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Our Favorite TV Villains

Dee Doyle Dee Doyle
October 29th, 2009 9:38am EDT
Maryann from True Blood

Halloween is coming up fast and it's caused people to look for the best costumes, pick out the best candy, and maybe even plan to visit scary haunted houses or watch horror films to celebrate. Halloween is a great day to cuddle up with your friends and scream at your favorite flicks, but movies are not the only ones who offer up some scary characters to haunt your sleep. Television often provides psychopaths, murderers, manipulators, and demons to taunt you not just for two hours, but for seasons upon seasons of mayhem! Here's a look at some of the scariest villains on television and why they make us want to keep the lights on at night.

Ben Linus from Lost


Ben (Michael Emerson) is considered one of the best villains on television, but he doesn't necessarily jump out as scary...at first. He's a genius manipulator and puppeteer, the former leader of the others who uses psychological warfare as a way to get what he wants. He's the man with the plan, although no one really knows what that plan is. Looking at him, though, he isn't that impressive. Who would be scared of the quiet, small Ben? The answer is: everyone. What makes Ben terrifying is that he can snap at a moment, and then be perfectly calm the next. One second he was sincerely talking John Locke out of suicide, and then he strangled him viciously moments later. He plead with Jacob to give him hope, and then stabbed his hero to death when he didn't get it. He took bloody vengeance on the man who killed his daughter, and then when it was pointed out to him that everyone on the boat would die because of it, he calmly said "So?" He is also responsible for the genocide of Dharma, including his own father. Ben Linus may seem meek and unremarkable at first, but he's unpredictable, brutal, and brilliant. Stay out of his games and you might just live.



Sylar from Heroes


Sylar (Zachary Quinto) has been one of the saving graces of "Heroes" for the past few seasons, especially since fans and critics alike have harassed the show for dropping in quality. But everyone can still agree that Gabriel Gray, AKA Sylar, is one of the creepiest villains on TV. He started out as a power-stealer, sucking the powers out of other heroes by eating their brains, and he was a very mysterious force in the first season. From the beginning he was a worrisome man, since he was obsessed with the idea of being 'special' and 'superior' to everyone else. His powers are a hunger, a desire he cannot deny to keep gathering power. Never trust Sylar, because he has a tendency to turn on you whenever your usefulness is at an end; ask Alejandro and Maya, or his lover Elle. While Sylar went through a brief period of rehabilitation, it didn't really take, and he was back to murdering. The show has redeemed him a few times, only to have him return to his evil ways sooner or later, and because of that the viewers never know when Sylar will snap and start a murderous rampage. Secretly, that's kind of how we like him best.



The Ice Truck Killer from Dexter


The Ice Truck Killer was the first major villain of "Dexter," and he turned out to be a lot more than just your average serial killer. Dexter tries to hunt the killer, while at the same time really admiring his work. The Ice Truck Killer freezes his victims and then cuts the limbs cleanly off, which means there is no blood spilling around. This appeals the most to Dexter, since blood splatter is his job and he worries about blood himself as a serial killer. Yes, this is as warped as it sounds. The Ice Truck Killer sends Dexter the mutilated body of a barbie doll to 'communicate' with him, and sets up random murders to 'trigger' memories in Dexter. It turned out that the killer was actually Deb's - Dexter's step-sister - boyfriend Rudy, and more than that, he is secretly Brian Moser, Dexter's biological brother. Their mother was murdered violently in front of them, and while Dexter was taken in by the Morgan's to rehabilitate, Brian was too old and too messed up. He was shuttled into psychiatric facilities and in time he escaped to go on a serial killer rampage, all in an effort to connect with his little brother. Eventually Brian had to be put down when Dexter chose his new life over his old one, but for the entire season the Ice Truck Killer was one of the scariest and methodical villains on TV. That mutilated barbie doll head is still creepy.



Azazel from Supernatural


There have been a lot of villains on "Supernatural," some of them even more powerful than Azazel (Fred Lehne), but he was the stuff made of nightmares for the first two seasons and the primary reason the Winchester brothers were hunting demons to begin with. When Sam was a baby, Azazel planned to feed him his blood and turn him into one of his special children. His mother Mary came in and recognized the demon, having made a deal with him years before, and she is horrifically killed because of it. Years later this trauma still haunts both Dean and Sam, and it turned their father into a focused, cold demon killer. Azazel had a plan from the beginning and it involved causing hell on Earth, releasing an army of demons, and releasing his master Lucifer. That's a pretty intense goal for a demon, but Azazel actually manages to accomplish a great deal of it before Dean finally kills him. His actions and his manipulation of Sam and the other "special children" still have lasting effects in the show today, so Azazel is still a major villain ... even after being blasted to oblivion! Along with strong pyrokinetic abilities and psychic ability, the scariest thing about Azazel is his ability to possess living creatures and bouncing from body to body. You never knew where he'd pop up next, or who his next victim was.



Vernon Schillinger from Oz


For people who only know J.K. Simmons through "The Closer" or "Law & Order," it will be a great shock to know he played one of the most consistently threatening characters on TV in the HBO series "Oz." Venon Schillinger entered the show as the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood; he was in jail for beating up a black drug dealer who sold to his sons. He was a racist and homophobe, the latter of which was interesting considering he was a rapist in the prison to 'initiate' weak or new inmates. That's how the viewers met him, when he raped the main character Tobias Beecher, and throughout the seasons he continues to humiliate and sodomize him. Schillinger manipulated people and openly caused hate wars with the minority prisoners, always wanting to get the power and control back and to destroy those who tried to fight back. Schillinger was a murderer, rapist, racist, and enjoyed hurting everyone around him. He's the worst kind of person you could find at "Oz," and probably the most violent even on this list!



Maryann from True Blood


Michelle Forbes actually played another excellent villain on a sci-fi/fantasy show, and that was Admiral Cain on "Battlestar Galactica." So it was not too much of a leap for her to blow into "True Blood," causing havoc and orgies and laughing gaily through it all. She played Maryann Forrester, a beautiful and confident woman who appeared at the end of season one and took the troubled Tara under her wing. Quickly it became clear to the audience - if not the characters - that she was more than human, and a dangerous force at that. She kept having these wild parties that caused all the townspeople to start shedding their inhibitions, devouring one another and food and stripping naked. Sam thinks she came for him, and it turns out he is right but for different reasons, but Maryann enjoys just the chaos and wild energy she inspires in the town. It turns out she's a very old creature called a Maenad who worships Dionysis and believes if she has the perfect sacrifice (coughSamcough) that her God will come down and marry her. Over the second season Maryann turned from a wild but entertaining hippie to a psychotic and violent demi-goddess. She might seem like the life of the party, but she controlled the minds of the humans near her and turned them into blissful zombies. Plus when she gets mad her hands become giant poisonous claws and she likes to cut hearts out of people. Resist the charm of her beautiful smile, and you might just live.



Who are your favorite TV villains? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

Dee Doyle
Story by Chelsea Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer

Follow Chelsea on twitter at http://twitter.com/mustbethursday.