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Decider Lists

The 15 Most Despicable Film/Television Villains of 2015

Where to Stream

Fargo

You can’t appreciate the sweet without the sour, you can’t appreciate the light without the dark, and what fun would the heroes of television and movies have been in 2015 without some great villains to rail against? The following are our 15 picks for the best villains of the year. We hated them. We loved to hate them. We sometimes hated that we loved to hate them. But they definitely made their mark. Eight men. Five women. One boy. One planet. The villains of 2015.

[NOTE: There are a few spoilers ahead for the TV and movies of 2015, so use your best judgment.]

1

Kilgrave from 'Marvel's Jessica Jones'

Kilgrave was not only a great villain because of his powers — he’s utterly irresistible when he speaks commands to people, meaning if he told you to go walk off the roof of your apartment building … yeah — but because of the utterly, horribly plausible things he meant to do with that power. Jessica was his target, the thing he couldn’t have that made him crazy. But his methodical, utterly sociopathic methods for burrowing a hole through the rest of New York City to get to her were terrifying. Even more impressively, Kilgrave was a villain who managed to get MORE villainous the more the show humanized him. Showing us Kilgrave’s humanity just made the things he did despite it even more depraved. He was the monster of the year, basically.

[Where to stream Marvel’s Jessica Jones.]

2

Immortan Joe from 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

Just the look of Immortan Joe let you know he was destined to be one of the year’s top villains. He was like some kind of elemental personification of death from an ancient religion no longer practiced. The post-apocalyptic vision of the world that George Miller presented was wholly dependent on a figure like Immortan Joe to look the part, and boy did he ever. Hell of a death scene, too.

[Where to stream Mad Max: Fury Road.]

3

Dodd Gerhardt from 'Fargo'

It’s impressive to stand out in a show full of killers, criminals, and liars, but that’s exactly what Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffery Donovan) did. When he wasn’t manipulating his mother to start an all out trucking war, he was physically and verbally abusing his daughter. Dodd was the worse kind of villain, who viewed everyone other than himself as a lesser being. There are only two scenes that made this character worth watching: when Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) stabbed Dodd repeatedly to teach him some manners and when (SPOILER) Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) shot him in the face. We say good riddance. — Kayla Cobb

4

Meg Abbott from 'The Leftovers'

It’s tough to pick out a villain from The Leftovers since it often seems like villainy in this world is just an avenue to get characters to where they need to be, on some greater cosmic level. Is John Murphy a villain for his acts of violence? Is Ghost Patty a villain for being the devil on Kevin’s shoulder? Are Laurie and Tommy villains for lying to the refugees of the Guilty Remnant? The one character who most embraced her villainy in season 2 was actually a character who wasn’t a villain at all in season 1. Meg got caught up in the Guilty Remnant, sure, but she was always decidedly kind-hearted and never among the more gung-ho about the cult’s more extreme actions. The new Meg we saw in season 2 was a whole different ballgame, with an authority and also a cruelty that really stung. Liv Tyler gave one of the year’s best and most unexpected performances.

[Where to stream The Leftovers.]

5

Robert Durst from 'The Jinx'

This one’s a no-brainer. Robert Durst would have made this list for literally any single episode of The Jinx, much less the sum total of all of them, all the alleged murders, the crimes, the shiftiness, the shoplifting, the lying, the blinking, the secret bathroom confessions, the whole deal. He’s a remarkable accumulation of individual acts of villainy, but like a mosaic the whole is even more villainous than the sum of his parts.

[Where to stream The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.]

6

Mars from 'The Martian'

Don’t let them fool you. They say that The Martian is notable for being a massive Hollywood blockbuster with a big hero at its center but no villain. Au contraire! Damon’s Mark Watney addresses the villain of the film directly at one point with a verbal epithet. In 2013, Gravity went a similar route in making outer space the villain (Sandra Bullock: “I hate space!”), but that was maybe too amorphous. Mars is a villain we can see; a villain we can reach out and touch. Or we could if we were Mark Watney. They say in space no one can hear you scream, but on Mars, that red bastard of a planet can sure enough hear Watney’s heroic cry of rebellion: “Fuck you, Mars!”

[Where to stream The Martian.]

7

Olly from 'Game of Thrones'

GoT-Olly
HBO

Game of Thrones had absolutely no shortage of contenders for this list. Honestly, that Ramsay Bolton didn’t make it only speaks to how very much of a jerk Olly is. Perhaps you stuck up for Olly early on. “He’s just a boy,” you said. “He saw Wildlings savagely murder his family,” you said. “His hero worship of Jon Snow was obviously going to sour as Jon made the decision to align with said Wildlings, it only makes sense,” you said. “Oh, he’s probably going to give that dagger blade-first to Jon Snow as an early Christmas present,” you said. Well I hope you’re all proud of yourselves. Now Jon Snow is dead. DEAD! And nothing in this world or Westeros is ever going to bring him WHAT’S THAT?

[Where to stream Game of Thrones.]

8

Emily Sinclair from 'How to Get Away With Murder'

Kudos to Sarah Burns for taking on the thankless role of a prosecutor going up against Viola Davis’ Annalise Keating and squeezing every villainous drop out of it. The prosecutor has to make even Annalise’s amoral band of law brats seem sympathetic? Emily Sinclair was right on top of that, Rose! She back in enough side deals and sneering to last three seasons. She’ll be missed. Not by anyone on screen, but by us.

[Where to stream How to Get Away with Murder.]

9

Evelyn Poole from 'Penny Dreadful'

Oh, this woman was just plain wicked. An old-timey witch in the traditional bride-of-Satan mold, Ms. Poole terrorized our heroes and heroines, sent a good woman to her death through fetish-doll-inspired madness, bathed in blood, and was very mean and age-shaming towards Patti LuPone. What a jerk. (Beautiful, though. And one hell of a performance by Helen McCrory.)

[Where to stream Penny Dreadful.]

10

Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne from 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

The fun surprise of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was that Jon Hamm showed up in the season’s final few episodes as Kimmy’s former cult leader, the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, and as you might have expected given Hamm’s history with Tina Fey-penned comedy, he did an fantastic job. A doomsday preacher as skilled with charming juries as he was at luring women into his underground bunker, Rev. Gary Wayne was a crumbum of the first order, and a fine antagonist for some of Kimmy’s most triumphant moments.

[Where to stream Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.]

11

Nathan Bateman from 'Ex Machina'

Oscar Isaac plays the most heroic character imaginable in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which makes it doubly impressive that he was such an effective dastardly billionaire in Ex Machina. Actually, “dastardly” isn’t quite the right word for it, at least not at the beginning, when Nathan really pushes his charisma to the forefront. He’s never meant to fool the audience, of course, so he’s always overdoing it to some degree, letting us see through to the villain underneath. And yet … I’d still like to dance with the guy.

[Where to stream Ex Machina.]

12

Juror #10 from 'Inside Amy Schumer'

Let’s be honest: Paul Giamatti had an incredibly villainous 2015. He kept Brian Wilson drugged up and isolated from friends and family in Love & Mercy. He swindled Easy-E and the rest of N.W.A. out of a bunch of money in Straight Outta Compton. He didn’t even do that much to save California from those earthquakes in San Andreas, at least not compared to The Rock. But our favorite bit of Giamatti villainy came in the “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” episode, where he may have played the second-most intransigent juror of them all, but he was first in our hearts. Or whatever body part it is that appreciates expert displays of crummy jerkitude.

[Where to stream Inside Amy Schumer.]

13

Dan Foley from 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

Villain-Survivor-Dan
CBS

Reality-show villains a dime a dozen? Maybe. But Survivor hasn’t seen a villain like Dan in quite a while. In a season with a record number of massively unlikeable contestants (ugh, Rodney; blech, Will), Survivor: Worlds Apart‘s Dan managed to combine unpleasantness with a lack of couth with a lack of manners with a massively overblown sense of his own narrative within the Survivor universe, all slathered in a rather toxic brand of condescension and bullying towards Shirin. Few vote-outs have been as satisfying as his.

[Where to stream Survivor.]

14

Piper Chapman from 'Orange Is the New Black'

Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black offered such a fantastic villain in Vee that season 3 couldn’t possibly replicate it. Which is probably why it was such a good decision to look inward and to an unlikely prospect for season 3’s top villain. The audience has always been hard on Piper anyway, so why not have her break bad as the Walter White of the Litchfield used-panty business?

[Where to stream Orange Is the New Black.]

15

Evillene from 'The Wiz Live!'

Mary J. Blige might not be the most seasoned performer of stage musicals, but hand her a number like “No Bad News” and tell her to sneer for all she’s worth as The Wiz‘s wicked witch of the west and you’re in for quite a treat. Mary had a pretty great grip on the overall tone of the musical quite well, and you have to love a villain who knows when to take her moment in the spotlight.

[Where to stream The Wiz Live!]