Unlike Walter White (Breaking Bad), Dexter Morgan (Dexter), and other anti-heroes who have captured the hearts and minds of audiences by making us question our morality, Frank Underwood continues to prove that he is, almost entirely, irredeemable. The problem with the House of Cards leading man is that nearly every action he has taken since the very first episode has been selfish, a means for propelling his political forward. And although it’s hard to admirable traits in Frank, there’s no denying that watching his rise hasn’t been anything less than fascinating.
House of Cards is Netflix’s longest running original show, and with season five slated for February 2017, perhaps some of Underwood’s most depraved acts will finally come full circle.
Here are eight moments, a pair from each season, when Frank backed up his claim as one of the biggest villains on television today.
“Chapter 6,” Opportunistic Death
In the first half of season one, Frank’s big task is getting the education bill to pass. But, Frank being Frank, he only wants it to go through on his terms–to help rise his stock with President Walker after getting slighted for the Secretary of State appointment. His largest obstacle is Marty Spinella, the lobbyist for the teachers’ union. During the teachers’ strike, Frank resorts to a rather underhanded method of bringing Marty to the table. Scanning the police radio, Frank waits to hear of a shooting death of a young boy, who, if school was in session, would’ve been in class. Opportunistic in the most vile of methods, that’s Frank Underwood.
“Chapter 11,” Poor Peter
Oh, Peter Russo, we all know you were trying to be a better father and boyfriend. Unfortunately, you got caught in Frank’s web. Russo was one of Frank’s projects in season one. To his credit, Frank did help to sober Peter up for his own benefit, but as soon as the troubled congressman’s past became a liability for Frank’s ambitions, the rug was pulled out from under him. Underwood gets him back on the sauce. That alone was bad, but for Frank, the opportunity to eliminate Peter from the picture was too enticing to resist. See, Peter knew too much about Frank and Doug Stamper. For that, after Peter was arrested for a DWI, Frank accompanied home, waited for Peter to pass out in the still running car, and then left him there to die.
“Chapter 14,” Zoe Underestimates Frank
The relationship between Frank and Zoe was one of the major narratives of season one. After Russo’s death, Zoe, Lucas, and team, were beginning to suspect foul play. Their main hunch? That Frank killed Russo. And so season two started off with viewers assuming that Zoe was hot on Frank’s tail. That was quickly squashed in perhaps the most gruesomely unexpected moment in the series: the murder of Zoe Barnes. Frank grows weary of her constant questions, and so, after the latest round at the subway, he hides behind a pillar and flippantly pushes ensuing Zoe onto the tracks as a train rifles in. We already knew that Frank was capable of murder, but he played a less hands on role in the embattled congressman’s demise, whereas he literally threw Zoe to her death with no regard.
“Chapter 18,” Noble, Unsuspecting Lucas
On the heels of Zoe’s death, a distraught Lucas seeks proof that Frank not only murdered Peter, but also his new lover, Zoe. Through a twist of fate, Lucas winds up becoming entwined with Gavin Orsay, a hacker who claims to be able to help uncover Zoe’s phone records. What Lucas doesn’t know is that Gavin, facing cyberterrorism crimes, is an FBI informant who ends up being influenced by one of Doug Stamper’s connections. Lucas then unwittingly commits an act of cyberterrorism himself in front of FBI agents, and faces ten years in prison. All of this was prodded along by none other than Frank Underwood carefully plugging up the holes that threaten his political fortitude.
“Chapter 27,” Visiting Family
Frank’s public opinion of his family, and specifically his father, has always been different than his personal feelings. Quite often, we get to know Frank through those moments when Kevin Spacey breaks the fourth wall to address viewers directly. After reaching the presidency, Frank returns South Carolina to show respect for his late father. It’s his first public visit after reaching the oval office. Frank knows that it’s simply a photo-op, but he plays it up when visiting the cemetery. Alone, without cameras, Frank unzips his pants and urinates on his father’s headstone. In Frank’s eyes, there is no rest for the wicked, but through the lens of the viewer, the act is as callous as it is tasteless.
“Chapter 31,” Despicable Allocation
Shortly after he weasels his way into the presidency via Walker’s resignation, Frank decides to make his mark with the America Works program. He offers it as his cornerstone for his brief time as Commander-in-chief, as he claims publicly that he will not run in 2016 (Of course, he’s lying). Knowing that his approval rating is abysmal, Frank makes America Works his “selfless act of a kind leader.” As is normal, funding for the program is hard to come by, and so, in an unprecedented move, Frank funnels FEMA’s disaster relief fund into America Works to kickstart his legacy. When a potential hurricane threatens the lives of thousands, Frank’s dubious actions are further scrutinized. In the end, although the hurricane didn’t touch down, Frank’s reckless use of government money for personal gain proves to be the first major sign that, even as president, he is not for the people.
“Chapter 43,” Caught In The Crossfire
When Lucas fails to get the journalistic ball rolling after his early release from prison, he resorts to attempting to an assassination attempt of the president, Frank Underwood. Lucas shoots Frank at a campaign event, although not fatally. Meechum, Frank’s most trusted secret serviceman, gets caught in the crossfire, killing Lucas while succumbing to his own wounds. While Meechum was doing the job he swore to do, his blood is on Frank’s hands.
“Chapter 49,” A Not So Veiled Threat
To keep up with his long-game, Frank unleashes a plan at the Democratic Convention to get Secretary of State Catherine Durant to relinquish her delegates to Claire. In order to do this, Frank talks of a vivid dream involving Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo. By alluding that their deaths were of his doing, Durant follows suit. The threat on Durant’s life shows that Underwood is grasping at straws, allowing more people a look into his awful past. Yet, Frank’s threat, at this point, should be taken seriously. It proves that no one is safe from Underwood’s terror.