How did you weather your first Sunday of quality television overload? With Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and (sigh) The Killing all jammed into one evening, we’ve resigned ourselves to spending the last wakeful moments of our weekend with some of TV’s most flawed and fascinating characters. (When Girls and Veep premiere, later this month, we’re really going to have to clear our calendar.) Above all, the new schedule — and particularly the return of Joffrey on Game of Thrones — has got us thinking that irredeemable creeps are having a sort of renaissance on the small screen. To celebrate the reassuring fact that they’re all entirely fictional, we’ve collected our top ten after the jump; leave your additions in the comments.
Joffrey Baratheon, Game of Thrones
Joffrey isn’t just the worst kind of king; he’s the worst kind of human being, period, and that singularly bratty look he’s always got on his face doesn’t help matters. A sadistic teenager who forces his betrothed to watch as he has her father beheaded, he kicked off Season 2 by planning to kill a man via (basically) keg stand, only calling off the plan when Sansa mentions that it’s bad luck to murder someone on your name day. Oh, and he’s also the product of brother-sister incest. Gross.
Lane Pryce, Mad Men
He seemed straight-laced and vanilla at first, but Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s money guy just gets weirder by the week. Last season, we explored his terrifying relationship with his father, who grows physically violent when middle-aged Lane won’t conform to his expectations. And Season 5 opened with Lane finding a wallet, obsessing over the sexy photo he finds inside, and then breathing hard on the phone with the woman in the picture. We can only guess what kind of mess he’s about to get himself into with the wallet’s owner, her boyfriend, who some are guessing is in the mafia.
Hazel Wassername, 30 Rock
Sexually ambiguous NBC superfan Kenneth looks like the picture of mental health next to Kristen Schaal’s Hazel, who replaced him in the page program. Just about every allusion she makes to her past has something to do with violent crime or kinky sex, and we’ve learned that she exclusively dates bizarre fetishists. Hazel uses feminism to convince Liz to be her mentor, then tries her damnedest to manipulate her male colleagues through ridiculous displays of degradation. We will say this about the ambitious page, though: she’s directed. All of her schemes are an attempt to become Liz’s best friend and then, in what we imagine will play out a bit like Single White Female, actually take over her life.
Thomas Barrow, Downton Abbey
There are plenty of unsavory characters in and around Downton Abbey, but no one is slimier than Thomas. As a footman, he stole some wine and, when caught, tried to frame Bates. Plus, he’s always seducing male houseguests and then attempting to blackmail them (until the unfortunate Mr. Pamuk turns the tables). Excited to enlist in World War I and improve his station in life, he’s so horrified by the hardships of warfare that he purposely gets himself shot so he can return home. Once he’s back at Downton, he immediately starts dealing in black-market supplies, but learns his supplier is providing him with bad merchandise. By the end of the season, he’s a servant again, hiding the Crawleys’ dog just so he can find her and ingratiate himself to Lord Grantham. What a creep!
Ben Chang, Community
Readers, we agonized over this one. Who’s creepier: Ben Chang or Pierce Hawthorne? (Dean Pelton comes in a close third.) The conclusion we’ve come to is that while Pierce is probably a more all-around disgusting human being, Chang is just the textbook definition of a creep. He started out his career at Greendale as a Spanish instructor, but the discovery that he has absolutely no credentials resulted in his return to the community college as a student. These days, he’s a rogue security guard who lives in the school’s duct system and has been known to talk to himself in the manner of your typical mad scientist. We’re just thankful he’s not the real father of Shirley’s baby.
Mona Vanderwaal, Pretty Little Liars
Were you surprised to learn, at the end of Season 2, that Mona was “A” — the anonymous psychopath who’s torturing the friends of Alison DiLaurentis, a teenage girl she may or may not have also murdered? We weren’t particularly shocked, considering that Mona had always displayed unstable tendencies, bullying unpopular kids and stealing jewelry and throwing a temper tantrum every time Hanna stopped paying attention to her. It’s to actress Janel Parrish’s credit that the character has always had a frightening, manic intensity that made her complete nervous breakdown, diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, and consignment to a mental hospital entirely believable.
Belko Royce, The Killing
Speaking of the criminally insane, The Killing‘s Belko shot a politician at a public appearance — shades of Travis Bickle — and butchered his mother before meeting a bloody end at the police station. But what makes him creepy, as opposed to just violent and unhinged like your average TV murderer, is his positively campy Norman Bates side. Long before he kills his mom, we learn that the two of them have an uncomfortably bizarre relationship, and that he’s so obsessed with the Larsen family that he’s got a collage of their photos on his bedroom ceiling.
The terrible boss to end all terrible bosses, Dougie has two main strikes against him: First of all, he’s got such a raging inferiority complex that he sees everything as a personal slight, and thus is constantly cursing out his underlings and throwing temper tantrums in his office. On top of that, he’s totally slimy in his personal life. You know that guy in the club with the greased-up hair and shiny, polyester shirt who’s drunkenly groping every female hindquarters within reach? Yeah, that’s Dougie.
Tyler Barrol, Revenge
No list of TV creeps would be complete without Tyler, who shows up to spend the summer in the Hamptons, staying with his Harvard roommate Daniel Grayson and his family, and interning at the Graysons’ finance company. At first, he just seems a bit manipulative — but we soon learn that he’s clinically insane, bent on getting rich however he can, and liable to wave a gun around when he doesn’t get his way. Oh, and he’s also a gay hustler, because Revenge is a soap opera and mere homicidal mania won’t suffice. We have to admit, we got sick of this character fast. But now that he’s dead, who’s going to force girls to go to parties and then pick out the perfect dress for the occasion?
Frank Gallagher, Shameless
Finally we have Shameless’s Frank Gallagher, who if not the most evil creep on our list, is definitely the drunkest. In the show’s first season we learned that Frank was a horrible father who would rather spend his time passed out at the Alibi than raising his six kids. Not exactly a charmer, but we’ve seen worse. Season 2 made it painfully clear that Frank Gallagher is more than just an alcoholic, deadbeat dad; he’s an amoral sociopath willing to scam a dying woman out of her pension (and the heart transplant that could keep her alive), claim the insurance benefits of a dead man whose home and wife he’s already got dibs on, and play the role of enabler to his chemically dependent ex-wife Monica just so she won’t sober up enough to leave him again. It’s no wonder that his kids finally decide they’ve had enough, and kick him out of the house and into a snowstorm.