10 Worst TV Villains Of The Last 10 Years

Ineffectual enemies, feeble fiends, and misfiring monsters.

Euron Game of Thrones

The golden age of TV continues unabated, and more recently it has been a particularly golden age for small screen baddies. Increasingly the trend has been to build a show around a villain - like Tony Soprano - or to watch your main character steadily become the villain - Walter White, Piper Chapman etc.

But we’ve had our share of expertly created antagonists, too, from the purely evil Joffrey Baratheon to the more complex and layered Boyd Crowder. Villains who served a purpose and whose wickedness drove the plot.

Then there are the less effective bad guys. The villains whose monstrousness was too cartoonish, whose aims were never all that clear, who were introduced too late or just failed to pose a credible threat. This can be a symptom of a long running TV show, forever needing to bring in yet more nefarious figures.

At their least damaging, they cause the quality to dip for a while; at their worst, they can completely dent the show, particularly if their identity is what we’ve been building up to for years. These supposed big bads ended up just being... well, bad.

Warning: major spoilers for Line of Duty

10. Oliver Saxon - Dexter

Euron Game of Thrones

By the eighth and final season of Dexter’s original run, the writers had placed themselves in a bind. Their lead character, who once adhered to a strict moral code, was no longer the least bit sympathetic. Dexter had become the villain of his own story, increasingly having to justify his murders.

This could have made for an interesting conclusion where their lead faced up to his misdeeds. Instead, the solution was to create increasingly distasteful baddies whose own crimes made Dexter look a saint in comparison. The clumsiest of all was Oliver Saxton, AKA The Brain Surgeon, whose litany of crimes pushed the once-vital drama past the point of parody.

Saxton (real name Daniel Vogel) murdered his sister as a young teen, then burned the psychiatric facility to which he had been committed, killing seven more. He embarked on a crime spree, earning his sobriquet by scooping out his victims’ grey matter.

This was cartoonish, lurid stuff, in contrast to the textured work put into John Lithgow’s series highlight The Trinity Killer. Though we’d be foolish to expect more of the show at this point, the complete lack of subtlety to Saxon made him dull, and his lack of connection to Dexter Morgan robbed him of any redemptive effect he could give to our “hero”.


Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)