Some characters are evil. Some characters are ruthless. Some characters are pure monsters. But many evil, ruthless, and monstrous characters are endless amounts of fun to watch. Take the Joker. He’s all three, but would we want Batman to kill him off halfway through the movie? No way. He’s too fun to watch.
But some characters, whether they be more evil or less evil than monsters like the Joker, are just pieces of shit. It’s not that they are poorly constructed characters–it’s that our desire to see them snuffed out of existence (and to see the look on their faces as they approach their doom) overrides the enjoyment we get from watching their evil antics. These are the characters that elicit such visceral feelings of hate from audiences and readers that if they actually existed and attended fan conventions, they’d never make it out alive. Here are ten that deserve special places in hell (needless to say, Spoiler Alert for all shows/books/films discussed):
10. Stryker from X-Men 2
I’m not sure if the comics character is nearly as loathsome (I see he has some religious affiliations, so I can guess the direction that would take him), but X2 was marked by Stryker’s dickishness. This is a guy who tries to frame poor Nightcrawler for assassinating the president, kidnaps Professor X, and tries to commit genocide against an entire population. More than that, he lobotomized his son and uses him as his pawn. And that’s ignoring all of his complicated history with Wolverine. When he got chained up and left for dead, there wasn’t an ounce of me feeling any remorse for him.
9. Captain Vidal from Pan’s Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro is known for his horror movie monsters, and Captain Vidal, the fascist villain of Pan’s Labyrinth fits into Toro’s oeuvre, despite the fact he’s purely human. He tortures, he kills, and still thinks he’s the best guy around town. Audiences came away from the film terrified by the Pale Man, but Captain Vidal is far more frightening as some sort of evil version of Captain Von Trapp. I can be a bit squeamish, but I have no problem watching the scene where this guy’s mouth is knifed open.
How can you be a good leader if you steal from refugee civilians, strip their ships, and force them to join you under the threat that you’ll kill their families? Not to mention let your crew rape and torture prisoners, and plan to kill Bill Adama, one the greatest men possibly ever. Though Razor did an earnest job of humanizing Cain (and many fans like her) there is no way she could ever be forgiven, nor does she seem to care. It says a lot that, in a show about humans fighting the monsters that murdered most of humanity, I was never more sure about the rightness of Adama than when he decided to risk everything to get back Tyrol and Helo from this monster.
7. Dodge Landon from Rise of the Planet of the Apes
If this was meant to be a breakout role for Tom Felton, the actor who plays Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, I think it may have accomplished little more than further typecast him as an evil shit. At least Draco had a few sympathetic moments. This guy, with his cruelty toward primates and his douchebag swagger, is absolutely unforgivable. Think about it: his douchebaggery with poor, lovable Caesar and his new friends is nearly singlehandedly responsible for the audience watching scenes of the early stages of the coming ape-induced apocalypse and saying, yep, we deserve that.
Shane started out okay, but somewhere along the line he just became a serious pain in the ass. I guess the Otis episode was the turning point. After that, all he wanted to do was defy Rick and stir up trouble. When he let the Walkers out of Hershel’s barn I was really just hoping one of the others would put him out of his misery. I’m sorry, but the trauma of a zombie apocalypse is no excuse for becoming a total jerkass.
5. Walter Peck in Ghostbusters
Some characters are evil and loathsome in a violent, sadistically physical way. Walter Peck isn’t that type. This ‘dickless’ piece of shit is the type who doesn’t listen to you when you tell him that what he’s doing is dangerous and then blames you when bad things happen because of what he did. Some people would question this prick being on a list alongside confirmed murderers and psychopaths (and being this high up on it too!), but I’m perfectly comfortable with it. It’s one thing to be smug; it’s another thing to use your smugness to (indirectly, yes) help bring about the return of GOZER and the apocalypse. As Lloyd Christmas would say, OK–Kill him!
4. Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 2 Arc)
When Angelus makes his debut in Season 2, he is positively twisted. He loves playing games with his victims to the point where it becomes almost unbearable to watch. (Anyone remember his needless slaying of Willow’s pet fish?) Buffy’s feelings for Angel make it hard for her to kill Angelus, but his stalking, torture, and love for snapping necks would have made it easy for anybody else. In a way, he’s (like the Joker) just too fun to watch be evil, but this guy crosses a line and I’m totally with Xander when he discusses (to Angelus’s face) his desire to watch him get killed by Buffy. The great thing about this show is in the first few episodes of Season Two, we are rooting for Angel along with every other hero. But, by the time he leaves a dead Jenny Calendar in Giles’s bed, we are ready to have that sick puppy put down in the meanest possible way. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching Giles beat Angelus down with a flaming baseball bat.
3. Percy from The Green Mile
Percy’s number one goal while he works in the Cold Mountain Penitentiary is to manage an execution. There’s something seriously messed up about that. But in case that wasn’t sadistic enough, the reason Percy wants to be in charge of an execution is so that he can make sure it goes horribly wrong by eliminating the “quick and painless” part of it. He’s unhinged. And don’t get me started on what he did (or tried to do) to Mr. Jingles.
Voldemort is one evil son-of-a-bitch. People are afraid of saying his name. He deserves to die for sure. But for all that, I’d sentence Voldy to life in prison before I’d stand watching some miserable fucker like Dolores Umbridge get away with being the horrible monster she is. Anyone who hates Dumbledore has no soul (even Voldemort seems to respect him). And people who abuse their power to make children suffer are some of the worst examples of humanity. At the center of this Venn diagram is where Umbridge exists in all her chipper monstrousness. The “I must not tell lies” scene gets my blood boiling every time.
1. Joffrey Baratheon from A Game of Thrones
Joffrey is one evil little bastard. He’s a jerk to his mother, his fiancée, his subjects, and…well…everyone; he’s the definition of sadistic; and he doesn’t have even the tiniest sense of guilt. The fact that a clip like this (not to mention the ten minute loops) is so satisfying to watch says a great deal. Bronn from HBOs adaptation of Game of Thrones describes Joffrey aptly when he says, “There’s no cure for being a cunt.” However there is one cure we can think of: a slow and painful death which he so truly deserves.
Do you agree or disagree? Who else belongs on this list? Let me know below!
Some more genre List Posts: Five Ways Game of Thrones is Changing Fantasy on TV, Top 15 Fantasy Foods, Top Five Simpsons Jokes (Language), A Hunger Games All Star Tribute List, and Five Ways that Star Wars Counts as High Art. See all of my genre related list posts here.