[POLL] Which TV Vigilante Do You Like The Most?

Oliver Queen - Arrow, Vincent Keller - Beauty and the Beast, Michael Westen - Burn Notice, John Reese - Person of Interest

What does the term vigilante mean to you? If you agree with many of the law enforcement characters on TV, then you would define a vigilante as a criminal. But in fact, according to Merriam-Webster Online the broad definition of vigilante is “a self-appointed doer of justice.” Some would call a vigilante a hero. What is the line between a hero and vigilante? Is it based on their motivations? Their life circumstances that brought them to this point?

I have been mulling over vigilantes recently, mostly because some of the TV shows I watch regularly feature characters defined that way. There has also been discussion of their actions in the comments sections of various TV show reviews on this site, as well as among my friends. So, I decided that an article on vigilantes would make for an interesting topic, and I hope you agree.

John Reese – Person of Interest

John Reese - Person of Interest

John is a former member of the US Army Special Forces and CIA operative, who was presumed killed during a mission to China. During that mission, his partner was ordered to kill him. He was ordered to kill his partner. As it turns out, they both survived.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that even with a more narrow definition, John is a vigilante. He frequently takes justice into his own hands. Yes, he is doing it to protect the innocent, or for the greater good. Yes, he has killed people to protect the weak or helpless. In my opinion, during the second season of the program more emphasis has been put on him incapacitating his targets, rather than killing them.

However, many people felt he stepped over the line in the recent episode, “In Extremis,” where he facilitated poisoning the man who had in turn first poisoned his weekly person of interest with polonium. The reasons for his actions were clear in the episode, but was that an indication of just how damaged he is?

Michael Westen – Burn Notice

Michael Westen - Burn Notice

Michael was a very good spy. In fact, maybe he was too good. It was his superb skills that led to his being “burned.” This in turn forced him into an unconventional method of making a living. He and his friends “help” people in trouble – usually with criminals.

It is not clear that using a more narrow definition would define Michael as a vigilante. I have lost track now, but in the early seasons of Burn Notice, Michael never lost a client. They always survived. The same could not be said of the bad guys, but Michael was not the one directly killing them if they died. Typically he tried to arrange things so they would be arrested, and if that could not be accomplished, he would set one group of bad guys against another and let them kill each other.

In more recent seasons, a lot more time has been devoted to getting him and his merry band out of trouble. While that has sometimes involved helping a client in trouble, it is usually part of a mission to acquire whatever it is his team needs. And, Michael has directly killed people – in particular, the man he held responsible for the death of his brother.

Vincent Keller – Beauty and the Beast

Vincent Keller - Beauty and the Beast

Vincent is a military experiment gone wrong. In trying to produce a super soldier, the military actually produced an out of control beast. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, it seems that he is following in the footsteps of many a superhero, and using his “beast” side to protect the weak and threatened.

The problem is that once he turns into the beast, he has no control over his own actions. People get hurt or killed, and not always just the bad guys! He does seem to have some control over when and if he turns, and certain people, Catherine to be exact, seem to be immune from being hurt by him.

Oliver Queen – Arrow

Oliver Queen - Arrow

Ah, Oliver Queen. Ladies, let us pause for a moment and consider Oliver… Ok, moving on. Oliver was shipwrecked on an island, where he experienced a very brutal existence for five long years. He was injured, beaten, captured more than once, betrayed more than once, and finally escaped back to his cushy home.

Of course, he did not return the same person as when he left. He was a spoiled playboy when he left, and he returned a determined, hardened man. He is fulfilling a promise to his dying father to use the list given him and eliminate the “evil” element from Starling City – to restore it to its former glory.

He justifies what he does by offering the people he goes after a way out – if they atone for their sins; this can take the form of returning money, confessing to crimes, or the like. But, the fact is that he does kill people, mostly in self defense during the amazing fight scenes on this show. Oliver is the classic comic book hero, and because of that, has a depth of supporting characters and evil villains to draw from. The TV show is using many of them, albeit in a slightly different form.

Other – Oops, you totally missed my choice!

question mark

Did I neglect to mention your choice for a vigilante you are most sympathetic to? If I did, please tell me in the comment section below after voting!


So, now comes the hard part – who do I choose? This is very difficult, since all four of the men mentioned above are in their circumstance because of the manipulation of others. None of them would have chosen what they have become under normal circumstances. I think I will have to go with Michael Westen. Of all of them, I think he works the hardest to minimize collateral damage and death.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below! I love hearing from you all!