The success of a TV show often hinges on the presence of a compelling villain, who is typically the second-most prominent character after the protagonist.
Crafting a well-rounded antagonist is a difficult task, but if executed properly, it can indicate that the rest of the cast and storyline are equally strong. Nevertheless, a well-written villain cannot always rescue a show from poor writing and direction.
In the realm of science fiction, there have been instances where a show’s plot has faltered despite having an intriguing villain.
While some poorly received sci-fi shows have suffered from unlikeable main characters, convoluted plotlines, and frustrating inconsistencies, audiences often recall the captivating and entertaining villain as a saving grace.
Despite its well-documented decline, Westworld remains notorious for its captivating villains.
While the first season of the show was widely praised, subsequent seasons have failed to impress due to a lack of consistent storytelling, one-dimensional characters, and an excessive focus on speculative themes at the expense of plot.
Despite these flaws, Westworld’s villains continue to shine. Characters like the Man in Black, Dr. Ford, and Dolores, whose moral compasses are often ambiguous, provide some of the show’s most intriguing storylines, irrespective of the overall quality.
The show’s complex, ever-shifting morality can make it challenging to discern who the true villains are, but those who qualify always manage to entertain.
Inhumans, one of the least successful Marvel Cinematic Universe projects, received criticism for its subpar production values, laughable execution, and unimpressive central premise.
However, the show’s central premise inadvertently made its villain, Maximus, quite likable. Inhumans follows the royal family of Attilan, who rule over a society stratified by power, with those possessing abilities dominating those without.
Maximus, the powerless black sheep of the family, is Inhumans’ primary antagonist. He overthrows the royal family’s reign and establishes a more equitable society, while the protagonists remain largely unchanged.
Maximus stands out as one of the show’s few enjoyable aspects, thanks in part to Iwan Rheon’s masterful portrayal of the character.
8. The Walking Dead: World Beyond
The Walking Dead: World Beyond has been criticized by many fans for being a lackluster attempt at expanding the franchise.
The show’s unsympathetic characters, repetitive storyline, and more of an extended universe advertisement feel have all contributed to this perception. However, the Civic Republic Military (CRM) has managed to gain a following.
The CRM is the most significant and well-equipped force in The Walking Dead universe. They have an admirable goal of rebuilding civilization but employ morally questionable methods such as mass murder.
The CRM serves as a unifying element that connects The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and World Beyond. Their inclusion adds depth and intrigue to the franchise, and their actions hint at the possible return of Rick Grimes.
Heroes is known for its significant decline in quality after a phenomenal first season. The 2007-2008 Writer’s Strike was a major blow to the show, derailing the second season and causing lasting damage to subsequent seasons. Heroes becomes bogged down in nonsensical storylines and repetitive character drama, which leads to its downfall.
Despite this, Sylar remains a favorite among fans as the show’s primary antagonist. Throughout the series, he is sinister, captivating, and equally intriguing and repulsive.
Zachary Quinto delivers an outstanding performance, and many consider Sylar to be the best character in Heroes.
6. The Book Of Boba Fett
The Book of Boba Fett is a spin-off of The Mandalorian, but it fails to live up to the latter show. Even though The Book of Boba Fett focuses on one of Star Wars’ most iconic side characters, there’s little to compel audiences.
Its main plot is poorly-paced, giving way to constant flashbacks and The Mandalorian crossovers. Boba Fett feels much less impressive than in earlier appearances.
The Book of Boba Fett only gets a compelling villain for the main plot in its last two episodes. Cad Bane joins the gang war on the Pykes’ side after crossing over from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and he proves as effective and enjoyable in live-action as animation. He guns down the well-liked Cobb Vanth in his first scene and continues a streak of lethal effectiveness in the final episode.
5. The War Of The Worlds
Although The War of the Worlds adaptation has received negative reviews for its execution and plot, its portrayal of the Martian tripods as ruthless and advanced villains remains one of the most iconic in science fiction.
These tripods are depicted as unstoppable and vicious, with technology far beyond that of Earth. Their design is also jarring as it clashes with the Edwardian aesthetic of the show, making them all the more terrifying.
While the show could have benefited from a greater focus on their conquest of Earth, the Martian tripods remain a standout aspect of the series.
Primeval has a dedicated fanbase and some genuine virtues, but it hit a slump in its third season that it never recovered from. However, Primeval has always had one main draw: its antagonists.
Many Primeval episodes focus on monsters from history. Even though they’re not strictly villainous, it’s thrilling to see a raptor or another dinosaur tearing through modern-day London. Primeval also introduces several malicious and captivating foes, including the nightmarish Future Predators, the visionary Helen Cutter, and the regretful Phillip Burton.
3. What If…?
That’s an interesting observation. It seems that the alternate universe premise of What If…? allows for greater creative freedom in crafting compelling villains, as they can deviate further from their counterparts in the main MCU timeline.
This, in turn, makes them more interesting to viewers who are already familiar with the main villains of the franchise. Additionally, exploring different motivations and decisions for these characters can make for intriguing storytelling.
2. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t a bad show. Nonetheless, some fans have expressed disappointment in the show’s wasted potential. It suffers from several strange narrative choices that bog down the story and threaten audience’s suspension of disbelief. However, Obi-Wan Kenobi does shine in one area.
Hayden Christensen returns as Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi. He gives one of the character’s best and most brutal showings yet. Every time Vader is on-screen, Obi-Wan Kenobi increases in intensity and thrills. Some even consider it to erase Christensen’s contentious performance in the Star Wars prequel films.
Although fans consider Lost one of the best TV shows ever, this isn’t without contention. Critics and fans commend Lost for its intriguing mysteries, iconic characters, and shocking moments. At the same time, they criticize it for plot holes, unfocused storytelling, and a significant waste of potential.
Villains are one area where Lost doesn’t falter, as the Man in Black underpins the show for many episodes, and Benjamin Linus serves as an effective final foe. Other villains like Widmore and Martin Keamy hold their own during their time. Lost‘s villains are entertaining, whether they’re monsters, tragic villains, or both.