I picked these television villains based on their pure, unadulterated evilness. First and foremost, if you have not seen the shows mentioned in this list, you may not want to read on as there are definite spoilers. That being said, some TV villains (i.e., Benjamin Linus from Lost, Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, etc.) are evil but, deep down, have issues that make them that way. Behind all of their creepy exterior, there’s a bruised psyche that makes them mean. Those kinds of villains will not be on this list. These are the absolute evil of the evil. I may have missed shows like True Blood or others, but that is because these are my picks from shows I watch. So here are my picks for television’s top villains! (NOTE: Some of these video clips are not the best examples of the character's evil but they're all I could find while creating this blog.) WARNING: THERE ARE LOTS OF SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG ENTRY SO IF YOU EVER PLAN ON WATCHING THE X-FILES, SHERLOCK, HEROES, 24, THE WIRE, CRIMINAL MINDS, DEXTER, OR GAME OF THRONES, DO NOT READ ON!
14.) Gideon Gleeful a.k.a. Lil' Gideon (Thurop Van Orman) “Gravity Falls”
This one’s for the kids and the parents. Say what you will about kids’ shows but this doesn’t fit the usual mold. Yes, it’s broadcast on the Disney Channel, but its premise is unusual for the House of Mouse. For instance, there’s this little guy. He looks like some short, pudgy, pig-nosed, innocent child. But don’t let his looks fool you. Behind his cartoon exterior lies a deranged madman. He is spoiled, ungrateful, selfish, abusive toward his mother and father, controls minds with a magic amulet, develops an obsessive crush on the Mabel (Kristen Schaal), and tries to kill her main protagonist brother Dipper (Jason Ritter). What starts out as revenge against Dipper and the other denizens of Grunkle Stan’s Mystery Shack soon turns to a mission to discover a “hidden secret.” His evilness isn’t so bad for a Disney character.
13.) Julian Sark (David Anders) “Alias”
He’s somewhat of a comic adversary when compared to others on this list, but he still has no qualms about who he is or what he’s willing to do for money. He’s a freelance secret agent who only looks out for himself and has fun doing it. He is constantly switching sides, looking out for the best deal – both financially and physically. Sark is smooth and lethal, making him a formidable opponent for CIA agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) and her handler Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan).
12.) Crowley (Mark Sheppard) “Supernatural”
11.) C.G.B. Spender a.k.a. The Smoking Man (William B. Davis) “The X-Files”He’s a member of a top secret government organization simply called the Syndicate. He has covered up the existence of aliens from the American public for decades. He screws up Agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder’s (David Duchovny) search for the truth every chance he gets. And … oh yeah! He’s Agent Mulder’s biological father and he personally assassinated President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘Nuff said.
10.) Gabriel “Sylar” Gray (the first three seasons ONLY) (Zachary Quinto) “Heroes”
In a television show titled Heroes, it’s only natural that you need a villain. The villain is only known as Sylar. His “ability” is "intuitive aptitude", the ability to innately understand and manipulate patterns within complex systems. And he’s a serial killer who collects other superpowered individuals’ abilities. The character was completely evil until the middle of season three (Volume Four: Fugitives) when I think they basically neutered him to give him more backstory just to keep him on the show. It’s for this reason alone that the writers should have simply killed off the character earlier rather than give him such a wussy, psychoanalytic history. Do yourselves a favor and watch the first season of Heroes to get a true glimpse at a truly evil superpowered villain!
9.) Reavers (various stuntmen) “Firefly”
No unseen group of creatures has been more feared on television than these savage, rabid beings. In Joss Whedon’s space cowboy hit Firefly, Reavers are never seen but only described as “men who traveled to the edge of the star system and were driven mad by the open vastness of space” or “just men who have been removed from civilization far too long.” It isn’t until the film Serenity that the audience gets to see these savages as well as find out how they came into existence. Even though we don’t get to see them in the series, that’s what makes them scarier (this is a classic screenplay technique used in Jaws and the original 1980 The Empire Strikes Back). These aren’t just zombies like in The Walking Dead; these are wild, fast, ruthless animals! The stories and legend alone make them very evil. Also, anything that scares even hardened badass Jayne (Adam Baldwin) must be scary!
8.) President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) “24”
OK, so it’s not that difficult to find the most evil villains on television when you go through Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) rogues gallery. In fact, it’s hard to narrow it down to one (especially when it comes to Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke)) – they’re all so slimy and bad that you want Jack to deliver some violent justice. But if I had to pick, it’d be this guy. The President of the United States … in the 24 universe! And he wasn’t even elected into office – he was appointed via the Constitution’s 25th Amendment (LBJ doesn’t look so bad now, does he?)! He’s a sleazy, lying, conniving, murderous politician who also happens to be the most powerful man in the country. Well, almost. Cue Jack Bauer!
7.) Russell “Stringer” Bell (Idris Elba) “The Wire”
You can have your Al Capone’s or even your Nino Brown’s, but I’ll take Stringer Bell any day. Named after two real-life Baltimore drug lords, Stringer Reed and Roland Bell, and based on Kenneth A. Jackson, Bell is smart, ambitious and completely business-minded. However, he’s also a cold-blooded killer … when he has to be. Bell makes good use of Sun Tzu’s Art of War and plays his business transactions and murders like a masterful game of chess. Elba’s performance is one of the main reasons that the first three seasons of this show were so great. (WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)
6.) George Foyet a.k.a. The Reaper (C. Thomas Howell) “Criminal Minds”
If there is one of the many, MANY sick minds that is the most memorable from CBS's Criminal Minds, it would have to be this unassuming man whose deadly alter ego was inspired by the non-fictional Zodiac Killer. As main character SSA Aaron Hotchner's (Thomas Gibson) arch-nemesis, the sociopathic Foyet not only dupes all of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) in his first appearance, but he escapes from jail, goes on many killing sprees and is found out to have killed his first victims -- his biological parents -- and gotten away with it, when he was only 9-years-old. One of the smartest and most lethal killers I've seen on TV -- and on primetime, no less! NO ONE is safe when this guy is on the loose!
5.) Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) “24”
The only female to grace this list of course comes from the best television show for bad guys: 24. Sure, I could have gone with the female “villains” that make up daytime and nighttime soap operas, but they’re just not evil enough. However, in season one alone, Miss Myers not only is the “other woman” in Jack’s extramarital affair, she also kills unmercifully, sabotages and spies on Jack’s CounterTerrorism Unit (CTU), and ultimately kills Jack’s beloved wife, Teri. And what’s worse? Nina survives the season. Bitch. Fortunately, she gets hers, but not as soon as the viewer would like.
4.) Arthur Mitchell a.k.a. The Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) “Dexter”
For those who thought actor John Lithgow was merely some comedic or milquetoast actor, you will extremely shocked when you see him in this role! Anyone who knows of Showtime’s Dexter or watches it, knows that it’s a pretty gruesome series – a serial killer named Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) who kills serial killers. However, Dexter meets his match when he comes across Arthur Mitchell, a seemingly innocent suburbanite who is one of the most vicious, coldest, sickest, calculating, evil killers I’ve ever seen on television.
3.) Angelus (David Boreanaz) “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” & “Angel”
Just when you thought Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was going to be some Twilight-type, cutesy, playing-to-the-teeny-boppers fluff, enter Buffy’s love interest Angel’s true soulless vampiric alter ego, Angelus! For those who don’t know the backstory, in the Whedonverse (as his characters’ world is called), a vampire has no soul. All but one, that is. Liam was a drunkard, lazy, spoiled rake (not the yard tool) who became a vampire, killed his entire family, was given the name Angelus and went about his immortal life killing for the fun of it. All until a gypsy curse gave him back his soul and all of the pain of torturing and killing overwhelmed him and made him into somewhat of a brooding-yet-sensitive loner who renamed himself Angel. However, there is one caveat. When Angel experiences one moment of true happiness, his soul leaves and he’s the evil badass Angelus once more. Angelus is a great villain in that he uses the truth to eat away at and manipulate his opponents, and he has so much fun at being so bad. Well, bringing Angelus into the second season of Buffy was one of the smartest moves the writers ever did! And for those who think Spike (James Marsters) was the more evil one, think again. Watch their backstories and who they were before they became vampires (Liam/Angel a womanizing, selfish brute and Spike a bookwormish, bad-poetry-writing, wussy man who still lived with his mother and had a bit of an Oedipal complex). Angelus? Winning!
2.) Prince Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) “Game of Thrones”
There’s never been a more evil kid than Damien (The Omen)! Except, whereas that kid was the antichrist, Prince Joffrey is just a mortal product of incest who thinks his shit don’t stink. His biggest evil move comes when he is bought unto the throne -- becoming king -- and ignores his advisers only to kill off one of the series’ most beloved, popular characters. I’ve never wanted to see a teenager on television killed so badly as I do with Joffrey. He’s a spoiled brat who’s a coward and a good-for-nothing – basically, as author George R.R. Martin said, he’s “people that I went to school with ... a classic bully.” But, props to actor Jack Gleeson for portraying him so well and bringing this little asshole to life! Just watch HBO’s newest hit and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
1.) Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) “Sherlock”
This is the top! THE VILLAIN! I don’t think I’ve seen a more perfect villain than Andrew Scott’s Moriarty on the BBC’s Sherlock. He plays Sherlock Holmes’ (Benedict Cumberbatch) ultimate arch nemesis with all of the equal-parts joviality, menace and evil that Heath Ledger masterfully honed in The Dark Knight’s Joker. For all of those who enjoy the duality of Batman and the Joker, Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Doctor Who and The Master, and Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation is where the classic rivalry all began! Scott (along with writers Steven Moffat, Steve Thompson and Mark Gatiss) takes Moriarty to all new levels that I didn’t think possible on television. He’s an evil whose presence is felt with every minute he’s on screen. When he angrily rumbles that he will "burn the heart" out of Sherlock (a great line, by the way! -- watch below), you believe him! To Moriarty, everyone is merely a pawn – their lives insignificant and expendable. He is a “consulting criminal” whose intellect matches Sherlock’s, and whose cunning and ruthlessness places him above no other.
So who's your pick for top TV villain?