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Top 10 Heroes & Villains on TV

By Shawn McKenzie 06/07/2003

The recent American Film Institute list inspired me to compile a top 10 list of the best heroes and villains currently on TV (see my list of the top ten movie characters that didn't make the AFI list.)  I restricted this list to only shows that haven't been officially cancelled as of this writing.  This means one of the greatest TV heroes of all time, Buffy Summers, no longer qualifies (I know...it sucks!)  Maybe someday I will do an all-time list, but for now here are the best of the goodie two shoes and the worst of the baddies you love to hate.




1. Sydney Bristow, “Alias

With the loss of Buffy, the #1 female butt-kicker is now Sydney.  Besides…Buffy didn’t know how to speak every language in the world and she could never seem to keep a decent relationship with a guy with a pulse.

2. Jack Bauer, “24

He has saved the President and the country all in the span of 48 hours, even without eating or going to the bathroom (of course he could have done those things while Kim was being attacked by cougars.)

3. Clark Kent, “Smallville

The future Superman is a noble soul who might be a little too trusting.  One of his best friends just happens to be the man who will one day become his greatest foe.

4. Angel, “Angel

Sure, he has done evil many times in the past as Angelus, but his “curse” of a soul has put him on the straight-and-narrow.  If he can fulfill his destiny to rid the world of all vampires, he will become human, but that is going to take some time.  It will be interesting to see how his control of Wolfram & Hart will help him in this mission.

5. Gil Grissom, “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation

Have you watched any cop show in the last two years and wondered, “How would Gil have handled this investigation?”  Yeah, me too.  With all his knowledge and those cool forensic tools, he is almost like a superhero without superpowers.

6. Johnny Smith, “The Dead Zone

This is a conflicted hero, since he has a gift that he really doesn’t want.  He also has to deal with the skeptics who don’t believe him, though Reverend Purdy’s promotion of his talents has made it easier.  His greatest act of heroism might be in stopping the man who he sees will destroy the world.

7. Principal Steven Harper, “Boston Public

He has to rein over the unluckiest high school ever.  That takes a whole lot of bravery.  Sure, everything that happens in Winslow High School might happen to other schools in real life…but all at the same time?

8. Det. Andy Sipowicz, “NYPD Blue

Speaking of unlucky, this bad tempered alcoholic has had his share of down times.  Like Vic Mackey on “The Shield,” he will do things that might be considered unethical to bust the skell.  Unlike Mackey, he isn’t corrupt.  He may have lost a son, a wife, and two partners, but he keeps going.

9. Captain Jonathan Archer, “Enterprise

This man blazed the trail that all Starship captains that followed him were proud to follow.  He doesn’t have the advantage of harmonious relationships with Klingons and other species.  Heck, even his relationship with the Vulcans is shaky at best.  Plus, he doesn’t have a transporter to beam him up!  He’s a hero in the dark ages!

10. Cops, “Cops

Okay, I almost never watch this show (since it is pretty much the same drunken idiots being busted every time), but I have a lot of respect for the police.  I could never do the amazing things these bad boys do day after day, so I salute their bravery.


1. Vic Mackey, “The Shield

This man may be a cop, and on occasion his intentions are honorable, but he will do anything to get ahead, financially or otherwise.  He has no problem killing or injuring anyone who gets in his way.

2. Tony Soprano, “The Sopranos

Another man who doesn’t have a problem killing his opponents, but he isn’t under the guise of law enforcement.  He does it all for his family…both families.

3. Lex Luthor, “Smallville

He will one day become the world’s greatest villain, but he is almost more dangerous now, since his greatest opponent is a good friend.

4. Arvin Sloane, “Alias

This man is dangerous because, after two seasons, it is still not clear as to what is his ultimate evil goal.  He killed Sydney’s fiancé and Dixon’s wife, plus he put out favorite spy in many perilous situations.  Who knows what evil he has sprung in the two years Sydney was missing…

5. Simon Cowell, “American Idol

In a world of political correctness, here is a man who doesn’t hold back his opinion.  His intentions may be honorable, but he has reduced more than one aspiring singer to tears and/or rage.  He also has to endure constant booing from the studio audience and homophobic jokes from Ryan Seacrest.  You gotta admit though…it's fun to see him insult a really bad singer!

6. Montgomery Burns, “The Simpsons

His mere appearance screams “evil!”  He has kidnapped puppies, blocked the sun, and corrupted Bart Simpson.  Smithers may be the one in Springfield who loves this crotchety old man, because no one else does (not even his own mother!)

7. Satan & Saddam Hussein, “South Park

These gay lovers have wrecked havoc in South Park on the big and small screen, and their relationship is very dysfunctional.  Ironically, Saddam is more evil than the ruler of all evil, since he treats Satan very badly.  Yet, Satan keeps coming back.  When will he learn?

8. Mayor Greg Stillson, “The Dead Zone

He may just me running for a political office now, but he is destined to destroy the world, if Johnny Smith’s vision is correct.  Everyone, say it with me…evil!

9. Dr. Robert “Rocket” Romano, “E.R.

With a hospital full of boring goodie-goodies, it takes a real jerk to make things interesting.  Of course, when a character starts to soften up and act nice, all you have to do is chop off his arm in a helicopter blade to get him right back on his jerky track.

10. The Mole, “The Mole

The great thing about this villain is that it could be any of the players.  You start to suspect everyone.  If it weren’t a fun, silly reality show, it would almost be scary.

Disagree with my choices?  Do you have a few suggestions of your own for the best heroes and villains currently on TV?  Please email me your choices at shawn@entertainyourbrain.com or go to the Home Page and post your opinion on the Entertain Your Brain Message Board!

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