I’m going to take a stab at another Ted style top 10 list today. Actually this came up as the topic of an outside of work conversation I was having with some friends. But I decided to write it up because I was especially proud of it. So here it is…
TOP TEN VILLAINS IN TELEVISION HISTORY
Well, an explanation first. The villains that were being thrown into the mix were for the most part from series that have aired pretty recently. I felt good that I dived back into the past for some of my choices. But I do include some fairly recently created villains. Mostly because television is different today than it traditionally was. Before the era of the VCR, if you didn’t see it live you didn’t see it at all. Television series tended to consist of stand-alone, week to week, unconnected stories. If a viewer missed a week, they could just pick it up the next week. So the villains tended to get beaten or foiled either; in every episode (ensuring they were very rarely taken seriously,) or were beaten in an episode and the next episode brought us another villain. For the “beaten every week” type, think COBRA from the “G.I. Joe” franchise. It’s pretty hard to take a terrorist organization seriously when they suffer defeat week after week. And for rotating villains… 60’s television’s Batman works pretty well there.
But then came the VCR, and with it the ability to write out season long story arcs. And with that the ability for television writers to make villains who’s “dastardly plan” took the hero more than 60 minutes to thwart. So some of the better bad guys have only shown up in the past decade or so. Well, here’s my list anyway…
10. Frank Burns (M*A*S*H) Ol' Ferret Face. More of a comic foil than true villain, but he belongs because it is still one of the most successful shows in television history. That's why he's so far back on the list, not really a villain. Otherwise he'd be about 5 or so.)
9. Monty Burns (The Simpsons) Well, if this is where sitcom type villains go, then Simpsons bad guy Mr. Burns goes right here.
8. Sylar (Heroes) Not a great show, but Sylar was cool evil. He eats your brains to gain your powers. A big threat to super-powered individuals.
7. The Master (Dr. Who) I like this one. It’s a classic and contemporary choice. Debuting in 1971 as the titular Doctor’s nemesis, 6 different actors have handled the part since then.
6. Diana (V - Miniseries) One of a very few shows that actually scared me (I was only 7 at the time.)
5. Alex Krycek (X-Files) I would give it to CSM (Cigarette Smoking Man, the dude in the background, puffing away, who you know is calling all the shots,) but you rarely saw CSM doing something evil. Krycek was right there in the thick of it. He deserves a hand.
4. Alfred Bester (Babylon 5) Frankly, Walter Koening's best acting effort ever. Truly great villain. A cop who knows what you are thinking? Bester was pretty intimidating.
3. Windom Earle (Twin Peaks) A game changer in a way that's never been done before or since on TV. Maybe no one else should. Plus, a great villain name.
2. Vicious (Cowboy Bebop) Rarely seen, yet always doing something incredibly evil when seen. Plus he accomplishes something that NO OTHER villain ever did in the history of all television. I can’t tell you what it is that he does, it would spoil the ending of the series. And I don’t want to do that, I recommend Cowboy Bebop to everyone out there. Even if you’ve seen it already, it’s about time you watched it again.
1. Brother Justin Crowe (Carnivale) Best show ever and a fantastically evil villain. Can't go wrong with Clancy Brown. Plus, few shows featured the Big Bad as much as Carnivale did Justin. He was the focal point of about half of each episode. And he develops so well along the way. At first he really believes he is the good guy. Then he tries to turn away from being the bad guy. And then… he wallows in villainy.
Honorable mentions go to John Cavil(s) from Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek’s Q, and…
Chippendale Chairface. No, seriously look him up. He tried to write his name on the moon.