So Nasty and So Rude: The Real Housewives' Most Memorable Villains

From Danielle Staub to Phaedra Parks, these are the most memorable villains to ever bedevil the Real Housewives universe.

By Billy Nilles Feb 29, 2020 11:00 AMTags
Real Housewives VillainsBravo/Getty Images/E! Illustration

What's the Real Housewives franchise without its villains?

You know the ones—those women and men who you just absolutely love to hate, who stir the pot with ruthless abandon, making sure that there's never a dull moment in any of the cities. From Danielle Staub, who just finished terrorizing The Real Housewives of New Jersey for a second time in the recently-wrapped season tenth season, to gone-but-not-forgotten folks like The Real Housewives of Atlanta's Phaedra Parks and The Real Housewives of New York City's Aviva Drescher, they're the antagonists who've bedeviled the stars of the beloved Bravo franchise, helping generate story with their jaw-dropping antics.

And while we'd never want to find ourselves trapped in a room with many of them, we thank them for their service because we'd have no show without them.

Of course, not all villains are made equal. While some fade from memory almost as quickly as the camera turns away from them, there are those who we'll never be able to forget no matter what.

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These are the most memorable villains to ever grace the Real Housewives universe.

Danielle Staub

No one has seemed to relish playing the role of the villain more than The Real Housewives of New Jersey OG Danielle Staub. In season one, she attempted to damage Dina Manzo's family in an alarmingly permanent way. And by season two, her relationship with everyone had grown so antagonistic that, after causing Teresa Giudice to see red and throw Andy Cohen like a rag doll at the reunion, she did not return for seven years, after miraculously making up with Tre. But it became clear quickly that she hadn't changed much and after yanking—hard—on Margaret Joseph's hair in season 10, she announced her departure once more.

Brandi Glanville

When the spurned ex-wife of Eddie Cibrian joined The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in season two, she had viewer sympathy after we all watched the ugly way Kim and Kyle Richards treated her. Remember when they hid her crutches? But by season five, she'd lost the support of nearly all of her co-stars, save for Yolanda Hadid and, inexplicably Kim. Throwing wine in Eileen Davidson's face and slapping Lisa Vanderpump across the cheek certainly didn't help matters. (And who can forget the bomb she dropped on Adrienne Maloof in season three, sharing something so incendiary, we were never allowed to hear exactly what it was?) Unlike most of the others on this list, though, Brandi never really devolved into outright villainy. She was just messy AF. And that's why we can't wait for her return to the show in the forthcoming tenth season.

Aviva Drescher

When Aviva Drescher joined The Real Housewives of New York City in season five, she won viewers over by daring to take on Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan during an epic argument in St. Barts. But whatever goodwill she'd earned for herself quickly dissipated in season six when she quickly attacked the legitimacy of Carole Radziwill's authorship of her memoir almost entirely out of the blue, repeatedly concocted excuses that kept her from traveling with the women, and, in a spectacular flame out, threw her prosthetic leg across swanky NYC hot spot Le Cirque to prove a point.

Phaedra Parks

During much of her run on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, there was no one funnier than Phaedra Parks, Esq. But by season nine of the show, she made her descent into full-blown villainy, concocting a vicious rumor about former bestie Kandi Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker to get back at them for remaining close to her ex-husband Apollo Nida after he went to prison. When it was revealed at the reunion that she was the mastermind behind the ugly story claiming the couple planned to drug and rape Porsha Williams, it was all over for Phaedra.

Kim DePaola

There's very little that this Real Housewives of New Jersey "Friend of" doesn't seem willing to do so long as it guarantees her screen time. She's never met a cruel piece of gossip that she wasn't willing to repeat on camera, repeatedly allowed her annual Posche Fashion Show to be the setting for some of the show's uglier moments, and never doesn't seem truly sweaty in her bids for relevance within the world of the show.

Camille Grammer

It's hardly an understatement to describe the way Camille Grammer treated her co-stars in the first season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and to Kyle Richards especially, as wretched. As her marriage to Kelsey Grammer was clearly crumbing, she took all the anger and sadness out on the other ladies, leaving her almost universally despised by viewers. Free from Kelsey in season two, she made a spectacular rebound by seeming like an entirely different person, though she squandered much of that goodwill with appearances in season nine that felt like season one Camille had returned in full force.

Michael Darby

None of the women on The Real Housewives of Potomac, save for his wife Ashley Darby, have ever seemed to like Househusband Michael Darby all that much. And when, in season four, he was accused by a camera man working on the show of sexual assault for "grabbing and groping" his butt—charges he's repeatedly denied despite damning audio and were eventually dropped due to insufficient evidence—there was very little patience left for the Aussie import.

Brooks Ayers

There are only two words that need to be said about this ex of Real Housewives of Orange County's Vicki Gunvalson, who was on the show from season seven through ten and drove a wedge between her and her allies that she never really recovered from: Fake cancer. 

Allison Dubois

There are fewer moments more unforgettable in the entire Real Housewives canon than the dinner party from hell in season one of Beverly Hills, when Camille Grammer invited vaping medium Allison Dubois (the inspiration behind the show Medium, which was produced by Kelsey Grammer) to dine with the other ladies. Seemingly ordered to strike Grammer's enemies, Dubois told Kyle Richards that her husband would never fulfill her and flat-out told the women she knew when they all would die, each word out of her mouth more antagonistic than the last. Iconic.

Vicki Gunvalson

After Ayers disappeared in disgrace, it was hard for the OG of the OC to shake the stink of the grievous lie he involved her in. From season 11 through her departure after season 14, Vicki Gunvalson spent most of her time involved in bitter feuds with ladies she'd spread vicious gossip about, e.g. Kelly Dodd and "the train." That her demands at the season 14 reunion, where she was merely a Friend of, were the last we'd ever see of her on the franchise drove home just how far the pioneering star had fallen from grace.

LeeAnne Locken

LeeAnne Locken's time, at least initially, on The Real Housewives of Dallas was the very definition of "love to hate." She policed people's behavior by threatening their status in Dallas society, despite never coming off as much more than a grifter herself. She made threatening remarks and accused one frenemy's husband of "getting his d--k sucked at the Round-Up," a gay bar in Dallas. By season four, however, the "love" began to leave the equation with each racist remark used to refer to new co-star Kary Brittingham and, by the reunion, even host and Bravo overlord Andy Cohen seemed to have had enough. It came as little surprise when departure from the series was announced a month later.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey's three-part reunion special kicks off Wednesday, March 4, at 8 p.m., while The Real Housewives of Atlanta continues Sundays at 8 p.m., only on Bravo.

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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