20 TV Villain Performances That Are Practically Flawless

The actors that made evil look good.

Hannibal Lecter Mads
Sony Pictures Television

Everyone knows acting is a tough gig, especially on a TV show that has the potential to air for years on end and will therefore require unwavering commitment to one role. Of all the roles the small screen has to offer, though, playing the villain is surely the most demanding.

Playing an effective TV villain requires an effortless ability to be at once threatening and entertaining. No matter how evil they're being on screen, the best antagonists are the ones that hold your attention with their intimidation, complexities, and hidden weaknesses in equal measure.

With an endless supply of iconic and underappreciated villains to choose from, the following list will take an in-depth look at TV's best villains, and the actors bringing them to life with all their wickedness and vulnerabilities vividly on display.

Whether it's a twisted clown, a ego-driven family man, a mother who's lost her mind to the apocalypse, a serial killer played by one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, or a powerful pimp with a penchant for mixing profanity with Shakespeare, here are 20 TV villain acting performances that are totally, 100% flawless.

20. Jack Gleeson - Joffrey Baratheon (Game Of Thrones)

Hannibal Lecter Mads
HBO

Game of Thrones had plenty of vicious villains throughout its run, but none were quite as detestable as Joffrey Baratheon, the son of incestuous twins Jaime and Cersei Lannister whose very name causes groans of revulsion.

A wretched and callous psychopath with no care for anyone's life but his own, Jack Gleeson played Joffrey with a cold and alluring sadism, which whether you liked to admit it or not made him a devastatingly engrossing antagonist to see in action.

But there was more to him than that, an added level of pathetic entitlement that made him even in his darkest moments come across as nothing more than an elitist child constantly given everything on a silver platter.

Gleeson's ability to mix Joffrey's sadistic appetites with his horrifying god complex and twisted mother issues was nothing short of a revelation scene after scene, and helped make him perhaps the show's most detestable character.

Contributor
Contributor

I get to write about what I love, so that's pretty cool. Be excellent to each other.