5 TV Villains You Love to Hate

In the realm of television, the traditional format has mastered the art of presenting a hero that viewers can root for, keeping them engaged week after week. However, it is often the portrayal of a compelling villain that takes a series to new heights of success. A well-crafted villain possesses the power to captivate audiences just as effectively as a strong hero.

Despite their despicable nature, these characters possess an undeniable allure that hooks the audience, making them eagerly anticipate their ultimate demise or downfall. Whether it’s a complex backstory, cunning strategies, or simply an irresistibly charismatic presence, a good villain adds a thrilling dimension to a television series, leaving viewers yearning for more. So, these are 5 TV villains you loved to hate.

5. Sue Sylvester From Glee

Jane Lynch in Glee (2009)

Glee aired from 2009 to 2015 and captured the hearts of millions worldwide with its captivating plot and memorable musical performances. The show revolved around a high school glee club, comprised of a diverse group of students who bonded over their shared love for singing and performing. Led by their enthusiastic teacher, Mr. Schuester, these talented misfits navigated the challenges of adolescence, each facing their own personal struggles while striving to create harmonious music.

Glee’s success was unprecedented, as its engaging storylines and vibrant musical numbers propelled it into the spotlight, creating a cultural phenomenon. Despite its mostly light-hearted nature, Jane Lynch‘s portrayal of Sue Sylvester, the conniving and often menacing cheerleading coach, left an indelible mark on the show. Lynch’s impeccable timing and razor-sharp wit brought the perfect balance of comedy and villainy to Glee. To that, Sue Sylvester quickly became one of the most iconic characters in television history.

4. Lorne Malvo From Fargo

Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo in Fargo

Across his storied career in Hollywood, Billy Bob Thornton has portrayed a wide range of characters. However, it’s clear that where he truly shines is with his villainous roles. To that, Thornton’s memorable rendition in the hit series, Fargo, serves as one of the greatest ever TV villains. Fargo borrows the same name from the Oscar-winning film from the Coen Brothers. However, it is not a sequel as such. With that said, the series shines in its own uniqueness yet still carries a tone that resembles the Coen Brothers’ material.

In the first season, Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, an unsuspecting psychopath who derails the life of a mild-mannered man. After a chance encounter, Malvo involves himself in the troubles of Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), subsequently leading to a string of violent deaths. Where Fargo differs from other crimes series is with its structure. Whereas most crime series start with a mystery that requires solving, Fargo opens with the carnage and allows the viewer to witness the aftermath. Now into its fifth season, Fargo season one still stands out high amongst the rest thanks to the menacing performance from Thornton as Malvo. Although he is a repulsive character, it is hard to not find yourself captivated by his cunningness and unpredictability.

3. Gus Fring From Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul

Giancarlo Esposito in Better Call Saul (2022)

Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito) undeniably stands out as one of the most memorable TV villains of all time. His presence in both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is a testament to his enduring impact. Fring’s portrayal as a cold and calculating criminal mastermind is flawlessly executed, making him a well-composed yet terrifying villain. Although his actions are undeniably atrocious, it is precisely these behaviors that contribute to his unforgettable nature.

Fring’s ability to bring a level of intensity to both shows is unparalleled. Whether it be his sinister gaze, his composed demeanor, or his ruthless, never-ending pursuit of power, Fring’s every move is menacingly calculated to perfection. To that, he is a classic TV villain that you simply love to hate, effortlessly leaving a lasting impression on viewers and solidifying his status as an icon in television villainy. What’s more, the fact that the writers of Better Call Saul worked out how to bring Fring back for the prequel only serves as a testament to the popularity of the character.

2. Hannibal Lecter From Hannibal

Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal (2013)

Hannibal, the hit show adapted from Thomas Harris‘ novels, delves deep into the twisted mind of the infamous cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The series follows FBI profiler Will Graham, who forms a complicated relationship with Lecter while investigating horrendous serial murders. While the plot is undoubtedly captivating, it is Mads Mikkelsen‘s portrayal of Dr. Lecter that truly steals the show.

Despite portraying such an atrocious and manipulative man, Mikkelsen’s impeccable performance is undeniably a key factor in the show’s glaring success. With his commanding presence and subtle nuances, Mikkelsen effortlessly captivates the audience whenever he graces the screen, leaving them in awe of the complexity and darkness that lies within Lecter’s character. With that said, thanks to his role in the show, Mikkelsen has truly become one of Hollywood’s most dependable villains, most recently starring as the haunting Dr. Voller in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

1. Billy Hargrove From Stranger Things

Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things (2016)

Dacre Montgomery joined the cast of Stranger Things in season two. After the glaring success of the first season, Montgomery came on board and took the show to new heights with his exhilarating role as Billy Hargrove. Alongside his sister, Max (Sadie Sink), Billy Hargrove enters the scene in Stranger Things season two as the typical tough-guy jock and bad boy eye candy. With his cocky attitude and rugged charm, he initially seems like a character merely meant to add drama to the small town of Hawkins. However, as the season progresses, Billy’s true nature emerges, and he becomes the season’s main villain.

In a chilling twist, Billy is infiltrated by the sinister presence from the upside down, turning him into a vessel for evil. His transformation is gradual, but his demeanor becomes increasingly menacing and violent. With his haunting leer and sinister cruel streak, Billy embodies the dark forces that threaten the safety of Hawkins. This unexpected shift in his character makes him a standout antagonist, demonstrating the depth and complexity of the show’s storytelling. Furthermore, season two boasts one of the best fight scenes of the show, when Steve finally stands up to the intimidating force that is Billy. Relatively unknown before his role in Stranger Things, Montgomery has since become a breakout star thanks to his iconic rendition as one of the best TV villains of the last few decades.

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