TV villains come in all shapes and sizes and motivations, especially when comic books are the source material for their evil ways. And some, as you well know, are far more nefarious than others, and often with head-scratchingly bizarre goals and machinations in mind. The kind that are so ridiculous, they should force villainous underlings to question their own paths in life.
Here are 10 villains from the current comic book TV landscape, ranked by just how insane, ill-conceived and ill-advised their master plans and motives were/are. I avoided using villains-of-the-week here to keep things concise, which is something that many of these big bads are not very good at doing. Spoilers are afoot throughout, too.
10. The Governor – The Walking DeadThere was a time when Philip Blake wasn’t an authoritative madman, but those days were mostly long gone by the time The Walking Dead fans got to him, at which point he’d already earned his nickname The Governor. In this depleted world, there were no needless dreams of conquering the world for The Governor, who basically just wanted to keep his Woodbury community intact and surviving. But how did he go about doing that? By straight murdering anyone who happened to travel near the area in a group of two or more, and choosing to accept mainly single survivors into the group. The need to avoid mutiny was understandable, but this was the worst example of a Homeowners Association ever put to thought.
9. Hive – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.To be clear, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Hive isn’t a human being, so it’s probably incorrect to say anything he does as insane, at least without a full psych evaluation right in front of me. But his plan is to keep himself alive and preserved by killing anyone and everyone so that he can possess their corpses and resurrect them as host bodies. Along with all the other people he infests without killing them first. If we’re solely talking self-preservation, then this makes all the sense in the world. But if we’re talking about a bare-bones plot to turn a majority of Earth’s population into zombie-lite Inhumans, then it’s hard to make that situation any crazier.
8. Reverse-Flash – The FlashEobard Thawne’s main purpose as Reverse-Flash in 2014 was to kill Barry Allen, which was respectably simple on the surface. Unfortunately for the sanity behind his conceptualizing, his means of doing so involved traveling back to the past to kill Barry when he was just a child, an attempt that was derailed and left him stuck in the past without a connection to the Speed Force. So Reverse-Flash’s goal then became to be the person who creates The Flash (earlier than expected) so that a link to the Speed Force could be reestablished that would bring him back to his own time. In the end, Thawne’s few misguided minutes led to 15 years of misery as he worked very hard to do the very opposite of what he intended. That is insanity any way you look at it.
7. Malcolm Merlyn – ArrowWhen Arrow first brought its dark drama to The CW, it had Malcolm Merlyn’s deviousness to rely on. While his narrative-based intentions have been scattered around over the years, as he went one alter ego to another, none were so maddeningly over-the-top as his Season 1 goal to avenge the death of his wife Rebecca. She died as the result of a mugging in the Starling City neighborhood The Glades, and so obviously Merlyn’s long-gestating master plan was to form a group and completely destroy The Glades with an earthquake machine. (He admittedly tried it the right way first, but pbbt on that impossibility.) The Undertaking, as it was called, only partially worked, but that’s a rare slice of victory where master plans are concerned, and it was apparently enough to keep Merlyn from putting any secondary effort into it.
6. Non – SupergirlBesides being more powerful than any and every human being on the planet, Non is definitely not a guy who likes to live by the lowest common denominator of villainy. He spent most of Season 1 working with Astra on her plan of “saving” Earth from humanity’s destruction by putting everyone under mind control, so that they can stop wasting a good thing with free will. But then when Astra died, he wasn’t quite as interested in that whole salvation angle and just wanted to kill everyone instead. While Non’s flip-flopping doesn’t make for the strongest instance of character development or plotting from a viewer standpoint, there is an obvious absence of stable thought going into anything he’s doing in the name of maybe-evil.
5. Gareth – The Walking DeadLike The Governor before him, The Walking Dead’s Gareth also wasn’t the biggest piece of shit for all of his life. The Terminus community was originally run as a genuine safe haven, and Mary and Gareth only turned to the bad people-eater side after other villainous people took over, raping and pillaging. But they emerged from that horror with an amended goal revolving around luring gullible people to the encampment and then giving them the old cannibalism ultimatum, killing and eating whoever wasn’t willing to accept the new diet. That’s just monstrous and savage, and it’d be one thing if Gareth explained it away as fucked up desperation, but he had that whole speech to Bob about being devolved hunters and how “a man’s gotta eat.” He even gnawed on human legs like an insane person.
4. Zoom – The FlashNo, we’re not talking about Zoom’s ever-changing plans for Barry and Earth-1, including all that speed-stealing business and metahuman-dispatching. We’re talking about the batshit crazy things the former serial killer Hunter Zolomon was doing before dimensional breaches took up so much of his time, when he was posing as the Earth-2 hero Jay Garrick to give his Central City hope as a super-savior, just so he could tear it all away as the nightmarish Zoom. We’ve seen some incredibly dark things in the world of comic book television, but perhaps nothing quite so sadistic as Zoom’s specific methods of inspiring false confidence in an entire population of people. Not necessarily as deadly as some of the other plans on here, but no less pathological. And people still died.
3. Damien Darhk – ArrowArrow’s Damien Darhk is about as close as modern comic book TV has gotten to completely over-the-top villains of years past, as he is a magic-infused baddie who wanted to nuke the entire planet. I mean, even without the magic, guys, Darhk clearly watched too many old serials and read too many pulp novels. Among other small-time goals, he wanted to kill off almost the entire Earth so that he and his H.I.V.E. survivors could repopulate the planet and rule it as they see fit. And he was almost successful on one attempt, which got him a ton of soul-power anyway. Applaud him perhaps for not resorting to violence at every moment like some antagonists, but Damien Darhk wanted to extinguish all of humanity, even after his extensive bomb shelter was kaput, so feel free to call him an insane sumbitch. Just obviously from a very safe location.
2. The Hand – DaredevilFull disclosure: I can’t actually explain in detail what The Hand’s mystery-oozing plans were in Daredevil Season 2, but I can say without a doubt that every aspect of it was loony. Some of it dealt with figuring out the secret of immortality and resurrection, which may or may not have something to do with a bunch of zombified children giving up their blood and getting…something…in return. But it definitely works, since Nabu returned. The Hand is/was looking for the (latest) Black Sky leader-type that can apparently do anything they want, and found it in Elektra, who will probably get resurrected in Season 3 to…do something. And also, there’s a giant fucking hole that no one talked about for days on end like I would have. This all has to be insane when added up, right?
1. Hugo Strange – GothamIn any place but Gotham City, Hugo Strange would not have been allowed the chance to reach the point of cookoo-kachoo that he’s waltzing through when Gotham viewers first meet him. It should have been clear to everyone in local government that Arkham’s Chief of Psychiatry (and later director) was awful at his job, thus stopping him from reaching the point where he’s resurrecting dead criminals and infusing new personalities onto their back-at-it brains. (And that’s just what we know about, since he’s obviously got all kinds of other monstrosities and miscreations now roaming Gotham City’s streets.) And hey, even if it’s really the Court of Owls in charge of guiding Hugo Strange’s actions and keeping his job intact, he’s the guy putting the hands-on approach to Gotham’s plague of reanimated and superpowered-ish felons, on top of the “therapy” he’s provided certain breathing members of the criminal underworld. Really, nothing Hugo Strange does ever really exits the orbit of insane behavior.
Which Villain's Plan Was The Most Insane?