11 despicable crimes Frank Underwood has committed in House of Cards

Netflix's devil of a politician returns in season four. Remind yourself just how evil Kevin Spacey's character is with these notorious moments

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The very first time we’re introduced to Frank Underwood is enough to establish that he is basically pure evil. When a dog in the politician’s neighbourhood is hit by a car, he offers his services… by strangling it to death.

While it could be described as a ‘mercy killing’, Frank destroys that impression when he says, “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.”

There are a number of tragic deaths on this show, but very few are as devastating as this dog’s murder. 

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This poor man didn’t do anything to deserve what happened to him. When Frank was overlooked for a promotion to Secretary of State after President Garrett Walker’s inauguration, he immediately set his sights on the nominee for the position — Michael Kern.

After finding a controversial editorial written about Israel from the college newspaper Kern was in charge of in the 70s, Frank facilitates a media firestorm that eventually torpedoes the politician’s chances at getting the job. What’s worse — this was one of Frank’s lighter transgressions. 

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Of all of the things Frank Underwood has done in his dastardly career, this might be the most evil. Through blackmail and sheer intimidation, Frank made congressman Peter Russo his own personal pawn.

He used him for his own political gain, then gave him the false hope that he could be elected as the governor of Pennsylvania. After manipulating the situation and driving Russo into a drug-fuelled spiral of self-hatred, Frank deals the final blow by killing Russo and staging it to look like a suicide. Frank did all of this to become Vice President… which seems excessive, especially considering that the VP doesn’t really do much of anything. 

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Throughout all of Frank’s early transgressions, the audience had one ray of light, and her name was Zoe Barnes. The young, eager journalist compromised her ethics to get the stories that Underwood would feed her. But when she started to catch on to Frank’s ulterior motives, she began digging in places where she shouldn’t have been digging, giving audiences hope that she could find and expose the truth about Underwood.

Instead, when the journalist got a bit too close to the truth, Frank took matters into his own hands and pushed her in front of an oncoming train, killing her. You know that slightly queasy feeling you get while waiting for the tube? You can thank Frank Underwood for that. 

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Frank’s war against journalists didn’t die with Zoe Barnes. Lucas Goodwin, Zoe’s ex-boss and lover, continues his work to prove that Underwood murdered Zoe. In response, Frank has his chief of staff, Doug Stamper, use a computer hacker working with the FBI named Gavin Orsay as a pawn to bury Goodwin.

Orsay gives Goodwin access to the AT&T database containing the phone records between Underwood and Zoe. When he attempts hacking the database, the sting operation is revealed and Lucas is arrested, convicted of cyber-terrorism and sentenced to a decade in prison. Looking back at Frank’s track record, Lucas is really just lucky to be alive.

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If there was one thing that made Frank Underwood seem mildly sympathetic, it was his relationship with BBQ restaurateur Freddy Hayes. Frank was a constant customer and supporter at Freddy’s BBQ joint, and Freddy was always there to offer Frank a favour when he needed it. But when Freddy’s son got in trouble with the law and Freddy had to sell his business to pay for his son’s legal fees, Frank tells him that they cannot associate with one another anymore and turns his back on him. 

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While some of Frank’s earlier wrongdoings involved some relatively intricate plots, his mission to oust President Garrett Walker was the most elaborate and ridiculous one yet. The short version; Frank puts himself between Walker and Raymond Tusk, Walker’s long-time friend and business partner. He then discovers that a Chinese businessman has been funnelling money to Democratic action committees, and reveals this to a reporter.

He then creates ties in the media between Feng and the President, and finally convinces a number of people who owe him favours to turn against the President. The result? President Walker is pressured into leaving office, therefore giving the presidency to Underwood. To be totally honest, we’re still not exactly sure how all of this worked, but that doesn’t make it any less ruthless. 

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President Walker wasn’t the only person that Frank effectively ruined in his quest for the presidency. After being elected President, Frank gives Xander Feng to the Chinese government in order to end the military conflict between the US and China. Because Feng was wanted in China, it was widely assumed that if his immunity in the US was rescinded, his return to China would not be a pleasant one. While the show never tells us what becomes of Feng, we can make an informed guess.

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Frank Underwood is a man of many crimes: murder, political corruption, and now public urination. That’s right, in the series 3 opener, we see Frank Underwood paying a seemingly solemn visit to his father’s grave in South Carolina. But as he delivers his piece to camera as usual, things take a startling turn — we watch as he pees on the face of his father’s headstone. If you look closely at his face while he does this, you can see his very last shred of decency leaving his body.

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Just when you thought Frank Underwood couldn’t get any more controversial, he goes and does this. After seeking out a bishop to have a conversation about power, he takes a moment to pray — or at least so we think. He approaches a crucifix, and says to the statue of Jesus, “Love. That’s what you’re selling? Well I don’t buy it.” He then, naturally, spits on the statue’s face. As he walks away, the statue falls to the ground and shatters.

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Claire Underwood is certainly not a saint; she has done a number of questionable things in order to get what she wants throughout the show. But in season three, Claire began to show some remorse, and began to question her relationship with her despicable husband. As the season goes on and Claire continues to fight with Frank, she finally says in the last episode that she does not want to accompany him to New Hampshire.

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In one of his most unsettling moments, Frank slowly approaches Claire, grabs her by her face and demands that she do as he says, saying, “You want me to take charge? Fine. I will take charge.” It’s this episode that solidifies what Claire has been thinking, and she leaves Frank the next day. Good for you, Claire — you’re the last one off of a sinking ship.