House of Cards has been one of the country’s favorite shows since its first season. We fell in love with this blunt politician who would do anything for the office. His speeches to the audience were endearing, as we were the only ones who were able to see through the facade and into the real Frank Underwood.
Well, as we would soon learn, the real Frank Underwood is a heartless bastard. He doesn’t care about anyone or anything other than himself and his own legacy, and he would do anything to become the most powerful man in the world. Every time we think there is a line Francis won’t cross, he crosses that line without blinking an eye.
Through the seasons of House of Cards, the audience has learned that there is nothing Frank won’t do. By the time the fifth season hit Netflix, there was hardly anything Frank could do to shock us; or so we thought. Sure enough, season five was jam-packed with shocking moments, just as the four seasons before it were.
Ahead are the 15 Most WTF Things Frank Underwood Has Done.
15. Killing the Dog
House of Cards doesn’t waste any time in the characterization of Frank Underwood. In the very first scene of the show, the audience gets a glimpse into the mind of the man who would later become the President of the United States.
Frank Underwood, as we learn throughout the series, is unflinching and vicious. When he thinks something needs to be done, Frank does it. This scene sets the tone for the brutal pragmatism of Frank Underwood; showing that he will do whatever it takes when any situation arises.
Even though Frank was likely putting this dog out of its misery, there’s something sadistic about this killing. He doesn’t exactly enjoy the act, but his face is practically emotionless as he suffocates a wounded animal. At this point in the series it’s impossible to predict what’s to come, but the first scene in the show serves as a foreshadowing of the future horrors of the series.
14. The Destruction of Michael Kern
Michael Kern was the first person we saw get in Frank Underwood’s way, and the first person whom is victimized by Frank’s vengeance and ambition. When Kern was named as Secretary of State– the role Frank was promised– it was a certainty that Frank would find a way to ruin the man.
Kern is almost an innocent bystander in the Frank Underwood nuclear war. Kern didn’t maliciously insert himself in the equation, but became the first of many to fall victim to Frank’s sword.
Much like the dog-killing incident, Frank’s destruction of Michael Kern shows the audience what tactics he will use to get what he wants. Kern was taken down by being linked to the writing of an anti-Israel op-ed in his college newspaper. Of course, he didn’t write the piece, but that doesn’t matter when Frank Underwood has something he can use against you.
13. Throwing Freddie Hayes Under the Bus
In the grand scheme of Frank’s despicable acts in the name of power, the abandonment of Freddie Hayes ranks rather low. Hayes wasn’t killed like some of the other people Frank was associated with, but this betrayal was more personal. Frank truly considered Freddie Hayes a friend, but there’s no time for friendship with a man like Frank Underwood.
Unlike some of the other acts that “had to be done,” the abandonment of Freddie Hayes affected Frank. Freddie was a regular guy; Frank’s one true connection to the people of the world. Freddie kept him grounded, and Frank seemed to think Freddy felt the same way.
Frank didn’t orchestrate the media attention that brought Freddie down, but Frank abandoned Freddie when Freddie needed him most. He wanted to distance himself from the story, but ended up losing a friend.
12. Staging Terror Attacks
In the fifth season of House of Cards, Frank is a president with the single focus of staying in the White House. At this point, we’ve seen everything that Frank has done. Hardly anything could be shocking to the audience at this point, so when it becomes clear that Frank and Claire are in the business of staging terror attacks for their own gain, it’s hardly a surprise.
House of Cards, while not directly linked to the politics of our world, borrow some themes from the public perception of government. Later in the season, we see a Bohemian Grove style meeting that Frank Underwood attends. The same style applies to the terror attacks in this case. There are many conspiracy theorists who claim that the government is perpetrating acts of terror to win support. In House of Cards, this is exactly what is happening.
Other than the attack that ended the fourth season, virtually no terror attacks have been what they’ve seemed in House of Cards. The Underwoods are highlighting random acts as terror attacks, and even staging a cyber attack to cover their tracks.
11. Throwing Xander Feng to the Wolves
Xander Feng may not be the most sympathetic figure in House of Cards. His presumed death likely didn’t affect fans too harshly, especially considering the people whom Frank has killed with his own hands.
Still, the extradition of Feng back to China was a heartless and pragmatic move. Frank promised Feng immunity so he could get the information he wanted, but as soon as Feng was no longer of any use he shipped him back to China to face the firing squad. Tusk, Feng’s partner in crime, was able to survive the corruption charge in the US, but it is assumed the Feng was killed as soon as he reached Chinese soil.
Sending Feng back to China was one of the boldest moves Frank has made in the public eye. He didn’t need to operate behind closed-doors to make this happen, and it showed some of his allies and enemies exactly where he stood and what he would do.
10. The Brick-Throwing Incident
The brick throwing incident was yet another time the audience got a look at the extent to which Frank will go to win. Frank staged the brick-throwing incident, which almost cost Meechum his job, as well as the subsequent protests that were deemed to be a result.
The whole reason for the brick was to end the teacher strike. It needed to look as though Frank was able to negotiate his way out of this pickle, and he did just that (only not by conventional means). By the time he admits his plan to Marty, it becomes clear that Frank would go to any length to get the edge in a negotiation.
As we see in this scene, Frank goes even further; pushing Marty until he’s backed into a corner. Instinct takes over and Marty punches Frank. This is, of course, what Frank wanted all along. By threatening charges, Frank is able to blackmail Marty into ending the strike. All of this over a staged act of violence.
9. Ordering the Killing of an American Citizen
Again, by the fifth season, there’s little that Frank Underwood can do that will surprise the viewers. Still, giving the order to kill an American citizen who is already in custody (not to mention on American soil) is something that would shake the government.
As we’ve seen, Frank is consistently spinning stories for his own benefit. The country is searching for Masterson, one of the perpetrators of the killings that ended season 4, but only a handful of people know that Masterson has already been apprehended. He’s sitting in a glass cell, waiting on word from President Frank Underwood.
Initially, it is assumed that Frank will soon let the world know that the terrorist threat has been captured. As we soon learn, that’s a naive view to have this deep into House of Cards, and Frank orders that Masterson be executed for his crimes before any trail or publicity.
8. Asking Doug to Take the Fall
Other than his wife, Doug has been the only person Frank has ever been able to rely on. In a world where everyone is looking out for themselves, Doug is truly on Frank’s side throughout the entire series (up until he starts leaking information to the press, but Underwood doesn’t know this).
Doug has been as unflinching as Frank in most matters. After all, Doug killed a girl he was obsessed with for Frank. Feelings are vulnerability, and there’s no room for vulnerability with the Underwoods.
Asking Doug to take the blame for the murder of Zoe Barnes was surprising to the audience at a time where little of Frank’s moves would shock us. Taking advantage of Doug’s unyielding loyalty is a sign that Frank has none of his own.
7. Admitting to Murder
Frank has to be one of the worst people in the government. Politicians are often thought of to be dishonest and two-faced, but Frank Underwood is a stone-cold killer. He may not enjoy killing, but if Frank feels that it’s between him and someone else, Frank is going to come out ahead by any means necessary.
Catherine Durant, who had been on Frank’s side for much of the series, knows this to some degree; Frank made sure of it when he admitted to the murder of Zoe Barnes. Frank, for once in his life, is completely honest with Durant. He tells her all of the terrible things he’s done to stay in power, all the while holding a letter opener in his hand.
Of course, Frank follows his murderous monologue up with “just kidding”, but his point is made. Frank would do anything to stay in the White House, and if Durant steps in his path she is as good as dead – or at least severely injured.
6. Manipulating His Way to the Presidency – Twice
It’s a running theme that Frank will do literally anything to attain and sustain his power. In the first two seasons, the audience watches in horror as Frank becomes increasingly evil and increasingly powerful. He is a master manipulator, able to bend people to his will using bribery, coercion, and force.
Manipulating his way into the presidency the first time took a bit longer, and left lives and careers in his wake. When it was all finished, hardly anyone even know what had happened. Walker was essentially blind-sided by the whole thing, believing Frank to be a close ally until the knife was six inches deep in his spine.
Frank’s second manipulation was much more convoluted, but he used all of the tools at his disposal; namely, the US constitution. Frank used the fear of terror to allow the election to be decided by the House and the Senate. The election eventually comes down to Ohio, which he is able to successfully navigate, becoming the President Elect while his wife remains in office.
5. The Resignation
As stated multiple times, by the fifth season of House of Cards, there’s virtually nothing Frank Underwood can do that will shock us. His tenacious pursuit of power is unrivaled, but as it turned out, the one shocking move Frank had left was to give it all up.
We knew what Frank would do to stay in office, but at no point did we think he’d forfeit the presidency. Frank has literally killed for this job, and giving it up never seemed like an option.
Frank’s monologue to the committee bleeds into a soliloquy, blurring the lines between his reality and our own. At times it’s as if he is speaking it the viewing public; in others, to the politicians sitting in front of him. Frank’s resignation seems like a ploy – something that will only last a short time. It isn’t until the season finale that we learn what it truly means: it’s Claire’s turn.
4. Lucas Goodwin
Lucas Goodwin’s fate, while not directly Frank Underwood’s fault (Doug did most of the dirty work on this one) was indirectly caused by all of Frank’s actions. Lucas Goodwin is an example of how Frank and his team can neutralize an enemy without killing them.
Doug was the one to put the entrapment of Goodwin in motion, but Frank’s deeds were what Goodwin was after. Instead of killing Goodwin, Doug works to discredit and arrest him, making him seem like another conspiracy theorist with an ax to grind. This all resulted in Frank getting shot, but that’s a small price to pay to keep Frank’s secrets safe.
3. “You Need to Take a Fall”
By the second-to-last episode of House of Cards, there should be nothing that shocks us. We’ve seen Frank go so far as to kill people; anything else he does is just par for the course at this point.
After Frank failed to convince Durant not to testify, there was only one thing left to do. Frank, standing at the top of the stairs, told Durant that she needed to take a fall. She didn’t seem to understand what he meant, but this was the first hint at what he was going to do; the next was when they cleared the security cameras.
Durant was one person who seemed to think she would be able to outsmart Francis. After Frank’s false confession, she should have gotten a sense of who she was dealing with. The lesson wasn’t learned then, but it certainly was when she woke up in the hospital.
2. The Murder of Peter Russo
Up until Frank wiped his fingerprints off of the steering wheel in Russo’s car, the audience didn’t truly know what Frank Underwood was capable of. We might have been as naive as Peter in thinking that murder was the line that Frank would never cross.
The murder of Peter Russo changed everything. We knew how Frank could manipulate people without remorse, and even knew that he had the capacity to destroy careers. It isn’t until this point that we understood the meaning of the first scene in the series: Frank is cold-blooded to the core. After effectively ruining Russo’s life, Frank put him out of his misery, just like that dog.
1. The Murder of Zoe Barnes
Zoe Barnes was such an important character that we all thought she was safe. She was a fan-favorite, and was one of the key adversaries with the tools do bring Underwood to his knees. Unfortunately, that trait was what led to her eventual death.
Zoe started asking too many questions. She was catching up to Frank, and was one of the loosest ends imaginable. If the audience knew what we now know, Zoe’s death may not have come as such a shock. At the time, though, no one expected him to throw Zoe in front of that train.
This scene reinforced the notion that Frank Underwood will do whatever it takes. The next President of the United States can’t be connected to murder, so he murdered the only person who could establish a connection.
Which of Frank’s evil deeds in House of Cards shocked you the most. Let us know in the comments!