Ride free or die. That's the motto of SAMCRO, the infamous biker gang in Sons of Anarchy. Unfortunately, the Sons are anything but free as they shackled themselves to a dangerous life of crime. At the start of the series, SAMCRO vice president Jax Teller vowed to turn this around. He saw the freedom in following the law and wanted it for himself and his club.
Talk about easier said than done. A bunch of seasoned outlaws weren't going to listen to an idealistic thirty-something. To achieve his goal, Jax had to take one step forward, two steps back. As noble as Jax's dream may have been, the man was born with criminal blood. Even his best efforts for legitimacy ended in grizzly death. He tried to present himself as a Robin Hood on a motorcycle. But try as he might, Jax Teller is no hero. He's not even an anti-hero. In fact, a strong case could be made that Jax Teller is a cold, hard villain.
The barbaric practices of initiating potential Sons have likely been in place since before Jax was born. Jax probably endured them himself. Still, watching him force Half-Sack, an animal lover, to single-handedly carve a deer carcass out of a car doesn't bode well for Jax's likability. Especially because this incident—played as a comedy—happens early into the pilot episode.
Throughout the show, Jax talks a big game about cleaning up the club. But here's a nifty thought. Instead of sitting on roofs, moonily staring off into space, why not start small? Like with abolishing these hazing rituals? They make Jax seem like a fraternity boy who wears a leather cut instead of a polo shirt.
Jax's parents clearly didn't teach him how to solve his problems with words. How can Jax expect to be a good person if he up and pops everyone who upsets him? Sure, nobody is shedding tears over Josh Kohn's death. He was a woman-beating sociopathic stalker. If not for this, his thuggish behavior would have caught up with him one of these days.
Still, besides the fact that murder is wrong, Jax was way out of line. First of all, Kohn was incapacitated after Tara shot him in the stomach. Second, Tara is a civilian who specifically left Charming to get away from Jax and his outlaw ways. Even though Jax was trying to help her, involving her in a murder—when she's been back in town for about five minutes—is beyond messed up. Or in Jax's world, it's totally romantic as evidenced by Tara and him making love moments later, with Kohn's corpse mere feet away.
Jax didn't mean for this to happen. But Jax never means for anything bad to happen. Yet somehow, anyone close to this modern-day Hamlet seems to drop like a ton of bricks. Why couldn't Jax just leave his poor buddy in peace? Opie already did five years of prison time and lost his wife and father because of SAMCRO. If Jax was a real friend, he would encourage Opie to stay away and focus on his family.
Jax's tragic flaw may be his warped morality, but Opie's was his loyalty. He purposely got himself arrested so he could join his fellow Sons in prison. In his dealings with Damon Pope, Jax shows a rare moment of selflessness and offers to sacrifice himself. But Opie steps in and takes the ultimate one for the team, getting beaten to death while Jax and the others look on helplessly. With Opie died any real chance of the club's redemption—because everybody knows, Jax don't got this.
First things first, nobody liked Clay. He was a heartless sleazebag. There's no doubting that Clay wholeheartedly earned Jax's hatred. Among his crimes, Clay betrayed SAMCRO on multiple occasions, orchestrated the death of Jax's father, and beat the tar out of Gemma, Jax's mother. That's motive aplenty.
But what makes Jax's actions so wrong—besides, you know, murder—is that Clay was no longer a threat to the club. This was a punishment kill, plain and simple. It plainly illustrates Jax's ineptitude at setting his new vision in motion. Jax is lost in the woods. He also earns bonus villain points for shooting Clay—multiple times—in front of Gemma. Sure, Gemma was done with Clay, but she still loved him. Jax really should have let the disgraced Clay go live out his remaining days in Belfast alone with his arthritis.
Confirmed, Jax has killed at least two men, in part because they beat up women. Yet Jax decides to beat troublemaker porn star Ima to a bloody pulp. Is Ima kind of a crappy person? Yes. She regularly plays the part of erotic puppet master, taking great pleasure in driving a wedge between the men of SAMCRO and their wives. But guess what? Ima isn't forcing any of these guys to do anything. They all willingly hop into bed with her, knowing full well the sort of person she is.
In an effort to put a stop to her pot-stirring, Jax climbs off his high horse and pays Ima a visit. He shows up under the guise of wanting sex and proceeds to bash her head on a dresser, grab her by the throat, spit in her face, and call her a whore. Charming. If this isn't proof that Jax is a pathetic excuse for a man, he was also acting under orders from his mommy.
By the end of Sons of Anarchy, Jax has killed over forty people. Most of these people were violent criminals. In contrast, Unser was an elderly man with cancer who was loyal to the club for years. As Charming's long-time chief of police, Unser repeatedly put his neck on the line for SAMCRO. While this may set Unser apart from Jax's other victims, what ties them together is that his murder was completely senseless. Unser was no threat to Jax or any of his loved ones. In fact, he was trying to save Gemma from Jax. But Jax was so blinded by rage that he was willing to bump off anyone standing in his way—including his surrogate father figure.
Does anyone else's stomach twist into a pretzel at the thought of how much pain Jax's kids have endured? They've been privy to the deaths of multiple family members and friends, and Abel went so far as to hurt himself with a fork. So after all this, why not toss in growing up without a father? Jax would have done better by his kids to turn himself into the police rather than becoming a bloody pancake on the interstate.
Of course, if Jax had remained alive and in prison, there's every chance SAMCRO would have gone down with him. But there's no way Jax would go quietly into that good night. He's modeled after a Shakespearean character after all, so theater is a must. In an on-the-nose ode to his father's death, Jax leads a massive police chase on West Interstate 580. There were dozens of cop cars. Think of all the tax dollars wasted. Then there's the matter of Jax driving his bike into the way of a transport truck. That's sure to traumatize Milo the driver. Jax proved he was on the devil's path until he died.
If this list has proven anything, it's that Jax Teller is no Harley-riding folk hero; he's a deranged serial killer. However, one teeny-weeny mitigating factor is that Jax usually kills his victims quickly. Shot to the head, done. He takes his time with Chris Dun.
Falling for Gemma's lies, Jax believed Chris killed Tara. Wanting revenge on the man who allegedly killed his wife makes you human, but Jax goes full-on Bond villain, only without the fun. He hacks up Chris with an array of sharp objects that would make Hannibal Lecter beam with pride. But that's not icky enough. Jax then pours salt on Chris' open wounds. Jax pauses to light a cigarette, and had Chris not been screaming so loud, we might have actually heard Jax say "mua-ha-ha". Oh yeah, then he stabs Chris in the head with a carving fork, the same way Tara died. Symbolism is very important to Jax, even if sanity is not.
It was only a matter of time before Gemma met the reaper. Tara's blood was literally on Gemma's hands after she killed Tara over a mistake. Then Gemma lied about it, leading to tons of unnecessary bloodshed including the aforementioned butchering of Chris Dun. But, Jax... dude. Your own mother? If his father's manuscript taught him anything it's that violence begets violence. While Jax may have already killed the equivalent of a population of a small town, a line should be drawn somewhere. Why not start with, oh say, the woman who gave you life?
If anything, Jax was actually putting Gemma out of her misery. Prior to getting shot in the head, Gemma was living in a prison of her own guilt, with a fear of Jax finding out the truth at any moment. Still, Jax didn't know that. And letting her die in a rose garden doesn't make this atrocity any better.
This isn't so much a list item as what you would find in the dictionary under the term "horrible person". The reason for Jax's brand new low? Wendy wanted custody of Abel. In other words, Jax forcibly shot heroin into a recovering addict in order to keep a mother away from her child. Jax is so obsessed with eliminating threats in the most odious way possible, he doesn't stop to think that his actions are harming his own son.
Has Jax never heard of a lawyer? Why not fight Wendy in court? Oh, maybe because a recovering addict has a better shot at custody than a hardened criminal? That's a pretty good indication that Abel would be better off with Wendy, something Jax would realize if he possessed a lick of humanity. This show really could be called Senseless Anarchy.