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411 Movies Top 5: Top 5 TV Villains

January 24, 2015 | Posted by Shawn S. Lealos

The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week’s topic…

The Top 5 TV Villains

Michael Weyer
5. THE MASTER From the start, it was easy to see what he was for. If Doctor Who is a time-travelling Sherlock Holmes, then the Master is his Moriarty. A childhood friend turned arch-rival, the Master appeared in the Third Doctor’s tenure, played with charming menace by Roger Delgado as a great opposite number to the Doctor, willing to kill millions for his plans for power but Delgado still so great in the role that when he died in 1973, the part was retired. But he would return, soon taking on the body of Anthony Ainley, a bit hammy but still amazing in his plots and the clashes with the Doctor. Eric Roberts took the role on for the 1996 TV movie in his usual over-the-top style but it matched here. A long absence had him returning in the current show, a brief appearance by Derek Jacobi before regenerating into the wild John Simm who took it to new insane heights. Finally, Michelle Gomez put a spin as “the Mistress,” totally insane and yet wanting to show this odd connection between the Master and the Doctor. No matter what face he/she wears or what they plan, the Master is an integral part to the Doctor Who mythos, a mirror to the Doctor’s own dark parts and one of the best baddies you love to hate.

4. FRANCIS URQUHART Much has been made of Netflix’s take on House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. But to me, the original British version is still far better, especially in his protagonist. Portrayed with chilling charm by Ian Richardson, Francis Urquhart is a Shakespearean figure, a man who claims he’s comfortable as a “backdoors boy” but secretly plotting to assume power. Nothing is beyond him, not betrayal, blackmail, threats and even murder of his own mistress. Richardson gives a wonderful air to the character as he addresses the camera to defend his actions, smirking through it all. “You might very well think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.” It gets better as the series goes, a man willing to challenge the King and then battle to cement his legacy to the world no matter what. From start to finish, a stunning showcase of how, if power corrupts, what happens when an already corrupt man gets some?

3. JIM PROFIT I always cut Fox slack for canceling Profit after only a handful of episodes in 1996 as that show was so ahead of its time, it’s amazing it got on the air at all. The reason for that is Adrian Padsar in his breakout performance as Jim Profit, a complete sociopath willing to go to any lengths (bribery, blackmail, murder) to get ahead at his company. He’s deeply disturbed, shown by how he sleeps naked in small box in his swank apartment and the irony that he’s just more open about how cutthroat the business world is is delicious. With voiceovers, Padsar gave us a fascinating look at a twisted mind and it was thrilling seeing his plans and such work out so amazingly well. It ended quickly but paved the road for slews of TV anti-heroes since and remains one of the most standout creeps television has ever seen.

2. THE JOKER He’s been played on screen many times, from Cesar Romero in the 1960’s TV show to Heath Ledger on the big screen. But for my money, the best representation of the Joker was on the Batman the Animated Series. Voiced brilliantly by Mark Hamill, this take on the Clown Prince of Crime was sheer genius, a complete lunatic but also a smart thinker. Unpredictable with schemes that made sense only in his warped mind (the Laughing Fish for example) Hamill sold it all with a wicked laugh and a wild touch to make it clear the Joker was seeing the world as one massive prank to enjoy. His clashes with Batman were great but also showed how it’s best not to underestimate the Joker (“I know how the Bat thinks.”) and why he is the greatest among all of Batman’s foes.

1. J.R. EWING “You judge a man by his friends and enemies. My friends are in the State House. My enemies are a little harder to find.” For 14 seasons, millions tuned into Dallas every week to see what depths J.R. Ewing would sink to in his never-ending quest for power and money. Larry Hagman was utterly brilliant as this conniving cad, a man who’d do most anything to get ahead, no matter who he had to wreck to do it. When he was shot, the reason it worked was because there was barely anyone on the show who didn’t want J.R. dead. Yet despite all his scheming and such, you just had to enjoy how well Hagman threw himself into the role, an evil devil but one we could enjoy and, on occasion, even find ourselves rooting for (although the times J.R. got a well-deserved comeuppance were great too). In 2012, Hagman returned for the Dallas revival and was right back to J.R. being evil and sneaky in a new generation. His sudden death rocked the show hard, a loss you couldn’t get over as the world just isn’t the same without him. From start to finish, one of the greatest bastards TV has ever seen in a performance never quite matched.

Bryan Kristopowitz
5. MR. MCMAHON – As much as I don’t like Vince McMahon as a person, I can’t deny that his Mr. McMahon asshole boss may be the greatest villain in the history of pro wrestling. An arrogant, rich prick that screwed an honest man, an honest hero out of his championship, Mr. McMahon decided to make the life of the WWF’s next hero, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, a living hell. In the process, he made everyone else’s life a living hell. Stone Cold being Stone Cold, though, didn’t take any of McMahon’s shit and hit him head on. Remember when he took Mr. McMahon hostage and made him piss his pants in the middle of the ring? The Mr. McMahon character hasn’t aged well mostly because of nostalgia (he’s still a goddamn prick but people cheer him).But if you look back to the late 1990’s, when Mr. McMahon became Mr. McMahon, he was on fire and the absolute worst person in the world of pro wrestling. No one has equaled that awfulness.

4. KARR – KARR, or the Knight Automated Roving Robot, was the antithesis of KITT, the Knight Industries Two Thousand that Michael Knight drove around for the Foundation for Law and Government in the mid-1980’s in Knight Rider. It looked exactly like KITT and had some of the same features (could talk, oil spray, could drive around by itself) but unlike KITT KARR was, for the lack of a better word, evil. KARR didn’t believe in helping people; KARR believed in helping itself. And it would do anything to help itself. I was surprised that the Knight Rider people didn’t do at least one more episode with KARR (they only did two), but then the show only lasted four seasons. Perhaps KARR was set to come back in a fifth season. I would have loved to see a TV movie type deal, one more battle between KITT and KARR. My nerd mind salivates at the thought of all of the cool car stunts they could have done. If a Knight Rider movie ever happens, I hope KARR is in it in some capacity. I mean, Peter Cullen is still alive and around. I’m sure he’d be all about doing the voice again.

3. COBRA COMMANDER – While it’s true that Destro always looked cooler (silver mask, black outfit) he just wasn’t as good of a bad guy as the Cobra Commander. He was the leader of the terrorist organization Cobra, he always had crazy schemes to commit evil, and he always somehow managed to convince oodles of people to join in his terrorist organization. And I’m not talking about Zartan and guys like that; I’m talking about the seemingly endless Cobra soldiers that did his bidding. What the hell did the Commander promise them to join up? Why the hell did they agree to fight G.I. Joe? The Commander must have been a great bullshitter. I always liked the helmet version of the Commander better than the loose mask version. Did he ever wear the silver metal outfit in the cartoon? I can’t remember. And he probably shouldn’t have created Serpentor. That was a big mistake.

2. NICOLE WALLACE – As played by Olivia d’Abo, Nicole Wallace was the criminal equal to master detective Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Every time she showed up you just knew that Goren was going to be severely tested. Usually, Goren destroyed his suspect at the end of every episode, but Nicole always gave it back to Goren tenfold. Their interrogation scenes were always thrilling. You always had to stay quiet and pay attention to what she was saying when she went head-to-head with Goren. She was an awful person, without question, but it was always a blast to see her back again. And when her character was killed off, it was kind of heartbreaking. An evil person was gone, yes, but not having Nicole around anymore was just… depressing. She should have been in the last episode.

1. THE CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN – The Cigarette Smoking Man was always in the background, even when he was a main character on The X-Files. He very rarely, if ever, did anything by himself. He always had someone else do it for him. Now, he did kill a bunch of people when he was a young government agent (JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr.), but the older he got the less he seemed to do. He was always too busy smoking, watching Mulder and Scully, and coming up with some new scheme within the overall context of the big alien conspiracy. And yet he was still exerting influence, he was playing off a respect that he earned while being a part of the dark machine. He was doing nothing and everything all at the same time. That, to me, is why he’s the greatest villain in TV history. What would have happened if his writing aspirations had panned out? How the hell could he have resigned from the machine? I’ve often wondered.

Jeremy Thomas
NOTE: I didn’t include antiheroes in my list and instead went for full-on villains, people who were antagonists to the main character(s). Antiheroes counts as its own sort of category to me and they tend to get an unfair advantage against villains because they tend to be the main characters and thus get more time and development.

5. Charles Logan24 saw a lot of great villains during its run, but none of them were more fascinating than Charles Logan. The man started out not as a straight-out villain but merely a politically savvy, morally flexible politician who ascended to the position of US president. Logan quickly established himself as one of Jack Bauer’s most formidable foes however as he tried to take Jack out before he could be turned over to the Chinese, then on Day Five had the beloved David Palmer killed along with Michelle. Palmer was one of the great examples of absolute power corrupting absolutely and he was a vital part of one of the show’s best seasons (not to mention his involvement in Days 4, 6 and 8).

4. Montgomery Burns – “Release the hounds.” You have to love Montgomery Burns for being the evillest person in Springfield (with the possible exception of Sideshow Bob). Mr. Burns is the perfect foil for the Simpson family, an out-of-touch member of the 0.00001% who serves as the corporate America against Homer and the clan’s middle class. Everything about him works perfectly within Matt Groenig’s universe and watching him plot horrible acts with Smithers is always a joy.

3. Joffrey Baratheon – Has there ever been anyone that we’ve loved to hate more than Joffrey? The boy king is one of the flat-out nastiest people in television history, a true monster who had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Whether he was tormenting Sansa, killing prostitutes, executing Ned or any of his other terrible deeds, Joffrey serves as an absolute line for a show whose moral palette pretty much consists of different greys. Joffrey finally got his just rewards last season and I’m not gonna lie…I’ll miss that evil, sociopathic little child of incest.

2. Mayor Richard Wilkins – Much like 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was populated with great villains and I could easily do a Top 5 Buffy villains on its own. Glorificus, Angelus, Darla, the Gentlemen…that’s just a few of the great villains the show had. It was essential for a show like Buffy to have good villains because the more formidable the villains, the more you respect the heroes for taking them down. Mayor Wilkins was a villain in a class of his own on the show. Richard Wilkins III, as played by the great Harry Groener, was an upbeat and affable dude who came right out of a 1960s sitcom. He was all about manners and friendliness, but he was also a stone-cold killer who became a true demon in order to…well, do what demons do. His relationship with Faith was an absolute (and unexpected) joy to behold and he helped make season three one of the most beloved of the series by far.

1. Gus Fring – There are no villains on TV as badass as Gus Fring that I can think of. Giancarlo Esposito’s terrifying meth dealer had a charitable facade, but underneath he was a ruthless murderer who would do anything to protect his own interests. Walter White is the kind of character that you really have to stretch to like. You can be fascinated by him and even admire what he’s accomplishing, but like? This is the guy who voluntarily let Jane die to protect his business. Thus, he needed someone even scarier and more ruthless to paint him as the hero. That someone was Gus, a man who was pretty much unstoppable. Hell, even Walter’s bomb seemed for a moment like it was going to be something he survived, at least until he turned his head and we saw that half his face was blown off. I don’t know that we’ll ever get a villain as great as Gus again.

Caliber Winfield
5. Eric This one is for the 8 year old Caliber Winfield. Really, is there a bigger jerk than Jessie’s step-brother, Eric? This guy was such a freakin’ dick! He gets evidence that Zack skipped school, so he forces him to give up his locker, he tapes Jessie getting all amorous with the curly Conan himself, Slater, and threatens to play the tape at school if she doesn’t give him her room! Then, he forces Slater to loan him his car, which in turn they give him Mr. Belding’s car so they can snap a picture of him driving it, thus getting him trouble, but Lisa ends up crashing it because she’s a girl! So, after that, the guys get the money to fix it, but then Eric has the shop class take apart the whole thing, so the guys will get expelled! Are you kidding me?! Why the hell didn’t Zack just call a time-up and then position Eric trying to grab a handful of Mr. Dewey’s hangdang in order to get him arrested or something? Eric use to bring my blood to a freaking boil as a kid, because he was such a smug asshole. He still is. It also pissed me off that Kelly defended him at first, as if black mail and threatening to humiliate your step-sister are common things to do when you’re home sick.

4. Murdoc – As a child, hell, even as an adult, there are few cooler than MacGyver. Now, when you have a cool hero, you’ve got to have a great villain, and they delivered big-time with his arch-rival, Murdoc. He was the world’s greatest hitman for hire who could never seem to kill Mac, and because of it his reputation was ruined, turning his sole mission in life to kill Angus MacGyver. The character was a complete psychopath who had a ton of charisma, and the ability to escape every death that he apparently fell victim too, only to show up years later with more scars, and a bigger chip on his shoulder. While he could have had MacGyver killed on numerous occasions, he always missed his chance because Mac’s death wasn’t enough. He had to out-wit and out-smart MacGyver first, truly defeating him, before lowering the boom. Also, he always had this thing for dressing up in drag. I’m not sure why, but he was always scarier in a dress.

3. Newman – It’s bad enough when your mortal enemy simply lives on the same planet as you, but what if he lived in the same building? Near your very home, where you come to play with your toys. So was the case for Jerry Seinfeld, whose mortal enemy, Newman, lived in the same apartment building, plotting and waiting for the day he could crush Seinfeld and wipe the smug grin from his face. Newman was a great character in that he was devious, but in an almost aristocratic way. He spoke with an eloquence about him, using abstract verbiage, and was even revealed to be a talented poet. He once used that very skill to try and help Kramer lure Jerry’s girlfriend away. He also had a grand victory when he caught not only Jerry breaking into his stereo system and committing mail fraud, but he also caught George being part of a mail-order pornography ring. In another world, he would have been a Bond villain.

2. The Trinity Killer – After years of doing comedy, John Lithgow made a triumphant return to drama as he proved once again that he’s one of the greatest villain actors of all time. The deranged Trinity Killer was a man who because of a rough child hood would now kill innocent women, men, and children, often in horrific fashion. People would get bludgeoned with hammers, and he’d simply return home as if it was just another day at the office. Beyond that, he appeared to have a wonderful family, and would do plenty of charity work, seemingly an awesome human being. But it was when you got behind the closed doors you saw him at his most vile, as he kept his family like prisoners. They were all terrified of him, as one second he was a man with a friendly grin that stretched from ear to ear, and in one second he could be breaking your bones for the slightest infraction. It was an absolutely brilliant character, made that much better by Lithgow’s performance.

1. Agent Stahl – Never have I reveled in joy over a season finale than that of the seasons 3 ender for Sons of Anarchy. Agent Stahl was a manipulative, cruel, narcissistic, vindictive, unlawful sack of crap who didn’t mind risking the lives of innocent people just to settle petty debts. She would toy with lives and take unnecessary risks in what she said was the name of the law, and when her plans had fatal consequences, she never took responsibility, or would act as if it was simply collateral damage. She was just as bad, if not worse than the people she chased, a real smug piece of shit that you were salivating to see get her comeuppance. Now, this may be deemed a spoiler, so avert your eyes if you haven’t seen the show, but when she does get her due, it is so unbelievably sweet.

YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS

List your Top Five for this week’s topic in the comment section using the following format:

5. CHOICE: Explanation
4. CHOICE: Explanation
3. CHOICE: Explanation
2. CHOICE: Explanation
1. CHOICE: Explanation

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