With the 4th season of Game of Thrones quickly approaching, I can’t help but think of how that show is the best thing on TV now that Breaking Bad is finished. Game of Thrones is full of great characters, shocking deaths and a little bit of fantasy mixed in (along with its unfair share of nudity/dudity). One thing that that show is great at is making you hate specific characters more than you could hate your worst enemy.
This list is inspired by King Joffrey. He is a character that you love to hate. I’ll keep the parameters within the past 10 years, so no one gets angry at me for not including The Smoking Man from The X-Files.
5 – T-Bag (Prison Break)
Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell was first introduced in the second episode of the first season of Prison Break (otherwise known as the good season). He immediately made his mark on the show as the leader of the Aryan group inside the prison. This racist pedophile may appear weak, but is always up to something devious. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to unhear his southern drawl of “Heyyyy pretty” out of my head. Similar to Sylar from Heroes, he was a great villain on a quickly declining show. However, unlike Sylar, T-Bag continued to be a menacing and unpredictable villain throughout the show’s overly long run. Robert Knepper was such a good villain, that he’ll forever be typecast as conniving and evil.
4 – Al Swearingen (Deadwood)
The HBO series, Deadwood only ran for three seasons, but that was long enough for Al Swearingen to make his mark on television. This is the only villain in the list that is ripped from history. In both reality and on the show, Swearingen owned the local saloon/brothel and made a killing (literally and figuratively). Without ever seeking political office or a high status in the town of Deadwood, Swearingen was able to run the town by fear and manipulation. Ian McShane owns the role and is someone that you’d never want to cross. Even when Swearingen was a sympathetic character, he never deserved the sheriff’s trust, as he was always planning his next move.
3 – The Trinity Killer (Dexter)
Arthur Mitchell, otherwise known as “The Trinity Killer,” made the 4th season of Dexter its best overall. Depending on your interest in the sitcom ‘3rd Rock from the Sun,’ his role typecast him into a pathetic, comedic foil. Thankfully, Dexter came along and made John Lithgow terrifying again. His character’s career as a serial killer was spread out over 30 years without ever being caught. Mitchell had 123 kills to his name. He was able to get away with his evil ways because he lived the majority of his life as a church-going meek family man. He had a very precise, cyclical nature to his killings. The impact he makes on Dexter’s life was monumental. The remaining seasons of Dexter could never match up to this season, precisely because of Lithgow’s performance.
2 – Gustavo Fring (Breaking Bad)
At first look, Gus Fring looks like nothing more than a middle-manager for a fast food franchise. His gentle, welcome approach to people would make consumers want to be loyal to Los Pollos Hermanos. Hiding behind the unphased appearance of Gus is a cartel-affiliated drug kingpin who will eliminate anyone stupid enough to cross his path, even his own men. Giancarlo Esposito cemented his place as the most menacing figure, next to Walter White, in the best show to ever grace television. Though, Todd would come at a close second. I hate Todd.
1 – Benjamin Linus (Lost)
Ben Linus may be one of the worst people on television (with the exception of every reality TV star). Everything he says is a lie. Even when he’s telling the truth, it’s so that he can manipulate characters to be his pawns. He first entered the show in its awful second season and became the only reason to watch. We first knew him as Henry Gale (his first lie) and found out his real name and true purpose as the series unfolded. By his wormy appearance, you wouldn’t think that anyone would trust this guy, but he was so crafty that he became the unofficial leader of the Others. While I credit him for the death of Ana Lucia, I can’t forgive him for the death of Libby or his adopted daughter, Alex. I think the main reason to hate Ben Linus is that he is so cryptic. In a show that refuses to follow a straight line or give answers, it doesn’t help to have someone there misleading you throughout. Michael Emerson is a talented actor and deserves a long career, but he will always be Ben Linus to me.