TNT, FOX, ABC
TNT, FOX, ABC
Hands down, Larry Hagman was just plain good at being bad.
The late actor, who died of complications from cancer at the age of 81, left behind one of TV's most indelible villains: Dastardly oil-baron J.R. Ewing from Dallas, whose now-classic "Who Shot J.R. Ewing?" story arc solidified the show's reputation as a pop-culture phenom.
He's got some pretty sinister company. From Glee's Sue Sylvester to Lost's Ben Linus, the TV landscape is littered with hives of lying, scheming, malevolent miscreants: sinister souls you just love to hate. Let the knives fly!
Dynasty's Alexis Carrington (Joan Collins): What could be more badass than '80s-era mega-shoulder pads and Aqua Net-puffed poufs? Try this deliciously devious femme fatale, who—from 1981 to 1989—burned up the hit ABC show with her nonstop scheming as she attempted to sabotage the marriage of ex Blake (John Forsyth) to Krystle (Linda Evans) while devouring men along the way. Bonus points for her earth-shatteringly awesome catfight with Krystle in a pond!
Lost's Ben Linus (Michael Emerson): The kicky Survivor-goes-sci-fi show was never short on lowlifes. (Hello, Nikki and Paulo! Or rather, goodbye...thanks to a venomous spider.) But the epically evil Ben takes the cake, responsible for everything from killing his own father to shooting John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) point blank to, well, leading the Others to terrorize our band of survivors.
Glee's Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch): High school itself is already torture enough—imagine having to contend with this acid-tongued blowhard on the faculty! In Sue Sylvester's world, nothing is off-limits, from jaw-droppingly un-PC quips about race to lacerating zingers about sexual orientation to throwdowns about Mr. Schue's hair. 'Nuff said.
The Sopranos' Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini): As far as morally murky antiheroes go, the Jersey mob boss is the big don: ruthless and sentimental, menacing and complex. His vicious predilection for whacking his foes with swift vengeance reached its grotesque apex with the brutal execution of protégé Christopher's (Michael Imperioli) girlfriend Adriana (Drea de Matteo), whose demise still ranks as one of the most shocking deaths in the annals of TV.
Melrose Place's Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear): The apartment complex's resident bitch was a comely mass of conniving, percolating malice. On her agenda? Everything from stealing lovers to committing arson to faking her own death—all while dressed in impeccable power suits with a whiff of steely-sexy insouciance.
The Simpsons' Mr. Burns (Harry Shearer): What would Springfield be without Homer Simpson's delectably malevolent boss and owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant? Threats, blackmail, bribery—they're all standard operating procedure for this incarnation of corporate greed-gone-gonzo. A note to the wise: Steer clear of his rabid attack dogs, which he'll readily unleash with wanton glee. We can just hear him now: Eeeeeeexcellent.
All My Children's Erica Kane (Susan Lucci): For 41 years, the most popular soap-opera character of all time chewed up the scenery with her savory narcissism, femme-fatale maneuverings and bitch-tastic bons mots. In a genre bursting with its fair share of vixens and scene stealers, Lucci ruled them all, earning infamy both on screen and off: After a record 19 losses at the Emmys over 30 years, Lucci finally nabbed her statuette in 1999. Something tells us Erica herself would be proud of Lucci's grit.
American Horror Story's Rubber Man (Evan Peters): Old homes are known for having distinctive character. This haunted mansion's personality comes in the form of an otherworldly sicko in a rubber suit, who terrorizes the manse's residents in season one of the hit frightfest. On his rap sheet? Bludgeoning couples to death, freaking the bejeezus out of unsuspecting folks and impregnating unsuspecting wives. Rubber lover, indeed.
Can't get enough of our all-time best baddies? Check out our gallery of more TV villains!