The Nine Worst Single-Season Villains

“Dexter” has been on Showtime for six seasons now. That’s longer than the broadcast runs for “Friday Night Lights,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood,” “Twin Peaks,” “Six Feet Under,” and “Battlestar Galactica.” It’s been renewed for two more after this one, which will leap frog it over “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men,” and “The Shield.” Just say that out loud: Eight. Seasons. Of. “Dexter.” And if the next two are anything like the formulaic-to-a-fault one that mercifully finishes on Sunday, may God have mercy on us all. The two Big Bads (a term that means the main villain in a single season) this year, played by Colin Hanks and Edward James Olmos, have been the main problem. Why? Well, read on, as they’re one of the nine worst single-season villains in TV history.
(Spoiler alert, obviously.)

The term “Big Bad” originates from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” because with every new season came a season-long villain(s). There was the Master in one, Angelus/Spike/Dru in two…going all the way until season seven with the First Evil/Caleb. My least favorite of the Big Bads is season four’s “bio-mechanical demonoid” Adam (George Hertzberg), created by the Initiative to be the perfect organism. Think Frankenstein’s Monster, if said Monster had been built with human, demon, and robot body parts. Sounds cool, right? Wrong. Coming off a two-season high of Angelus and the Mayor, the emotionless Adam already had a lot going against him, and the fact that he wasn’t nearly half as witty or charming (actually, he wasn’t charming or witty at all — kind of like Riley) as those two did him no favors. He doesn’t even appear until the thirteenth episode of the season, too! Simply put, he just wasn’t interesting, something creator Joss Whedon has admitted as much in recent years. (For what it’s worth, Jasmine was the worst Big Bad on the “Buffy” spin-off, “Angel.”)
Hm, who would have thought “Dexter” tackling religion would lead to a bad season? Not I, says no one. This year has been a train wreck, with Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks) and Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) in the conductor’s seat. Most viewers guessed THE TWIST within three episodes, and it took way too long for the show to bring them and Dexter together. “Dexter” is at its best when there’s a visible chess match between the main protagonist and antagonist (think Trinity in season four); but for most of the season, Dexter and Travis/Gellar (spoiler?) weren’t even aware of one another. Combined with all the dumb plot twists, road trips to Nebraska, and the writers still feeling it necessary for voice-overs to explain EVERYTHING, this season is a new low for “Dexter.”
Season four of “True Blood,” which finished in September, puttered along for 12 episodes, without the show providing any of the cheesy thrills and cheap, enjoyable sexiness we’ve grown accustomed to it providing. But the biggest problem with last season was its Big Bad, Marnie the Witch (Fiona Shaw, best known as Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter films). A good “True Blood” villain needs to be unhinged and dangerous; Marnie was tepid throughout her run on the show, with a cop-out conclusion to her story. You got the feeling Shaw never knew what to do with the character, and it showed. At least Russell’s coming back for season five.
When I asked Dustin and Danger their picks for the worst single-season villains, the latter responded back to me within minutes, writing, “If you decide to include Oliver [Taylor Handley] from season one of “The O.C.,” feel free to mention that I think he is the king of the sh*theads and I hope he ended up dying alone at the bottom of a ravine.”
And Danger’s not the only one who hated that spoiled rich twerp; according to “The O.C.”‘s Wiki, “In the world of “The O.C.” fan fiction, very little fiction is written about Oliver, even in the slash communities, where a variety of minor male characters of “The O.C.” are written about frequently. The lack of fan fiction may be a standing testament to the lukewarm fan reception of Oliver as a character.” It may be? It is.
Wanna piss off an “Alias” fan? Just whisper the name “Lauren Reed” in their ear, and watch them either go ballistic with rage or find the nearest corner to cry in. After an awesome second season finale, where Agent Vaughn (Michael Vartan) informs Sydney (Jennifer Garner) that she’s been missing for two years, the third season began with a thud when Lauren (Melissa George) was introduced. Die-hards immediately disliked her because she romantically separated Sydney and Vaughn, and dislike grew to hatred when it was revealed she was a Double Agent working for the Covenant. And she slept with Sark (David Sanders). And she shot the show’s most likable character, Marshall (Kevin Weisman). In fact, she was detested so much that she was killed off-screen, the ultimate insult to a main character.
It’s true, he first appeared in season one, when he attempted to rape Tyra (Adrianne Palicki), but Ugh, That Guy, as fans (or I) have dubbed him, came back to the show during its second season premiere. He did his creepy stalker, attempted-rapist thing again, and after another attempted attack on Tyra (> Lyla), Landry (Jesse Plemons) hit him in the head with a metal pipe. Thus began the only terrible plot — a MURDER plot — in the five seasons of “Friday Night Lights.” It felt melodramatic and desperate and dumb, and many fans accused NBC of meddling with the show in an attempt to increase ratings (it didn’t work, either way); plus, it hovered over the entirety of season two, like an absent Big Gad. Thankfully, after the season-long cover-up by Tyra and Landry, Ugh, That Guy was never mentioned again.
We didn’t know Sophia (Madison Lintz) was a villain until the mid-season finale, but it all makes sense now: I can easily pin the blame for seven terrible episodes of “The Walking Dead” on her. NOTHING HAPPENED, because of her. The half-season can be described as such: Carl gets shot, Sophia gets lost, Rick & Co. find a barn, Carl gets better, Sophia remains lost, Sophia’s a zombie. That’s it. Nothing else of so-called importance happened, unless Lori making Glenn buy a pregnancy test or T-Dog doing T-Dog stuff was significant to you. Even the Zombie Sophia was fu*king dumb — why wouldn’t Otis have mentioned to the group that two days before they arrived, he found a girl who matches the description of the person they’re looking for? GAH. I really hate this show. And Shane. And Sophia. But especially Shane. But especially Zombie Sophia.
I appreciate James Cromwell trying to go from America’s Grandpa to “24” Bad Guy, and maybe it would have been interesting if season six hadn’t been so awful, but holy smokes: was season six awful. It was a convoluted mess of confusing plots and double-crossing characters, with too many “I’ve seen this before, but better” moments. Crowell played Jack Bauer’s dad, Phillip, and we’re never given a truly solid reason for why he wanted to kill Jack and his grandson. And man oh man, he did not have a fun time:

On the floor of the set I saw this two-star general and asked him what he was doing there, and explained that he had come to talk to them about the presentation of torture, which I thought was eminently reasonable and necessary. And their reaction was flip, to my way of thinking. And to me they missed a great opportunity, which they could have done in the last season, to rectify what they had done — where he becomes disillusioned with this and makes every effort to change his techniques. It could’ve been a great contribution, but they didn’t have the imagination for that. (Metro)

No one was happy.

Honestly, I don’t even want to talk about the ninth and final season of “The X-Files” — it’s the Squeeze of TV seasons. There’s no reason the show should have continued when Fox Mulder left, because with all due respect to the T-1000, you were no Mulder, Robert Patrick. (Monica Reyes was even worse; Mitch Pileggi, though, he’s OK by me.) All fans wanted in the final season was to finally get some answers about Truth, but instead, even more questions were raised, mostly about the Super-Soldiers. The worst part, though, was that the S.S. (ohhh…) KILLED the Lone Gunmen, the best characters on the show by then. Let’s just pretend none of that ever happened, Armin Tamzarian-style.