Handsome Jack is a divisive figure in the Borderlands series. Some love him, and some hate him. Either way, he is often referred to as one of the greatest video game villains of all time. There is a case to be made that he is misunderstood, or that he is actually the good guy, protecting Pandora from the bandit scourge. Even then, he leads through oppressive rule, and entrapped his daughter for what he believes to be her own good. It doesn't matter where you stand with the man, it's indisputable that he has done some pretty vile stuff.
So we've dug deep into Handsome Jack's history to reveal some of the horrible, sadistic, and downright sinister things he has done to other people. You can look to his traumatic past and mental stability to justify his actions, but objectively, he is known for acting in extreme ways. Handsome Jack may think he is doing good, but no one ever likes to think of themselves as the bad guys. Most likely, Handsome Jack thinks he is a guy doing bad things for good reasons.
While Handsome Jack has done a lot of vile things, we’ve managed to find 15 of the vilest. Brace yourself, people. It’s about to get messy.
15 Executed Helena Pierce
Helena Pierce was one of the good guys in the Borderlands series. As administer for the town of New Haven, she provides story missions to the Vault Hunters which help to make the lives of those in New Haven better.
Of course, it is only logical that Handsome Jack kills her when he meets her.
During the events of Borderlands 2, it is revealed that Handsome Jack and his Hyperion forces boarded a train she was using to smuggle New Haven refugees into Sanctuary. Handsome Jack, none-too-impressed with her antics, has her executed for trying to help her citizens. It doesn’t pay to be good in the Borderlands universe, let me tell you.
14 Killed Roland
A bit of a spoiler here: Handsome Jack's daughter, Angel, dies at the hands of the Vault Hunters. Though if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve played Borderlands and have seen this though. But if you haven’t and I’ve ruined the plot for you – apologies!
Roland was a soldier of the Crimson Lance, the private militia of Atlas Corp. He eventually meets the Vault Hunters and helps them to retrieve the vault key from Angel, and assisted them as they kill her. Handsome Jack, just a tad upset, puts a bullet in Roland’s head. It’s not the most vicious death Handsome Jack has caused, and maybe one of his most justified, but it makes for a sudden and swift end to one of Borderlands’ integral characters.
13 Destroyed Mad Moxie’s Under Dome
We’ve all seen stuff on the internet about lovers scorned: spray painting vehicles, or publicizing their partner’s infidelities on advertisement boards. Handsome Jack briefly had a relationship with Mad Moxxie, but found out she was cheating on him. Not one to be emasculated, Handsome Jack destroyed his lover’s fighting arena, the Under Dome, with the force of Hyperion.
It’s unclear who she cheated on him with, though for his sake, it is probably for the best. Otherwise, Handsome Jack would be pointing his superweapon, the Eye of Helios, in their direction. Let’s just say that Handsome Jack isn’t the type of guy to nag about forgetting an anniversary or birthday.
12 Tortured Patricia Tannis (And Her chairs)
Patricia Tannis didn’t start out crazy. She was once a scientist and researcher employed by Dahl Corp, who was sent to Pandora to find out more about the vaults. On her mission, old Pattie started to lose grip on her sanity after her friends and colleagues died and Pandora, being the dive it is, drove her to madness. She remained an authority on the vaults and even came to learn the location of a vault key. Once Handsome Jack became aware of this, Tannis was in trouble.
Handsome Jack isn’t one to just ask nicely for what he wants and ended up torturing Tannis for the vault key. He didn’t stop there, turning his attention to her beloved torture chairs. Given that she had developed a strange attraction for her chairs, he was able to break her for what he wanted. It just goes to show that there is nothing off-limits when Handsome Jack is in pursuit of his goals.
11 Created A Superweapon To Destroy Civilisations.
This is vile purely based on intent, and it stems from his dictatorial rule of Pandora. Handsome Jack, in a bit of a galactic empire, Darth Vader-esque move, built a weapon of mass destruction, designed with the explicit intent of destroying an entire civilization.
The Eye of Helios is a laser weapon on Hyperion Corp’s space station, Helios, which rests ominously in the orbit of Pandora. The existence of the weapon is to keep the denizens of Pandora in order. While Handsome Jack never uses the weapon, he played a role in designing the Helios, and we wouldn’t put it past him to fire the laser, should it take his fancy. Mostly, Helios is used to transport ground forces to give Vault Hunters trouble and oppress Pandora’s people.
10 Kills An Employee For Mentioning His Wife
Despite his many flaws, it can’t be said that Handsome Jack didn’t feel anything for his long-departed wife. But, like most things Handsome Jack does, the mere mention of his wife will push him to extremes.
In one of Handsome Jack’s echo logs, found in Borderlands 2, a low-level employee warns Handsome Jack about the dangers of using Angel’s powers, considering what she did to his wife. At that point, the employee cuts off, and the sound of a struggle can be heard. Handsome Jack calmly asks another employee in the room named Jimmy to, “please make a note that I am strangling Mr. Morin for bringing up my wife.” Mr. Morin pleads for Handsome Jack to stop as he explains to Jimmy, who mistakenly noted ‘choking,’ that choking is “what you do when you eat too fast."
He even got Jimmy’s name wrong. It was Jeffery! Ah, workplace shenanigans, eh?
9 Murdered His Boss To Become President Of Hyperion Corp
If you work a desk job, you probably hate your boss. It’s that old employer/employee dynamic. They give you terrible jobs like going to the fax machine and stocking paper, and they get the big, fat paycheque. It’s only natural that you want to take that stapler and beat them over the head with it. Well, Handsome Jack lived your dream.
Harold Tassiter, former President of Hyperion Corp, was Handsome Jack’s nightmare boss. Always getting in the way of Handsome Jack’s schemes and foiling his plans. One day, during the events of Borderlands: The Pre-sequel, Handsome Jack had enough. Did he hand in his notice? Pull a sick day and leave his colleagues in the lurch? Nope, he strangled Tassiter and proclaimed himself the new President. You can’t fault that go-and-get-it attitude, though.
After disposing of Tassiter, Handsome Jack tore off his goatee and displayed it in his office as a warning for anyone who dared be “a dick” to Handsome Jack. Just don’t go in asking for that pay rise when Handsome Jack is in a bad mood, that’s my advice.
8 Enslaved His Daughter
Most parents are keen to teach their children the value of work at an early stage in their lives. Handsome Jack’s methods are just a little bit more, shall we say, unorthodox.
Angel isn’t an ordinary child. She is a Siren, and as a handful of powers available to her as an AI. It is implied that these powers led to the death of Handsome Jack’s wife, Angel’s mother. Rather than, say, grounding her or withholding pocket money for a few weeks, Handsome Jack enslaved her, trapping her to an interface on a Hyperion satellite, orbiting Pandora.
Handsome Jack uses her powers to communicate with the Vault Hunters in Borderlands. Admittedly, it is argued that Angel, much like daddy, isn’t an overly nice person. Maybe her imprisonment is for the best. Still, family counseling might have been the best way to go about things.
7 Enslaved Lilith
After tucking Roland away for playing a role in the demise of Angel, Handsome Jack needed to replace his daughter for charging the vault key. Jack had a great deal resting on Angel and her powers. Lilith, Roland's girlfriend, just so happens to be a siren. Handsome Jack, on the other hand, has a vindictive streak. Do you see where this is going?
After teleporting Lilith back to the Vault of the Warrior, he tortured her, just to draw out the experience until the Vault Hunters found her. After being defeated by the Vault Hunters, Lilith can execute Handsome Jack, if not done by the Vault Hunters. So she gets a bit of sweet revenge in the end.
6 Has His Grandmother Killed
Most people love their grandmother. Mine was pretty alright. She used to buy me chocolate and always had lemonade at the house when I was a kid. Handsome Jack, however, did not love his Grandmother.
When he was a wee lad. Little Handsome Jack, we’ll call him, Grandma Jack wasn’t too nice to him – and was physically abusive. But again, he was little Handsome Jack, so what could he do?
Answer: He waited until he was big Handsome Jack and had her murdered. Most people would have called social services. But that is what makes Jack, Jack.
This all comes to pass during Borderlands 2, when Jack instructs the Vault Hunters to visit his grandmother’s cottage and check on her. When you arrive, you find five bandits who have sacked the place and killed her. After you murder the bandits, Handsome Jack contacts you and sobs. Sobs of grief? Sadness, maybe? Nope. Relief. He was relieved that the bandits had killed her and he wouldn’t have to pay for their ‘services.’ If all else, Handsome Jack is fiscally responsible.
5 Rules Pandora With An Iron Fist
Helios has a few main purposes: to send supplies and ground forces to Pandora, ensure continuous monitoring of Helios operations on Pandora and its moon, Elpis, and, of course, to just be a bit menacing. That's what the death laser is all about. It is used to keep Pandora under control, with its citizens constantly in fear of the giant H-shaped space station looking down on them.
Now, the caveat here is that Handsome Jack doesn’t like bandits, which is good for the decent Pandorians, (Pandorites? Pandorins?) but they’re mostly bandits anyway. And just what defines a bandit anyway? Is it a bad guy? Someone who kills people and loots their belongings? Then wait, are you the bandits? Do your actions justify Handsome Jack’s actions and why Pandora closely resembles some dystopian crap-house? Yeah. The when you fill in the picture, things look a little bleak.
4 Wants Control Of Rhys' Body
Tales of the Borderlands relies a lot on player choice. As such, it depends entirely on how you play the game if you decide to let this happen or not.
It’s clear that Rhys idealized Handsome Jack. He is his role model and did his best to hide the fact that he could see Jack’s hologram from the other characters in the game. Then, in episode 4, you’re given a choice:
You can either allow Handsome Jack to merge his consciousness with Rhys’ so that he can control Hyperion once again, or you can reject the offer and make a dangerous foe. It’s pretty messed up that Handsome Jack would force Rhys’ consciousness out of his own body in place of his own, to take control of Hyperion Corp once more. It just goes to show that he will stop at nothing to regain his power. On its own, this wouldn’t be up there with the worst things he has done, but it is what Handsome Jack intended to do with Rhys’ body that was vile. His plan was to place an exoskeleton into Rhys’ body and wrench full bodily movement from him. Handsome Jack doesn’t do anything in half-measures, you have to give him that.
3 Not Safe For Children
Handsome Jack has implied on numerous occasions that he has had children killed, even those of employees who don’t agree with him. Hyperion Corp isn’t the type of workplace that encourages a balanced, family life outside of work or where you should take part in ‘bring your kid to work’ day.
Even more sinister is that Handsome Jack reveals that he dug out a man’s eyeball, and made his children watch — after he attempted to attack him with a spoon. Initially, you put this down as another one of Handsome Jack’s crazy, implicit threats, but a non-playable character in Sanctuary will confirm this to be true. Worse still, Handsome Jack kept the spoon as a grim memento. Despite his disregard for the lives of children, Handsome Jack calls the Vault Hunters ‘child-killers’ after the death of Angel and says that they killed ‘an innocent little girl.’
2 Makes Littering And Complaining About Laws Punishable By Death
No one likes a litter bug, that’s for sure. At worse, if you’re caught dropping a wrapper on the floor, you’ll be asked to pick it up and find the nearest bin. Handsome Jack has other, more extreme ideas.
In the town of Opportunity, littering is punishable by death. After all, Opportunity is the jewel in Pandora’s crown. A utopian paradise reserved exclusively for the planet’s riches, but living there doesn’t mean you’re free from Handsome Jack’s despot style rule. So tyrannical is his leadership, that even complaining about laws earns you a death sentence in Opportunity. However, despite all of this, it doesn’t seem to have dented the appeal of living there, with even the poor workers who helped build the placed denied a place to live in Opportunity. Still, at least you won’t get a chocolate wrapper stuck to the heel of your shoe.
1 Human Experiments
Shortly after Handsome Jack started mining for Eradium, he also discovered the benefits of slag, which increases the amount of damage caused by your weapons in-game. Naturally, someone of Handsome Jack’s disposition would find a benefit for such a material and started experimenting on the animals of Pandora. But testing didn’t stop there.
During Borderlands 2, you learn that Handsome Jack also tested the effects of Slag on humans. Unwilling test-subjects were taken to test subjects where Hyperion Corp scientists, who weren’t exactly keen on the idea, were forced to conduct a variety of tests. As to be expected, many people died because of these tests, and those who survived were left mutated.
So, think about that when you're coating your gun in slag to for that damage stat increase.