7 TV Villains Secretly Introduced Way Earlier Than You Realise

The Atlanta Child Murderer showed up sooner than you thought.

Mindhunter Wayne Williams

The great benefit of TV over film is the ability to tell a wider and more expansive story, where audiences are able to spend considerably longer with the heroes and villains of the piece.

But even then, some TV shows have decided to take things a little further by introducing villainous characters earlier than anyone actually realised.

These seven TV villains, from brutal serial killers, to tragically doomed ghosts, and even a pesky thief, all showed up a good while before they were actually introduced to the audience in earnest.

Whether slyly hidden in plain sight a few episodes prior or perhaps hinted at even entire seasons earlier, these bone-chilling baddies were all concealed in front of the viewer's eyes though they didn't know it.

While some of these secret villain appearances will announce themselves on a repeat viewing of the series, others are placed so sneakily that only the most eagle-eyed and attentive of audiences will ever actually notice.

If nothing else, these early villain introductions strove to reward those who don't merely digest TV as a passive observer but pay close, keen attention to everything passing in front of their eyeballs...

7. Red Dragon - Hannibal

Mindhunter Wayne Williams

Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) aka the Red Dragon was officially introduced in the latter half of Hannibal's third (and to date, final) season, but the show's creator Brian Fuller tweeted back in 2013 that the character technically made his first appearance in this universe in the show's pilot episode.

The pilot, "Apéritif," opens with FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) investigating the brutal double murders of Mr. and Mrs. Marlow, a crime which is never actually solved over the course of the series.

Yet by Fuller's own word, this wasn't some random unsolved crime - it was our secret first glimpse at Red Dragon, one of the most infamous and prolific killers of the entire series.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.