Criminal Minds

10 Greatest TV Villains
Say ''howdy'' to the baddest ever to sully the small screen

1. J.R. Ewing
Larry Hagman's wolfish grin and ruthless corporate behavior put a friendly face on '80s-era greed and made ''Who Shot J.R.?'' a fervent wish as much as a cliff-hanger.

2. Montgomery Burns
The Simpsons
Skinflint, century-old nuclear-power-plant owner with a tiny black desiccated heart: Excellent!

3. Angel/Angelus
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Angel's alter ego (also played by David Boreanaz) was the most bodacious ''big bad''; Angelus forced Buffy to ''kill'' Angel — a high point of romantic agonizing.

4. Leland Palmer
Twin Peaks
Raped and murdered his daughter Laura; possessed by the demon ''Bob.'' Also offed his niece Maddy.

5. Amanda Woodward
Melrose Place
Brought in to save the floundering nighttime soap, Heather Locklear's businesswoman/seductress Amanda gave the show a jolt and its mattresses a workout.

6. Fred Johnson
(a.k.a. The One-Armed Man)
The Fugitive
Murdered Dr. Richard Kimble's wife and got away with it for four seasons, as David Janssen's framed fugitive tracked him cross-country. The series-ending showdown between Kimble and the killer (Bill Raisch) drew record-setting ratings in 1967.

7. Mel Profitt
Star Ken Wahl was almost always outshone by the villains in this ahead-of-its-time, late-'80s undercover-agent series, and Kevin Spacey's heroin-shooting arms dealer Mel (who was also probably having it off with his own sister) was the loopiest.

8. Dr. Loveless
The Wild, Wild West
''James Bond on horseback'' was the high concept for this '60s Western, with Michael Dunn's witty evil dwarf Loveless as the show's recurring insane bad guy.

9. Newman
Wayne Knight played Jerry's ''sworn enemy,'' the smug, thoughtless mail carrier who delighted in bedeviling everyone except Kramer. Goodbye, Newman!

10. Whoever canceled Freaks and Geeks, Once and Again, and Arrested Development
We could ascertain who was head of programming in each case, but really, these are decisions made by committee. These fine shows had devoted followings, if not massive audiences, and were killed in their witty, life-affirming prime; what greater villainy could there be?

Ken Tucker

Originally posted Jan 12, 2007 Published in issue #916 Jan 19, 2007 Order article reprints

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