Villains are often the best part of a television program. The heroes are usually hemmed in by boring restrictions like morality and the law. But the bad guys get to run wild and indulge in whatever happens to please them, whether it’s robbing banks or enjoying a particularly fine Homo Sapiens au Vin.
It’s well understood that these qualities contribute to a villain’s sex appeal. We’re attracted to danger and people who push the limits of conventional society. I learned that the hard way when I lost my 5th grade girlfriend to the guy who answered “NOT here!” when a substitute teacher was taking attendance. Television is full of beautiful stars but the following villains are so sexy that you might not mind ending up as their victims.
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings – The Americans
I don’t care how sympathetic the character is, like any good American I was raised to hate and fear commies. Humanizing them is dangerous, as this possibly NSFW gif demonstrates (that’s how you lose your political freedom and end up knee-deep in child support payments, kids).
All joking aside, Keri Russell’s turn in this spy drama has been impressive. Few of her contemporaries from the turn of the century teenage soap operas have been able to make the jump to modern success. The Americans has garnered almost universal acclaim and the lack of an Emmy nomination for Russell has raised the ire of millions of fans. Her performance is an interesting reversal of the old James Bond tropes; certainly sexy, but female and fighting for the wrong side.
Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
As the author of “An Erotic Life,” a self-proclaimed God, and a confirmed sociopath, Dennis Reynolds has had a lot of success with the ladies. If this doesn’t change your mind, then have a look back at some of his greatest hits here. There are no *good* people on Sunny, but Dennis is certainly leading the race to the bottom. His talent for ruining lives is tied to his absolute inability to care for anyone but himself. People who stand in Dennis’ way are likely to end up on the street or in rehab.
In the off season, Glenn Howerton has been branching out with stints on The Mindy Project and a particularly hilarious turn on Fargo.
Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode – American Horror Story: Coven
Jessica Lange has been a sex symbol for decades, and while other baby boomers are giving up mom jeans for pajama pants, she’s added another inch to her stilettos. As usual her character on last season’s American Horror Story was a highlight. The murderous head witch Fiona was obsessed with beauty and youth. Envy and dark powers usually don’t bode well for other, younger witches. Lange was nominated for a slew of awards in 2013, but sadly, has confirmed that next year will be her last on the show.
Megan Mullally as Tammy Swanson- Parks and Recreation
Of all the Tammys in Ron Swanson’s life, Tammy II is by far the hottest. She has a bottomless capacity for manipulation and a savage sexual appetite. That’s a dangerous combination and it’s easy to see why Ron has such a difficult time resisting her. Tammy thinks nothing of ruining a man’s life in order to acquire more space for a library. As Ron once said, “Every time she laughs, an angel dies.” Of all the villains on this list, Tammy is the one who could most easily convince you to sell your soul and thank her for it.
Nickolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey as Jaime and Cersei Lannister – Game of Thrones
Jaime and Cersei, or as I like to call them, The Osmonds of Westeros, are the perfect couple. They both have blond hair, chiseled features, and the same dad. Every relationship has its rough spots, but these two usually agree when it matters. Like when it comes to trying to murder a child who caught them “wrestling” in a tower. Any disfigured madman with a sword can easily become an antihero on Game of Thrones. Jaime and Cersei are more complicated. They have a sort of Beckham/Posh Spice dynamic that’s built on shared genes and violence.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, and Reid Scott as Selina, Amy, and Dan* – Veep
Veep is full of very attractive characters, and there isn’t one of them who wouldn’t slit everybody else’s throats for a flattering headline or a better job. Dreyfus, Chlumsky, and Scott are among the sexiest, and definitely play the most wicked roles on the show. In the phenomenal third season we’ve seen Vice President Selina Meyer consider firing her entire staff in order to hire the best campaign manager in the country. When that deal fell through, she gave the job to Beltway ghoul Dan, who recently admitted to killing a dog; you know, just for kicks. This didn’t sit well with Chief of Staff Amy, so she initiated a campaign of sabotage that was so ruthless it caused Dan to have a breakdown and end up in the hospital. Beautiful, and without a shred of morality between them, these three represent the largest group of villains in America; politicians.
Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder – Justified
Boyd Crowder has consistently been ranked as one of the best TV villains of all time. At this point, there is very little left to say about actor Walton Goggins or his character on Justified. Boyd’s hillbilly style is excellent, he looks like he got kicked out of The Lumineers because his hair was beginning to overshadow the group’s music. The greatest source of Boyd’s appeal is actually his silver tongue. He’s equally adept at seducing woman or convincing drug dealers not to bury him in the desert. As to villainy, last season on Justified he blew up a guy with a pack of cigarettes. If you haven’t seen the episode, that’s not a metaphor.
Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter – Hannibal
Anthony Hopkins made people fear Hannibal Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen made people want to sleep with him. Hannibal really is the whole package; educated, artistic, foreign; the manipulative cannibal part is really just icing on the cake. His European sensibilities ensure that he’s never under-dressed (there’s an entire blog dedicated solely to his ties). Even better, the dishes he prepares fit in perfectly with our national obsession with food porn (there are several blogs that focus on the show’s cuisine). And of course Hannibal is second to none when it comes to killing people.
As much as he enjoys hunting and eating his victims, he gets just as much pleasure out of manipulating his patients into committing crimes of their own. Equal parts charming and revolting, Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter is impossible to resist.
Honorable Mention: Naveen Andews as Jafar – Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Better check your crystal ball again Jafar, all the mind control and snake staffs in the world aren’t going to get the ladies back to your cave. Better luck next time.