Often times, the characters we mostly love on television are not the ones that are squeaky clean, moral and goodie-goodie. We are mostly intrigued by flawed personalities who take risks, break rules and are plenty rough around the edges. These are characters who are willing to steal, cheat, connive and even kill to push forward their agenda - and they are able to pull of their heady schemes with no moral regrets whatsoever. We scanned some of the most popular shows on television right now and came up with 15 of the shadiest characters around. Read on below - we're sure you'll recognize more than a few of them ....
Warning: This article contains spoilers.
15 Varys (Game of Thrones)
When it comes to shady backstabbing, shadowy dealings, and rampant deceit, there’s no show on television now that does it better than Game of Thrones. In the midst of all the families jockeying for power and trying to be the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms, you can understand how there would be a serious dearth of honest and upright citizens. One of the most conniving characters on the show is the cloaked Eunuch known as Varys. He is extremely skilled at manipulating royals and generals alike, and he also has a network of spies in distant lands. One of his most telling quotes is: “Storms come and go, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.”
14 Kalinda (The Good Wife)
The Good Wife is one of the smartest shows on television right now. It has been around since 2009, and it just seems to get better season after season. One of the best characters in the show is the role of Kalinda, a private investigator who works at the law firm of the show’s star Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies). On the show, she has a shady past, she has underworld ties and she’s not averse to using her bisexuality and salacious charm to attain the information she needs. News recently came out that she is going to be leaving the show after the current season – she adds a lot to the show and it will be a shame to see her go.
13 Dennis Boyd (Homeland)
Okay so stop whatever you are doing and pay serious attention. If you are fan of awesome television and you appreciate brilliant writing, you should definitely be watching the current season of Homeland presently airing on Showtime. True Homeland fans agree that the last season was quite a snoozer but this year it’s back and stronger than ever before. The setting for the series this time is Pakistan, and one of the shadiest people in the show is a character named Dennis Boyd, who is the husband of the American ambassador. He plays a duplicitous double agent funneling classified information from his wife’s desk to the Pakistani Intelligence Agency. His actions are treasonous and extremely damaging but that’s all we’ll tell you – you need to watch it for yourself. It’s that good!
12 Francis Underwood (House of Cards)
The Netflix show House of Cards is one of the most intelligent and intriguing shows to come around in recent years. We all know that politics in Washington DC is really broken and polarized right now, but this show offers up a version of congress that’s completely sinister and Machiavellian. The character of Frank Underwood (played to perfection by Kevin Spacey) has no boundaries at all. He does it all: blackmail, brazen deceit, infidelity and even murder. Wow, if our senators and congressmen were really like this, the country would be in need of dire help.
11 Annalise Keating (How To Get Away With Murder)
TV producer Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful television producers right now. She’s batting a 100 percent with the different shows she has created: Grey’s Anatomy, The Practice, Scandal and most recently How To Get Away With Murder. The latest one features a law professor named Annalise Keating who also runs a high-powered defense firm. Annalise is one big ball of contradictions – she preaches ethics in one sentence, and in the next, she’s ready to plant evidence to get her client acquitted. And did we mention, she ‘s also cheating on her husband – the same husband she’s trying to protect from a murder charge she knows he’s probably guilty of. Mrs. Keating lives a very complicated life indeed.
10 Command (Scandal)
In the last few years, the show Scandal on ABC has become one of the most-watched shows on television. And rightfully so - because this is one show that continuously creates some of the most outrageous and farfetched storylines. But the fans love it and they keep on coming back. One of the most deceiving characters in the show simply goes by “Command” and he’s also the father of the show’s lead, Olivia Pope. Command is the head of B6-13, a nefarious, clandestine organization that wields power and influence over the most powerful people in the nation’s capital. This part is played by Joe Morton, and he really needs to win a Golden Globe/Emmy because he’s absolutely spectacular in this role.
9 Gemma (Sons of Anarchy)
The FX show Sons of Anarchy is currently in Season 7, which is also the last season of the show. Over the years, the show has produced a lot of villains, backstabbers and snakes, and this season is no different. This season however though, the shadiest character is the matron of the outlaw motorcycle club, Gemma. In last season’s finale, she ended up murdering her own daughter in-law (in a very gruesome way). She avoided the blowback by blaming it on a rival gang. However in this season, it’s all unravelling and she’s weaving a dangerous web of lies to cover up her murderous acts.
8 Victoria Grayson (Revenge)
The show Revenge is another example of the soap television concept being packaged for primetime. It stars the lovely Canadian actress Emily VanCamp, and it’s set in the ultra-rich and elite world of The Hamptons. The shadiest character in this show has to be the matriarch Victoria Grayson. She is pretty much considered as the ‘Queen of the Hamptons” and she will go to any length to maintain her elite social status and protect her children. Nothing is beyond her – she’s been known to hire contract killers, mortally threaten her enemies, and even when she was just a teenager, she fatally shot her mother’s lover. She might be gorgeous on the outside, but on the inside, she has a tainted, black heart.
7 Raymond Reddington (Blacklist)
For a show that only debuted in 2013, Blacklist has developed a very loyal following in a very short time. The story revolves around a former government agent who goes rogue and becomes one of the most dangerous and lethal international criminals. But then all of a sudden, he shows up to FBI headquarters and surrenders to the authorities. He comes bearing gifts in the form of a Blacklist which has names of some of the most wanted outlaws in the world. However, it’s very difficult to figure out what the end game is for ‘Red.” Is he truly trying to bring his former outlaw colleagues down, or is there something more sinister in the works?
6 Saul Goodman (Breaking Bad)
When the show Breaking Bad ended its long run, there’s no doubt that most of its devoted fans secretly shed a tear or two. Let’s face it, there’s no other show on television, even after the show ended, that has intricate and textured characters like Walter White and his sidekick Jessie. But there’s still hope, in 2015, AMC will unveil its new show Better Call Saul which is a spin-off from Breaking Bad. It features the lawyer Saul Goodman who was a recurring character on the show. Saul was more a less the one-stop shop for orchestrating, executing and concealing all of Walter White’s illicit activities. We’re looking forward to see this one – it should be a lot of fun!
5 Jeff Fordham (Nashville)
It’s a well-known fact that record industry executives are some of the shadiest people around. With them, it’s all about the bottom dollar. And often, these record execs deal with young, wide-eyed singers/bands that will do anything for fame – even sacrifice their artistic integrity. Jeff Fordham is that type of music business character on Nashville. He tried to capitalize of the show’s singing star Rayna being in a coma to sell more records, and he even went behind her back to sign one of her artists to an exclusive deal on his label. He also convinced another singer called Scarlett O’Connor to adopt a sexier image to sell more records. With him, the money always comes first.
4 Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (The Americans)
As far as spy dramas going on television, the intense and very smart show called The Americans is one of the best around. The series revolves around the lives of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings. They play a married couple with two children living in the United States like a normal everyday family. But the truth is that they are actually Soviet KGB Agents who are on a mission to spy and get sensitive classified information from the American intelligence community. The show is set in the 1980’s when the Cold War was still very real and it’s very interesting to see how their personal/professional lives clash with the true reason they are in the country. There is a lot of deceit and treachery in this show – even their young kids don’t know their parents are Soviet spies.
3 Lemond Bishop: (The Good Wife)
Since The Good Wife is undoubtedly one of the best written shows currently on television, it makes sense that two of its most murky characters appear on this list. Every show needs a really good gangster and Lemond Bishop might just be one of the best dressed outlaws on television. He’s a powerful Chicago drug lord who’s always perfectly groomed, well-mannered and clad in the finest Italian suits. He has a kid in private school and owns several legit businesses. But underneath that smooth veneer, he’s a ruthless narcotics trafficker who’s represented by the law firm of Alicia Florrick. This is the kind of guy you don’t want to ever cross paths with – he has no remorse at all!
2 Alison Lockhart: (The Affair)
One of the newest shows making waves this season is the saucy and highly sexual Showtime drama called The Affair. It’s about a NYC school teacher and budding author who goes on a summer vacation to the Hamptons with his wife and four kids. While there, he meets a sexy and very troubled waitress named Alison, and feels a magnetic attraction to her. A steamy affair ensues, but the more he gets to know her, the more she reveals unexpected and troubling details about her life. He even comes to find out that she’s involved in a drug smuggling ring that she has no moral qualms about. The show has already been renewed for a second season and each episode seems to be getting better and better.
1 Hannibal Lecter: (Hannibal)
There are a lot of shows on television that feature sick and demented criminals: Criminal Minds, CSI, Stalker and the list goes on and on. But in recent years, there has been no show more stylishly macabre than the excellent NBC thriller Hannibal. It’s inspired by the popular Thomas Harris novel, and the main protagonist is Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a disturbed psychiatrist who is also a consultant for the FBI. The conundrum here is Lecter’s duality. In one scene, he could be helping the authorities solve a serial murder case, and then in his own private sessions, he’s coaxing patients to let loose their murderous dark sides. Oh, and there’s the small issue of him being a cannibal who enjoys finely cooked meals consisting of human flesh.