Television is filled with shows that can boast heroes who are both morally sound and worth investing in. Other shows happen to have bad guys who are just much more fun to root for than the good guys. They can range from black-hearted evildoers to antiheroes to criminals with hearts of gold. The bad guys can be so fascinating, frightening, and/or funny that the good guys pale in comparison. There’s really no shame in wishing for the antagonists to get the big wins on a series. Who needs the straight and narrow road when there’s a path of twisted morals and murky motivation? To pay tribute to the villains who bring the very best entertainment, check out our list of 8 current TV shows that make us root for the bad guy.
Season 2 of Daredevil introduced a new antihero in Frank Castle, also known as the Punisher. Castle entered the vigilante scene with a much more lethal stance on how to stop criminals than Matt Murdock as Daredevil. He favored a sniper rifle for his killing, but he wasn’t averse to improvising and beating folks to death with whatever happened to be handy. Castle was such a compelling character that it was hard not to see his point and be pretty okay with his attitude toward killing the worst of the worst. The Punisher did do a few too many bad things to be called a good guy, but at least he does his bad things to even badder guys, and he does have a pretty tragic backstory. Who can really argue that “One batch, two batch, penny and dime” wasn’t the best line of all in Season 2?
Black Sails is a show about pirates, so there really aren’t too many characters who should be classified as “good guys.” Captain James Flint has secured the role of antihero. He’s not afraid to attack, maim, or murder, but he tends to be smart about how to do what is best for himself and those he particularly cares about. Flint is a leader who is one of the best pirate strategists out of Nassau. An affair with another man in the British Empire caused his exile and has made him an antihero who is easy to sympathize with. He’s managed to come out on top of what should have been no-win situations, and it’s always thrilling to see how he manages to survive against all kinds of enemies--from bad weather conditions to threats from the empire that exiled him.
Game Of Thrones
The Hound has been an unforgettable character on Game of Thrones by virtue of his disfiguring facial scares and horrific backstory of how he got them. He’s been rough and murderous and completely unapologetic for his love of his violent work. In fact, one of the first things that he did on the show was to kill Arya’s friend because he happened to be present during Arya’s altercation with Joffrey. Later, however, the Hound revealed a somewhat softer side to the Stark girls. He had a bizarre sort of bond with Sansa in King’s Landing, and he refused to kill or abandon Arya even when his attempts to ransom her back to her rich relations failed. His travels with Arya were also pretty funny. He did seem to come to an untimely end in Season 4, but we have definite reason to believe that he’ll be back.
House Of Cards
The Netflix political thriller House of Cards introduced binge-watchers everywhere to a main character who is a shameless villain that will do anything and everything to further his career. Frank Underwood’s one weakness from early on was his wife Claire, who luckily turned out to be just about as devious as her husband. They make such an epic power couple that it’s actually easy to see them manipulate their way into America's biggest power couple. Kevin Spacey has nailed the role of Frank, and Robin Wright is perfect as Claire. Frank is so good at being bad that it’s too much fun to watch him weasel his way up the political ladder to want him to fail.
Gotham has had no shortage of villains over its two seasons so far, but none has been so regularly enjoyable as Oswald Cobblepot, also known as the Penguin. Cobblepot elevated himself from Fish Mooney’s underling to crime lord in the space of a single season, and his downfall wasn’t enough to stop him from finding methods of getting his way via whatever means necessary. The death of his mother motivated him to become more vengeful than ever, and the death of his father pushed him over the edge to murder his pseudo-stepmom and stepsiblings… and then eat them for dinner. He’s delightfully impossible to predict, and he switches from ally to enemy for Jim Gordon every other episode. Cobblepot has been a consistent highlight in a somewhat inconsistent show, so it’s nice to know that he’ll probably survive long enough to someday menace Batman.
Blacklist’s Raymond Reddington can qualify as a bad guy turned good... ish. After being on the run from the authorities for twenty years, Red Reddington turned himself in to the FBI to volunteer information in exchange for immunity. He’d build a syndicate of criminal contacts that made him an invaluable resource to the FBI. Despite turning himself in, he hasn't been the most cooperative or obliging person to work with. Until the shocking events of the latter half of the season, he's mostly demanded to only deal with Agent Elizabeth Keen. Throughout his exploits – which have ranged from criminal to selfish to occasionally altruistic – he’s dropped enough great one-liners and even greater strategy that has made him one of the best bad guys on television.
Who says that all the best TV villains have to come from dramas? Doug Judy – also known as the Pontiac Bandit – from Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a hysterical bad guy who is best when he's on the run and outsmarting Detective Jake Peralta. His continued escapes in the most unlikely ways have turned him into Jake’s nemesis, and the shenanigans never fail to reach hilarious heights. Craig Robinson is fabulous as Judy as he brings out the best in Andy Samberg as Jake. Hopefully, the hero never wins this particular battle so that Judy can be free to vex him again and again.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has spent the last few seasons proving over and over again that humans are the real threat in a post-apocalyptic world. The zombies are still always ready for a meal, but it’s the people who are truly scary. The Season 6 finale finally introduced the villain Negan, who had been built up as a man not to be trifled with before he ever appeared on screen. His first and only scene to date was such a combination of terrifying and thrilling that he’s definitely somebody that plenty of us want to see a lot more of in Season 7. We may change our tunes depending on who was the unlucky person to get a face full of Lucille, but Negan is so far a fantastic bad guy who needs to appear much more.
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Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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