Magnificent Bastard / Live-Action TV

  • Blackadder: The third Blackadder, Edmund Blackadder, is the butler to the idiotic Prince George of Regency England. A roguish cheat who constantly scams money out of his employer, Blackadder is also left with the task of running the country, manipulating the election of his completely idiotic sidekick Baldrick to the House of Commons to vote down a measure harmful to the prince by setting up a Rotten Borough and taking over the position as the only voter as well as the supervisor of elections by murdering his predecessors. When a bet is made for him to one-up the Scarlet Pimpernel, he simply opts to head down to a coffee house and find an aristocrat at the French embassy. When the real Scarlet Pimpernel is about to reveal his treachery, Blackadder promptly murders him and wins a great award from Prince George by claiming to be the true Scarlet Pimpernel. Even in the finale, Blackadder sees Prince George dead when they've switched identities and takes the chance to claim to be the real prince to the insane King George III, gleefully ascending to the throne of England several years later.
  • Justified: In amidst all the white supremacists, drug addicts, stupid crooks, and other human wreckage that comprised the gangsters of rural Harlan County, there was the occasional villain with some charisma and flair, and the according ability to run rings about series' protagonists Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder:
    • Mags Bennett was the Big Bad of Season 2 and matriarch of the Bennett family, a Bandit Clan of hillbilly moonshiners and marijuana farmers whose influence was felt throughout Harlan County. Ruling her namesake township of Bennett as not just a Corrupt Hick but an uncrowned Feudal Overlord, Mags controlled the Bennett Police Department through her son, Doyle, and the marijuana trade through his brothers, Dickie and Coover, making her the final arbiter on near everything that happened in town. Rallying the people of Harlan at large and Bennett in particular against Black Pike Mining's attempts to buy up the county, Mags secretly cut a deal with Black Pike behind the backs of her fellow townsfolk, selling most of the county to Black Pike in exchange for extensive personal profits that she planned to use to get her grandchildren out of crime. Staying her hand when her son Coover was killed by Raylan (whose family the Bennetts had long feuded with), Mags returned to action when Dickie started a war with Boyd and proved capable of matching him trick for trick. In the end, only the unexpected return of Mags' foster daughter, Loretta, to Bennett, and the ensuing intervention by the Marshal Service proved able to bring the Bennett township tyrant down.
    • Ellstin Limehouse, was the unofficial king of Noble's Holler, the one black community in rural white Harlan. Concerned with keeping his people isolated and safe, Limehouse played Harlan's criminals and law enforcement against one another with seeming impunity, always evading responsibility, and coming out on top. In Season 3 he outmaneuvered Boyd, Robert Quarles, Dickie Bennett and Raylan, setting in motion a plan that saw Quarles killed, Boyd and Dickie imprisoned, and Raylan unable to touch Limehouse. In Season 4, he successfully ripped off Boyd and the Detroit mob both, while at the same time, saving the life of frightened hooker Ellen May and extricating Noble's from the Harlan underworld. Making his final appearance in Season 6, Limehouse again got the better of Boyd, before vanishing from Harlan, one step ahead of the Marshal's Service. No other villain on the show has walked as fine a line between good and evil as Limehouse, and none has ever come close to matching his achievements or his ability to get away with everything.
    • Drew Thompson was a Detroit mobster with a unique penchant for taking Refuge in Audacity. After witnessing Theo Tonin commit a murder, Drew realized that he had to get out of town before Theo killed him to cover it up. Shooting Theo in the eye, Drew stole an airplane and faked his own death, shoving his accomplice, Waldo Truth, out of the plane, then parachuting into Harlan County where he exchanged his cocaine and drug money for a new identity, helping Bo Crowder and Arlo Givens become rural mafiosi while he himself became Shelby Parlow of the Harlan Sheriff's Department. Eventually elected Sheriff himself, Shelby used his position to undermine Boyd's control over Harlan and the office of Sheriff alike, while also joining the recently revitalized search for "Drew Thompson" whose survival, but not identity, had been discovered. Found out in the end and arrested by Raylan, Drew Thompson nevertheless enjoyed a decades long career in law enforcement, and his machinations set in motion the eventual collapse of Boyd's criminal enterprises—the very same enterprises Drew had helped Boyd's father Bo, assemble in the first place.
    • Loretta McCready was the foster daughter and Bastard Understudy of Mags Bennett, and while she might have sided with Raylan against Mags, the passage of time proves that it was Mags' influence that lasted. Aspiring to become a marijuana kingpin in the same vein as her foster mother, Loretta spent Season 6 buying up agricultural land throughout Harlan County under both her real name and various aliases, and putting herself in direct competition with Avery Markham and the various gun thugs in his employ. Allying herself with Boyd, Loretta turned the entire town against Markham with a single speech at a party that Markham himself was hosting, and bought up most of the land in the county. Even the implosion of Boyd's empire and the loss of his protection could not stop Loretta; when Markham cornered her she persuaded him that she should become his new partner, thus surviving until Raylan and Boyd killed off Markham and his enforcer, Boon. Only a teenager when the series ended, Loretta demonstrated that she was more capable than most of the adult criminals on the show, and was left in a perfect position to pick up where Mags and Boyd left off, as the reigning queen of the Harlan underworld.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak presents himself as merely a plain, simple tailor, but is quickly revealed to be much more then that. A former member of the Cardassian Intelligence outfit, the Obsidian Order, Garak is exiled from Cardassia and forced to live on Deep Space 9. Garak is able to defeat several of his enemies, outwitting arrogant Cardassian military officials like Gul Dukat and Gul Toran. Garak also is able to manipulate the heroes as well, spotting an assassin on the station sent to kill him, Garak blows up his own shop to get Odo investigate the situation and deal with the assassin and gets Worf to defy his orders by playing to his sense of honor. After Cardassia joins the Dominion, Garak is resolved to freeing Cardassia from the Dominion. Garak's master stroke is forcing the Romulan Empire to declare war on the Dominion, by manipulating Sisko into manufacturing evidence of an up coming attack on Romulus and presenting it to a Romulan Senator. When the Senator decides the evidence is fake, Garak blows up his shuttle, so that the Romulan Empire will think the Dominion killed him and declare war on the Dominion. In the final season, Garak works with Colonel Kira and Legate Damar and uses his skills to help a Cardassian resistance movement overthrow Dominion rule on Cardassia.
  • Twin Peaks: Catherine Packard Martell. It's not just everyone who can fake their own death in a mill fire, come back to town in drag to foil the plans of everyone looking to profit off the land, and then plot with their Not Quite Dead brother to seek revenge on his treacherous wife.
  • Unforgettable: "Fred" not only manipulates three separate people into being killers (one a serial), he chooses to out himself Carrie and her team, knows they're utterly unable to pin a single thing on him, and cheerfully implies he'll look forward to more fun and games.