The Best TV Villains

Whether it’s a super-powered mercenary, a comic classic, or a creepy stalker, evil’s taken many different forms on TV. But they all have something in common: they’re all damaged. The difference between them and a hero, however, is that they’ve let that damage ruin them. Below, I’ve created a list of some of my favorites.

10. Kilgrave from ‘Jessica Jones’

Kilgrave from the show, "Jessica Jones" played by actor, David Tennant

Kilgrave was especially eerie because of how obsessive he was with Jessica. That plus the mind control power made him dangerous, which is why it’s understandable how even Jessica Jones, with her super strength, was scared of him.

9. Eobard Thawn from ‘The Flash’

Eobard Thawne from the show, "The Flash" played by actor, Tom Cavanagh

Coming in at number nine, we have the OG big bad of The Flash, Eobard Thawne, also known as the Reverse Flash. While Matt Lescher did an admirable job of playing him, I prefer Cavanagh’s interpretation. The twist in season one where he turned out to be Barry’s mentor, Dr. Harrison Wells, was incredibly well done. Plus, the fact that he manipulated Barry from the start and continued to through his daughter, Nora, makes him an even better villain.

8. Ricardo Diaz from ‘Arrow’

Ricardo Diaz from the show, "Arrow" played by actor, Kirk Acevedo

The strength of Diaz’s character, I believe, really came from the actor who played him, Kirk Acevedo. His voice was probably my favorite part of how Acevedo played him. He has this raspy soft voice that just works and makes my skin crawl. Diaz was just so unapologetically diabolical and he made such a profound impact on Oliver and his family. You just knew that when you heard that theme music, something bad was gonna go down.

7. Joe Goldberg from ‘You’

Joe Goldberg from the show, "You" played by actor, Penn Badgely

I’ve loved You since it first started on Lifetime. Thanks to Netflix, it became insanely popular when its second season dropped. And it deserves all the praise. This alternate-reality version of Dan Humphrey is just creepy. Not because he’s inherently evil but it’s because he’s (at least in some ways) realistic. The internet, social media, and the fact that people love to post about everything. Joe’s just someone who takes advantage of that by stalking the women he’s “in love” with and uses what he knows to get them to fall for him.

6. Jim Moriarty from ‘Sherlock’

Jim Moriarty from the show, "Sherlock" played by actor, Andrew Scott

Moriarty from Sherlock made for such a great villain. He’s organized all the crime happening but somehow goes undetected. Until Sherlock finally figured it out. However, Moriarty’s death is still highly debated. He was such a mastermind that we’re left wondering, is he really dead? The mystery behind his alleged death combined with Andrew Scott’s shocked face makes Moriarty an exceptionally persistent villain.

5. Henry Dunn from ‘Harper’s Island’

Henry Dunn from the show, "Harper's Island" played by actor, Christopher Gorham

Harper’s Island continues to be one of my all-time favorite shows. All because of how great the build-up was. When they revealed Henry as the killer (sorry, spoilers!), I was shocked. It was played out so well and that is just a testament to how great this show was written. I highly highly recommend this show for anyone who hasn’t checked it out.

4. Slade Wilson from ‘Arrow’

Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke from the show, "Arrow" played by actor, Manu Bennett

Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke is such a beloved character in the comic verse. And I believe Arrow served that character justice. I grew up knowing who he was from watching Teen Titans (NOT Teen Titans Go!, mind you) and watching a live-action version of him was riveting. Manu Bennett, in my opinion, was the perfect actor for the role and he played it expertly. That scene where he kills Moira still makes me emotional to this day.

3. Percy from ‘Nikita’

Percy from the show, "Nikita" played by actor, Xander Berkeley

Percy from Nikita comes in at number three on this list because I just love how his story played out. In hindsight, you could look at him as being someone who started as a good guy but got greedy and wanted more. He started Division to legalize and legitimize Carla’s efforts of getting inmates out of jail. But being a government program didn’t give him enough money so he got funding elsewhere. Percy made Division go from being a secret black ops program into a contract killing program. Then, when he got ousted, his black boxes kept him alive, and the fact that he thought all of that through was genius.

2. Lex Luthor from ‘Smallville’

Lex Luthor from the show, "Smallville" played by actor, Michael Rosenbaum

The original evil genius and comic classic: Lex Luthor. Watching Smallville was truly my childhood as I remember watching it every week with my family. The development of his character had this incredible buildup and Michael Rosenbaum’s acting chops only made it better. I still rewatch the show even today, and it’s in part because of Michael’s performance. He is, quite frankly, the best live-action Lex Luthor there ever was.

1. Amanda from ‘Nikita’

Amanda from the show, "Nikita" played by actress, Melinda Clarke

And taking the number one spot is Amanda (or should I say Helen) from Nikita. Amanda’s methods were always so methodical and watching her just barely make it out of every season (until the end) was exciting to watch. Finally seeing the character’s background just made the story even stronger because it answered the question of why. Amanda’s character was basically the epitome of an evil genius, so you know her backstory had to be dark. The story was really what made this character such a great villain. But it was also in part from how she was portrayed, so hats off to you, Melinda Clarke.

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