They say every hero needs a villain, and let’s be honest, the best shows are remembered not just because of the heroes but because of the villains. Thankfully television has come a long way from the days where we had “The Villain of the Week” types on shows like Dragnet, The A-Team and The Equaliser.
When most folks think of villains they usually think of JR from Dallas and whilst he was bad in the 1980s, writers have created a new breed of villain and it’s this breed of scum and villainy that i’m interested in and so, I have compiled a short list of the top five:
5. Boyd Crowder (Justified)
Lifted from the pages of Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard, Justified follows the adventures of US Marshall Raylan Givens. Givens, an upstanding Marshall who lives by his code of honour is the perfect hero when compared to his old friend and thorough bad boy Boyd Crowder. Boyd (played by Walton Goggins) is a drug dealing, murdering, southern boy who is just trying to make his way in Harlan County and avoid jail (or worse).
The fact that Boyd was supposed to die in the first episode but was kept in for the full series due to the fans’ request, speaks volumes for tv execs finally listening to their viewers. Over the course of the show we have seen Boyd go from just killing and low time dealing to having big aspirations of being a drug king-pin. As if that wasn’t bad enough for the character, Boyd has also known to use his Bible thumping fire and brimstone act on his followers, whilst dealing the bad stuff on the side. A great villain and one that we hope will stay half a step in front of the law.
4. The Daleks (Doctor Who)
Now before you jump into my Tardis and threaten to stab me with my sonic screwdriver, The Daleks are on this list for a number of good reasons. First of all, they are scary! Ask any child under the age of 12 what they think of The Daleks and they will most likely scream and shout “BADDIES!”. Secondly, they have been The Doctor’s foe for nearly 50years, that’s 50years of trying to dominate the Universe and trying to Exterminate every living thing they encounter, including The Doctor. Whilst their creator Davros was evil in their creation, The Daleks have expanded their ideals (but not really their vocabulary) to include destruction of planets, enslavement of civilisations and all for the glory of their metal “pepper-pot shaped” bodies.
3. Charles Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons)
This is the longest serving villain in cartoon history, and let’s be honest, his heart is as cold as the millions he keeps in his vaults. He has owned, lost and they re-owned (at a profit no less) Springfield’s nuclear power plant. Add to this his wealth from Springfield’s Casino, oh and who could forget his most evil way of catching fish (remember the recycling of beer tabs?).
Indeed this character has become so evil (even in a comedic role) that there are web pages devoted to his quotes and shenanigans. Even when he was shot (and believe me it could happen again) he installed a lot of sympathy in the audience that no-one really wanted him dead. Mr Burns is at his most evil when in desire of something (such as trying to steal his teddy bear from Maggie) or when he is at risk of losing it all.
But caution to any who would wish to take on this scrawny old man especially if you turn up at his house; he may just “Unleash The Hounds!”.
2. Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)
The Sopranos is one of the most highly regarded and critically acclaimed shows in television history.
Its gripping story lines of family (mafia and blood relatives), loyalty and making as much money on the New Jersey streets as possible, whilst trying to avoid Johnny Law or getting whacked by rivals, kept audiences enthralled for years.
The villain of this piece was Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) who had two families, and loved them both dearly. But let’s be honest, it’s because of his devotion to his family that he is certainly no saint. He has killed (with various weapons), he has ordered men killed, he has stolen goods, taken drugs, and though married he has slept with more woman than a “silent night” duvet! That said, he does have a heart and it’s been during the more tender moments throughout the seasons that Tony has seemed most vulnerable; but as they say, a tiger is most dangerous when partially wounded and Tony has been wounded, both physically and emotionally (remember his sessions with Dr Melfi?) many times.
Due to the sad passing of James Gandolfini recently, a reunion will not happen, but thanks to DVD and repeated tv viewing, Tony will keep doing his bad thing for many generations to come.
1. Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones)
Thanks to the sprawling volumes by George R.R. Martin and the dedication by HBO, television audiences are being enthralled by The Game of Thrones.
A world of manipulation and power hungry families who wish to rule Westeros and its kingdoms. With so many characters involved in this drama, one stands inches above the rest in sheer villainy: King Joffrey Baratheon. A mere teenager, this usurper to the Iron Throne rules his kingdom with the same iron grit that he sits on. What is more disturbing is that he is but a teenager and would make Calligula run away scared! He has started wars, tortured and murdered innocent people, including the father of his one-time finance (he even had him beheaded and showed the gruesome sight to his young bride-to-be).
As if that was not enough, he has humiliated her in front of his Court by having her stripped, and has made his intentions very well known that, as she has married another, he wants to visit her bed chambers at a time of his choosing. I also wont go into details about his idea of “entertainment” from two ladies which ended in blood and tears and horrifying disfigurement.
It is a true credit to Jack Gleeson, the young actor who portrays Joffrey, that he has received volumes of hate mail for his portrayal of this most evil character. The studio has even expressed concerns about the young actor’s safety from over zealous fans; if that is not praise for a performance, then what is?
Oh, and in case you think Phil is a little hard on Joffrey, just search #KingJoffrey or click here. Warning, may not all be safe for work…
Oh and why not go and slap Joffrey while you’re at it… you know you want to. Click here