Creating a villain everyone will hate? That’s fairly easy. But creating a villain your audience secretly (or not-so-secretly) roots for? Well…that’s a little more difficult. Here are a few of my favorite likable TV villains:
Boyd Crowder, Justified
He’s smart, funny, has a smooth Southern accent, and matches the show’s hero line for hilarious line. Yeah, he blows up churches, but hey, no one’s perfect, right?
Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones
I just as easily could’ve gone with Tywin Lannister on this one, but hey, I like Jaime better. (He’s pretty, OK? Don’t judge)
Jaime Lannister is a terrible person who has done terrible, terrible things. We’re talking about a guy who’s having sex with his sister, and who once tried to kill a kid to cover up the incestuous affair. But every once in a great while, he shows little glimpses of decency and honor (like when he protected Brienne–at great cost to himself–and in his obvious love and respect for his brother) that make him darn-near likeable.
He’s the King of Hell, and he’s all kinds of awesome. Why? He gets all the best lines on the show, delivered with wry wit (not to mention the wicked-cool accent), and never apologizes for/broods about what he is. He’s always a step ahead of the Winchesters, which would really bug me if it were anyone else. But Crowley? Eh, I’m OK with it. (I also love how Crowley calls Sam “Moose”, and refers to Dean as either “Squirrel” or “Not Moose”. Hilarious.) And a note off-topic in case any network execs are reading this: I would totally watch a Crowley/Castiel/Bobby Singer spin-off.
Special Agent Alex Mahone, Prison Break
The intense William Fichtner played corrupt Special Agent Alex Mahone to perfection. He wasn’t always likeable, but when he was onscreen, heowned it. He was the only other character on the show who was on an even mental playing field with the main hero, Michael. And Mahone was exceedingly complex. One minute he was killing off a main character (poor Tweener), and the next he’s calling his ex-wife and showing a kind of sad, sweet vulnerability that makes you want to give him a big hug (and help him get into drug rehab…but that’s another story).
Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
So, technically, by the end of Buffy the Vampire slayer, Spike was a hero who not only had a soul, but also managed to save the world. But before all that, Spike was a crazy, sexy, cool villain often referred to as The Big Bad. My favorite Spike moment of all time had him standing on a rooftop, watching Angel speak with a woman he’d just saved. Spike supplied his own dialog for both of them, switching his voice back and forth as he mocked Angel. It went like this:
In his girly voice: How can I thank you, you mysterious black-clad hunk of a night thing?
In his Angel voice: No need, little lady, your tears of gratitude are enough for me. You see, I was once a bad-ass vampire, but love–and a pesky curse–defanged me. Now I’m just a big fluffy puppy with bad teeth. No, not the hair, never the hair.
In his girly voice: But there must be some way I can…show my appreciation….
In his Angel voice: No, helping those in need is my job. And, working up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough.
In his girly voice: I understand, I have a nephew whose gay so…
In his Angel voice: Say no more! Evil is still afoot, and I’m almost out of that Nancy-boy hair gel that I like so much. Quickly, to the Angel-mobile…away!
Wile E. Coyote
Poor guy couldn’t catch a break (or a bird). Was I the only one who REALLY wanted to see the poor, hungry coyote catch and eat that roadrunner?
Did I forget any of your favorites? Let’s discuss…