Magnificent Bastard: Live-Action TV
"If you're going to take me on, son, you're going to have to bring your game up to a whole different level."
—Lionel Luthor, Smallville.
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TV Series in general
- Certain contestants on Reality TV competition programs can be Magnificent Bastards if they win in an impressive manner, or if they didn't win, came very close to doing so. Good examples include Richard Hatch, Brian Heidik, Parvati Shallow and "Boston" Rob Mariano from Survivor and Dr. Will Kirby and Dan Gheesling from the American version of Big Brother.
- Most Soap Operas are positively swimming with these types as any villian with flair and wit tend to be long runners. A few notable examples, both male and female:
- 24: Sherry Palmer, nicknamed Lady MacPalmer. Even in the World of Badass that is this show, she stands out: a master manipulator, cunning and vengeful, capable of blackmail and backstabbing while maintaining a sweet, calm, would-be First Lady smile. And does she ever feel bad about it? Hell, no. Somehow, whenever Sherry very calmly says "Let me help you" to anyone, it's nearly as terrifying as Jack Bauer screaming that he's A FEDERAL AGENT! She's so magnificent that her (ex-) husband David Palmer knows she's about to stomp all over the Moral Event Horizon but keeps calling her back for help anyway. At one point, she's afraid that her husband is going to be too exhausted for the campaign, so she tells one of his campaign staffers to start flirting with him. Why? Because she apparently thinks that this will keep him "relaxed" enough to win, and allow her to become First Lady.
- 30 Rock: Jack Donaghy - Titan, maverick, lover - ultimately personifies this trope, being a motivated, cutthroat corporate head who usually finds incredible ways to benefit both himself and his favorite underlings, usually while sounding totally ridiculous (see Season 2's scene in which he imitates Redd Foxx in order to aid a black movie star under his employ in coping with his family issues.... and actually manages to make it work. DY-NO-MIIITE!)
Liz: (watching Jack's coaching video) I'm negotiating against YOU, you Magnificent Bastard!
- It's even quoted by name in season 6, and in exactly the same context as the Trope Namer:
- Also from the same show, Devon Banks - Jack's archrival who manages in Season 2 to seize control of NBC from Jack by marrying his boss' daughter and convincing the board to accept her as the new head who he then controls as a puppet. He eventually forces Jack (!) to resign from GE by moving his office to the 12th floor. .
- Arvin Sloane is the most preeminent of them. Entire governments are wrapped around his finger, and even the CIA acknowledges he's the best spymaster in the business. He can snow people so well, he got the CIA to pardon him, let him lead a covert branch of the CIA based on his previous black-ops terrorist cell, and still surprised people when he turned on them.
- Irina Derevko was a KGB agent married to an American spy who faked her own death. She reintroduced herself by shooting her own daughter, and hasn't stopped since.
- Jack Bristow's Crowning Moment of Awesome from the finale would qualify him even if he weren't one of the best game-theorists in history. Or capable of giving Sloane and Irina both a run for their money, even convincing Sloane for years that he wasn't a double agent.
- Stanton Parrish. He breaks out all but two inmates of Building Seven, without anybody but the main characters knowing he's involved. He has a lady preform Mind Rape on anybody in his organization down to the lowest minion to ensure complete loyalty. He lectures the stupid guards as he escapes from custody, and then almost steals psychic's powers. He's had his counterpart's daughter spying for him since before he even knew he existed. And when people finally become aware of his existence, after they foiled a terrorist attack of his that would have murdered an entire city? He hijacks the counter-measures the heroes put in place, and manipulate it so that by defending themselves he can launch an attack that would kill the entire country.
- American Gothic: Sheriff Lucas Buck fulfills this trope again and again throughout the series. Among the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) offenses would be his Mind Rape of Dr. Crower, beginning with forcing him to relive his past tragedies (his alcoholism, its destruction of his career, and the terrible accident which cost him the life of his wife and daughter), which nearly makes him fall Off the Wagon again. This then continues on to the convoluted Gambit Roulette wherein he convinces Dr. Crower via a woman who claims to be his mother that he is the Devil Incarnate. Armed with this Cassandra Truth, Matt morphs into a Stalker with a Crush (only without the crush, unless you take it to mean wanting to crush Buck to death), so that in the end he gets dragged away, having gone off the deep end, and is last seen locked away in an insane asylum. Talk about a Downer Ending...but so ingeniously pulled off.
- Holtz falls under this, mostly for his sheer efficiency. Jasmine spent millenia with godlike power manipulating events to come to earth, lasted less than a week, and died at the hands of her most loyal servant. Wolfram and Hart spent five seasons with nigh-limitless resources trying to corrupt Angel and all they accomplished in the end was letting him know who to kill. Meanwhile Holtz, had no powers whatsoever, was out of his own time and had no allies but those he created for himself. And in half a season he managed to convince one of Angel's closest friends to kidnap Angel's son, then escaped into a hell dimension with him, raising him to be Angel's worst enemy. Then his assisted suicide actually made things worse between them.
Angel: You took my son!Holtz: I kept your son alive. You murdered mine.
- Lilah Morgan also comes to exemplify this trope by mid-season three, having begun the series as more of a Smug Snake. The turning point is probably either "Billy", in which Lilah coldly executes the title character, or Darla's pregnancy storyline, over the course of which Lilah gets some great one-liners and becomes legitimately scary for the first time. In season four she's every inch the Magnificent Bastard, ruthlessly dispatching her former superior Linwood, leaving significant emotional scars on Wesley and ably defending herself from a rampaging Angelus. It's only the complete shock of Cordelia's possession by Jasmine that catches her in the end.
Translator: Well, this should be fun!Lilah: No. This shouldn't be fun. What it should be is done by morning — or I'll have your family killed.
- Holtz falls under this, mostly for his sheer efficiency. Jasmine spent millenia with godlike power manipulating events to come to earth, lasted less than a week, and died at the hands of her most loyal servant. Wolfram and Hart spent five seasons with nigh-limitless resources trying to corrupt Angel and all they accomplished in the end was letting him know who to kill. Meanwhile Holtz, had no powers whatsoever, was out of his own time and had no allies but those he created for himself. And in half a season he managed to convince one of Angel's closest friends to kidnap Angel's son, then escaped into a hell dimension with him, raising him to be Angel's worst enemy. Then his assisted suicide actually made things worse between them.
- Arrested Development: Lucille Bluth fits this trope to a "T". The real head of the Bluth Family ( and company), she continuously manipulates her children to stay dependent to her (although this worked a little too well with Buster), is the mastermind behind her husband's illegal business dealings, and will go to any lengths to protect her family, even making a teacher who gave Michael a bad grade mysteriously disappear. And she does most using only her tongue and the massive amount of alcohol running through her system at any given time.
- Arrow: Malcolm Merlyn aka The Dark Archer is smooth, charming and can outfight Oliver Queen. He was responsible for sabotaging the Queen's Gambit, which led to Oliver fending for himself in a hellish island for 5 years, and then manipulated his mother by kidnapping her fiancé into participating in a conspiracy to destroy half the city. In the end, despite losing to the Arrow, his plans were partially successful.
- Slade Wilson/Deathstroke in Season 2 definitely qualifies. He introduced himself in present-day as the Man Behind the Man to Brother Blood, who was conducting illegal experiments to raise an army of super-soldiers to take over Starling City. He then kidnaps Oliver's sister and reveals her true parentage to her, all in order to cause confusion among the Queen family while he frees all the inmates imprisoned by the Arrow for his super soldier army. He even had Isabel Rochev usurp Oliver's company so that he could use it for his plans, all of it just to make Oliver suffer. By the time Oliver/the Arrow realised the full nature of his plans, he had already set his army upon Starling City. His biggest mistake was that he underestimated Oliver's allies since he was mainly focused on making him suffer more than anything else.
- Keeping up with his comic book and live-action film counterparts, Ra's al Ghul has ascended to this position with style towards the end of Season 3. With an objective to secure Oliver as the heir to the League of Assassins, he had his followers impersonate the Arrow to kill several criminals around the city in order to frame The Arrow. He then kidnaps Captain Lance in order to expose Oliver Queen as the Arrow, thus staging a nearly successful gambit where The Arrow would have to accept his terms or rot in prison.
- Ashes to Ashes: Jim Keats. Starts out as a nerdy Obstructive Bureaucrat obsessed with rules and regulations, charming his way into CID, and at the end of 3.01, pulls one of the fastest (practically nonverbal) Face Heel Turns in history. He continues to gain the trust of the team - particularly Alex - and all seems well until the end of 3.04, where he cradles the dying Louise in his arms and seemingly acts as an Angel of Death for her. He gets a hell of a lot darker and more sinister in 3.06, when he lets Viv die alone and frightened, cheerily whistling as Viv - who has sinned in allowing a gun into a prison and covering it up, thus facilitating a riot - screams in terror. It's finally revealed in 3.08 that Keats is quite possibly the Devil himself, and when the truth of the world is revealed - that everyone is dead and Gene is supposed to help them move on - loses his shit in fairly spectacular fashion. He breaks the world. He even manages to headbutt Gene and proceed to deliver a terrifying No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to him. While he doesn't win - Alex fixes the world by helping Gene believe in himself and his team again, then crosses over instead of joining Keats - he does slink off into the night promising Gene they'll meet again.
- As the World Turns had James Stenbeck and Craig Montgomery. James was notorious for having convincingly faked his own death numerous times.
- Babylon 5:
- Alfred Bester epitomizes this trope. He combines ruthless scheming with an infuriating charisma that drives the heroes crazy even as they are forced to respect his skill. Bester can do this even when his telepathic powers have been removed.
- Londo Mollari is a Magnificent Bastard at his core. Case in point: A meeting between himself and one of his allies of the moment, lord Antono Refa. Londo invites him out to Babylon 5 to discuss recent Centauri military activities (re: starting twelve wars simultaneously and depending on the Shadows for assistance). Londo does not approve. He offers Refa a drink, and runs down why this plan is a disaster waiting to happen. When Refa asks why he should do anything Londo says, Londo replies "Because I have asked you. Because your sense of duty to our people should override any personal ambition. And because I have poisoned your drink." He goes on to describe how the poison comes in two parts, one of which was in Refa's drink. If he does not comply, one of Londo's agents in the Royal Court will introduce him to the second half of the poison. Finally, Londo lifts his own glass while Refa is sitting there ashen-faced and jovially proposes a toast to Refa's health.
- Later Londo decides to kill Refa for something that Refa had not actually done, for once, but doesn't use the poison. Why? Because now he wants Refa destroyed, and that includes disgracing House Refa. So he lures him in a room full of homicidal Narn with his bodyguards actually being Londo's men, has G'kar play an holografic recording delivering a magnificent gloating that includes detailing why the Narn will kill him and how Refa's one way to get out of that (convincing Londo lied) has been already blocked (Londo is paying them freeing two thousand imprisoned Narn, half in advance and "half pending their cooperation") and then plant evidence disgracing House Refa on him... And then the Narn beat him to death, sparing his face for better identification.
- Magnificent Bastardry seems to be the Centauri's "hat"; What does timid, gentle Vir Cotto do when a madman becomes Emperor and is ordering daily genocides? Make protests? Feed information to La Résistance? Nope! He cooks up a byzantine scheme to secretly relocate hundreds of thousands of would-be victims by pretending to have them killed! He's a nice guy, but he's still a Centauri.
- Ivanova also gets her share of Magnificent Bastard moments. There's not a thing that goes on in the station except she knows about it, and she can work within the letter of the law to get aliens to cooperate with her like nobody else can. The only times she can't figure out what's going on is when it involves Sheridan, because even Ivanova can't out-think him. Remember, God sent her.
- Sinclair is easily the Chairman of the Babylon 5 Rules Lawyer Bar Association, with the way he's able to manipulate both human and alien rules and regulations to get what he wants. Given that he would eventually become the Minbari war hero/religious figure Valen, it's only natural that the Minbari learned how to creatively choose their words from him. Although he is more than capable of holding his own in a physical fight, and can bluff like nobody's business, it's in knowing how to bend, stretch, spindle, and tie the rules in knots where Sinclair truly shines, and he's able to outplay career politicans and professional negotiators with ease. Ultimately EarthGov was forced to reassign him as ambassador to Minbar to get him out of the way.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): Gaius Baltar has demonstrated an amazing ability to weasel, connive, and adapt every adverse situation to his own personal advantage. Even when he has been called out on his manipulations and lies and has grudgingly admitted to it, he has been able to show his opponents how it is to their advantage to grant his wishes, just this one more time. At the start of the series, a Cylon gulls him into giving her the codes for the Twelve Colonies' defence mainframe allowing them to subvert it and invade. As the human race evacuate the planet of Caprica, a Viper pilot gives up his seat for Baltar because Baltar is the most intelligent man in the universe and therefore of great use to the human race. While onboard Galactica, Baltar creates a fake Cylon detector and incriminates a man as a Cylon because this man was previously suspicious of Baltar. As providence would have it, this man actually is a Cylon although Baltar can't really take credit for that. He also exposes a Cylon device concealed aboard the ship, further gaining favour with the fleet. Later in the series, he runs for Presidency of the Twelve Colonies and gets elected based on charisma alone. He then orders the colonisation of a planet which he names New Caprica. The occupation of the planet is not a success. The planet turns out to be extremely hostile and Baltar just showers himself in opulence while his subjects suffer and starve. Then the Cylons invade and make Baltar their political puppet, forcing him to sign executions and using him as a scapegoat but Baltar secretly feeds information to the resistance movement until Galactica arrives and drives away the Cylons. Baltar then joins the Cylons and forces the mentally unstable Sharon Agathon to turn the human/Cylon hybrid baby, Hera over to the Cylons who take care of her. When Baltar is recaptured by the humans who try to torture him for information, he refuses to crack and demands a trial. During his incarceration he releases a book which causes a mutiny in the fleet but also provides the information necessary to restore order, gaining a fanatical cult that worship Baltar as the Messiah and also forcing President Laura Roslin to give Baltar a trial. Baltar hires the best lawyer in the business and gets off scot-free. When he is released from gaol, he joins his cult for protection and when that cult is threatened by dangerous fanatics, Baltar threatens to provoke a religious war unless he and his people are left in peace. And at the end of the series, he settles down to live quietly as a farmer with the love of his life! Watch his hair. When it's slicked back, he's about to pull something underhanded. When it's not, he already did.
- Big Love: Roman Grant: the patriarch of a polygamist compound who stole the title of Prophet from the hero's grandfather. He's also an extremely cunning businessman, who manages to one-up the hero, Bill, throughout the first season - in one case, just when Bill appears to have blackmailed him into giving up his financial interest in Bill's business, by threatening to destroy a guitar he particularly likes, he makes a deal with Bill that appears to give Bill everything he wants - a third outlet of Bill's "Home Depot" style store. Except then he gets the government to declare the land Bill has already bought an historical site. Despite being a thorough swine, he also believes deeply in the importance of family and calls to commiserate for Bill when Bill's family is exposed as polygamists. Of course, he exposed them....
- The Blacklist: Raymond Reddington. He starts the show by turning himself over to the FBI to assist them in taking down a supposedly-dead terrorist, who is just the first out of many in the eponymous Blacklist. He follows that up by constantly manipulating the Feds and criminals to pursue his own agendas. All while being deliciously portrayed by James Spader.
- Boardwalk Empire:
- Arnold Rothstein. Fixed the 1919 World Series and got away clean. Kingpin of New York, running an empire of gambling, prostitution, drugs, booze, and crime - all with impeccable manners and a sense of style. Steal from him? You're a marked man. Kill one of his business partners? He may have you killed immediately, or he may let you swing when it becomes more politically expedient. Because if he'll watch a man choke to death for his own amusement, what do you think he'll do to someone who crosses him?
- It takes until the end of season two for him to hit full Magnificent Bastardry, but Enoch "Nucky" Thompson gets there in spectacular fashion. When his protege, Jimmy, betrays him (after screwing up numerous business deals for him in season one) and teams up with the Commodore and Eli to bring Nucky down, Nucky predicts he'll ruin Jimmy. After surviving a second assassination attempt, Nucky starts cutting deals in spectacular fashion: bringing in Torrio and Rothstein for advice (and taking it), using his ties to Chalky to incite a race riot, and calling in the favors the IRA owes him and selling them guns in exchange for booze. Nucky doesn't have to do much else before all of Jimmy's deals start to backfire and he spirals out of control - but shooting Jimmy himself in the head sends the message that he's back in charge of AC.
- Nucky outdoes himself at the end of season three; under attack from the season's Big Bad, Gyp Rosetti, and his backer, New York crime boss Joe Masseria, Nucky gets Rothstein to convince Masseria to pull his support for Rosetti, and in return Rothstein demands a 99% share of the Pennsylvania distillery that Nucky is leasing from Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Nucky agrees... and after he's won the war, promptly narcs Rothstein out to Mellon, the man responsible for enforcing Prohibition.
- Borgia: Cesare grows to be one over the course of the series, going from a self doubting priest in training to the most feared man in Italy
- The Borgias: Rodrigo Borgia schemes his way into the papacy and secures powerful positions for his family. This is the man who remains pope, though nearly all of the accusations against him are true. So it's saying something that the real Magnificent Bastard of the show—in every way—is his eldest son, Cesare, who goes from reluctant cardinal to fratricidal, incestuous warlord over the course of three seasons. Towards the end of season three, he's running the show whether his father likes it or not. There's a reason why his historical counterpart inspired Machiavelli's The Prince.
- Breaking Bad: Walter White definitely graduates to this in the finale, letting go of his Pride enough to pull off a brilliant plan to destroy his enemies, using superb manipulation based on his enemies' personalities and habits, as well as doing it in style. It succeeds perfectly. Even his death doesn't detract from its success, as it allowed him to die on his own terms as opposed to his cancer and in a jail cell.
- Gustavo "Gus" Fring, owns a successful chain of chicken restaurants, organizes anti-drug fun runs, oh and is now the sole volume source of meth in the Southwest whose meth operations make around 1 million a day. In Season 3, Gus talks the Cousins, a pair of Cartel hitmen, into going after Hank instead of Walt, and tips Hank off to the impending attack. The Cousins end up dead and, with both the US and Mexico furious over the shooting of a DEA agent, cartel capo who had figured out what Gus had done is also killed as a scapegoat, and the resulting crackdown on meth trafficking lets Gus cut the cartel out of the US drug trade. Gus further cemented his Magnificent Bastard status by singlehandedly decapitating the Mexican drug cartel who was disrupting his business, and whose Don had killed his business partner 20 years ago. He does this through his gift bottle of tequila to poison the Don and the rest of the upper management of the cartel. To get them to drink, he poisons himself first and then excuses himself to meticulously vomit out the poison. Do not screw with Gus Fring.
- Camelot: Morgan Pendragon from the Starz television series is the daughter of the former king and the legitimate heir to the throne of England. Ambitious, intelligent, ruthless and a great manipulator with a talent for the The Plan, she'll stop at nothing to become queen and gets most of the English people on her side, given the fact that in this show, King Arthur is apparently useless. Morgan is seemingly intended to be a villain but her incredible charisma, the fact that she's actually more relatable than the supposed protagonists and being played by Eva Green mean that most of the fans are cheering her on. In fact, most of the people on the show are even cheering her on.
- Carnivàle: Iris Crowe is a fairly spectacular example. The sweet, innocent spinster sister of Brother Justin? Has not only spent her entire life playing Xanatos Speed Chess with her brother's true nature, but burned down her brother's church to get him publicity, allowed an innocent man to go to jail and eventual execution for what she did, lured an innocent woman out beyond the camp and then bashed her over the head with a boat oar, to keep her from talking about how evil Justin really is and kept the secret of Sofie's paternity from everyone. After the big battle, when Ben and Justin are lying dead in the cornfield, the New Canaan faithful have almost been completely slaughtered by Justin, and the Carnivale has had to slip away for fear of the authorities in the early morning hours, what is Iris doing? Cooling her heels as the Last One Standing.
- Dallas: John Ross Ewing, II aka J.R., is for all intents and purposes a major contender for Trope Codifier. Affably Evil? Check. Dangerously Genre Savvy? He expects people to double-cross him! The Chessmaster? Drives all the other characters to frustration at how well he plays them. And even after his main Enemy, Cliff Barnes, has seemingly taken away all J.R.'s power for good, our Villain Protagonist proves in the TNT relaunch that he has spent the years between shows planning the perfect revenge...which can best be described as a Xanatos Gambit plus Batman Gambit plus a little Xanatos Speed Chess when he learns of his impending death. He arranges his own assassination to frame Cliff, and thereby reconquer the Ewing empire for J.R.'s son. He brands this Thanatos Gambit his "masterpiece"...and frankly, it's pretty hard to disagree.
J.R.: (Grinning) Now that's my son...from tip to tail.
- Speaking of the TNT relaunch, John Ross III—J.R.'s son—spends the first season-and-a-half being mentored by his dad to be a Magnificent Bastard himself. Lampshaded by the old man himself, in the final moments of Season 1:
- The Day of the Triffids: Torrence, the charismatic sociopath played by Eddie Izzard in this 2009s adaptation starts of as a pretty Magnificent Bastard but suffers Villainous Breakdown when his plans start to go awry, revealing himself to be more of a Smug Snake, albeit a very high-functioning one.
- Deadwood: Al Swearengen slowly earns this title over the course of the second season when it becomes clear he's trying to bring order to the horrible frontier town in order to protect his dominance. Sure he orders hits on little girls, kills innocent people and generally does horrible things to everyone. Compared to Hearst and his cronies, Swearengen is practically a populist man of the people.
- Degrassi: Eli. Two examples stand out: when he crashed his hearse just to get Clare by his side when it clear their relationship was about to implode; and more recently when he gave Tristan, the school's resident Camp Gay, the role of Juliet in Degrassi's production of Romeo and Juliet, simply because he knew it would cause his co-director Becky, a Holier Than Thou Heteronormative Crusader, to quit. Tristan even calls Eli by the trope name when Eli tells him this.
- Desperate Housewives: Has, in its seventh season, Paul Young, who returns to Wisteria Lane after being falsely incarcerated. After no one came to visit him in jail, or supported him, he decided to punish the responsible parties by making them suffer. As such, he engineers gambits to own enough houses to open a halfway house for convicts, spreading seeds of distrust among the neighbors to make them hate each other. And it works: Lynette invites people who wind up causing a riot (spurred on by Bree attempting to break up a fight), it knocks Susan unconscious, another neighbor incites them to attack Lee, who was tricked into selling (and also attempt to hurt both Lee's boyfriend and a 7-year-old girl), and causes a real mess of things. Perhaps his most brilliant manoeuvre ever.
- Doctor Who: This show is littered with examples:
- The Master, in many of his incarnations. In the Delgado era, he was a suave foil for the Doctor, constantly trying to take over the world, using untrustworthy allies. In the Ainley era, he created a city for the sole purpose of trapping the Doctor, managed to foment a civil war among people who were convalescing, and nearly derailed the signing of the Magna Carta, among other schemes. Not to mention the time he held the entire universe for ransom, after destroying a tenth of it ON ACCIDENT. In the Simm era, he ran for and was elected Prime Minister. He took over the Earth, decimated the population with six billion robot beachballs of doom, tormented the main protagonists while dancing around his Cool Ship to "Voodoo Child" (by the Rogue Traders), and was generally bastardly. And magnificent. This was undone in the end, but still.
- Davros: In the serial "Revelation of the Daleks". After escaping from a maximum security prison, he adopts an alias and becomes a hero to the galaxy by alleviating famine. How does he do it? He uses the bodies sent to a planet-sized cemetery complex as the main ingredient for an "artificial" foodstuff. When the Doctor asks if he's actually told the general public about this, Davros says no, because "That would have created what I believe is termed 'consumer resistance'." Oh, and while he's doing all this, he's using other bodies from the complex to create (yet another) new race of Daleks. He was pretty bastardly in "Genesis of the Daleks" as well. When the Doctor convinced the Kaled government to investigate his research programs, he simply gave the Thals, his own people's arch-enemies, the information they needed to annihilate the Kaleds. Then he sent the Daleks to wipe out the Thals. Meanwhile, he carries out a purge of any surviving Kaleds whose conscience might hinder the Daleks' development. If you actually pay attention, you'll notice Davros isn't even so much as momentarily inconvenienced for the whole six episodes, despite the numerous twists and turns, up until the last few moments where the Daleks turn on him and (almost) kill him. Whoops. Even in the revival series, he's proven himself worthy of this title. In "The Witch's Familiar," Davros is able to finally regain the worship of the Daleks and steal the Doctor's regeneration energy to empower them, at least until the decaying ones in the sewers also gain said energy and start revolting.
- The Dalek Emperor "The Evil of the Daleks". Establishing a council of Smug Snakes to procure the materials necessary to destroy the Earth, and then manipulating the Doctor himself, making him isolate the "Human Factor" so that the Daleks could isolate the "Dalek Factor".
- Ramón Salamander in "The Enemy of the World". A public benefactor for his own ends, he was consolidating power by engineering tectonic disasters. He did so by herding some people into a giant fallout shelter under the pretext of avoiding a war, and telling them the survivors were so warped it would be a mercy to kill them. Also, his supposed arch-nemesis was actually The Dragon (and The Starscream). When his plans went aft a-gley, he used his resemblance to the Doctor to get into the TARDIS (His cover did not last, of course).
- "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" gives us Well-Intentioned Extremists Sir Charles Grover and Professor Whitaker. Their plan was to turn back time to land their chosen few in the Mesozoic, undoing everything that had happened since. They also arranged that the head of the British Army's operations in London would be in on it, too.
- Taren Capel from "The Robots of Death" overcame more than a million subroutines per robot when making them forget the First Law of Robotics and turn on the humans, while impersonating a man assigned to a Sandminer.
- Li H'sen Chang from "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". Onstage, he was a star illusionist and the most popular act (albeit with some unfortunate facets to his act). Offstage, however, he was The Dragon for a fifty-first century mass murderer, very skilled in hypnosis, and quite possibly Jack the Ripper.
- Cessair of Diplos, from "The Stones of Blood". She absconded with part of a Cosmic Keystone and three silicon-based creatures, which she used as attack "dogs". With the ship hauling her to prison stuck in hyperspace by Earth, she passed herself off as a deity among the locals. For ages they fed her Ogri (with animal blood once human sacrifice was abolished), and she bought up the land her shrine was on, through the ages. Oh, and she may have been an agent of the Black Guardian.
- The Valeyard from "The Trial of a Time Lord". Of course, any bastard siphoned off of the Doctor while the latter was regenerating would HAVE to be magnificent, and the Valeyard almost succeeds in getting the Doctor executed, all the while plotting to wipe out the High Council. In the ensuing Gambit Pileup, his plan literally blows up in his face, but he survived and become Keeper of the Matrix. And even the Master was afraid of him. The Master's fear of the Valeyard was the ultimate reason for The Valeyard's defeat: Rather than risk facing the Valeyard (who is, being a version of the Doctor, MORE than capable of defeating any scheme the Master is likely to cook up) and risk being killed (the one thing the Doctor won't do to him) the Master opts to reveal the Valeyard's entire plan to the court itself FROM INSIDE THE MATRIX. He's the future Doctor (well, an Enemy Without) sometime between his 12th and final incarnations. Given how badass the Doctor has been already and how badass he's become in future episodes, this isn't surprising in the least.
- And then there's the plain vanilla Daleks that show up in "Victory of the Daleks". Eight of them (five of which were only created halfway through the story) in a broken-down, underpowered ship pull one plan after another with the Doctor as their Unwitting Pawn in both cases. They play the last of the Time Lords like a fiddle and use him to restore the Dalek race, before giving him an Sadistic Choice and forcing him to let them escape. The audience spends the whole story expecting the Doctor to bounce back and defeat them: he doesn't. They win. They absolutely school him. This just goes to show how much the Daleks have learned. Not to mention that the three Daleks that helped started this magnificent plan were, according to Word of God, what were left of the Crucible Daleks created from Davros' cells. Given Davros has been put in this very page, it's no wonder they count.
- The Dream Lord, the villain of "Amy's Choice". As befits his status as the manifestation of all the Doctor's self-loathing and malice, he is a magnificent one-episode wonder, complete with a classic Evil Plan, who really enjoys his work. The end of the episode implies we may see him again.
- Madame Kovarian, who leaves the Doctor thoroughly Out-Gambitted in "A Good Man Goes to War", managing to distract him from the real Melody Pond the exact same way she distracted him from Amy Pond, rendering all of the Doctor's incredible efforts completely moot with the most beautifully simple of schemes. And then she calls up just to mock him for falling for it.
- Dollhouse: Adelle DeWitt has ascended to Magnificent Bastardry in the last couple episodes. The woman took a bullet and proceeded to watch her former right hand man be lobotomized then carried on a conversation as cool as ice cream! Her reputation as this has been solidified for sure in the later episodes. Turning in the one piece of technology that could end the world to her less than cautious superiors to regain control of her house? That's one thing. Doing it to regain a foothold large enough to send Echo to the Attic and have her bring enough new and devastating information to bring them down? Magnificent.
- It turns out, however, that she and everyone else have been played by Boyd Langton, who had evidently intentionally sent Caroline to the LA Dollhouse to become Echo because he apparently expected exactly what happened with her to happen, then he became her handler and later head of security which allowed him to directly manipulate the rest of the main cast while pretending to be a part of their budding resistance movement. Boyd is revealed to be the head of Rossum Corporation, and everything that Adelle has done toward bringing the company down has apparently been all a part of his plan. Revealing that the Magnificent Bitch has been the Unwitting Pawn all along? Magnificent!
- No love for Alpha? He masterminded the events of season one to get into the Dollhouse, got Echo out, all while playing Ballard for a fool. In season two he pulls off another amazing plan to get back into the Dollhouse all while playing the main cast for suckers.
- Dreaming in Mono: Hansi von Spitzmark, from this still-quite-obscure short series called. He has a gold medal from every contest he entered, he's a best-selling author, poet, singer, and won the competition that blew the losing protagonist to pieces — and he doesn't even think that much about it. When you've listened to the protagonist's dramatic, tragedy-filled, extensive, long ramblings about the contest, an interview with von Spitzmark rolls. He has only this to say about it.
Spitzmark: What happened in '74? ...Well, I won. Simple as that.
Spitzmark: Alain...please, my friend, get a life. I am serious. Okay? Are we done?
- Not to mention that, after hearing about the protagonist's new goal in life, has this to say to him:
- Dragnet: Joe Friday has investigated some really magnificent criminals. One of the most notable was the sweet old lady who, every April, October, and December, went on a check-forging spree. So magnificent that it took the LAPD ten years to track her down, and it would have taken longer had she not slipped up. Turns out she was a type of Well-Intentioned Extremist, forging the checks because she couldn't afford all the charities she was donating to, but didn't want to give any of them up.
- Earth: Final Conflict: Ron Sandoval played virtually everyone else in that series like cheap flutes - Taelon, human, and Jaridian. Mostly, it appeared he was playing them all against each other for mutual destruction out of revenge for the Taelons manipulating him and him being too much of a bastard for most humans' standards.
- Fall Of Eagles: Otto Von Bismarck (played by Curd Jürgens) in the two episodes "The English Princess" and "The Honest Broker". Given that it's a fairly accurate portrayal of the real life Bismarck, who united Germany into one country and then dominated European politics for twenty years.
- Farscape: Scorpius spent the entire run of the series, plus the Made For DVD Movie holding allegiance only to himself, and doing his darnedest to manipulate every side in his favour... and more or less succeeding by series end. And he accomplished his goals with such intelligence and charm, even his apparent Freudian Excuse is transformed into a rational explanation.
- Flash Gordon: Ming in the re-imagined series. Unlike his comic book or movie portrayal, this Ming doesn't look like a Fashion-Victim Villain and try to out-ham everyone. Instead, he dresses and acts like a third-world dictator by relying as heavily on propaganda and the media as on his Patriot troops. He wears a (mostly) plain military uniform, except for one episode where he wears a ceremonial cloak for a day of rememberance. He can be ruthless or kind (although, he usually leans towards the former). In one episode, a man is caught smuggling ice, a crime punishable by death on Mongo, as most of the water on the planet is contaminated. When the man pleads that he only did it to save his sick daughter, his words seemingly fall on deaf ears. Then, on the day of the public execution (via a gas chamber), Ming addresses the wife and daughter of the man, publicly promising them several rations of water in order to cure the girl... and then orders the execution of the man anyway. After all, a crime is a crime, no matter the reasons. The name "Ming the Merciless" does show up in an episode, which is revealed to be a nickname given to him by the poor. When he finds out, he personally chokes the entertainer who speaks it. Ming usually prefers "Benevolent Father", and you better use it.
- The Following: Joe Carroll managed to establish and run a cult from prison, including converting one of the guards assigned to him, allowing him to escape. And then he lets himself be caught again, just so he can mock and string along his FBI captors as they try to catch his "friends", until finally engineering a second jailbreak, and getting away scott free this time. All for the sake of creating a great story.
- Galavant has a surprising example in Madalena. Magnified by Rewatch Bonus and the triumph it represents on a meta-level.
- Glee: The cheerleading squad coach Sue Sylvester sinks her teeth into the vicious pettiness of small town high school power politics with a relentlessness that leaves her adversaries stunned by its imperviousness to defeat, deterrence, or sheer weight of the extensively documented evidence of her many crimes.
- Gabe Duncan, from Good Luck Charlie, is probably the ultimate example of this trope in all of Disney Channel. What earns him this title is that he is a master of manipulation. One example is when he tricked his father by thinking he won the lottery, so that he could go to an amusement park. Later, he does the same thing with his mother's boss and she quits and gives Amy her job back. Another example of his manipulative skills is when he lied to his teacher that his parents fight whenever he gets in trouble he uses this lie to get out of it. He also brought his parents to play by making them believe that there were some things that each sposue didn't like.
- Gossip Girl: As of the series finale, it would be obscene not to give credit it to Dan Humphrey when it is revealed that he was running the titular site all along. Lying, deceiving, manipulating everyone to achieve his goal, using himself as his own greatest weapon and turning the snobby world of the upper east side against each other to achieve his goal and for his own personal amusement. And he succeeds, leaving everyone completely amazed and impressed by his magnificence.
- Gotham has Oswald Cobblepot AKA The Penguin. In traditional Batman lore, he's the Gentleman Thief, the evil Bruce Wayne, and the Only Sane Man among Batman's many Crazies, but not usually on the level of being magnificent. However, this version of Oswald, despite his initial pathetic appearance, is a Magnificent Bastard in spades. He begins at the bottom of the old Gotham criminal underworld, stuck as a kiss up and slave to one of the Underbosses (lesser bosses under a bigger gang), and his nickname is still a sign of derision. In the first episode, he's sent to be killed for snitching to Jim Gordon that the mob created a fall guy for the Wayne murder, but due to Gordon's compassion, survives. (Turns out that he'd arranged this himself, knowing Gordon could be persuaded not to kill him.) He resolves to return to Gotham and work his way back to becoming Gotham's new king. Being perceptive and a good reader of people, he then does a series of deals with BOTH criminal heads, slowly carving out his own influence and slowly pitting them against each other and the police for his own benefit. He even once convinced an old woman to murder her husband for a ticket to Arizona, just because he had only one shotgun shell left to cover his tracks, and before that, talked his way out of certain death by car crusher, while still inside the car! But the best part about Cobblepot here is that it only takes one season before he gets his main rivals killed off or forced into retirement, and actually does become the greatest crime lord in Gotham.
- In Game of Thrones, there are a LOT of these characters.
- Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger. The man manages to turn on Eddard Stark successfully and undermine him, then breaks up a marriage alliance between two powerful houses. He tops this all off in Season 4 by helping Olenna Tyrell plot Joffrey's death, then revealing that he is the reason the War of the Five Kings started - he had Jon Arryn poisoned.
- Half Moon Investigations: April Devereux gets this, despite being, at most, 15. While Half Moon can figure out what she's done all the time, she's never close enough to the action to be convicted, and in the rare case when she is, she's managed to make it so that no one is willing to turn her in. Plus, after Fletcher helps her win back her posse, she asks him to dance and, in a classy move, informs him she's going to get him excluded or discredited the next term.
- Hannibal: Hannibal Lecter, quite clearly. He manages to kill and eat people (and he serves these dead people to guests at dinner parties) with not one person suspecting him because of his integrity and charm (until the very end, and even then it amounts to nothing), and maintains his job as a therapist quite cosily. His carefully thought out plan involves him framing all of his crimes on the only person that manages to discover who he really is - Will Graham, of whom he had been treating as a therapist patient. No-one's the wiser. That certainly qualifies as a Magnificent Bastard if I've ever seen one.
- Hells Kitchen: Michael Wray from Season 1. Testing the final chefs with deliberate screw-ups? He did it first. Hiding ingredients to make the other chefs look bad? He magically found them. Deliberately nominating your strongest competitor to get them thrown out? He's the only person ever to successfully pull it off on this show (though this was before Ramsay could just kick out anyone he wanted). No one since has been so successful at cutthroat.
- Though his father certainly sees something in Nathan, all of Nathan's magnificent bastardry comes from his mother, Angela Petrelli, who sits behind the antagonists' plot of Volume 1 without ever being noticed until she reveals herself.
- These examples can go no further without mentioning Sylar, who goes out of his way screwing the heroes over and over again through Volumes 1, 2, 4, and 5. Even as a non-corporal spirit, he manages to deceive Parkman and get him into a heap of trouble, getting Matt drunk so that he can assume control.
- Volume 5 introduces Samuel Sullivan, a charismatic, manipulative carnie who lures people with powers to join his carnival with promises of a holy land where specials can live free. This has the side-effect of making his seismic-based powers even more powerful. He manages to convince most of the heroes to visit, investigate, or join his cause at some point.
- House of Cards (UK): Francis Urquhart. He plots, schemes, manipulates and backstabs his way up the political chain in the hopes of becoming Prime Minister; remaining above suspicion among all of his colleagues. He does it with class, skill and style, all the while giving conspiratorial No Fourth Wall asides to the audiences, explaining his thoughts on his opponents and next steps. He commits terrible deeds, but the audience has to forgive him, because his charm and panache are too overwhelming for him to be hated.
- House of Cards (US): Frank Underwood follows in his predecessor's footsteps. The first two seasons are a tour-de-force of sheer Magnificence—even when he's facing off against his Worthy Opponent Raymond Tusk. He makes it a point to fill his power team with people of similar ability (though is always sure to keep them in check)—and like Urquart, powers it all with many an Aside Comment. Seasons One and Two both come to a climatic all-or-nothing scenario which leads to some truly impressive Xanatos Speed Chess—leading to Frank at last achieving the reins of power. Sadly, Season 3 gives us a severely downgraded Frank, who seems to have lost his Magnificence (aside from the occasional Hope Spot) for an out-of-character short temper, and a general tendency to act out of desperation.
- How I Met Your Mother: Barney Stinson often fits into this trope, mostly with his schemes to get laid. In one instance, he was in danger of losing a bet to see who had "more game", himself or main character Ted. The two bet to see who could have sex with a pre-determined woman at the bar first. After approaching her and getting slapped, Barney revealed that he had slept with her before, and that he had technically already won the bet. This did not fly, however, and so Ted would go on to get in a relationship with the girl. However, Barney managed to stop Ted from sleeping with her by reminding him that he had already done everything with her. Ted immediately broke up with her. Barney then reveals that he had never slept with her, and had actually set up the aforementioned slap, asking the girl to slap him to "make his friend (Ted) feel better." He also utilized information from Ted's phone conversations with her to get to know her interests and grow closer to her. Immediately after Ted breaks up with her, she calls Barney over and the two date. The only thing that goes wrong is that the girl refuses to get intimate for some time after, due to the betrayal, and thus Barney has to wait far too long (for him) for sex.
- I, Claudius: Livia in the BBC adaptation of Robert Graves's show. She spent years brilliantly and subtly manipulating everyone in the highest level of the Roman Empire, just to get her son Tiberius chosen as Emperor. And that's just a part of what she did.
- Inspector Morse: Hugo deVries in the episode "Masonic Mysteries". Basically spends the entire episode ten steps ahead of everyone, jerry-rigs Morse's home stereo to play really awful Opera (LOUDLY), sets Morse's house on fire with Morse inside, frames Morse using the Internet, and delivers some utterly fantastic monologuing and Deadpan Snarkery to boot. The fact that he's being played by Large Ham Supreme Ian McDiarmid is really just gravy at this point.
- The Invisible Man: Arnaud, one of the two Big Bads manages to get a quicksilver mad and murderous Darien to rescue him in the penultimate appearance from the other Big Bad (who Arnaud had joined in hopes of killing Darien). Then Arnaud manages to escape Agency custody using some C4 he had hidden in his laptop.
- Justice: Luther Graves. In False Confession, he is able to get an alternate theory across easily, completely tears apart the pompous detective and makes him like a total douchebag in front of the entire jury while said detective can only stew in impotent rage, and he's able to convince the jury that a kid is lying without being a jerk (he simply conveys that the kid was telling the DA what she wanted to hear so that he could get out of his tough situation, and that he lied to the mother simply to prevent her feelings from being hurt.) In Crucified he tears up the profiler, and in Prior Conviction, his closing argument is just a beautifully crafted speech. From the same series is Ron Trott. Though Ron is sort of a douchebag, he's got lots of style.
- Former white supremacist turned Vigilante Man turned Harlan County crime boss, Boyd Crowder. A fast talking redneck with a flair for the dramatic, and a fondness for famous quotations, Boyd manages to outmaneuver all his possible rivals, taking on the Bennett family, the Detroit Mob, and the Crowes with equal aplomb. Always a step ahead of his adversaries, and able to alter plans as it becomes necessary, Boyd has stayed alive through a combination of luck, brains, and brutality that make him the undisputed master of Harlan. One could make a case that the trope is being downplayed however—for all Boyd's ability to survive, his victories always come at a cost, and by Season 5 his personal life is in absolute tatters.
- Ellstin Limehouse, the unofficial king of Noble's Holler, the one black community in rural white Harlan. Concerned with keeping his people isolated and safe, Limehouse plays Harlan's criminals against one another with seeming impunity, always evading responsibility, and coming out on top. In Season 3 he outmaneuvers Boyd, Quarles, Dickie Bennett and Raylan, setting in motion a plan that sees Quarles killed, Boyd and Dickie imprisoned, and Raylan unable to touch Limehouse. In Season 4, he successfully rips off Boyd and the Detroit mob, while at the same time, saving the life of frightened hooker Ellen May and extricating Noble's from the Harlan underworld. 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.
- Kamen Rider OOO: Kougami is this while masquerading as a Bunny-Ears Lawyer. Why? Because of one episode where Eiji couldn't activate the Ride Vendor (yes, a vending machine that turns into something he could ride, namely a bike), and his "friend", who is also a Magnificent Bastard in a sense, and a living incarnation of greed known as a Greeed, Ankh is talking with Kougami about declining a deal where he gives 70% of his winnings to him (winnings being Cell Medals, long story short...), and even considers killing Kougami and calling the deal off. Kougami then shows Ankh a clip of Eiji trying to get the Ride Vendor to work and tells him that if he does kill him, then the system that allows the Ride Vendors to work will deactivate due to it working on his own will power. It soon turns to a haggle ending on Ankh having to give only 60% of the cell medals he gains and has to pay a 100 Cell Medal advance fee as well. Kougami then claps his hands and allows the Ride Vendor to work. However, unbeknown to Ankh, Kougami was simply having some guy, who was nearby Eiji, use a remote that activates and deactivates Ride Vendors at will. Yes, that's right... He just tricked a living embodiment of greed into giving him his equivalent to food. Damn. And that is early on in the show too!
- Kazari. Absolutely no one considered him to be the biggest threat. Then he started talking with Dr Maki. He then managed to trick Eiji and Ankh into stealing a majority of their medals, including one of Ankhs. It Gets Better. He also manages to trick Uva and Gamel into going ahead, and then seriously injuring Mezuru and taking all but one of her medals. For those of you who don't know what this means, its the closest equivalent to ripping out her organs and leaving her with barely enough to live. It gets better. He then pins it on Eiji to Gamel into order to keep him busy and get a few more Cores (Eiji got a few back as well). And when Mezuru goes to Uva to explain this situation and get help, Uva gets the idea to go after her. It gets better. Kazari then loads Gamel so full of Cores that he goes insane and kills himself to heal Mezuru. Mezuru, loaded with Medals of both her and Gamel, as well as two of Uva's thrown in at the last minute then turns into a huge monster so strong that it took Eiji as GataKiriBa and a Cell Burst from Birth, his premire by the way, to take it out, and Kazari just watches and takes most of the Cores, with Ankh and Uva only able to steal like three. Magnificent doesn't cover it. He then manages to very nearly steal all but one of Eiji's medals. Granted, Ankh loaded the case with cells and Ankh stole on of his own medals back, but Kazari still managed to regain all but one of his own. That one being of course, Eiji's Tora Medal.
- Kings: King Silas. As one fan put it, "Never try to outsmart Ian McShane. He is smarter than you." The finale just cements his Magnificent Bastardry. As of the finale, he is still alive and kicking, having returned from two assassination attempts, done an amazing Unflinching Walk past a battalion of armed soldiers to retake his crown, has scared William Cross into hiding, apparently plans to wall his own son up in a cell ALIVE for treason, and has sent David on the run. Bible, schmible. Silas is pretty awesome.
Silas: "Oh, William . . . bringing guns to a tank battle."
- Law & Order: SVU: One example is Darius Parker. He plays the police and the DA's office, basically gets away with double homicide, and forces his mother (who hated him all his life and gave him to her mother to raise because he was the result of rape) to acknowledge him in open court by bringing all the secrets and lies to light.
- And then there's Alex Cabot. Wrapping the police around her finger, using questionable (and sometimes illegal) prosecution tactics, she even flat-out violated the Fourth Amendment and still got her evidence admitted. Not even the drug cartels can intimidate her.
- Leverage: Other than the obvious main character and resident mastermind, Nate Ford, we have Jim Sterling, Nate's Not So Different Evil Counterpart and insurance investigator turned Interpol officer, played by none other than the extremely smirk-ey Mark Sheppard. The universal rule of Sterling's appearances on the show is that Sterling never loses, meaning he's immune to Villain Decay. The only way the gang can win when Sterling shows up is to make sure that he wins, too.
- Lost: Benjamin Linus is notorious for being a magnificent bastard. His entire character revolves around manipulating others into doing his bidding, constantly lying, and emotional blackmail. He gets through five seasons this way, sometimes allying with the heroes, sometimes opposing them, but always coming out ahead.
- Speaking of Lost, this trope also belongs to UnFlocke. Manipulative Bastard? Check. And as The Candidate shows, he is one hell of a Chessmaster ( even if it didn't work fully, it was still a badass plan that KILLED 3 MAJOR CHARACTERS!). The way he manipulated Ben to kill Jacob was just classic. Jacob himself also counts.
- Madan Senki Ryukendo: Brought us Baron Bloody, who had quite a way of turning others in the Jamanga to his side, especially Lady Gold and Dr. Worm also he has a charismatic way of announcing what ever plans or Robot Of The Week he was ready to send.
- Mad Men: Don Draper is a Magnificent Bastard in the finest sense of the term: He can manipulate almost any antagonist or client alike into falling into a plan of his devising (just observe his Batman Gambit in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword"), and has a devilish charm which makes him impossible not to admire. Magnificent. He also cheats on his wife with a number of women, and stole his identity from a fellow soldier after said soldier died in war. Bastard.
- The Mentalist: Patrick Jane. He is brilliant, charismatic and manipulative. He runs rings around poor Lisbon, the rest of the team and the criminals. Nobody ever knows the full plan except him and, on the rare occasion something goes wrong, he will get out somehow. The audience want Patrick to succeed in catching the murderers and to eventually get Red John even though his methods are often questionable.
- Murder One: Richard Cross. A fabulously rich developer with a love of fine wine and Renaissance art, who has a marvellous public image through his various donations to charities. He also helps out South American drug lords just for the hell of it, and after one of these affiliations goes very, very wrong he spends the entire first season wildly improvising to keep himself and his associates in the clear, all while appearing completely unruffled and dangling his involvement in the faces of the show's heroes. It also doesn't hurt that he's played by the indescribably charismatic Stanley Tucci.
- Neverwhere: The Marquis de Carabas makes his living by trading favours, and will call them in whenever he likes, however he likes, whether the debtor likes it or not. He's also been known to orchestrate the situation that leads them into his debt in the first place.
- Nikita: Percy, the Big Bad, has spent most of the first season working his way to this status, but finally earned it in the second-to-last episode, "Betrayals". To sum up, he reveals that he's been aware of Michael's Heel-Face Turn since it happened, and of Alex's status as the Reverse Mole almost as long. He let them continue to believe he was unaware until he had used them to set up his Batman Gambit against the government - he let them capture one of his Black Boxes and the only person capable of decrypting it, and then let them hand both over to the CIA, because the box is a Trojan Horse. And then, on top of all that, he manages to turn Alex into a Double Agent through a combination of a threat on her life and The Reveal that Nikita was the Division agent who killed her father. Damn, this man could give Lionel a run for his money...
- Once Upon a Time: Rumplestitskin (or Mr. Gold) has mastered the art of the deal, suckering virtually every fairy-tale character into his plans in one way or another. Even from behind bars, he was cheerfully cutting deals and calling the shots! In the Storybrooke reality, he literally owns the town, and has ensnared both Emma and Regina into owing him favors. It turns out that the entire story of the first season is his Batman Gambit that will result in him being able to find his lost son AND being free to keep his magic powers. And no matter how many people manage to get the drop on him, he always manages to comes out on top.
- Speaking of Regina, she can be quite the Magnificent Bitch in her own right; even getting the drop on Rumplestiskin twice. In the fairy-tale world she manipulates Belle into almost stripping him of power, and in the Storybrooke world arranged for his Tragic Keepsake to be stolen, helped him get arrested, and then forced him to reveal that he was unaffected by the curse like she was. She tried to manipulate Emma and Henry by arranging so Henry would overhear Emma doubting his belief in the curse. She also arranged for the genie of Agrabah to murder her husband via a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, then tricked him into becoming her magic mirror. Regina and Gold are basically a Magnificent Bastard tennis match with everyone else in town as the tennis balls.
- Even worse? Cora (Regina's Mother) manages to manipulate both of them. She becomes Rumplestitskin's lover to gain magic power, and then promptly double-crosses him on a deal (after the influential King Xavier gives her the option to), using his own tactic of Exact Words, marries a docile and easily-led prince, and Regina's birth was just one more element in a grand scheme to have everyone else in the universe kissing her ass in revenge on the world for slighting her low birth as a miller's daughter. She will and does do absolutely anything in the name of getting ultimate power and status. The only thing that manged to stop her? Snow White taking a few levels in this herself, tricking Regina into killing her own mother. Granted, as Regina set up Snow's dad to be killed, Cora killed Snow's mum, and the pair of them just killed Snow's old nanny in front of her Forthe Lulz, it's a pretty good case of Pay Evil unto Evil.
- Peter Pan is quite literally the biggest Magnificent Bastard on the show. He kidnapped Henry using a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, managed to manipulate and play literally every single character to his own ends, always staying 2 steps ahead of every one of them. He's probably one of the very few characters that is capable of outwitting Rumplestitskin multiple times, who happens to be his own son. All of it in a grand scheme to gain immortality, one in which he very nearly succeeded with style. And even when that didn't work out he exchanged bodies with Henry thus still staying ahead of everyone else whilst he still happens to manipulate them to his favour with ease as part of initiating his Plan B - one that puts everyone and everything in Storybrooke at risk.
- Zelena, aka the Wicked Witch of the West might have crossed in the line into Magnificent Bitch in the episode 'Quiet Minds.' In the Enchanted Forest she sends Lumiere to lead Bae and Belle to the vault of the Dark One in order to resurrect Rumple. Even though they figure out her plan just in time Bae still completes the ritual, sacrificing his own life in the process. She gets hold of the dagger and almost succeeds in getting Rumpel to murder Belle. In Storybrooke Gold gets out of the cage she's trapped him in... and even manages to warn Emma who Zelena is... but Neal dies, Gold remains under Zelena's control and Zelena seems unconcerned that everyone knows who she is.
- Ingrid the Snow Queen in Season 4 has become a major one, with some fans calling her the best villain the show has had since Cora or Pan, or even Rumpelstiltskin and Regina in Season 1. She almost effortlessly accomplishes everything she sets out to do, and the fact that she and Rumple seem to view each other as equals (even as he is on the verge of achieving greater power than ever before) speaks volumes.
- Oz: Ryan O'Reilly controls the prison's drug trade, has all this rivals killed by other people, starts gang wars between the ethnic clans and is one of the few characters to survive the show's entire run, and never has anyone other than his mentally retarded brother for muscle. As he replies when one character asks him how he became a leader of the prison riot despite his lack of a gang: "I'm like the Lord of the Fucking Dance. I've got moves."
- Deviot of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy takes this trope to a t. He sets up the rangers to kill the Big Bad himself, and tries to kill his daughter, without her noticing...for a while.
- Lothor of Power Rangers Ninja Storm. His massive series-long Gambit Roulette and quirky sense of humour made him one of the franchise's most memorable villains.
- Onikage from Power Rangers Wild Force before Ninja Storm counts as well. His plan involved preparing things for Master Org's return to his throne. Not to mention, he's quite a master manipulator as well.
- Two from Power Rangers RPM:
- Tenaya 7. Especially in the earlier episodes. Her plans are actually pretty competent, she's Genre Savvy enough to employ the Kansas City Shuffle as a common tactic, Bad Ass enough to fight the rangers single-handedly, and snarky enough to be genuinely amusing.
- Venjix becomes one by the end of the series. At first he seems like a typical Genre Blind, Orcus on His Throne, Evil Overlord. Following the same basic Power Rangers villain formula of send attack-bot into city, have it fight the rangers, it's destroyed, he makes it grow, they destroy it with the Megazord, rinse and repeat ect. ect. But as the series goes on, he starts to learn from his mistakes and his plans start becoming more elaborate and genuinely cunning. The crowning moment comes at the end of the series, when it's revealed that Every plan he made throughout the show was all part of one giant Xanatos Gambit. If they succeeded, fine. If not, then they served the purpose of distracting the rangers from his real plan.
- The Practice: Joey Heric gleefully eludes justice for one blatant murder after another with his expert manipulation of the legal system, confounding both the district attorney's office and his own defense firm with theatrics, misdirection, and at times even the truth. His ability to shed reasonable doubt into just about everything he does is so uncanny, he can even imply responsibility for crimes he's legitimately not involved in and still have people convinced he might have something to do with it.
- Primeval: Helen Cutter is a perfect example. So much so that even though she dies in the end of Season 3, the extent of her manipulations and future planning means that she arguably remains the villain right up to the end of Season 5.
- Prison Break: John Abruzzi. Let's review that the guy is solely responsible for T-Bag getting his ass handed to him for like 2 or 3 times in season 1, like he so richly deserves. Then there's the whole thing with putting up a fake personality of now being a devout Christian seeking forgiveness... While planning to get rid of all the "extra luggage" (extra luggage being the majority of the escapees) and kidnapping Veronica to force Michael into revealing where Fibonacci is. In season 2 he regains most of the power he once had as a mob boss and when Mahone hunts him down, he calmly claims "I only kneel to God... And I don't see him here" before attacking the police, fully knowing he'd be shot immediately by them.
- Profit: Jim Profit is a complete amoral sociopath but you just root for him. His only goal is to become President of Acquisitions at Grayson & Grayson and thereby control one of the most powerful economic blocks in the country. He manages to repeatedly get away with blackmail, murder and even maiming the company to frame others for it and get ahead himself. He expertly manipulates his colleagues, their families and anyone else he deals with. Any attempts to foil him often feed right into his hand, as he always has a backup plan ready and is outsmarted in one of his many plots exactly once in the entire series (and he managed to avert the collateral from that one through another case of improvised planning).
- Reaper: The Devil not only arranges for Sam to get an apartment next to a pair of rebel demons whose plan to destroy him would actually have worked, and manipulates Sam into infiltrating the rebellion with a new (doomed) plan to kill him, he also signs Sam's lease with his name and sends him clues as to what is going on that Sam, Sock and Ben can only work out moments after it is too late to do anything about it. Then repeats this plan with the few survivors of the rebellion, and is still witty, charming and diabolically affable. Ray Wise's portrayal is just so good that fans now think he may actually be The Devil.
- Revenge: Emily Thorne. A Distaff Counterpart to Edmond Dantes, she effortlessly pulls off one Batman Gambit after another to take down anyone who had a hand in sending her father to prison. She belongs here rather than Guile Hero because of her complete lack of concern for any innocent bystanders who get hurt along the way, but pulls all her schemes off with such panache you can't help but root for her.
- Rome: The series traces Augustus/Octavian's rise to power. Laying claim to Caesar's legacy, Octavian manipulates his friends, his family, his allies, and his enemies into giving him exactly what he wants, resulting in his eventually being crowned Rome's first emperor.
- Sherlock: Jim Moriarty.
- Sleepy Hollow: The big Reveal in the Season 1 finale makes it clear that Henry Parish/Jeremy Crane, the Horseman of War, is this big time. It turns out that he's been running a Batman Gambit practically all season long, ultimately resulting in the season's The Bad Guy Wins Downer Ending: Abbie is trapped in Purgatory, Katrina is a prisoner of Death/the Headless Horseman, and Ichabod is left Buried Alive.
- Slings and Arrows: Holly Day. Neither as evil nor as magnificent as many on this list, she still earns her place by managing to display exactly how batshit insane corporatization and commodity culture are, and how they can seem perfectly reasonable and good from the inside. And for taking a bright and sunny disposition far beyond Affably Evil. And for just being so over-the-top as to gush about her plans for the New Burbage Festival in the middle of her sex scene with her Bastard Understudy.
- Smallville: Lionel Luthor is a serious contender for Trope Codifier. If you are on Smallville you have, at some point, been used by Lionel. One excellent example comes in Season 1, when Lex tries to buy a factory out from under Lionel, only to discover that his bank account has already been emptied and his access revoked. Even after his eventual Heel-Face Turn, Lionel remained grandiose, narcissistic, and manipulative, overshadowing all the other schemer in the series, including Lex.
- Major Zod, Season 9's Big Bad is a non-Luthor example, in sharp contrast to his General Ripper genetic source material. He manages to use pretty much everyone in-show, including Tess, and Amanda Waller and Checkmate to fullfill his own ends, and does it all while more or less flying by the seat of his pants. He's less of a Chessmaster than Lionel was, but even more of a Trickster.
- Stargate SG-1:
- RepliCarter. Just by being polite, she maneuvered herself into a) becoming immune to the anti-replicator superweapon, b) passed on that immunity to her fellow machines, and c) eliminated what she saw as the only real stumbling block to replicator rule over the Milky Way galaxy.
- Since the second season of Stargate Universe, Rush has kicked the magnificent bastardry into overdrive. Not only does he crack Destiny's master code without telling anyone, he also manages to divert suspicion away from him by using Chloe as a scapegoat and then manipulating Chloe into helping him with her subconscious knowledge all while making it seem like he actually cured Chloe. Respect, Doctor Rush.
- Star Trek: Q. Omnipotent, yet petty; cruel but not vicious; causing devastation yet helpful at times, you really couldn't help but love the bastard(s).
- Garak is one of the best examples in the entire franchise. He's always one step ahead of everyone. If someone miraculously gets the drop on him, he knows precisely what to do to turn the tide in his favor. He makes adapting on the fly look easy. He used to be one of Cardassia's most powerful and dangerous operatives so he has a wide variety of dirty tricks, specialist skills and valuable knowledge and connections to prove useful in almost any situation. A walking CMOA, he's responsible for one of the best examples of a Batman Gambit in the entire franchise and he's also one of the franchise's best Deadpan Snarkers (when told the story of The Boy who Cried Wolf for the first time as a lesson about his habitual lying, Garak suggests Bashir has the moral (never lie) wrong: to him, the moral actually is to never tell the same lie twice). As he once says, never underestimate his gift for survival.
- Another Magnificent Bastard is Gul Dukat. Even going so far as to turn himself into a Bajoran in order to corrupt their entire religion. And always expects people to be grateful to him. He was, however, often a victim of his own ego and hubris. He was also an unintentional example. He was a racist mass-murderer with clear and intentional allusions to Hitler, but was also very charismatic. The creators of the show were distressed by the fans liking of him, and wrote an episode that clearly portrayed him as this, and had him finally admit it. Many of his fans were unhappy about it.
- Seska from Voyager was a Cardassian spy surgically altered to look Bajoran. After she was busted, she wormed her way into power in a rabidly misogynist society and got them to steal Voyager. Some time after the ship was retaken and she was killed, it was discovered that she had edited a tactical training scenario to trap the author — Tuvok — in it and hunt him down and kill him — after toying with him for a while.
- Luther Sloan and by extension Section 31. They infect Odo with a genocidal disease, knowing full well he will one way or another return to the Great Link which will do their job for them. Sloan knows exactly what buttons to push with Doctor Bashir to get him to help plant a Federation mole in the upper echelons of the Romulan government. It really says something that Section 31 has been managing to defend the Federation for hundred of years, yet no one is really aware the organization even exists.
- Azazel is no slouch on the bastardry, but with the revelations of the end of season 4, Fridge Brilliance kicks in, and he becomes the magnificent bastard we know and loathe. For starters, we find out that his master plan, previously hinted at, was to release Lucifer himself, and for kicks, exclusively torment one family. He starts by arranging the release of Lucifer's firstborn, Lilith, who is the LAST of the 66 (of 600+) seals necessary to free Lucifer. He then tricks various parents into signing away their unborn children's futures as incubators for demon blood, specifically so that they can kill said firstborn. The master stroke here being picking a favorite future mother, killing the parents of Mother Mary brutally, possessing the dead father, killing her future husband for the first of TWO times, THEN tricking her into unwittingly signing away her child's future, with a deal of bringing back John, the future husband. This "bargain" was of course done for the sole purpose of creating the child he'd had her sign away. The deal was sealed with a kiss, again, between Mary and her dead father, whom Azazel was wearing. Of course, leaving right afterwards, no doubt making her carry the body away. This takes place a few decades before the series begins. During the course of the show, on the other hand, he has a couple of pet projects: plotting to get his hands on a gun that kills everything, attempting to kill the entire remaining Winchester family, choosing an heir to herald the armies of hell, and attempting to literally open the gates of Hell. He succeeds in ALL OF THEM. The kicker is, his greatest victories, as well our knowledge of ANY of his true plan, only come after he dies, with the knowledge that he's basically already succeeded in everything he set his mind to. MAGNIFICENT.
- And Crowley. The guy's got style. His crowning moment comes in the season seven finale — he plays the Winchesters and Leviathans against each other, and ensures that he ends up being the only winner of the season. By the time the dust has settled, latest Big Bad Dick Roman is dead, Dean and Castiel have been banished to Purgatory, Meg and Kevin are his prisoners, and Sam is alone and powerless. And then he tops himself in Season 9, where he despite being imprisoned for most of it, keeps himself alive, eventually talks his way into freedom, manipulates Dean into taking on the Mark of Cain and using the First Blade to kill Abbadon for him, and then letting it corrupt Dean into a demon. And he does that all without technically telling a single lie.
- Super Sentai: The title of the franchise's only Magnificent Bastard goes to Dr. Mikoto Nakadai of Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, an Insufferable Genius who takes on the mantle of AbareKiller, the Evil Counterpart of the Abaranger. Within five seconds of his introduction, he captures the Monster of the Week and turns the poor thing into his personal maid, complete with apron. He sets up a series of Deadly Games for the heroes just to amuse himself and demonstrate that Humans Are Bastards to the Wide-Eyed Idealist heroes. He seizes control of three of their (sentient) zords via More Than Mind Control. He decides to take over the villains' headquarters and install himself as their new leader just for kicks. Oh, did I mention that the Super Prototype Transformation Trinket he uses will eventually blow up with the force of a nuclear warhead and that not only is he fully aware of this, he doesn't mind one bit?
- The greatest Super Sentai Magnificent Bastard has to go to Enter of Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. He starts out as the Hypercompetent Sidekick Dragon-in-Chief to the Disc One Final Boss, Messiah, he showed signs of magnificence in the begining able to come up with some killer Batman Gambits to win a few rounds. Then Messiah bites it and he goes Dragon Ascendant learns from his previous defeats and becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy figures out that Humans Are Special is the seasons aesop, starts up a killer Xanatos Gambit that will turn him into the new Messiah while also making himself immortal by turning The Hero into his Soul Jar, his plans are now in their final phase with him becoming a Go-Buster! Best Super Sentai villain, ever.
- That '70s Show: Parodied humorously when Fez calls Hyde a magnificent bastard. Which leads to the response "Sorry buddy. By the way it's pronounced 'bas-TARD'."
- The Thick of It and The Movie, In the Loop: Malcolm Tucker. As the Prime Minister's chief spin doctor he has made a whole career out of Magnificent Bastardry, and MP Hugh Abbot even coined the term "Malciavellian" to describe his particular brand of it. He gets by on his frankly terrifying degree of charm, which he greatly enjoys abusing. Considered a bastard even by the standards of other spin doctors, his colleagues can't help but grudgingly admire him:
Nick Hanway: "Fuck you very much, you unscrupulous bastard."Malcolm Tucker: "Scruples? What are they? Those low fat Kettle Chips?"
- Torchwood: Captain John Hart. A slick, charming, handsome, stylish, pathological liar who enjoys using The Plan to get what he wants (which includes attention from Captain Jack). He poisoned Gwen, shot Tosh, beat up Owen, and threatened Ianto at gunpoint, and enjoyed every minute of it. When he blew up a good chunk of Cardiff, he said, "Let the fun begin! Do I mean fun or carnage? I always get those two mixed up." True, he was acting on orders from Grey, who'd strapped a bomb to his arm, but he was still clearly enjoying watching the city and the Torchwood Team panic.
- Jack Harkness himself can be this when you put him on the spot, especially in his earliest form in Doctor Who. Case in point: starting out as a con man who charmed his victims out of their cash, and ending on Torchwood by killing his own grandson in order to save the planet. I Did What I Had to Do maybe, but... damn.
- Also from Torchwood, Bilis Manger: a polite, unassuming old man who happens to be able to travel through time and space at will. For the duration of the last two episodes of the first season, Bilis plays everyone like puppets from beginning to end, all while remaining cool, calm and elegantly understated. And there was that soft, malevolent smile he'd break into...
- And now, in Torchwood: Miracle Day, we have Jilly Kitzinger, a devious, sexy, well-dressed PR representative who manipulates Oswald Danes to gain power for herself. She's not pure evil, though; she still privately finds Oswald repulsive.
- Tru Calling: Jack. His Bastardry comes from his mission: to keep the protagonist from saving the lives of the dead people who ask her to do so. His Magnificence comes in the way that he does it. Where Tru tends towards attacking the problem at its source, Jack thinks sideways, poisoning people against Tru before she even shows up. He also tends towards taunting her with little notes and snide commentary. He managed to infiltrate her inner circle with a mole, thus allowing himself to garner all manner of info on her without her knowledge. By the end of the series, he literally has 3 people connected to Tru and her gang that they are entirely unaware of. Imagine the Bolivian Army Ending when the good guys don't even know the army is there.
- The Tudors: Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell definitely apply, as does Edward Seymour. (Truth in Television for Wolsey and Cromwell; harder to say for Edward, who has trouble following through when he most needs to.) Note that these guys are each involved in each other's takedowns - and were allies before that. This is more pronounced for Wolsey and Cromwell - Cromwell owes his start in royal service to Wolsey. Edward and Cromwell were allies of convenience; no way it was going to last on this show.
- 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.
- V (2009): From the remake comes Anna, High Commander of the Visitors (played by Morena Baccarin), who is quickly establishing herself as quite the Magnificent Bitch. "A Bright New Day" should leave no doubt in anybody's mind, between her convincing the staunchest anti-V protester to change her mind AND gaining support from the public by responding magnanimously to an assassination attempt on her right-hand man—an assassination that she planned.
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Katherine Pierce is properly introduced into the series by making perfect use of her resemblance to Elena. She only gets more impressive from there, particularly when we find out she's immune to the vampire Achilles' Heel of vervain due to having taken increasing amounts of it for over a century to build up her tolerance. And then there's her Xanatos Speed Chess coup in the aptly titled "Plan B." Holy crap. In fact, every episode she's in show's how truly magnificent she is. Wheeling, dealing, sexy, badass and always with a back-up plan she is the best example of this trope.
- Damon Salvatore was this before Katherine was even introduced. Excellent at Xanatos Speed Chess, always with a snarky comment, unflappable attitude when facing his enemies, superb style and a true badass he has become - along with Katherine - the favorite character on the show. His plans usually never go the way he wants them to but he combines strategy with superb instincts and always manages to come out on top at the end of the day. Helps that his brother Stefan is his partner in crime. Remarkable due to the fact that even Damon's gradual redemption has diminished either his badass status or his Magnificent Bastard credibility.
- Klaus, or Niklaus Mikaelson, can often embody this with his amoral plots and schemes, as he easily thwarts and manipulates the New Scoobies into doing what he wants them to though much credit must be given to the witch who designed his hybridization spell that required he kill the doppleganger whose blood he needed to make hybrids. Now on The Originals, he plays this to the nines, manipulating his former protege Marcel as well as his siblings and the New Orleans witches into playing into his own plans. He's also infamous for working with people and betraying them at the last second, or changing 'details' of his plans to make them play out even further in his favor— and to hell with anyone in the way.
- Qetsiyah, crazy-bitch-witch extraordinaire, and personification of "Hell hath no fury like a Woman Scorned". The creation of the Other Side, the Hunters, and both Stefan and Elena's doppelganger lines are the results of her immortality potion and her revenge against Silas for betraying her for Amara. Her plan for Silas to kill himself and be with her on the Other Side instead of staying entombed and somehow ending up with Amara (who wasn't actually dead, but was made a link to the Other Side, a link that Silas couldn't bring himself to destroy) didn't work, but she waited 2,000 years and when Bonnie lowered the veil, walked on through to finish her ultimate plan. And a few episodes later, with a bit of Enemy Mine help from the main characters, she did. Amara gratefully dies, but as a non-immortal human, and Silas is killed while a witch. Once Qetsiyah knows this, she promptly slits her wrists and goes to join him on the Other Side, with Amara elsewhere. Mission Accomplished.
- Warehouse 13: This seems to be a requirement to be the Big Bad, as every single one spends their entire tenure as enemy of the Warehouse agents staying a step ahead of them, each ultimately only being beaten by sheer luck.
- The Wire: Stringer Bell is one of these. Soft-spoken, well-dressed and bespectacled, he is in actuality a shrewd, Machiavellian power-player in the Baltimore drug trade.
- That being said, he isn't quite as smart as he thinks he is and when he attempts to establish himself as being above the drug game, he runs straight into the real magnificent bastard of The Wire, Senator Clay Davis, who is a blatantly corrupt, money-grubbing politician and goes throughout the entire series completely unscathed because he's that charismatic and good at politics.
- Even bigger than Davis is probably the Greek. As the head of an international crime organization, he will kill, manipulate, and outplay anyone who stands in the way of allowing his crime organization to operate, all the while managing to come across as a friendly old man. He manages to outsmart the police by keeping an informant in the FBI and by ensuring that the only thing to identify him by is his nickname. The clincher for his magnificence? He's not even Greek.
- The X-Files: The Cigarette-Smoking Man. His scheming villainy and Affably Evil demeanor became one of the principal reasons to watch the series, even as Seasonal Rot set in.
"Don't threaten me, Mulder. I've watched Presidents die. If men were to know of the things I know, it would all fall apart."
- The fact that he plays both his sons - Agents Mulder and Spender - off each other, as well as running the Government Conspiracy? If TV Tropes had existed when this show was on, there's no doubt he would have been considered the Trope Codifier. In fact he's only in sort of a middle-management position in the conspiracy, but it's clear that he's far more savvy than his co-conspirators.
- Alex Krycek, who is consistently loyal only to whichever party will benefit him most, tries very hard to be as magnificent as the CSM, but ends up as The Chew Toy instead. He ends up, on various occasions, beaten within an inch of his life ("Krycek gets punched" ought to be a drinking game), on the run from the law, having his arm amputated, being possessed by the black oil virus and trapped in an underground bunker with no hope of rescue.
- Yes, Minister: Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), bureaucrat extraordinaire, always has an angle. His overwhelming devotion to the frustration of the democratic process makes him a bastard, but some of his coups and narrow escapes are truly magnificent.