It’s easy to root for the compelling protagonist with a stringent moral compass…but rooting for the bad guy? Now that’s fun. The shining lead characters tend to say and do the right thing, but TV has also shown us that villains are often made and not born, with some of them having somewhat justifiable intentions. Often, the bad guys are written with much more complexity and nuance compared to their straight-laced righteous protagonists, so it’s no wonder audiences are some times more interested in the big bads of the show. If you tend to find yourself pulled towards the dark side, here are some shows that explore these morally ambiguous characters and show that rooting for the bad guys isn’t all that bad.
Yes, he’s a psychopathic serial killer. It’s probably not the best one to start out with on a topic about rooting for the bad guy, and Penn Badgley himself constantly reminds audiences that his character, Joe, is *not a good guy*. But the fact that You has been renewed for a fourth season just proves our point that audiences can’t get enough of this deranged man with a husky voice. Despite his maniacal and murderous behaviour, the show does a great job of making Joe *almost* relatable with his quippy and sarcastic inner monologues that show he hates social interactions and screaming babies. Turns out, he’s not all that different from us…if you just forget the glass cage in his basement.
Watch You here.
Game of Thrones
In Game of Thrones, the Hound has been an unforgettable character and stories of his scars is horrific enough. Having as somewhat soft spot for Arya, this character is often misunderstood and kills Arya’s friend which leaves her questioning his goodness—when it fact he was having an argument with Joffrey. He had a strange bond with Sansa in the King’s Landing and he refused to kill or abandon Arya even though he wanted to get a ransom through her.
Watch Game of Thrones here
Struggling to meet ends meet, Breaking Bad follows Walter White—this high school chemistry teacher starts being a ruthless player in the local methamphetamine drug trade. He succumbs to his because he needs to financially provide for his family after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Breaking Bad is the perfect series for people who want emotions mixed with action packed thriller.
Watch Breaking Bad here.
Shadow and Bone
Another reason to love a bad guy? The romance between them and the protagonist is just too good that you can’t help but root for them to work out. Take Netflix’s YA-fantasy show, Shadow and Bone for instance. Based on the best-selling Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo, the series centres on an orphan cartographer called Alina Starkoy who discovers she has a rare and extraordinary power. The dark and mysterious General Kirigan steps in to help her, but he isn’t who he seems. While Kirigan may have questionable intentions with Alina’s power, readers and audiences alike have a soft spot for him as he treats Alina with care and attention that is honestly swoon-worthy. It also doesn’t help that he’s played by Ben Barnes.
Watch Shadow and Bone here.
Raymond Reddington from Blacklist is the true bad guy turned good guy. After running from the authorities for twenty odd years, he miraculously turned himself in to the FBI to volunteer information for immunity. Through his years of criminal activities he had built up an impressive list of crimal contacts and syndicates which would be very helpful to the FBI. However since turning himself in, he hasn’t been the most helpful or cooperative to the FBI—later on in the show he demanded to only work with Agent Elizabeth Keen. Through Raymond Reddington’s exploits and predicaments, he proves that bad guys can be good.
Watch Blacklist here.
Gotham has seen its fair share of villains over the course of the two seasons but one that stands out is Oswald Cobblepot. Fish Mooney’s is the ultimate girl boss that runs the crime realm. We are introduced to his character as shy and timid but he sure breaks out of that act after a few episodes. He perseveres to get back into Gotham after being told not to come back—but his vengeance doesn’t stop that and gets even more motivated when his mother passes. But the death of his father pushes him to an age and he murders his step family and carries on to eat them for dinner. Yes, cannabalism. This unpredictable character in Gotham then becomes good guy, Jim Gordans ally and he has been helping them.
Watch Gotham here.
This BBC series takes the entertaining cat-and-mouse game between the villain and protagonist to a whole new level. Killing Eve follows Eve, a spy bored with the monotony of her M15 job, and Villanelle (yes, it’s very on the nose), a masterful yet completely unhinged assassin. As their paths begin to clash, the two find themselves increasingly obsessed with one another in a satisfying enemies-turned-lovers trope. The show does an incredible job of making you love Villanelle as steals the limelight with her creative kills and extravagant dress choices. When audiences compare that to Eve’s colourless work life, they just can’t help but question if it’s more fun to live life like Villanelle.
Watch Killing Eve here.
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