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:
As the World Turns had James Stenbeck and Craig Montgomery. James was notorious for having convincingly faked his own death numerous times.
24: Sherry Palmer, nicknamedLady 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.
She killed a guy by talking to him. If that doesn't qualify her as a Magnificent Bastard, I don't know what would.
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!)
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.
He gets style points too. He's always stylishly dressed, in clothes that reflect both the time he's currently living in, and the era he was born to. He's blindsided exactly twice; once when Rosen reveals he wiped his Morality Pet's memory (said pet had the power to absorb Stanton's memories) and another when he finds out that Rosen was dead; and even then, he manages to keephis cool.
Honorable mention also goes to the number Buck pulls on the orderly in "Eye of the Beholder", Carter in "Damned If You Don't", and the talk show host in "Resurrector" he forces to kill his wife...or at least, he thinks he does.
Angel: 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.
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.
Series/Arrow: Malcolm Merlyn is smooth, charming, and can outfight Oliver Queen.
Slade Wilson is definitely turning into one as well.
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.
A-Team: Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith of the A-Team. His tagline, "I love it when a plan comes together," usually uttered around a giant cigar and a grin is classic Magnificent Bastard.
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 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.
In a later episode, Londo tricks Refa into getting beaten to death by a team of angry Narns and framed as a traitor to the Republic... but only after he is shown a holographic recording of Londo explaining how he did it and gloating over his victory.
Morden is another great example. For a long time, he successfully manipulated Londo, with the help of his "associates". Until Londo finally out-gambitted him in "Into the Fire".
Sheridan is an excellent Heroic Magnificent Bastard. He is unflinching in his morals and convictions, and is the link that holds together both the Earth resistance and the army against the Shadows. When a sinister arm of Earth's increasingly-totalitarian government infiltrates the personnel of his station and tries to mutiny against him for upholding morals of free speech, he tricks them into a corner and uses his thorough knowledge of Earth's constitution to put them under arrest instead. When captured and interrogated in an attempt to turn him into the government's newest puppet, he twists the interrogator's logic back around him. He tricks ambassadors from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds into allowing White Stars to patrol their borders by refusing to answer their questions and telling them that nothing happened in sector 83-9-12. The one time it seems like he's about to make a Deal with the Devil, it turns out that he's just pretending to be chummy with the devil so he can sneak a bomb in through their back door. (Or skylight, to be more accurate.) And he still manages to get home in one piece. He eventually manages to get himself kicked out of Earth Force for (successfully) pulling a coup. (It might have been the right thing, but it wasn't the convenient thing.) Then he is promptly elected to be the first president of the Interstellar Alliance... which Earth promptly joins. This makes for a very satisfying moment when a General who had just been chewing him out for disobeying orders is forced to recognize that Sheridan is now his superior. So in other words, even the people who hate him for making his own rules can't help but respect the way he did it.
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.
Batman: In his very first appearance in the 1960s series, the Penguin gets Batman and Robin, by means of a well-placed bug, to plan his own crime for him.
Then there's Ma Parker, who arranges for a takeover of the state Penitentiary. Even Batman and Robin are Unwitting Pawns in her game—at first....
Battlestar Galactica (Classic): Commander Cain, commanding officer of the battlestar Pegasus in the original show, certainly qualifies. He was based on Patton, after all. His counterpart in the re-imagined series, Admiral Cain, is more of a General Ripper.
Starbuck calls Apollo this in the new series after he flies through a conveyor system to fly under a Cylon base's defences and blow it to bits. More a congratulatory term for pulling off something insane brilliantly, but still.
Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): Gaius Baltar of the new show 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.
John Cavil. Unbelievable son of a bitch.
Ellen Tigh, Leoben Conoy and D'Anna Biers also qualify!
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....
Black Adder: Edmund Black Adder, the third incarnation and the episode involving the French Revolution, especially.
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.
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.
It may still be debatable. While competent, Walt may lack the style, charisma, and Evil Is Cool factor needed to pull off this trope.
In the series finale, he definitely graduates to this, 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.
On top of all of this, Season 4 is one giant, long, and deadly game of Xanatos Speed Chess between Gus and Walter. For almost the entire season, Gus is indisputably on top turning Jesse against Walter but showing him acceptance as well as letting Walter do much of the damage himself. Had it not been a last minute move of desperation on Walter's part, and Gus' desire for revenge, he would have won.
" Gus Fring, you Magnificent Bastard." - Hank Schrader
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike was sometimes seen as this before his infamous (and highly arguable) "Spikeification." However, he has a large strike against his cred in his admitted tendency to "get bored" and rush into things without thinking, something a full fledged Magnificent Bastard does not do. That being said, whenever he does take the time to plan things out, he can hang with the best of them; most notably in episodes like "The Yoko Factor", where he nearly tore the Scooby Gang apart, or the second season finale in which he seemed to realize rushing into things against Angelus would not be a smart move and thought a successful plan out in advance, all behind his boss' back.
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.
Must run in the family, considering the entire events of the series are masterminded by "Management", aka Lucius Belyakov, Justin and Iris's father. Management plays everyone, up to and including Samson and Ben, and even plots out his own death in order to get Ben to full Prince status.
Chuck: Ted Roark. He is like the mix of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. So selfish and narcissistic, but oh so highly charismatic.
Also Daniel Shaw of all people, after his Face-Heel Turn. He plays Chuck and Sarah like a cheap fiddle.
Alexei Volkov, so very much. He makes just introducing himself into a terrifying Oh Crap moment.
Though he's indisputably the good guy, Chuck himself has his moments, manipulating both Shaw and Volkoff into their own downfalls with ease.
Community: The season one episode "Physical Education" gives us this example:
Coach: From now on, you can play pool however you want.
Jeff: I choose shorts. I choose SHORTS!
Coach: Son of a bitch. You magnificent son of a bitch! (Kisses him)
Jeff Pierce and Abed all can be considered magnificent bastards. Jeff uses his lawyers skills to give extraordinary speeches to manipulate others into doing what he wants, Pierce is frequently incompetent, except when he wants to be evil, such as in the Dungeons and Dragons game, and Abed does numerous extraordinary things with his knowledge of genre, such as seducing Annie as both Don Draper and Han Solo, predicting the future through his films, not to mention beating Troy at every athletic contest Troy can think of. Jeff even calls Abed a god on one occasion.
Criminal Minds: Has had its share of Big Bads, but the crown has to go to the Boston Reaper (aka George Foyet), who just escalates with every appearance. Not only has he evaded capture for over ten years, but he passed himself off as his own victim by stabbing himself multiple times.
In "Omnivore", he blackmailed the lead detective at the time into dropping the case and stopped killing for ten years just to watch the detective self-destruct out of guilt. He comes out of hiding to offer the same deal to Hotch, but when Hotch refuses, kills an entire bus full of people. He knocks out Morgan and steals his credentials, but leaves him alive, to live with the knowledge of how close he was to dying. He allows the team to capture him only because, in the interim ten years, he's memorized the schematics of every single prison in the state of Massachusetts, and bites his own wrists to fake a suicide attempt. He escapes.
In "...And Back", he returns to attack Hotch in his apartment after the Turner case.
In "Nameless, Faceless", he shoots at Hotch at point-blank range, then overpowers him physically, stabbing him nine times and sadistically torturing him. He then leaves a nearly-dead Hotch at the door of a hospital with a page missing from his day-planner: the one with his ex-wife's address. Foyet's message is clear - he's targeting Hotch's family next - and so Hotch puts Haley and Jack into protective custody, meaning as long as Foyet is at large, Hotch can never see them again.
In "Outfoxed", he's not even IN the damn episode, and he's pulling the strings, by sending letters to an UnSub that the team had caught four years ago (S1's "The Fox"), bragging about what he did to Hotch, knowing that Hotch would come to see the Fox himself and have to face up to the fact that Foyet's winning.
Finally, in "100", he targets and kills the federal marshal charged with protecting Haley and Jack, and doesn't even expend the effort to kidnap them by force. Instead, he impersonates another marshal, telling Haley that Hotch is dead, and he's going to bring her someplace safe. Haley goes to him of her own accord, only realizing when Foyet calls Hotch to gloat that he's the killer that's been hunting them. Foyet makes Hotch listen as he threatens Haley and Jack, and while Jack escapes, Foyet shoots Haley while Hotch is still on the line. When Hotch reaches the house, Foyet leaves Haley's body in her bedroom, and hides and waits for Hotch to shoot him - knowing Hotch is so grief-stricken that he'll empty his entire clip - and springs right back up when Hotch goes to confirm the kill: he's wearing a bulletproof vest. Unfortunately, Hotch is way beyond reason, and beats Foyet to death with his bare hands.
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:
J.R.:(Grinning) Now that's my son...from tip to tail.
Damages: Featured a brutal winner-takes-all war fought between the magnificent bastard Arthur Frobisher and the magnificent bitch Patricia "Patty" Hewes.
Continued into Season 2 with Patty vs. David Pell and Walter Kendrick's energy-manipulation scheme.
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.
Season 2? In just season 1 alone he is shown to be behind almost every scheme that the protagonists run into, from the murder of the Norwegian settlers by road agents to the swindling and murder of Brom Garrett. All the while he insults Starr and Bullock to their faces while refusing to sell them their land, belittling and insulting his cronies. And he doesn't even need to pull a Karma Houdini, because he's easily the most popular character on the show!!
Degrassi: Eli. Two examples stand out: when he crashed his hearsejust 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 ThouHeteronormative 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.
Dexter: Brian Moser, the Ice Truck Killer. He finds Dexter, leaves little notes and messages for him via his kills, and even gets engaged to his sister, all in order have a beer with him.
The Master, in many of his incarnations. For instance:
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.
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...
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.
Come to that, 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.
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).
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 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".
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 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.
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.
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 thoroughlyOut-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.
The Doctor is capable of this. Often short on allies with no weapons other than what he can lay his hands on, yet he manages to MacGyver and come up with an on the fly plan that leaves everyone who isn't the Daleks and occasionally the Master (and both have been Out-Gambitted by him in on prior occasion) in the dust. The Doctor is the ultimate MB of the Whoniverse by default, considering the fact that, for the most part, he outgambits all the other Magnificent Bastards.
The Seventh Doctor took this to the extreme that, normally, by the time he laid down his terms to the villain, he'd already set things in motion so that even if he was killed by the villain they'd only have enough time to gloat over the Doctor's body before their schemes came falling down around their ears.
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!
Of course, Boyd doesn't see it that way. He was mentoring her to let her grow into her magnificent potential. Scariest family ever, Boydster.
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.
Not to mention that, after hearing about the protagonist's new goal in life, has this to say to him:
Spitzmark: Alain...please, my friend, get a life. I am serious. Okay? Are we done?
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.
EastEnders: Has known its fair share over the years.
Dirty Den was probably the best out of them all. A sharp-suited, womanising Deadpan Snarker who managed to play everyone for fools, even the audience but still had moments of philanthropy. He was to Walford what Lionel Luthor is to Smallville, complete with his own Lex Luthor in the form of Dennis Rickman!
Den was outplayed by his wife, Chrissie Watts in the end though.
Johnny Alan was conceived as a Magnificent Bastard but could never quite pull it off.
And currently we've got Doctor Yusef Khan. A calm, calculated Man of Wealth and Taste who always has a nasty hidden agenda earning him the nickname "Dr. Evil" (apply little finger to corner of mouth and laugh evilly.
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.
That said, although each action of his shows his badge of MagnificentBastardry clearly, it's only by the end of season 4 that you can look back and see how insanely Crazy-Prepared and manipulative he was. Mostly because he managed to survive: 1) the blowing up of a Gamack base, 2) the blowing up of a Shadow Depository, 3) the blowing up of a Peacekeeper Command Carrier and 4) the blowing up of the entire Scarran secret base (Yes, John likes his explosions). Oh, and being buried alive. But it's true that when you see how he grew up, it all starts to make a lot more sense.
Not to mention the almost casual reveal in the final episodes that while he was securing his position in the upper echelons of Peacekeeper Command, he was a spy for the Scarran Emperor himself.. Now that's chutzpah.
Crichton begins developing shades of this as the series progresses, and Scorpius even commends John on his learning to play the role by the end of season 4. But where Scorpius practices his magnificent bastardy through foresight and enough planning and preparation to make David Xanatos himself proud, Crichton manages to pull it off through sheer Refuge in Audacity and ability to improvise.
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.
George Lopez: There's an episode where George and Vic get into a fight, and Vic puts a lock on George's garage because George could only build it because of a loan Vic gave him. George spends a few minutes trying to get the combination to the lock, he finds out his son Max was given the combination. But he runs into some problems.
"He gave the combination to a dyslexic fifth grader. The man is an EVIL GENIUS!
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.
Santana's ploy in the episode "Born This Way" makes it clear that Santana has picked up a thing or two from her old coach.
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.
Their mutual rival Dan Humphrey beats Them both out though.
The season two finale manages to turn its title character into one while still keeping her The Unseen. First everyone gets a text during graduation of Gossip Girl's own judgements about their personality flaws. When some of them team up to try to discover her identity, she retaliates by printing all of the most hurtful information she's held back on. Finally Serena tries to bluff her into a private meeting at a coffee shop, saying she knows her identity, but instead Gossip Girl arranges for the whole class to go to the coffee shop, then sends them another text saying that they're all looking at Gossip Girl right now, as the only reason she can do so much is that people keep sending her information. She goes on that they're not rid of her yet, and she'll still be keeping tabs on them all in college.
And speaking of Gossip Girl, Georgina can turn the whole UES social scene down in a matter of days... it kind of means something that even Blair AND Chuck have learned to fear her, you know?
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.
In Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister, The Don of the Lannister family, plays this trope to it's highest degree.
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.
Heroes: Has several of these. The king is HRG, Noah "I'm fine with morally gray" Bennett, smooth and calculating enough trick even his employers, even during a Heel-Face Turn.
Everyone's favorite, self-described shark politician, Nathan Petrelli qualified, at least during Volumes 1 and 4. He loses it during his Redemption Arc in Volume 2.
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.
Granted, Matt does the same thing to him in retaliation, eventually tricking him with a Heroic Sacrifice that would end Sylar's life
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.
Homeland: By the end of season 1, Abu Nazir has more than earned this title, and his plan didn't even go the way he wanted.
House: The titular character to a degree, though his personality leaves something to be desired.
The other doctors who interact with House sometimes have their moments, though generally only against one another. Anyone who tries to pull this on House has it reversed on them immediately. Except Wilson. He's the only one to be able to keep up with the title character; he usually chooses not to.
House of Cards: 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.
Ditto for Frank Underwood, the protagonist in the American adaptation.
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.
"Thank God we're alive sex! It's even better than 'I can't believe you just proposed to me' sex, which I've only had like, four or five times. "
And then he pulled off the greatest, convulated (and a bit cruel) plan of all: The Robin. And it worked.
Season 9 reveals that his career, which he always simply answered "please" when asked about, was literally P.L.E.A.S.E., or "Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything." He got this job both because it is extremely high-paying and it would allow him to get revenge on the man who his ex-girlfriend Shannon left him for, revealed to be his boss, by reporting him to the police.
Lily is often credited in-universe as a Magnificent Bitch, but that's more of an Informed Ability than anything else. There was one episode that detailed her magnificent bastardry but that was it.
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.
Justified has 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 king 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.
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!
You missed the best part: after Ankh agrees to handing over sixty percent of his winnings, Kougami pulls the lid off a box in front of him, revealing a cake signed with that number, and shouts "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!". Damn.
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 anda 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.
What makes Kazari fit the Magnificent part is he's just so dang entertaining to watch. The guy is Chaotic Evil, but he's just so fun to watch do it!
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 DifferentEvil 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.
Hardison aspires to running his own crew one day but Nate advises him he doesn't have what it takes (at least not yet) because he can't pull off the "Bastard" part of this trope in order to manipulate his crew as the job requires. A later episode shows Hardison has been working on the "Magnificent" part, coming up with a brilliant but overly-complicated plan for one of the crew's jobs. Nate admits it was pretty good, but he still needs experience to learn how to really make the plan work for any contingency.
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. Among his accomplishments:
Season 2: Gets captured by Danielle Rousseau (Word of God is that he was legitimately captured, some fans think it was all part of the plan), then calls himself "Henry Gale" and concocts an intricate fake backstory for himself that doesn't crack even under torture. Of course, his true identity as a member of the Others is eventually discovered, at which point he starts emotionally playing with John Locke's inferiority complex. Locke will end up becoming Ben's archnemesis and whipping boy. Ben eventually escapes when Michael shoots and kills Ana-Lucia and Libby, and is then revealed as the Others' (apparent) leader. He has Michael lead Jack, Kate, and Sawyer into a trap, and captures them.
Season 3: Ben intentionally allows Kate and Sawyer to sleep with each other to emotionally force Jack into doing surgery on Ben's tumor. Later, when Locke arrives at the Others' camp, he begins forcing Ben to do his bidding as the Others start to believe Locke is their "chosen one" and not Ben. Locke eventually demands that Ben bring him to the mysterious Jacob, and Ben does so (season 5 reveals this was all some kind of elaborate ruse gone wrong). Ben then proceeds to shoot Locke and leave him for dead when he discovers the latter heard (the alleged) Jacob speak. Ben eventually gets captured by the survivors again, and they refuse to listen to him when he tells them the people coming to rescue them are actually dangerous.
Season 4: Even though he's captured, a member of the Others describes Ben as being "right where he wants to be." Once again, Ben begins manipulating Locke, explaining the freighter was sent by his archenemy, Charles Widmore. Eventually, Ben and Locke team up to take down the freighter mercenaries, and (the person claiming to be) Jacob tells Locke to move the island. Ben decides this means he has to move it, and proceeds to do so, getting banished from the island in the process. Season 4 is the first time where one of Ben's Evil Plan moments blows up in his face: his attempt to bluff the mercenaries results in his daughter getting executed in front of him. When banished from the island, Ben begins blackmailing Sayid into assassinating alleged Widmore goons on his behalf, all because Sayid's girlfriend Nadia was killed by someone Ben claims worked for Widmore. Word of God states that Nadia's suspected killer indeed killed her and indeed worked for Widmore
Season 5: Once Locke banishes himself from the island (having been told to do so by Richard, who was told in turn by Locke himself...or was he?), he encounters Ben again. Locke tries to reunite the Oceanic Six and fails. Just as he's about to kill himself, Ben appears, talks him out of it, gets some information...and then strangles Locke to death. Ben then attempts to kill Widmore's daughter Penelope, in what would have been a Kick the Dog moment if it wasn't for the intervention of Desmond (though Ben seemed reluctant when he saw Penny's son, showing Even Evil Has Standards). Upon return to the island, Locke comes back to life and reverses the roles, manipulating Ben with his newfound knowledge of the island and claiming Ben is going to have to kill Jacob. When they find the real Jacob, a huge twist occurs: the resurrected Locke was actually a previously and briefly introduced character in disguise (READ: the fucking Smoke Monster), masquerading as Locke to manipulate Ben, Richard, and the Others. He told Richard to tell the time travelling Locke to leave the island and kill himself, a predestination paradox that would allow the man to use Locke's body. The man then uses Ben, still unaware of "Locke"'s true identity, to kill Jacob.
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.
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.
Then there's his boss, Bert Cooper, who found about about his past in Season 1, filed that information away, and used it again in Season 3 to make Don sign a contract. There's a reason he's in charge.
One of the Villains of the Episode "Flame Red", was this. Specifically Tommy, who donned a perfect persona and lived as a mentally ill person for years, tricking everybody, in order to do as he liked and later for revenge.
Patrick Jane is the epitome of this trope. 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.
Parodied with Bill had a tendency to see conspiracies in coincidences and accuse Dave of being a Magnificent Bastard, once even uttering the page quote (with Rommel replaced with Dave). This said, the true Magnificent Bastard of the show is Jimmy James.
Bill McNeal is an arrogant, blusterous radio newscaster who delights in spreading mischief around the station where he works, and generally torments his co-workers whenever possible. Special targets include his boss, Dave, whose attempts to control his actions are often thwarted, and the "office spaz" Matthew, whom Bill exploits due to Matthew's sycophantic attitude towards the newscaster. His exploits include bringing a piano to the office and playing Mark Russell-style political satire songs during working hours, (damaging Dave's reputation with an efficiency expert who has the power to fire or demote him). He also "outfoxes the foxes" when he is temporarily installed as news director by the two co-workers who had previously held the title (Dave and Lisa, respectively) to teach him a lesson about the difficulty of being the boss; instead, he glories in it and manages to win over part of the staff by giving them pointless busywork which they think is real, thus motivating them to work for him, and turning them against Dave when he tries to expose Bill's chicanery.
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 Turnsince 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...
Nikita herself, in her dealings with Division, Oversight and Gogol. Her former handler/teacher and lover, Michael, shows some signs of this as well. Her adversaries - Percy, Amanda and, to a lesser extent, Ari Tasarov - are this as well.
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.
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
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."
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.
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).
Queen of Swords: Colonel Montoya, the Big Bad of this cheesy TV show. Possibly as a result of being played by one of two decent actors on the entire show, and being one of two intelligent characters.
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 beThe Devil.
How about another Devil, The Devil from Brimstone? Also happens to be another Magnificent Bastard played by John Glover.
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: In this HBO series we get a load of these. Mark Antony is perhaps a bit less Chessmastery, but he gets his share of the scheming, even if it bites him in the arse in the end. He is only defeated by the more calculating and manipulative Octavian, who in turn inherited his position from Caesar, who was so magnificent in his bastardry that this adoptive son of his was going to further some of his plans even after his death. Pompey is seen as more of a former magnificent bastard, although in reality he was just as magnificent a bastard as Caesar to the end. Then there's Atia, the ultimate one, who uses manipulation, assassination, torture and her charms, not to mention sexual prowess, to have her way, and that's where Octavian probably gets it in the first place (they're all family with Caesar and through that, Mark Antony, which makes Antony's and Atia's relationship interesting, although Romans had a different view on sex and family). Servilia of the Junii, Atia's rival proves herself as malevolent a manipulator as Atia after Atia exposes her affair with Caesar, causing him to break off the affair. Aware that Caesar has a dark secret, she seduces Atia's daughter and persuades her to seduce her brother, Octavian in order to find it out (the secret is that Caesar has epilepsy). The plan fails and Atia hires a band of thugs to beat up Servilia in broad daylight. Aware that Atia ordered the hit, Servilia persuades her son Brutus to murder Caesar, costing Atia her political power. While Atia survives and Servilia ultimately commits suicide after Brutus's death, Atia acknowledges her as a worthy opponent. Even Titus Pullo, an archetypal Boisterous Bruiser at first glance, does a bit of magnificent bastardry on a smaller scale, though being the closest thing to a protagonist besides Vorenus he is more like a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and most of the time he's not quite on the ball as to be a true example. He gets an honourable mention.
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.
His counterpart from Earth-2 seems to be having a good run at himself, naturally enough. "Cutting out your daughter's heart to save your son because you're a Magnificent Bastard" should be a facebook group.
His kids pick up some of his tricks too. Lex manages to match dear old dad for this title by the end and Tess is pretty magnificent too.
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.
As of the episode "Earth" on Stargate Universe, Dr. Rush is this. And we love him all the more for it.
Since the second season, 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: Has entertained us with many a Magnificent Bastard. Such as the villainous Q. Omnipotent, yet petty; cruel but not vicious; causing devastation yet helpful at times, you really couldn't help but love the bastard(s).
Q's villain status, however, is in question. Most of his actions as portrayed on TNG have been in some way beneficial to the resident crew or humanity as a whole. One example is how, as it has been established in canon The Borg Collective was aware of humanity long before humanity was aware of the Borg, Qs forcing a confrontation between Enterprise-D and a Borg cube served as the early warning that allowed Starfleet to avoid complete disaster.
Q's behavior throughout TNG might be described as obfuscating villainy.
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.
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.
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'."
Hyde actually does fill this role around Fez and Kelso throughout the series. Of course, it's not as if manipulating Fez and Kelso is very difficult...
Eric's father Red might have some streaks of this as well.
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."
Even his choice of understudy is bastardly: he appointed the Violent Glaswegian Jamie, knowing that he lacked the charm and intelligence that would be required to overthrow him.
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 wasacting 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...
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.
True Blood: Russell Edgington, the King of Mississippi, from season three. He's honed his skills over several millennia and has gained the eternal obidience of a cadre of werewolves by addicting them to his own blood before we even meet him. From there it just gets better. He's also easily able to beat up Bill Compton, unlike just about everyone else in the show.
He does, however, go through a huge Villainous Breakdown near the end of the third season on account of Talbot being staked, thus quite effectively stripping him of his magnificence.
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.
The Twilight Zone: The aliens in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street". They manipulate their targets into turning on each other.
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.
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.
Silas. He is the baddest, most manipulative, cunning, evil, powerful and dangerous being in the entire series universe. He could put Damon, Katherine, Klaus and Elijah all to shame and make them shake in their boots.
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.
"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.
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.