With all the snide remarks and inside jokes constantly going around, it’s easy to forget all the formidable adversaries that the gang from Archer, formally known as ISIS, currently known as the Figgis Detective Agency, has had to contend with over the last seven seasons. From eco-terrorists to assassins, double-agents to contract killers, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) has been there to face off against them all, although sometimes unintentionally. While he may not always come out on top, here’s a ranking of the most formidable bad guys from Archer.
Even though he wasn’t around all that long (he was introduced and killed in Archer’s pilot episode), Crenshaw (Shelly Desai) was our first real glimpse into what we could expect from the show’s bad guys. In this case, a KGB mole who was trying to take down the agency from the inside. After he’s found out and tries to make an escape, we also see just how well Archer can handle himself in a situation like this, which is a mix between highly capable and terribly awkward. Still, Archer not only kills Crenshaw, but he uses the whole situation to cover up the excessive use of his expense account.
12. Captain Lammers
Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) may have called in a fake bomb threat just to get a free ride on the state-of-the-art airship Excelsior, but it turned out that the ship’s captain, Captain Lammers (Stephen Stanton), had brought one on board himself to detonate for real. Lammers’ villainy wasn’t rooted in espionage or a quest for power, but rather, vengeance and his plan to short the company’s stock that built the Excelsior in order to recoup the losses from his 401K. Even though Archer managed to diffuse the bomb and save everyone on board, Lammers went ahead and made his getaway anyway via parachute. The company’s stock, presumably, was fine.
11. Manfred & Uta
Two freelance spies who are willing to take on any job for the right payday, Manfred (Rene Auberjonois) and his pregnancy-obsessed girlfriend, Uta (Kathryn Cressida), were worthy allies and adversaries, depending on who was bankrolling their mission. After all, these were the two that were hired to kidnap Archer and who then managed to implant a mind-control device inside his head. No small feat here.
10. Tony Drake
An accomplished — albeit unstable — astronaut, Tony Drake (Bryan Cranston) had delusions of founding a colony on Mars, believing that the Earth would be uninhabitable in less than 200 years. He stages his takeover of the Space Station Horizon to look like a hostage situation, luring ISIS into orbit solely to eliminate them. That and to have Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) there for breeding purposes (Mars isn’t gonna populate itself, after all). His plan is ultimately foiled by Archer and company, and Drake ends up killing himself rather than face the reality of his failed plan failing — which really underscores the whole ‘unstable’ thing.
9. Rona Thorne
Rona Thorne (Rachael Harris) spent years hiding in both plain sight and basking in her celebrity. A sleeper cell KGB agent, she used her fame as an Oscar-winning movie star to gain access to ISIS, claiming she needed to spend time with their agents to help properly research a role. After she injects Lana and Archer with a paralyzing dose of Tetrodotoxin, she tells them about her backstory, and her mission to kill the Soviet Premier, all in classic Bond villain style. While neither Archer nor Lana are capable of stopping her, she completes her mission before a remarkably easy get away future as a Russian film director.
8. Mr. Rompers
There isn’t much known about Mr. Rompers (Randy Havens), other than his gang of heavily armed clowns successfully took an entire mansion of people hostage, all in their quest for the Czarina necklace. They also managed to win the affections of Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) — though the latter isn’t exactly a challenge. Still, Mr. Rompers and company prove to be more clever than anticipated, as just when it looks like they’ve been beaten, they end up walking away from the whole situation scot-free, leaving everyone dressed in clown costumes.
7. Captain Hazel “Hank” Murphy
The mentally unhinged captain of Cecil Tunt’s (Eugene Mirman) underwater sea lab, Captain Murphy (Jon Hamm) was an aspiring eco-terrorist hell-bent on destroying the world if his ocean-saving demands weren’t met. He also claimed to have an arsenal of XV nerve gas missiles to do it. Although, after Lana “interviews” Murphy while (she disguises herself as a reporter) she starts to realize that he may not have any missiles at all. That doesn’t stop him from trying to accomplish his plan, as he takes out a knife and holds it to Lana’s throat, though. What does stop him, however, is a misguided weapons modification (courtesy of Krieger) and an off-brand soda machine. Just like the gypsy told him.
6. Charles & Rudy
Hitmen Charles and Rudy (The State and Reno 911 alums Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant) might not have seemed like much of a threat at first, but they end up being worthy adversaries when they betray, and nearly kill, Archer after helping him recover a sex tape of his mother and KGB head Nikolai Jakov (Peter Newman). If that weren’t enough, they get yet another chance to double-cross Archer years later, this time making off with 19 kilos of their cocaine after paying them off with $1 million in Monopoly money. They even fake their own deaths in the process, despite how overly complicated of a plan that was.
5. Lucas Troy
Trained as an ISIS agent before defecting to the rival agency ODIN, Lucas Troy (Timothy Olyphant) has a pretty impressive track record of villainous behavior for only being around for one episode. Troy steals uranium from ODIN and kills several of his fellow agents (along with one hobo and possibly a dentist in the process). It turns out, he did it all for his misguided fantasy that he and Archer would leave the world of espionage behind to run a bed and breakfast together. It’s a sobering reminder that there’s nothing like unrequited love (and some stolen uranium) to really pose a threat to the world at large.
4. Conway Stern
Brought into ISIS as part of a diversity hire program, Conway Stern (Coby Bell) was later revealed to be a double agent who betrays Archer in the field and nearly kills him in the process — though not without the cost of his left hand when trying to escape. Years later, he shows up again as a CIA agent that Archer and company are hired to extract (his hand replaced with a robotic one), and history ends up repeating itself. Stern, once again, double-crosses archer, almost kills him, and then loses his other hand while trying to escape.
3. Nikolai Jakov
Nikolai Jakov was the Darth Vader to Sterling Archer’s Luke Skywalker. As head of the KGB, he had a relationship with Archer’s mother, Malory, that went back decades, making him the most likely person to be Archer’s real father. While he was technically an enemy of both ISIS and the U.S., Jakov seemed to wield his considerable power as a way to reach out and learn more about Sterling Archer. After Jakov is replaced as the head of the KGB, he even attempts to defect to ISIS, only to be killed while searching for closure.
2. Katya Kazanova
Out of all the women that Archer has been with over the years, no one has had a hold on him like Katya Kazanova (Ona Grauer). To make Katya happy, Archer had given up drinking (not entirely, out of fear of a cumulative hangover) and was ready to marry her, only to have their wedding end in tragedy. That is, until Krieger got ahold of her body, turning her into a super-powered cyborg.
While Katya was always able to manipulate Archer to her will, as she climbs her way to power, she evolves into a cold and calculated KGB leader, which could spell even bigger trouble for Archer and his associates in the coming years.
1. Barry Dylan
Without question, Archer’s most formidable opponent is former ODIN agent, and current faceless cyborg, Barry Dylan (Dave Willis). After Archer dropped Dylan off a roof (twice), then later stole his fiance, Katya, you could say that Barry’s got quite the ax to grind. Over the years that followed, Barry’s tracked Archer all across the globe (and once in orbit), showing up ready to enact revenge against his arch-nemesis. Like a few others on this list, he’s also a bit unstable, often referring to himself — or his gun — as ‘Other Barry,’ making him the complete package when it comes to Archer’s formidable, near-unstoppable adversaries.
Will this list someday need to be reshuffled or amended to include a new villain? Luckily, we’ve got a long time to find out.