him his life.
    • Live and Let Die: Dr. Kananga's bloated ego brings him down. As quipped by Bond: "He always did have an inflated opinion of himself."
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: Francisco Scaramanga holds 007 in too high of a regard. The novel version is opposite – Scaramanga held a dim view of James Bond and underestimated the threat 007 posed to him.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me: Karl Stromberg's obsession with the sea.
    • Moonraker: Hugo Drax's tendency to gloat.
    • For Your Eyes Only: Kristatos' disloyalty. He was a member of the Greek Resistance in WWII, but was secretly working for the Nazis. When the Nazis won anyway, he switched his allegiance to the Soviets, despite the Nazis and Soviets being enemies, simply because they paid good money. And while in the Resistance, he made contacts with MI-6 and through them, uses Bond to try and kill his rival Colombo, another ex-Resistance fighter who found out about his treachery. When MI-6 and Bond found out about his treacherous nature, they were just as displeased as Columbo was when they discovered the truth and realized he intended to turn the ATAC over to Gogol. Ultimately, it bites him in the ass as he gets stabbed in the back from the man he betrayed, Columbo, who ended the feud with his death and adopted Bibi as her new sponsor.
    • Never Say Never Again: Fatima Blush and her vanity.
    • Octopussy: Renegade Russian General Orlov's Hair-Trigger Temper causes him to snap at people while arguing with them, seen most prominently in his confrontations with both General Gogol and James Bond. And he was also an insane psychopath, not caring that millions would die in the ensuing mayhem due to his plan to invade Western Europe, and had a manic fixation of the Warsaw Pact gaining full control of Europe and isolating the United States. Add in the fact that he clearly doesn't understand that the United States would retaliate equally, resulting in World War III, which would basically leave no winners.
    • A View to a Kill: Max Zorin and his Ax-Crazy sociopathic behavior. Part of this is because he is the end result of a Nazi eugenics project in which pregnant women were injected with massive quantities of steroids in an attempt to create "super-children" for the Nazis. While most of these pregnancies failed, the few babies that survived became extremely intelligent later in life — but also totally insane psychopaths, partly because of the drugs administered to create these "super-children". And by the end, whatever remaining sanity he had has been completely whittled to the point of literally wielding an axe, trying to hack Bond to death during the climatic final battle at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    • The Living Daylights: Brad Whitaker is a Smug Snake and acts like a real military commander, but he gets outwitted by Bond. And the actor who portrayed him described Whitaker as a "a nut" who "thought he was Napoleon."
      • Georgi Koskov and his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. A corrupt and two-timing Russian general, he first backstabs his fellow countrymen by falsely blaming KGB head Pushkin as the mastermind of a plot to kill off American and British spies, knowing that the setup will lead to Pushkin's death, with Bond as the assassin. With Pushkin out of the way, he will then engage in a three-way arms deal with Brad Whitaker and Colonel Feyador in Afghanistan to obtain valuable opium. Once the deal ends, Koskov will return to Russia with arms from the deal that gave them the payoff for the opium, a promise that the defection was an undercover assignment from Pushkin, and with Bond in tow, it's implied that he'll seize control of the KGB. He also fools the British into thinking he's defecting to the West, tries to manipulate Kara Milovy into distrusting Bond, and even tried to pin the blame on Whitaker when all things went south. But by then, nobody's buying his lies, and Pushkin promptly has him arrested to be sent back to Moscow, where he will be executed for his treachery. He also very much wanted to be a Magnificent Bastard and Smug Snake, but doesn't make the cut.
    • Licence to Kill: Franz Sanchez and his obsession with personal loyalty. Throughout the film, 007 drops hints to Sanchez that his henchmen are plotting to betray him. And because Sanchez doesn’t truly understand loyalty (and the fact that it is a two-way street, essentially), he believes the lies. He thinks loyalty is only bottom-up, not top-down. And because he is not loyal to those around him, it is easy for Sanchez to believe the worst of them.
    • GoldenEye:
      • Xenia Onatopp's sadism — murdering people turns her on, as shown during the Severnaya massacre, enough to get an Eye Take from Ourumov. It ultimately backfires on her, as while trying to torture 007 with her Murderous Thighs, Bond is able to connect the rope she rappelled down to her safety harness, grab her AK-74 rifle, and shoot down a helicopter with her rifle. The harness yanks her off Bond and sends her flying, screaming, into the crotch of a tree, with her safety harness ironically crushing her to death. Bond quips, "She always did enjoy a good squeeze."
      • Boris Grishenko and his sexual deviousness, disloyalty, arrogance and overconfidence.
      • Alec Trevelyan and his extreme anger.
      • General Ourumov and his smugness.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: Elliot Carver's narcissism is a major problem, going so far as to decorate his headquarters and other places pertaining to his media empire, with tapestries and over sized banners that bear his visage. His Evil Plan to have China and the United Kingdom go to war against each other just to arrange a broadcasting deal with the new Chinese government shows his selfish behavior.
    • The World Is Not Enough: Elektra King and her Daddy Issues.
    • Die Another Day: Colonel Moon/Gustav Graves and Miranda Frost have one big weakness: Winning at all costs.
    • Casino Royale (2006): Le Chiffre's complete overconfidence, along with his compulsive gambling addiction prove to be his fatal weaknesses — his habit of betting on his clients' money in order to bolster the riches that he would gain as a result of his success backfired violently when 007 foiled his plot to blow up a prototype plane at Miami Airport. In a desperate bid to recoup the money, Le Chiffre impulsively then sets up a high-stakes Texas hold 'em tournament before his bosses find out that he blew up their money on his self-destructive gambling addiction. And yet 007 foils him there. In both attempts, it is clear that Le Chiffre showed a dangerous level of desperation, fear and paranoia by repeatedly falling back on his gambling habit in order to repay his bosses. The literary version of Le Chiffre also had the same problems of overconfidence and an impulsive gambling habit.
    • Quantum of Solace: Dominic Greene and his recklessness, alongside his tendency to pick the wrong people to side with.
    • Skyfall: Raoul Silva's intense fear of abandonment, emotional extremes, and an unstable sense of identity.
    • Spectre: Max Denbigh/C's tendency to belittle and underestimate those (especially M) who don't like his Knight Templar views on why Democracy Is Bad and how total surveillance will fix things, alongside his arrogant behavior prove to be major problems for him.
  • Cypher from The Matrix's biggest flaw is his jaded cynicism and defeatism. He's been through the war long enough to lose his faith, and doesn't buy any of this talk about beating the machines. Deep down, he wishes he were back in the Matrix, instead of in the Real World. This flaw ultimately leads to him siding with the Machines and betraying the Resistance in return for permanent re-insertion into the Matrix.
  • Transformers Film Series: Optimus Prime's fatal flaw is his idealism. After spending countless years fighting the Decepticons, Optimus wants to bring a peaceful end to conflict. Unfortunately, his idealism puts him through many nasty hardships, which include losing an arm, getting temporarily killed, brainwashed, betrayed by his best friend, his mentor and even the humans he swore to protect, all because Optimus wants to see the good in people.
  • In Assault on a Queen, Victor is obsessed with jewels. This ultimately gets him killed when he is attempting to escape and spots a massive diamond on the finger of one of the passengers. He breaks off his getaway and attempts to take the ring off her.


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