There’s a simple explanation behind the appeal of the best villains: People who do bad things are fascinating. It’s their motivations that drive the interest in their narratives. Are they doing the wrong things for the right reasons, or are they just out of their minds? It’s a question that’s usually asked of any good villain on TV. And it’s one worth asking because a good villain can make or break a show.
In 2015, we saw many villains on TV. But which ones stood out among the pack? The Uproxx staff put their heads together and came up with a compilation of the creepy characters, and charming sociopaths who made this year so unnerving..
(Some slight spoilers ahead.)
Chanel Oberlin — Scream Queens
“Good evening, idiot hookers.” That was our first introduction to Chanel Oberlin, the embodiment of every spoiled, rich, pretty co-ed who has ever walked a school campus. Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy were able to dabble in their brand of snark and superficiality with Nip/Tuck and Glee, but the creation of Chanel on Scream Queens is where they really perfected the recipe.
Chanel doesn’t have any special powers or army of knee-cracking henchmen at her disposal, but for someone who probably doesn’t weigh more than 110 pounds soaking wet, she’s just as ruthless as any mob boss. While the Red Devil looked the part – the killing thing helped, too – Chanel was the real villain of the show, dishing out insults that would make any high school bully wince. From the first episode, the show was criticized for being “too mean” and Chanel didn’t tone it down as the season went along, either. Perhaps Chanel just reminded critics a little too much of the real-life mean girls still roaming school hallways. — Joel Stice
Danny Rayburn — Bloodline
Ben Mendelsohn’s portrayal of Danny Rayburn is one of the best performances of 2015 — let’s start with that. With tortured eyes, a slow drawl, and a diabolical hiss lining his outbursts, Danny is a wholly unforgettable character one whose every decision was informed by the need for revenge. At times, it’s hard to know how to feel about Danny. On the one hand, he’s a product of a terrible incident, one that would have scarred even the strongest of us. On the other, Danny goes to great — and often unfair — lengths to extract what he sees as fit punishment for the crimes perpetrated against him. He doesn’t know which side of the treeline he should plant both feet on, and he constantly straddles a moral ambiguity that makes his most dastardly acts even more shocking. — Dariel Figueroa
Jim Hobart — Mad Men
In season one of Mad Men, Jim Hobart (H. Richard Greene) was the big game hunter, stalking his prey (Don Draper), setting traps (wooing Betty by offering her a chance at a renewed modeling career) and ultimately missing out on his prize, as Draper and the beating heart of Sterling Cooper walked out the door before they could join Hobart at McCann. Was he a villain? In a way. Hobart and his kind represented “The Man,” but in season seven, he grew horns and almost combusted from the heat of his small-minded rage when Joan stood up to him. Furthermore, Hobart broke Don’s heart and his spirit when the “white whale” was finally captured, only to be placed up on Hobart’s shelf like so many other lusted-over baubles.
The Night’s King — Game of Thrones
The Night’s King is somewhat unique as a villain because he’s barely had any screen time through the past five seasons of Game of Thrones. In season four, we got a glimpse of him turning a baby into an Other. That’s a triple score villain move right there. And then in season five, he finally shows us what he’s got with that epic owning of Wildlings and the Nights Watch at Hardhome.
He’s a pretty straightforward bad guy: Wherever he goes, death follows. Figuratively and literally. He kills everyone, and then everyone he kills rises from the dead and joins his army. The people of Westeros are lucky there’s a thousand-foot-tall magic wall between them and this bad dude. For now. — Ryan Harkness