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The Biggest Mistakes Dom Made In The Fast & Furious Movies

Today, Dominic Toretto is one of Hollywood's most beloved action heroes — a streetwise, American family man whose uncanny abilities behind the wheel have elevated him from truck-robbing street racer to globe-trotting, world-saving adventurer. Over the course of the "Fast & Furious" franchise, Dom has proven that he can outsmart, outfight, and outdrive just about anyone, and as the stakes of his adventures have gotten higher, his dedication to his personal code of honor has only grown stronger.

But Dominic Toretto wasn't always the paragon of justice that we think of today. In his debut in 2001's "The Fast in the Furious," Dom was more of an antihero with a hot temper who didn't always use his best judgement. The mistakes Dom made in his youth and in the events of the first film helped to mold him into the legend we've come to know in the later half of the series, in which his wealth of experience and his unique blend of compassion and badassery have made him much less likely to commit an unforced error. But hey, even heroes make mistakes, and Dominic Toretto has made his fair share.

Beating Kenny Linder with a wrench got Dom tossed into prison

As a boy growing up in Los Angeles, Dominic Toretto idolizes his father, a local stock car racer. Dom's father models many of the values that our hero comes to represent later in life — he loves cars and driving, he's a man of faith and a community leader, and nothing is more important to him than his family. So, when Dom witnesses his father's death on the racetrack, he is absolutely devastated.

Dom's father is killed in an accident caused by a fellow racer named Kenny Linder, who clips the elder Toretto's bumper and sends him crashing into a wall at terminal speeds. Dom runs into Linder the week after the accident and, enraged by what he feels was a preventable accident, attacks Linder with a wrench. Dom only plans on hitting him once but then loses control of himself and leaves Linder seriously injured. Dom not only ends Linder's racing career, but he leaves him physically unable to drive for years to come. Dom is sentenced to two years in prison for the assault, and he's banned from professional racing for life.

Dom's assault of Kenny Linder is the inciting incident that sets the entire "Fast Saga" into motion. If not for losing his temper and maiming Kenny Linder, Dominic Toretto may have had a career as a legitimate stock car racer and wouldn't have had to turn to street racing to satisfy his need for speed or steal electronics to finance his sister Mia's education.

Crossing Johnny Tran was a big mistake

Early in his criminal career, Dominic Toretto has a business arrangement with Johnny Tran, a fellow thief and street racer. Johnny is a dangerous man with a vicious streak, and he's a far more cold-blooded gangster than Dom. Dom would be wise to stay on his good side, but he risks their business relationship when he sleeps with Johnny's sister in an apparently casual fling. Johnny takes offense to this, and he and Dom part, carving up their territory and agreeing to stay out of each other's way.

But in "The Fast and the Furious," Dom accidentally violates that truce when he and Brian O'Conner ride through Johnny's turf, reigniting their rivalry. Brian doesn't help matters either, as he suspects Johnny of coordinating a string of truck robberies and arranges a police raid of his home, humiliating him in front of his family. Johnny mistakenly believes that Dom is the one who ratted him out, and he confronts him at the Race Wars competition in front of their peers on the racing scene. To make matters worse, Dom's friend, Jesse, challenges Johnny to a race and loses, then flees out of panic rather than handing over his pink slip as agreed. Johnny retaliates with a drive-by shooting of the Toretto family home in which Jesse is murdered, forcing Brian to return fire and kill Johnny.

Dom isn't solely to blame for all this, but had he not put his libido ahead of his business, the bloodshed between the Tran and Toretto crews might've been avoided.

Letting Brian O'Conner infiltrate the gang worked out well for everyone ... eventually

In "The Fast and the Furious," Dominic Toretto makes one major, fateful mistake that profoundly reshapes the rest of his life when he welcomes a relative stranger, street racer and mechanic "Brian Earl Spilner," into his inner circle. Dom is initially suspicious and dismissive of Brian, who — in addition to poking his head into Dom's domain as a street racer — also frequents the Toretto family grocery to flirt with Dom's sister, Mia. But after Brian helps Dom avoid arrest for street racing, Dom begins to warm up to this guy and gradually lets him into his life and closer to his criminal enterprise.

Unbeknownst to Dom, Brian Spilner is actually Brian O'Conner, an undercover LAPD officer assigned to investigate a series of truck robberies — robberies for which Dom and his crew are responsible. Dom ignores the signs of Brian's true agenda and even the warnings of his close friend, Vince, until it's too late and Dom's operation is exposed. Brian allows Dom to escape from the police, but Dom is still forced to leave the country and embark on a series of increasingly daring heists to make a living until his eventual pardon in "Fast & Furious 6."

While trusting Brian O'Conner is certainly a mistake in the moment, eventually Brian and Dom reconcile and come to see each other as brothers. Brian and Mia's relationship also stands the test of time, and Dom becomes the proud uncle of their two children.

Dom never should've called it 'Race Wars'

The original "Fast and the Furious" introduces a large-scale racing event/car show held in the desert outside of Los Angeles where street racers can compete for glory, cash, and pink slips without interference from the police. It's a serious, well-organized enterprise complete with DJs, dancers, and a security staff. In the first film, Dom and his crew are depicted as just another set of participants in the festivities, but in "Furious 7," Dom reveals that he and Letty Ortiz "invented" the ritual. Establishing a popular racing tradition is a major achievement, but this means that Dom and Letty may also be responsible for its very unfortunate name: Race Wars.

Dom and Letty would've been pretty young when they came up with this name and likely didn't give much thought to the other connotations of the phrase "race war" (the movie's screenwriters don't have that excuse), but now we all have to live with it, and we don't just mean in the movies. The Race Wars in "The Fast and the Furious" has inspired similar, regularly recurring events around the world, including in the United States, Germany, and Australia. The idea of creating a space where street racers can show off their skills and their machines in style and in relative safety is a novel one. The problem is that these real-life events also borrow their name from the "Fast and Furious" films, going with the similar but legally distinct one word title of "Racewars."

Thanks for that one, Dom!

He left Letty in the Dominican Republic

In "Fast & Furious" and its prequel short film, "Los Bandoleros," Dom is revealed to be on the run from authorities and living in the Dominican Republic, where he and his new crew plan to steal a tanker of gasoline. On the eve of the heist, Dom's girlfriend from Los Angeles, Letty Ortiz, arrives in town looking for him. The couple rekindles their relationship and, as revealed in "Furious 7," are married in a private ceremony. The heist is a success, but law enforcement is catching up to them. Dom fears that his capture may be inevitable, so he slips away while Letty is asleep, hoping that leaving her behind might save her from going down with him.

This turns out to be a grave error. Still hoping for her happy ending, Letty returns to the United States and offers to work undercover for the FBI in exchange for a pardon for Dom so that the two of them can both go home. When Letty's cover is blown, she's seriously wounded and presumed killed. Now an amnesiac, Letty then joins up with the mercenary crew led by Owen Shaw and goes head-to-head against Dom and his team. While she ultimately rejoins Dom's family late in "Fast & Furious 6," Letty doesn't regain her memories until the end of "Furious 7." Had Dom respected Letty's choice to share the risk of their outlaw lifestyle, both of them could've been spared a lot of heartache.

He didn't recognize the real Braga

In "Fast & Furious," Dominic Toretto goes hunting for Arturo Braga, the international drug dealer he believes is responsible for Letty's death. In order to get close to Braga, Dom auditions to join the fleet of performance drivers that Braga uses to smuggle his product across the Mexican-U.S. border. Once he's admitted into their ranks, Dom begins working closely with a man calling himself Ramon Campos who claims to be an associate of Braga's. This turns out to be a ruse — Campos is actually Braga himself, working under an assumed identity in order to keep the upper hand in situations like this one. To throw people off his scent, Braga employs a decoy to portray him in public. This ploy works just long enough for Braga to escape the trap set for him by Dom, Brian, and the FBI, allowing him to escape to Mexico.

Just as in "The Fast & the Furious," Dom spends most of this film missing something that's right under his nose. To his credit, this time he manages to sniff out the truth once he gets a good look at the fake Braga, though it's too late to keep the real one from getting away. Dom and Brian capture Braga in Mexico soon after, but Braga should be grateful that Dom didn't determine his true identity earlier. If Dom had known who he was when they first met, he probably would've killed him on the spot.

Dom probably shouldn't have commandeered the Rio train heist

In "Fast Five," Dom, Brian, and Mia find themselves in Rio de Janeiro, where their old friend Vince offers them each a spot on a team that plans to hijack three performance cars from aboard a moving train. Vince says that the goal of the heist is to sell the cars quickly for cash on the black market, but he hides their true, secret objective. Vince also chooses not to reveal that the cars they're stealing have been repossessed by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and that there will be armed DEA agents on the train.

When the heist begins, Dom quickly senses that the other members of their crew have information that he, Brian, and Mia do not. He calls an audible, telling Mia to take the car that seems most important and hide it away rather than drive it to the agreed-upon rendezvous point. This car turns out to be the real target of the heist, as it contains a computer chip belonging to local drug baron Hernan Reyes. The mission soon barrels out of control, and three of Reyes' men and three DEA agents are killed. This puts Dom, Brian, and Mia in the crosshairs of both Reyes and the U.S. government. As usual, the Torettos later find a way to turn this situation to their advantage, but the entire mess — including six fatalities — might've been avoided if Dom had just allowed the heist to play out as planned.

He got shot by Letty, and it could've been worse

In "Fast & Furious 6," Dom gets the news that the love of his life, Letty Ortiz, is still alive and a member of Owen Shaw's hardened mercenary crew. At the behest of DSS Agent Luke Hobbs, Dom assembles his team in the hopes of reuniting with Letty and bringing her home, as well as stopping Shaw from assembling the components of a dangerous electromagnetic weapon. When Dom catches up to Letty in the aftermath of a high-speed chase in London, he approaches her with his guard down. Unbeknownst to Dom, Letty has no memory of Dom or their life together, and she shoots him in the shoulder, seemingly without a thought.

Dom's mistake here is understandable, as it would've been difficult for him to predict that someone he's known since childhood and is secretly married to would've completely forgotten him. But any error that results in getting shot is still a pretty big deal. Also, according to Letty herself, it could've been a lot worse — Letty later claims that her aim was off and that she'd planned to shoot to kill. Dom disputes this, but assuming she's telling the truth, Dom's mistake might well have cost him his life.

Thankfully, this incident doesn't discourage Dom from reaching out to Letty, and his implicit trust in her is part of what convinces Letty to switch sides and help to take Shaw down.

Playing chicken with Deckard Shaw

"Furious 7" pits Dominic Toretto against Deckard Shaw, who's out for revenge after the defeat of his brother, Owen. The villain proves he means business by killing Dom's friend, Han, and destroying the Toretto's beloved family home. Next, Shaw stalks the crew at Han's funeral, and Dom makes the questionable decision of chasing after him alone rather than taking the rest of the crew with him. This stand-off ends with the two of them in their cars playing chicken, and neither of them blink. Dom charges Shaw head-on with his Plymouth Road Runner, unaware that Shaw has heavily reinforced the chassis of his Maserati Ghibli.

Dom steps out of his wrecked Plymouth the more injured of the two men and derides Shaw for what he sees as an underhanded tactic. But Dom hasn't caught on that he's no longer living in the world of street racing or even street-level crime. He's in Shaw's world now — a world of espionage in which Dom can't expect a sense of fair play. If not for the timely arrival of Mr. Nobody and his strike force, Shaw would've shot Dom dead right then and there.

By the end of "Furious 7," Dom has learned his lesson. When Dom and Shaw play chicken again in the film's climax, Dom pulls a wheelie and jumps the front of his signature Charger over the top of Shaw's Aston Martin, giving him the upper hand in their final street fight.

When Dom became Cipher's pawn

In "The Fate of the Furious," Dominic Toretto is extorted into doing the bidding of international cyberterrorist Cipher, who hopes to use his skills to help spark a nuclear war. Cipher lures Dom into her employ by capturing his ex-girlfriend, Elena Neves, along with Marcos, the infant son Dom didn't know he had. With the two of them held hostage, Cipher has total leverage over Dom, which she uses to compel him to betray his family, steal nuclear launch codes, and help hijack a Russian submarine.

As awful as this situation is, it's difficult to imagine what Dom could've done differently to avoid it. Dom begins planning for his escape and Elena and Marcos' rescue as soon as he can, secretly contacting the Shaw family to track and commandeer Cipher's flying base of operations. Still, he surely wishes he'd been able to escape from Cipher's clutches earlier. During Dom's mission for Cipher in New York, Dom prevents her lieutenant, Rhodes, from killing Letty, and Cipher punishes Dom by having Elena executed. Dom isn't responsible for Elena's death, and he obviously couldn't allow Letty to die either, but he'll still have to live with the regret over essentially choosing which of them was going to be killed. Thankfully, Dom is at least able to free himself from Cipher in time to fulfill his promise to Elena that he would keep their son safe.