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The Most Terrible Things The Guardians Of The Galaxy Have Ever Done

The titular team in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films may have saved the galaxy together twice — and helped the Avengers defeat Thanos — but their record isn't exactly clean. The Guardians have had their fair share of scrape-ups, screw-ups, and mess-ups. While they've undoubtedly proven themselves as valiant heroes, it's easy to forget just how far they've come.

Throughout the series, the roster of who qualifies as official Guardians ebbs and flows as different characters redeem themselves to be welcomed back aboard, or even leave the lineup in death (or do both within minutes, like Yondu). For the purposes of this article, we're talking about anyone who is, was, or ever has been considered a member of this unofficial, constantly changing lineup. This includes Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Yondu, Mantis, Nebula, and Kraglin.

Each of these characters — literally every single one — has a troubled past, as their backstories began long before the point at which the audience met them. As such, there are likely questionable actions they've committed that we'll never know the specifics about. Let's call it "some unspoken thing," as Star-Lord and Gamora call their relationship. Of the things we do know about them, these are the most terrible things the Guardians of the frickin' Galaxy have ever done.

Yondu exploiting Peter for the Ravagers' thievery

The audience's opinion of Yondu evolves as Peter's perspective of his own childhood expands. In the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" film, Yondu is viewed as an adversary of Peter, a figure from his past with a lot of baggage who continuously poses a threat to him in the present. Toward the end of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," Peter sees the ways that Yondu was something of a surrogate father and understands how Yondu may have masked his true affection by projecting aggression instead. Most of all, Peter discovers that Yondu was hired to retrieve Peter from Earth and deliver him to Ego, Peter's dad — but chose to keep Peter upon learning of Ego's maniacal true nature.

This being said, there's definitely some nuance between right and wrong in Yondu's life, and within this nuance we inadvertently find ourselves in the middle of an ethics discussion. Yes, Yondu raises young Peter among the Ravagers, a band of thieves. This is hardly the best environment for a child. Furthermore, Yondu frequently exploits Peter as a key player in the Ravagers' heists to crawl through spaces the adults couldn't fit through to achieve their thievery. That's not great. Still, when the alternative is handing the boy over to a known killer, does the "bad" choice suddenly become an act of goodwill?

Gamora and Nebula being accomplices of Thanos in their youth

Similar to how Peter spends his youth under the tutelage of a villain, so do Gamora and Nebula — though their father figure is decidedly more nefarious than Yondu. Though they might not have realized who they were dealing with when they were younger, Gamora and Nebula are at Thanos' side for much of his terrorism. It's not until they're older that they process their trauma and redirect their energy toward defeating him.

Gamora and Nebula are hardly to blame for their actions at such a young age. In "Avengers: Infinity War," the audience sees Thanos take Gamora from her family around the age of eight or nine. Still, in a list recounting the Guardians' questionable pasts, the sisters' stint with Thanos needs to be mentioned.

Gamora's reputation — and association with Thanos — precedes her when she winds up in prison with Peter, Groot, Rocket, and Drax before she gets to know any of them. Rocket describes Gamora to the others as a "lackey of a genocidal maniac." Drax initially views her as partially responsible for the death of his wife and child, who were killed by Ronan, another accomplice of Thanos. Many other prisoners concur with similar stories of families lost to Thanos and his actions. It's this dark past that Gamora strives to make good upon as she seeks a more heroic life, and so too does Nebula – eventually.

Gamora not pulling any punches against Nebula as kids

Gamora and Nebula grow up together as daughters of Thanos, and their father makes a deranged habit of pitting the sisters against one another. Nebula explains to Kraglin in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" how it all went down. "As a child, my father would have Gamora and me battle one another in training," Nebula says. "Every time my sister prevailed, my father would replace a piece of me with machinery, claiming he wanted me to be her equal. But she won, again and again and again, never once refraining."

At this point in the story, Nebula still very much wants to kill Gamora as an act of vengeance for her part in making Nebula the semi-robotic being she's become. When the sisters eventually restore their relationship, Gamora apologizes, telling Nebula, "I was a child like you. I was concerned with staying alive until the next day every day, and I never considered what Thanos was doing to you. I'm trying to make it right."

Both of their redemption arcs speak to an ongoing theme within the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films of growing into one's full self as time goes on. Gamora and Nebula both recognize that who they were raised to be is not the person they still want to be known as, and take it upon themselves to steer their life in a different direction.

Rocket taking a man's prosthetic leg for no reason

As Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot team up for the first time in an attempt to escape prison, Rocket lays out a plan. After all, he's already broken out of 22 different prisons. Rocket lists a few items he needs each of them to retrieve in order for the plan to work: a guard's security band, a quarnyx battery on the wall, and the prosthetic leg belonging to one of their fellow prisoners.

As they enact their plan, things move fast as prison personnel realizes what's happening. The stakes couldn't be higher, and there are a few close calls. In the middle of the chaos, Peter delivers the prisoner's leg to Rocket, who replies that he was just kidding about the leg. He thought it'd be funny. Peter is rightfully ticked off — especially since he says he had to transfer the prisoner 30,000 units to persuade him to give him the leg. 

On top of Peter losing money and a man who is actually in need of a prosthetic limb now having to do without it, the timing of the prank seems even more terrible given the serious goal the group is trying to accomplish. Was all of that — plus the increased likelihood that the gang wouldn't escape the prison if Peter was off completing a meaningless task when he could have been doing something helpful — really worth a laugh to Rocket?

Drax calling Ronan to Knowhere

There's a reason he's called Drax the Destroyer. In his vengeance following the death of his wife and daughter, Drax goes on a killing rampage. His targets are Ronan, the person who actually murdered his family, and Thanos, Ronan's boss. En route to them, though, he's not afraid to destroy anyone and everyone remotely connected to his family's loss. In a way, Drax's pursuit is akin to Hawkeye's stint as Ronin (unrelated to Ronan) in "Avengers: Endgame." Following the Snap, in which Clint Barton lost his entire family, Barton traded in his heroic Hawkeye image to become the vigilante Ronin, channeling his mourning into rage.

In the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie, Ronan is still at large and in search of the Power Stone, which happens to be in the Guardians' possession. Knowing this, Drax stupidly lures Ronan to Knowhere, the planet where the Guardians have plans to trade the Power Stone to the Collector. Drax's call sets into motion a battle that could have been avoided and leads to dire consequences. Gamora nearly dies, and she and Peter are abducted by the Ravagers. Everything turns out all right in the end, but Drax's call to Ronan is short-sighted and could have led to a very different outcome.

Rocket stealing batteries from the Sovereign

In the opening sequence of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," the Sovereign hires the Guardians to vanquish the Abilisk, a gigantic monster. The Guardians complete the job and seem to be on good terms with Ayesha, the Sovereign's leader. That is, they are until Ayesha realizes that in the middle of their deal, Rocket stole a supply of the Sovereign's batteries. This nullifies the Guardians' professional reputation and sets into motion the Sovereign's quest to destroy the Guardians.

The batteries eventually have a clever callback when the Guardians use them to implode the core of Ego's planet, which is the only viable solution to defeating Ego for good. That does nothing, though, to erase Ayesha's hatred of the Guardians. In a mid-credits scene, Ayesha awakens a new creation she calls Adam, who is poised to be a key player in 2023's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." 

Anything consequential that happens to the Guardians as a result of Adam traces back to Ayesha's disdain for the group, and her disdain traces back to Rocket cheating on their business deal. It's easy to blame Rocket here and ask if a prank of stolen batteries will have been worth it, but considering everyone in the galaxy might already be dead if Rocket hadn't stolen them in the first place, the dilemma is a bit of a Catch-22.

Baby Groot severing a man's toe

Baby Groot doesn't understand directions very well. In "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," the Ravagers mutiny against Yondu and lock up their former captain, along with Rocket. Groot, free to roam around the ship but very absent-minded, is the only chance Yondu and Rocket have of escaping. They need him to retrieve Yondu's fin from his desk, which will allow Yondu to control his flying arrow. Explaining the task to Groot is easier said than done.

After many attempts to retrieve the fin, Groot brings back several items that have nothing to do with what he's supposed to find. One such item is a toe — a severed toe, nothing else, which very clearly belongs to someone who is now short a toe. Rocket says to Yondu, "Tell me you guys have a refrigerator somewhere with a bunch of severed human toes." Yondu shakes his head. "Ok," Rocket replies, "then let's just agree to never discuss this." 

Kraglin ultimately comes to their rescue, turning on the crew and choosing to remain loyal to Yondu as his captain — but not before the audience sees one of the darkest things Baby Groot ever does.

Yondu leading a massacre on his own ship

Following the mutiny of Yondu as the Ravagers' captain, Yondu escapes from the crew's imprisonment with Rocket, Groot, and Kraglin. Everyone who betrayed Yondu is in for it. Using his special arrow commanded by a combination of his fin and whistling, Yondu kills every crew member on the entire ship who participated in his mutiny — meaning, every person who isn't himself, Rocket, Groot, or Kraglin. The song "Come A Little Bit Closer" by Jay and the Americans blasts from the audience's perspective, its peppiness juxtaposing with the mutilation happening in true "Guardians of the Galaxy" fashion.

The arrow zips and zooms throughout the ship, its speed fast enough to pierce each of its victim's flesh and keep going, coming out of their back and continuing on to another crew member. Even Groot gets in on the action, extending his tiny arms into full branches and fatally throwing someone over the side of a rail. While Rocket is all for giving the crew their comeuppance, shooting plenty of guys himself, he's a little wary when noticing Yondu's spree involves destroying entire sections of the ship. The death count has to be among the highest we actually see any of the Guardians commit onscreen.

Star-Lord ruining the plan to beat Thanos

Despite their flaws, the Guardians are almost always likable. There's one moment, though, that pushes the audience's limits of how much they're willing to forgive. In "Avengers: Infinity War," members of the Guardians of the Galaxy team up with a handful of Avengers for the very first time. Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, and Nebula — along with Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange — work together to remove the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos' hand.

They almost succeed before things take a turn. Upon realizing Thanos killed Gamora, Star-Lord loses his cool. Attacking Thanos before Iron Man and Spider-Man have finished removing the Infinity Gauntlet, Star-Lord unravels the whole plan that everyone was working hard to execute just moments before. Thanos regains his strength and takes back the Gauntlet, ultimately succeeding in retrieving the Time Stone from Doctor Strange and eliminating half of all life in the universe.

It's a heartbreaking moment on multiple levels. It's difficult to put all the blame on Star-Lord, as he's just learned that someone he loved is no longer alive. At the same time, the heroes had all but succeeded in their well-thought-out plan, and if Star-Lord could have maintained his composure for just a few more moments, he might've been able to kill Thanos himself. Of course, we see in "Avengers: Endgame" that Star-Lord's mistake was part of the "one way" Doctor Strange insists is the only path to Thanos losing — even if here it's a tough loss.

Nebula not telling Hawkeye and Black Widow about Vormir

In "Avengers: Infinity War," Thanos kills Gamora on Vormir as a sacrifice to retrieve the Soul Stone. Nebula learns this information later on in the film, along with other members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The characters are certainly aware that Thanos killed Gamora on Vormir, but do they know the circumstances under which her death happened? The answer to this question could reveal an overlooked detail in "Avengers: Endgame."

Nebula is the only member of the Guardians from the Titan battle who survives the Snap. Iron Man, who fought alongside them on Titan, survives too. As they and the other remaining Avengers put together their time heist to go back in time and retrieve the Infinity Stones for themselves, part of the plan involves Hawkeye and Black Widow heading to Vormir to get the Soul Stone. Nebula and Iron Man both know that Vormir is where Gamora died. Do they put two and two together? Do they realize the toll the Stone demands? 

For as smart as Tony Stark is and as intricate as the master plan is for the time heist, it seems unlikely that neither Tony nor Nebula would have realized this caveat. It's just as unlikely, though, that they'd know this information and not tell Hawkeye and Black Widow, who seems surprised to discover the sacrifice requirement upon arriving on Vormir. Either way, that's a pretty big fumble.

2014 Nebula replacing 2023 Nebula

During the time heist in "Avengers: Endgame," a version of Nebula from 2014 replaces the Nebula that the Avengers know in 2023. This brings 2014 Thanos forward in time to finish what he started, as 2014 Nebula is still very much a villain, having not yet evolved toward the good guys' side. By disguising herself as her future self, she fools the Avengers and nearly ruins everything. Just after the team succeeds in reversing the Snap, bringing back everyone who vanished five years prior, 2014 Thanos arrives. Uh-oh.

With the aid of all the heroes, though, not just half of them anymore, the Avengers defeat Thanos. Along the way, 2023 Nebula returns to her time and kills 2014 Nebula. Her former self jeopardized the fate of the entire universe by giving Thanos a second chance to succeed. Big yikes. In the words of Tony Stark, "Not a great plan."

Mantis and Drax kidnapping Kevin Bacon

As a Christmas present for Peter in "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special," Mantis and Drax abduct Kevin Bacon from Earth. Peter's always talking about how Kevin Bacon is an amazing hero, and they know he'll be thrilled with receiving the actor as a gift. Only Mantis and Drax don't know Kevin Bacon is an actor. They believe him to be nothing short of the ruler of the entire planet. 

No matter what profession or position Mr. Bacon holds, though, Peter is not happy to receive his gift and is quick to point out that Mantis and Drax have effectively engaged in human trafficking. He's not even aware of the property damage Mantis and Drax caused at Bacon's home or the police officers they attacked in attempting their kidnap. What's more, they've entranced Bacon to be amicable with his abduction.

Mantis breaks the trance at Peter's insistence, and Bacon is understandably distraught. Kraglin begins to drive him home, but upon learning that "Footloose" inspired Peter to save the galaxy, Bacon decides to stay and help the Guardians throw a Christmas party. It's quite the turn-around for someone who was taken from their home against their will.