The King of Hearts gets a lot of hype. It is for a good reason.
Some call him a fraud, some call him crazy, and many even say that he is of the persuasion to take his own life. What is the true story behind this seemingly dysfunctional member of the card nobility, and why is the ruler of the Kingdom of Hearts so often referred to as the “Suicide King?”
The confusion surrounds a photo opportunity from long ago, back when the 52-card deck was migrating over from the Tarot. Some say that the good king was supposed to be holding an ax, much like the King of Diamonds. Those who attend this court of thought believe that the the ax eventually lost its blade over the years, and the awkward and self-destructive positioning is nothing more than an accident. Another theory is that the king was originally supposed to be murdered by someone else. Finally, some believe that the sword is drawn back as if meant to depict a suicidal act.
The King of Hearts: Always Winning
Be it a misappropriated ax head, an assassination attempt, or a royal court seppuku, it doesn’t really matter because they all paint the King of Hearts in a particularly bad ass color of red:
- While the other Kings are riding into battle with their expected swords or axes, the King of Hearts is going monk style with a walking stick weapon void of any sharpened edge. He’s that good.
- His life is such an unrelenting throng of violence he can’t even pose for a picture without someone trying to stab him in the back. He’s that hated.
- After being check raised after being caught with air, the King of Hearts doesn’t submit to defeat to his enemies. He is the type of guy who would rather stab himself in the head than be captured alive with his chips. He’s that crazy.
Don’t Try to Be the Suicide King
Nowadays, to call someone a “Suicide King” is generally taken to mean that they are either in, or pursuing a particularly intense and ultimately tragic romance. Or even someone who ends a (perfectly healthy) relationship in a self-destructive fashion. For example, suicide.
Now, let’s get one thing straight: the Suicide King should stay in the cards. He is found in the deck and he is never to be emulated by any self-respecting man outside of it.
It’s cool when the king of an entire kingdom kills himself because of some love affair. That is Shakespearean. It is not cool when you threaten to kill yourself because your girlfriend left you. That is pathetic.
The Suicide King is a reminder of who not to be, so don’t be him. Despite being two-dimensional, he is a complex man with a complex history that enshrouds the dark, mysterious, and the deadly. The next time you see him in your hand, take a closer look to see the unmistakable glint of death that sparkles in his eyes. Or, just laugh at how he’s the only king without a mustache.
Check the rest of our series, the Secret Histories of the Four Kings.