The Walking Dead – the Number One TV show in America last year, and easily one of the most gruesome – introduced a new character called Negan last series, who’s a psychopathic villain in the comics and has been hailed as “one of the greatest villains ever created in TV” by executive producer David Alpert. We reckon he’ll have a fair bit of competition from this load of baddies…
Ben Linus – Lost
WHO: Part of scientific research facility The Dharma Initiative? Leader of the Others? Servant of the Island? He’s a manipulative snake who literally never blinks.
PEAK VILLAINY: Conned Michael into killing two people to free him when he was feigning defencelessness as the survivors’ captive. The gall!
Lorne Malvo – Fargo
WHO: Hitman who enters Bemidji, Minnesota and turns Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) into a wife-killing psychopath.
PEAK VILLAINY: Calling down all the plagues on neurotic supermarket owner Stavros Milos.
Frank Underwood – House of Cards
WHO: Power-hungry politician who'll do anything to get what he wants. Anything.
PEAK VILLAINY: Is it pushing journalist Zoe Barnes in front of a moving subway carriage? Or making Russo's death look like suicide? Perhaps it's forcing terrorists to behead their hostages to allow him to go to war. Probably that, yeah.
Nina Myers – 24
WHO: Agent at the Counter Terrorist Unit who in the first 24-hour stretch turned out to be a nasty, dirty mole.
PEAK VILLAINY: Shooting down Jack Bauer’s wife Teri to try and keep her cover.
Joffrey – Game of Thrones
WHO: Petulant son of Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime. To everyone else he's the son of King Robert Baratheon. Tortures animals and human beings for sport.
PEAK VILLAINY: Forcing Sansa Stark to look at the head he chopped off her dad, Ned? Or maybe humiliating Tyrion at his wedding, where he was promptly poisoned, and died.
Moriarty – Sherlock
WHO: The villain in Sherlock. You know, the ridiculously over-the-top one who could be on Dr Who.
PEAK VILLAINY: Attaching suicide bomb vests to random people. He would have happily killed them if Sherlock hadn't saved them.
Cigarette Smoking Man – The X-Files
WHO: The guy in the background in all of the most important political events of recent history – he doesn't want anyone to know the truth that's out there.
PEAK VILLAINY: There's no evidence, but he's supposedly behind the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
Dark Willow – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
WHO: Twisted by the death of her lover Tara, Buffy's mate Willow turns bad and starts undermining her old team by trying to destroy the world. The love of her friends brings her back from the brink, which is nice.
PEAK VILLAINY: Er, trying to destroy the world.
Mr Burns – The Simpsons
WHO: Owner of the nuclear power plant whose safety Homer is somehow in charge of; essentially the oligarch of the town.
PEAK VILLAINY: When he was prepared to skin a load of puppies to make himself a fancy coat.
Cersei – Game of Thrones
WHO: Mother of Joffrey and lover of her brother, Jaime. Organised the death of her husband Robert Baratheon and is obsessed with maintaining a hold on the throne.
PEAK VILLAINY: Framed her daughter-in-law for adultery, which is punishable by death, because she was spending too much time with her son.
T Bag – Prison Break
WHO: The Southern snake of Fox River State Penitentiary.
PEAK VILLAINY: He's constantly a terrible human being – but perhaps his most cruel moment is killing the vet who's just sewn his dismembered hand back on.
Stringer Bell – The Wire
WHO: The Wire's drugs businessman: a bad guy, but a smart guy.
PEAK VILLAINY: Ordering the murder of 16-year-old Wallace for being a snitch.
WHO: The man who brought you most of the shit TV of the past 15 years.
PEAK VILLAINY: Extending his franchises overseas, meaning there's homogenous and emotionally plastic TV across the globe!
Gretchen Morgan – Prison Break
WHO: She worked for The [ridiculously named] Company and appeared to have cut off Sara Tancredi's head, when she actually didn't do that at all, for her own roguish reasons.
PEAK VILLAINY: Her torture of the supposedly 'dead' Sara is brutal.
Drusilla – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
WHO: Psychotic vampire who never gets her comeuppance from Buffy and the gang.
PEAK VILLAINY: Killing another slayer called Kendra – with her fingernail.
Sideshow Bob – The Simpsons
WHO: Former sidekick of Krusty the Clown, whose crimes are exposed by Bart. He spends the rest of his time bent on getting revenge.
PEAK VILLAINY: Almost killing Bart all the time. He gets closest in Cape Feare, but he gets distracted after Bart asks him to sing the entirety of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'HMS Pinafore'.
Hannibal – Hannibal
WHO: Psychiatrist working with the FBI who's secretly a cannibalistic serial killer.
PEAK VILLAINY: He, er, eats people.
Paul Robinson – Neighbours
WHO: Fraudulent, cheating, venal resident of Ramsay Street.
PEAK VILLAINY: He burnt down the Lassiters complex and killed eyewitness Gus Cleary.
Callisto – Xena
WHO: A warlord, and Xena's nemesis, ever since she saw Xena kill her mother, father and sister. She loves to kill.
PEAK VILLAINY: Killing newly married Gabrielle's husband, Perdicas, just to piss off Xena.
Heisenberg – Breaking Bad
WHO: Walter White, a chemistry teacher-turned-drug lord.
PEAK VILLAINY: Forcing Jesse to kill Gale/watching Jesse’s girlfriend Jane die; poisoning Jesse’s sort-of stepson with Lily of the Valley. Jesse abuse, basically.
Tony Soprano – The Sopranos
WHO: Sociopathic mafia boss in New Jersey.
PEAK VILLAINY: Suffocating his own nephew for his inability to keep clean.
Trinity Killer – Dexter
WHO: Serial killer who plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with Dex.
PEAK VILLAINY: Killing Dexter’s wife Rita and leaving her bleeding in a bathtub for a heartbroken Dexter to discover.
Gyp Rosetti – Boardwalk Empire
WHO: Wilful gangster of Atlantic City, who reports to Joe Masseria.
PEAK VILLAINY: Aside from all the people he kills (a lot) he beats up a priest and steals the donations from a church.
The Governor – The Walking Dead
WHO: Leader and grisly shepherd of Woodbury's community of fearful fools.
PEAK VILLAINY: Shot down his own people in cold blood after they refused to attack Rick at the prison; locked Andrea in a room knowing she would get eaten by soon-to-be zombie Milton. Negan's gonna have to be an utter bastard to give him a run for his money