Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Help me write a column, part 924

I'm toying with a piece about some of the best male villains on current primetime series. At the moment, I have close to a full top 10 list, including Ben from "Lost," Gaius Baltar, Phil Leotardo, Marlo from "The Wire," Shane from "The Shield" and a few others (the "CSI" Miniature Killer will make the list depending on whether his appearance in the finale lives up to the build-up), but every time I do one of these list stories, I feel like I'm missing something obvious, so let me open the floor to you all.

Obviously, "villain" is a subjective term -- Tony Soprano and Vic Mackey could easily take the place of Phil and Shane -- so I'm open to all kinds of suggestions.

70 comments:

Jefferson said...

Kevin Spacey as Mel Profit in Wiseguy.

Danny said...

Haven't watched last night's Heroes yet, but Sylar?

Him drawing in the blood of his mother last week, I thought, was awesome.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Current, Jefferson. Current. Mel's for the all-time list.

Anonymous said...

Sylar is an obvious choice. HRG's transformation from villain to hero was one of the season's best twists.

T-Bag from Prison Break is always great (just PLEASE do not include William Sphincter or Secret Asian Man).

And, of course, Toby from The Office is my favorite "villain."

Grimoald said...

Eric Cartman, though maybe he is an anti-hero ala Tony Soprano.

On a more jokey note, Shonda Rhimes?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sylar! [smacks head a thousand times] And I just got done writing a "Heroes" post! Once again, I am a moron, which is why I have to rely on you fine people.

Adam said...

Does Octavian Caesar of the just-ended Rome count as a villain?

Otherwise, I vote for Angela on The Office.

BF said...

If you stretch your definition of "current", Mirna.

Kevin O'Rourke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara Anne said...

George Hearst, Deadwood.

Kevin O'Rourke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taleena said...

Adam, I was thinking Servilia myself or Atia who was just a wicked harpy. Sylar should be there: Boom. Leoben from BSG or Baltar though Leoben is more actively villanous than Baltar, IMHO. Justin Morningway from Dresden Files was no picnic.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hearst! Awesome, and another one I can't believe I forgot (although "Deadwood" is really stretching the boundaries of current, but I can squeeze it in).

Mirna is both a woman and not a fictional character. Current scripted male characters.

Mac said...

Bob Kelso from "Scrubs"?

Kevin O'Rourke said...

The Sheriff of Nottingham from the BBC's Robin Hood series. He's wonderfully wicked.

Anonymous said...

Surprised no one has mentioned Ben from "Lost."

Sam Neil is doing pretty well as Cardinal Woolsey on "The Tudors."

Antony could be a villain on "Rome" depending on your perspective.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mac, very good one, especially as I'd like to include one or two people from sitcoms. The Janitor is also a possiblity.

And, of course, George Hearst was not fictional, but was scripted on "Deadwood."

I have to quote The Sea Captain: Aaarrr! I don't know what I'm doing!

Devin McCullen said...

Is it "most villainous" or "best characters who are villains"?

These probably aren't good enough to make the list, but:

Lex and/or Lionel Luthor

Greg Stillson (I also like Martin Donovan's recurring character, who's the really bad guy)

Hmmm...there's unaired episodes of Drive left, can we count the guy running the race?

Kevin O'Rourke said...

Escobar Gallardo the drug lord from Nip/Tuck

Anonymous said...

Tim Minear?

Lane said...

Bill O'Reilly?

Michael Scott said...

That jerk Toby. He makes everything SUCK.

lady t said...

If this is a list of current villains,then you should have the following:

Sylar & Linderman from Heroes

Aaron Echolls & Sheriff Lamb from Veronica Mars

Wilhemina Slater from Ugly Betty

Anonymous said...

Do they have to be regulars? Eric Stoltz's character Sonny Troyer on Medium was very creepy and evil.

But there aren't a lot of reoccurring bad guys on Network tv unless you are on a genre show right now. I guess people are happier with their bad guys punished and in jail by the end of the episode.

But if you are counting dead villains Sheriff Lamb on Veronica Mars should definitely be on the list to represent inept snarkiness!

Anonymous said...

two simultaneous votes for Lamb, now he has to make the list!

Old Man Snap said...

What's odd is I think Phil Leotardo is more of a hero at this point, since he is basically the man on The Sopranos.

Tony, after snuffing out Chris, is tops on my villain list, followed closely by The Ocean that almost killed poor dark and twisty Meredith.

Filipe said...

I have a serious trouble with Shane be included in such a list. A Sopranos anologue to Shane would be Christopher, not Phil. He's the perennial screw up friend of the lead whose bad decisions seems to always come back to bite him and his friends, but still he is not the antagonist. The difference between Shane and Vic is that Vic is smarter and more competent. Vic has more redeming qualities but he is not that much better than Shane.

I vote for Sylar and Lamb as well.

Edward Copeland said...

I was going to suggest Hearst as well, but figured Deadwood couldn't be counted as "current."

Edward Copeland said...

Thought of another one: How about De'Londa Brice (Sandi McCree) on The Wire, a Livia Soprano for the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

How about Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons"?

Wallwriting said...

What about Bob? (Sideshow Bob, that is.)

How about Andy on The Office? If, for nothing else, his line: "Oompa-loompa, doopity-dawsome! Dwight is gone, which is totally awesome!" The line is the epitome of what a comedic villain should be.

Antwon Mitchell from The Shield, perhaps?

Speaking of which, it's difficult to say that Shane is posed as a villain. To me, you have a protagonist, whether that protagonist is a hero or not, and an antagonist that works against him/her. Up until very recently, Shane hasn't been an antagonist. It wasn't until the most recent episode he was even outed as Lem's killer, so I don't think it's right to call him a villain just yet. Wait a few eps, maybe, when/if he works against Vic.

Also, I'm not sure Phil Leotardo belongs on the list. He's not much of a villain. His presence doesn't hang over the other characters the way a great villain's should. He isn't as menacing and imposing on that show as Tony's own character flaws. If anything, Tony's shortcomings as a human being should be the villain of that show.

Anonymous said...

What about the yellow-eyed demon from supernatural? It killed the Mom, Sam's girlfriend and wants to destroy the world.

Old Man Snap said...

I love that this is exactly like the Best Closing Songs Ever thread from a couple weeks ago.

Present shows?

1. Nicki and Roman on Big Love. Roman, in particular, is brilliant.

Past shows? (In no particular order)...

1. Boss Hogg.
2. Anyone who messed with those meddling kids on the Scooby Doo.
3. Herb from WKRP.
4. Vodka and/or Sheila on Rescue Me.
5. Livia.
6. Valerie Malone on 90210.
7. Mr. Belding on Saved by the Bell.
8. The Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman on the original Batman.
9. Glory on Buffy.
10. Oscar on Sesame Street.

Old Man Snap said...

Oops. You said male.

OK. I'm putting myself on too many posts probation.

Anonymous said...

One character that I loved to hate (although he did become very humanized by the end of the season) was Buddy Garrity of Friday Night Lights...he epitmoized the rural Texas obsession with high school football perfectly.

Anonymous said...

The Ice Truck Killer on Dexter

Greg said...

I'd go with Dexter himself. He's really a villain dressed up in hero's clothes.

Anonymous said...

Can't forget Rawls and Burrell on The Wire. They symbolize of bureaucratic evil in Baltimore along with Clay Davis- but Davis provides so much humor I don't think of him as a villian as mcuh as Burrell.

Eric said...

By the end of the summer, I hope you can say "Mr. Saxon" on Doctor Who.

Anonymous said...

Dan Scott on One Tree Hill


*crickets*

Rob Rogers said...

I'm not sure I agree with the Gaius Baltar assessment. The character has always felt tonally out of step with the rest of the show. You have such fine actors and well-realized characters on Galactica, and then you have Baltar talking to himself and getting away with just about anything because the writers want him to. Meh.

I'll agree with others on Sylar and Lex Luthor. I'm struggling for something else. I suspect that Victor on Desperate Housewives is going to turn out to be interestingly villainous, and the actor is quite good, but that might be premature.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think I can only get away with one person per show -- especially a niche show like The Wire -- and while Rawls and Burrell are certainly more potent images of what David Simon is writing about society, Marlo is the closest thing the show has to someone who's actually evil (or, at least, purely sociopathic). It's a tough call.

And Shane is definitely the villain of this season of The Shield, I would argue, even if it took Vic until last week to figure that out.

Dexter vs. Ice Truck Killer is a tough call. I have a feeling if I handed in a column where half the people on the list are the main character on the show, my editor's going to tell me to start over from scratch.

Anonymous said...

Marlo is the closest thing the show has to someone who's actually evil (or, at least, purely sociopathic).

Uh, hello, Snoop!

Withnail said...

Vernica; Not just Lamb, but Aaron Echols and Cassidy (the shows have to be current, right? Not just the characters).

Santino from Project Runway? oh, right, scripted.

Terrance from Entourage?

Angelus?

Withnail said...

Actually, now that I think of it - if the villian doesn't have to be current - just the show - there are a lot better ones from the Sopranos than Phil. Richie and Ralphie, for example. Mikey Palmice, Pussy, Matt Bevalaqua, Furio...

Just cut and paste the cast page from HBO and that's your collumn right there.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Relatively current characters, too. i.e., David Morse from "House" would qualify (if I didn't think he was too boring to include), but Chi McBride from "House" wouldn't

SJ said...

Wouldn't Stringer Bell be a "better" choice than Marlo? Marlo is a straight-up thug...but Bell was just an amazing three-dimensional character. Or maybe you aren't considering deceased characters?

Another vote for the "Ice Truck Killer" here...that was super-creepy.

I think the term "villain" is not really applicable to a lot of people...is Shane really a villain? Is Gaius Baltar one? I actually side with Baltar...I guess it just shows how much TV has evolved over the years.

Anonymous said...

What about Dawn Ostroff? She's my villain of the moment for not just deciding one way or the other(and most preferably to keep it on) about Veronica Mars!

Anonymous said...

Opps, you want men only... that's how frustrated and annoyed I am!
Are you going to do another list with villanesses?

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, it's a specific assignment from someone, which is why I have to put so many limits on it; I didn't come up with the idea.

Chico said...

Charla and Myrna.

velvetcannibal said...

I would say Cavil from Battlestar Galactica. I think he's the most chilling of all the male Cylons. When he unplugged Three this year I found him more frightening than ever. Charming and calculated, brilliant and deadly. Cavil.

Bubba said...

Sideshow Bob

SJ said...

What about Al Swearengen from Deadwood? Truly terrifying, funny, cold and calculating, and in my opinion, the best performance on TV by Ian McShane.

dez said...

The writers on "24" cuz they are killing this season.

I vote for Tony over Phil on "The Sopranos." I'll also throw in a vote for Dale on "The Riches," although Panco might be good for that show, too.

Valenti on "Jericho" is shaping up to be a good villain, or the army-guys-turned-mercenaries (not the fake ones, but the troop led by D. B. Sweeney). Finally, how about Killface on "Frisky Dingo"?

Dan Coyle said...

Evan Sayet

Glenn Beck

David Horowitz

Now those guys are male, on TV frequently, and are PURE EVIL.

(Sorry, Treacher)

Tom C. said...

Although he's not around any more, and only really serves as an antagonist for two characters, I'll nominate LOST's Anthony Cooper/Tom Sawyer.

Anonymous said...

Cheng from 24? Or President Logan, if you want to do last season of 24, but Cheng is more current.

Anonymous said...

Scorpius from Farscape, Dukat and Winn from Deep Space Nine.

SJ said...

Farik from Sleeper Cell.

Withnail said...

Instead of the best villains on TV, do the best villains BEHIND TV. Write about the fucks that canceled Deadwood, Arrested Development, Knights of Prosperity, Angel, Andy Barker, P.I., Drive, and any of the other shows unjustly cut down before they could finish what they tried to start.

Especially Deadwood.

Gish said...

I'd have to go with The Monarch from The Venture Brothers. If you are not watching it, you should be.

If you want to be technical, I guess the Carver is still around on Nip/Tuck. Although I pray they don't bring that storyline back.

Anonymous said...

The villain as "hero": Dr. House himself.

ooda said...

Antwon Mitchell is cold, but what Shane did is the lowest of the low (not only were they like brothers, but Lem was probably one of the friendliest guys on television).

I'd give another vote for Wolsey (The Tudors). What he did the the secretary was heartbreaking, especially for a man of the cloth.

But other than Roman from Big Love (and HBO is probably making too strong a showing on the list anyway), I can't really think of anyone who hasn't been named.

Side note: Alan, I watched the little preview on HBO.com that they had for John from Cincinnati. Is the show as cheesy and heavy on the philosophy of life as it seems?

Anonymous said...

Les Moonves if HIMYM doesn't get renewed.

Brent McKee said...

Philip Bauer from 24. He killed one son, wanted to kill the other, was the arms dealer who got Fayed the bomb that destroyed Ventura, and was apparently responsible for the assassination of David Palmer. And it seems like it was all an effort to take his grandson to China. All without a single thought about his granddaughter either.

Anonymous said...

Jim Profitt. 'nuff said.

Homertojeebus said...

I vote for the MRI machine on "House". Nothing good ever comes of it.

jack said...

How about the black crusaders as nemesis to Tracy Jordan in 30 Rock

bebe said...

The Ice Truck Killer is definitely the villain of Dexter, just by virtue of story structure. For all I know, Dexter could be the villain of season 2, but that won't begin until the fall.

Other than that and Roman from Big Love, I can't think of a strong male villain from any of my current shows. Dale on The Riches is definitely a bad guy, but I don't think he's strong enough to include in a top ten.