Top 10 TV Villains

Script written by Max Lett. Hatch a devious plan and see all your evil work come to fruition. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 TV villains. For this list, we’re focusing on live-action villains who are the primary antagonists of their respective shows for some period of time. We’re omitting clear-cut anti-heroes because we’ve already got you covered with our list of the Top 10 TV Anti-Heroes. Special thanks to our users Domenic R. Sengstacke, longjohnsilver, saints27, Hamza Pool, danteventu, sarahjessicaparkerth, Talha Tahir, Andrew A. Dennison, offbeat08, offbeat08, DoctorXander, GabrielMarinho and Luke Young for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Max Lett.

Top 10 TV Villains


Hatch a devious plan and see all your evil work come to fruition. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 TV villains.

For this list, we’re focusing on live-action villains who are the primary antagonists of their respective shows for some period of time. We’re omitting clear-cut anti-heroes because we’ve already got you covered with our list of the Top 10 TV Anti-Heroes.

#10: Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell
“Prison Break” (2005-09)

It’s a tough grind in the joint. When you’re behind bars everyone seems to be out to get you; but T-Bag actually is. He uses and manipulates the inmates for his evil purposes, which makes him a dangerous adversary. Convicted of almost everything it’s possible to be convicted of and leader of Fox River’s Aryan gang, T-Bag is serving a life sentence. When the Scofield brothers hatch their escape plan, this prison yard baddie is quick to weasel his way in and actually becomes an unlikely ally.

#9: Nina Myers
“24” (2001-04)

The best archenemies are often friends at the start – even lovers. In Day 1 of “24,” Nina is Jack Bauer’s ally and confidante as they attempt to uncover a plot to assassinate a United States senator. In a world of spies and double-crossing, it’s easy to get lost – but Jack is certain of Nina’s loyalty until it’s too late. Her sharp intellect, boldness and skills in espionage make Nina a formidable foe who keeps pulling Jack Bauer back into her web of lies and deceit.

#8: Arthur Mitchell aka the Trinity Killer
“Dexter” (2009)

Arthur Mitchell is an upstanding citizen, father and husband; he gives back to his community and always has a smile on his face. On his off time though, Mitchell commits a series of gruesome serial murders, a cycle which he has been repeating since he was young. Like the series’ protagonist Dexter, Arthur Mitchell is a serial killer who must maintain a normal social life – and that makes Dex look up to Arthur as a mentor. However, unlike Dexter, Mitchell murders the innocent, which puts the two into conflict.

#7: The Governor
“The Walking Dead” (2012-)

It’s hard to keep it together during a zombie apocalypse but the Governor does just that – at the cost of his sanity. As the leader of a seemingly idyllic safe place that shields people from hordes of oncoming biters, the Governor is well-spoken, polite and courteous, like most lovable bad guys – until things don’t go his way. Demonstrating a whole mess of psychopathic tendencies, the Governor is not above torture, cold-blooded murder. He declares open war on Rick and the gang and stops at nothing to exterminate them.

#6: J.R. Ewing
“Dallas” (1978-2013)

Larry Hagman portrayed TV’s favorite evil oil baron until – and even beyond – his 2012 death. Since the late-‘70s, he plotted and contrived against his rivals to seize as much property and money as possible. Ewing was a classic villain in that his motive was, for the most part, clearly defined as greed. Like all good baddies, he also had a knack for needlessly complex plans. And his villainy earned him more than his share of enemies, which is why no one was quite sure “Who shot J.R.?”

#5: Ben Linus
“Lost” (2006-10)

Like the Island he inhabits, Ben is a mysterious, inscrutable character with perpetually shifting loyalties. His cold-blooded decisions and slow monotonous voice have branded him as a villain among the survivors of the island; but Ben’s motives remain unclear throughout the series. Instead he operates in the shadows and acts on calculating logic to do what is best for the island. Manipulative as anyone else on this list, and cold and detached to boot, Ben Linus is an unreadable foe – which makes him very, very dangerous.

#4: Gus Fring
“Breaking Bad” (2009-11)

Like series protagonist Walter White, Gus is a man of two minds and of two worlds. In the public eye, he’s a prominent business owner who’s friendly with his customers and always donates to the right causes. In the background, however, Gus is the coldly calculating head of a sprawling drug empire, becoming Walt’s rival and nemesis for a memorable chunk of the series. Ruthless, cunning and unscrupulous – but secretly so – Gus Fring is the kind of bad guy you love to hate.

#3: Tywin Lannister
“Game of Thrones” (2011-)

The Warden of the West is a powerful warlord; tall, imposing and with an unfaltering gaze. His ambition and courage was such that he was appointed the king’s hand and commanded fear and respect from all that heard the Lannister name. And, while his term was known for its calm and good fortune, you don’t get to be a powerful warlord without a good amount of ruthlessness, and Tywin is as ruthless as they get – even when it comes to his own family.

#2: The Smoking Man
“The X-Files” (1993-2002)

Good villains are the ones that operate in shadows and use others to do their dirty work. The cigarette Smoking Man, so named for his unhealthy habit, manipulates the U.S. government from the background and uses any means necessary to obtain his ends. The personification of evil, this is one baddie who’s not afraid of his own demise. While it’s not clear whether the Smoking Man is helping or hindering a possible alien invasion, he still manages to get in Mulder’s and Scully’s way.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Lex Luthor “Smallville” (2001-11)
- Sylar “Heroes” (2006-10)
- Red John “The Mentalist” (2008-)
- The Swede “Hell on Wheels” (2011-)
- Stringer Bell & Avon Barksdale “The Wire” (2002-08)

#1: James “Jim” Moriarty
“Sherlock” (2010-)

The king of the underworld, the Napoleon of crime, Dr. James Moriarty has been a formidable opponent since his first appearance in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In BBC’s “Sherlock,” Moriarty’s contemporary incarnation is cold, calculating and delightfully psychopathic. He has no compassion for human life and will gladly kill innocent bystanders if it fits into his twisted games. As intelligent as his nemesis Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is almost impossible to catch.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite TV Villain? For more intense Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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