Last night marked the third season finale of Dexter, Showtime’s series about an extremely good looking and easy to relate to serial killer. As Salon’s Heather Havrilesky points out in her wrap-up, “…he’s a bloodthirsty monster in ordinary nerd’s clothing. This is the delicious and awful trap of Dexter, a drama that, even in its third season, still may qualify as the strangest and most unsettling show in the history of television: Even at his darkest hour, even when he’s watching events in his life unfold from a great distance, without feeling much of anything, Dexter is undeniably likable.”
This isn’t the first time in recent TV history a beloved character happens to be a bit of a dark horse — The Sopranos made the concept a pop culture staple. Think about most of the shows you watch today: Heroes, House, Gossip Girl, Lost — sorry Dr. Huxtable, the days of goody goody television are long gone.
We count down our favorite small-screen antiheroes after the jump. Add your own in the comments.
1. David Brent from The Office Playing an incompetent middle manager with a raging ego and an unquenchable taste for self promotion, Ricky Gervais made one of the most loathsome characters on TV strangely empathetic.
2. Hank Moody from Californication This self-loathing writer has more vices than the sex-addicted actor who plays him — oddly, like all the women in his life who he’s constantly screwing over, we remain charmed.
3. Nancy Botwin from Weeds At first Nancy reads sympathetic: a widow struggling to keep her family together. Then she becomes a big small-time drug dealer. People die. Thanks to Mary-Louise Parker’s dimples, you forget to judge her.
4. Don Draper from Mad Men He drinks like a fish, cheats on his wife, and refuses to have a relationship with his half-brother because he’s lying to everyone in his life about his past. And yet, we’re counting down the days until Season Three…
5. Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm The fictional version of Larry David is one of the worst characters we’ve ever encountered. He’s crude, racist and a total hornball. And yet, he consistently makes us laugh, and so all is forgiven.