Evildoers on parade

List of bad guys throughout TV drama history

We love to hate. Unscrupulous, incorrigible, bad-to-the-bone characters — whether it’s a neo-Nazi prisoner or a rotten boss — make every skein more fun. Here’s a list of several of the most badass characters in the history of drama, in order of evil:

Tony Soprano

(James Gandolfini)

“The Sopranos”

The mob boss isn’t kidding when he says he’s in the waste management business — he’s always giving orders to take out the trash — the human variety, that is. While he can be downright intimidating, his mother, Livia, was the most fearsome Soprano in the first season. Who else could put out a hit on her own son?

J.R. Ewing

(Larry Hagman)


J.R. was such a corrupt, despicable and immoral heel, he makes the corporate crooks at Enron and WorldCom look like a bunch of pansies. Time magazine best described the man who’s still among the top TV villains as a “human oil slick.”

Vern Schillinger

(J.K. Simmons)


Cold-blooded, manipulative white supremacist — good thing for us he’s behind bars; bad news for the inmates at Oz. But don’t feel too safe — that’s still not enough to stop this hell-raiser from ordering kidnappings and killings that happen outside prison.

Miles Drentell

(David Clennon)


Miles was so popular as Michael Steadman’s suave but heartless, demanding boss at Drentell Ashley & Arthur, his character was resurrected for “Once and Again.” There’s no way your boss can be as evil and scheming as this one.

Cigarette-Smoking Man

(William B. Davis)

“The X-Files”

Who didn’t get creeped out by the mysterious, shadowy man who was always puffing on Morleys? Also known as Cancer Man, he had a hand in all things sinister, from John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassinations to the abduction of Mulder’s sister to his own son’s death.

Joey Heric

(John Larroquette)

“The Practice”

Who else could get away scot-free with sticking a kitchen knife into two gay lovers’ hearts? Only the narcissistic and disturbed Joey Heric, who smirked his way through the trials, came back as a lawyer, then framed his client for a murder he committed.

Richard Cross

(Stanley Tucci)

“Murder One”

Though he looked suspicious, billionaire Richard Cross didn’t turn out to be the murderer of his mistress’s teenage sister — the killer was Roberto Portalegre, a cocaine dealer with whom Cross set her up. The unscrupulous Cross, however, did install a video surveillance system in her apartment to tape her having sex and tried to frame her boyfriend for the murder.

Dr. Robert Romano

(Paul McCrane)


He’s sexist, racist and annoyingly arrogant yet despite his horrible faults, Dr. Robert Romano’s antics have been much more interesting to watch than the exploits of his goodie-two-shoes colleagues. And yes, he did bring his dog to the operating room in a season 6 episode.

Dr. Mark Craig

(William Daniels)

“St. Elsewhere”

As the brilliant and demanding senior heart surgeon, Dr. Craig nonetheless inspired fear among his co-workers. You almost had to feel sorry for Victor Ehrlich, who was always feeling the heat of Craig’s venomous wrath.