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"Even when I lose, I win."
Crowley, Supernatural

With a variety of television shows around now and with a medium so long-lasting, it's no surprise TV has brought us a wide cast of fictional characters. Below are the most devious, charming, adaptive and intelligent.

The following have their own pages:

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     A - G 
  • Alphas: Well-Intentioned Extremist Stanton Parrish breaks out all but two inmates of Building Seven, without anybody but the main characters knowing he's involved. He has a lady hypnotize and brainwash anyone 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 for what he feels is for the ultimate benefit of the greater good.
  • American Horror Story: Cult: Ally Mayfair-Richards was initially The Paranoiac, but would become much more fearless and conniving. After being released from a psychiatric ward she would soon seek vengeance on Kai Anderson and his cult for tormenting her. She integrated herself into the cult where she manipulated Kai into killing his sibblings and his most loyal followers on the pretense that they were turning against him; Ally also kills her own wife for joining Kai's cult, partaking in her torment and taking her son away from her. She would then have the FBI raid Kai's hideout completely dismantling his cult and arresting Kai. Decided to steal Kai's plan to run for a seat in the Senate, Ally would then arrange Kai's escape from prison, only to have him publicly humiliated on live-television before having him killed. Winning a seat in the Senate and later starting her own cult, Ally Mayfair-Richard undoubtedly proves that there is something more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man: a nasty woman.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow:
      • Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke introduced himself as The Man Behind the Man to Brother Blood, who was conducting illegal experiments to raise an army of super-soldiers to take over Starling City. He then kidnaps Oliver's sister and reveals her true parentage to her, all in order to cause confusion among the Queen family while he frees all the inmates imprisoned by the Arrow for his super soldier army. He even had Isabel Rochev usurp Oliver's company so that he could use it for his plans, all of it just to make Oliver suffer. By the time Oliver/the Arrow realised the full nature of his plans, he had already set his army upon Starling City. His biggest mistake was that he underestimated Oliver's allies since he was mainly focused on making him suffer more than anything else.
      • Adrian Chase/Prometheus. He's been ten steps ahead of Oliver from the moment he made his presence known. Having dedicated his entire existence to ruining the hero's life, Chase plays Oliver and Team Arrow like chess pieces all season long. He never once breaks character and remains dedicated to his purpose of destroying Oliver to the bitter end, even killing his own Morality Pet to prove the point. He manipulates Oliver into killing Billy Malone by baiting him into shooting the detective by putting him into a Prometheus costume. He also makes Oliver declare the Green Arrow, his own superhero alter-ego, a public criminal. He also captures and tortures Oliver, breaking him so bad that Oliver lost his will to continue being a vigilante. He also conditions Oliver into believing that he kills because he enjoys it and that he's as much of a monster as Chase was. For his grand plan, Chase has everyone close to Oliver kidnapped, including Oliver's son, and takes them all to Lian Yu. He then threatens the life of his son and gives Oliver a Sadistic Choice: save his son or save his friends, as Chase was hooked up to a Dead Man's Switch which would cause the island to explode along with Oliver's friends. Oliver must choose to either kill Chase which would kill all his friends, or let Chase kill his son. When Oliver tries to Take a Third Option and knock aside his nemesis, Chase has none of it and proceeds to kill himself as one final screw you to Oliver, where the island proceeds to blow up.
    • Supergirl (2015):
      • Season 2's "Alex" gives us Rick Malverne, a former classmate of the Danvers sisters who bored witness to Kara surviving a horrific accident and using her powers to save people. Remembering this, Rick pieces together her past identity once Kara publicly reveals herself as "Supergirl" to National City. Taking the opportunity to free his criminal father from prison, Rick kidnaps Alex and places her in a glass cage, located in a building laced with lead to deter Kara, while slowly filling it with water. Giving Kara and her friends 36 hours to either free his father or watch Alex drown. After being apprehended, Rick remains calm and sees through J'onn's attempt to shape-shift into his father, failing to trick Rick. Even when his plan is foiled when his father reveals the location of his trap, Rick graciously congratulates Alex for surviving his trap and accepts his imprisonment without malice.
      • Manchester Black is driven to a life of crime after his alien fiancée is murdered by the anti-alien Children of Liberty. Manipulating Supergirl to get closer to the group, Manchester interrogates a handful of the Children until discovering that the group’s leader is Agent Liberty, A.K.A. Ben Lockwood. Paying Lockwood a visit, Manchester reveals Lockwood’s secret to his wife, before trying to kill the both of them. Breaking out of jail, Manchester forms the team known as the Elite to combat the Children of Liberty’s bigotry. Following the Elite’s downfall, Manchester causes a city wide blackout and uses the Staff of K'lar to successfully drive J’onn J’onzz into killing him, using his final words to admire how “beautiful” he is. Throughout his appearance, Manchester proved himself to be combatively capable even without powers, and genuinely charming, all the while being one of the most dangerously competent foes Team Supergirl ever faced.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: The 1980s Ruby is one who never had the present day's Heel–Face Turn. Doing away with her demon husband Baal to be free of him when he loses his duel with Ash, Ruby births a demon spawn of her and Ash so she can subvert Ash's chosen one prophecy. Becoming a guidance counselor to turn Ash's long lost daughter Brandy against her, Ruby uses her child to kill others to frame Ash so she can make him the savior of humanity and keep her fellow Dark Ones sealed so she may rule the world and keep a tight lidded control on the forces of evil, while also using her friend Kaya as a mole in Ash's team. Even when defeated and left to the mercy of the Dark Ones, Ruby goes out defiant to the end, vowing that Ash will destroy them in turn.
  • Attila: Flavius Aetius is a Roman general and strategist whose patriotism is matched only by his cunning and charisma. Released by Emperor Valentinian's mother Placidia from prison to fight their enemies, he implicates Placidia in an assassination that Aetius foils to isolate her from the emperor. To deal with the Visigoths and the Huns, Aetius desecrates Hunnic corpses and makes the Visigoths look responsible to forge an alliance with the Huns, and takes Attila to Rome to impress the young prince with its splendor. After Attila, now king, builds up the Hunnic Empire and turns on the Romans, Aetius orchestrates a plot to assassinate Attila by convincing a slave girl with a grudge against the Huns to seduce Attila and kill him on their wedding night. Even when Aetius is forced to sacrifice his daughter for the good of Rome, he ensures that the man who took her from him, King Theodoric, will be killed in the final battle against the Huns. Aetius returns to Rome in triumph, and his murder at the hands of the emperor signals the final nail in the coffin for the once mighty empire, for there were no more men capable of defending it.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Alfred Bester is a charming psychic operative who 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, frequently arriving on Babylon 5 and twisting events to suit his purposes or the purpose of the Psi-Corps. In one such instance, Bester tricks a prisoner by claiming he can read his mind, even when Bester has been blocked from doing so, relying on bluffs and gambits to get the information he desires when he simply suspected the prisoner must be lying. Bester frequently enacts daring schemes either for the benefit of the Corps or himself, only breaking from his self-serving nature when the woman he loves is threatened by the Shadows, stating that it has made Babylon 5's war his own
    • Londo Mollari, despite his buffoonish exterior, steadily grows into true magnificence. In one famous instance, Londo blackmails his rival, the monstrous Antono Refa into helping him because "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. Londo proceeds to create a plan to rescue the Centauri from their mad Emperor Cartagia and later arranges a plan to lure Refa to his death at the hands of Narns when Londo believes Refa murdered the love of Londo's life. For this, Londo simply tells the truth about Refa's horrific crimes and vows to free Narn prisoners in exchange for the Narns murdering Refa. Londo later even manages to outwit the Shadows and their servant Morden, blowing up an entire island to wipe out the Shadow presence on Centauri, even ascending to the throne himself. even when the Drakh think Londo defeated and broken, he works against them to ensure the freedom of Centauri, even at the end when it costs his own life with his once greatest enemy turned best friend G'kar of Narn.
  • Banshee:
    • Job is a computer hacking genius who uses his skills to orchestrate many bank robberies. When an old friend of Job gets released from prison, he tells him about the town Banshee and gives him the identity "Lucas Hood" so he could start a new life. Job would also find himself going to Banshee where he organized many robberies and rescues there, one of which was a highly secured Marine Base leading to Job's capture. After bring rescue from his captors 20 months later, Job would track down the man who got him captured and ruin his life by making him culpable to all his crimes while Job leaves Banshee with all the money he stolen to start his own new life.
    • Kai Proctor is a wealthy business man and criminal kingpin that rules the titular town from the shadows. Enduring a feud with rival crime lord Alex Longshadow, Proctor would gain the upper hand first by blowing up one of Alex's hotel killing the mayor along the way, having "Lucas Hood" decimate Alex's forces after previously saving his life once, and has his niece Rebecca kill Alex. Facing another opponent from Philadelphia drug dealer Frazier, he would escape Frazier's captivity before returning to kill Frazier. He would eventually become Mayor of Banshee and become allies with the Aryan Brotherhood and the Cartel while finding ways to deter any problems within both criminal organizations. When his luck with the Cartel runs out due to one of their drug shipments being destroyed under Proctor's supervision, Proctor faces them alone with a Thompson Submachine gun to kill as many Cartel hitmen as he can.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Wil Wheaton is a Hollywood actor and Sheldon Cooper’s mortal enemy who constantly finds ways to outwit the Insufferable Genius. Learning that Sheldon hates him for not showing up at the '95 Dixie Trek Convention Sheldon attended, Wil uses this information to persuade Sheldon into letting him win a card game by lying that he had to attend his grandmother's funeral. Competing with Sheldon Cooper again in a bowling match he convinces Penny to break up with Leonard, dismantling Sheldon's bowling team and leaving Wil victorious once more. When Wil notices Seldon and his friends trying to steal the film reel of Raiders of the Lost Ark, he rallies an army of movie goers to chase them down. Eventually deciding to make peace with Sheldon, Wil gives Sheldon a signed and mint condition Wesley Crusher action figure, immediately earning Sheldon's forgiveness, and making Wil Wheaton the only character to go from Sheldon's enemy to his friend.
  • Black Sails:
    • John Silver starts off as a selfish Opportunistic Bastard, but would soon become more brave and daring, while still keeping his sly charm. Originally, just a cook in Captain James Flint's crew, he soon rise up to the ranks to become Flint's right hand man by burning the schedule Flint dearly wants, forcing Flint to trust Silver in finding the Urca gold. Upon finding the treasure, they would soon be captured by a Spanish Man-O-War, where Silver proceeds to elicit conflict within the crew, allowing Flint to commandeer the ship. Arriving at Nassau, Silver has Jack Rackham's crew salvage the gold for him while Flint goes to war with Charles Vane, and teams up with the latter to rescue Flint in Charlestown. Becoming stranded on an island with the Maroons, Silver brokers an alliance with the Maroons and the Pirates against the British Empire, and has one his own men "defect" to the British forces led by Benjamin Hornigold to lure them into a trap leading to their decimation. Taking the moniker "Long" John Silver, he would grow a reputation that exceeds even that of Flint's, eventually removing Flint from piracy by reuniting him with his lover, Thomas, while Silver ends the war that Flint once started.
    • Charles Vane is a bold pirate who once helped to overthrow his mentor Blackbeard. In present, after being deposed by his crew, Vane returns to seize control again and dedicates himself to the freedom of Nassau. When his old flame, Eleanor, is threatened by the sadistic Ned Low, Vane outwits, traps and murders him before nailing his head to a post with a sign reading "I angered Charles Vane." Vane also organizes the sack of a city when it seeks to execute him to save himself and Flint, before helping to organize Nassau's defenses. Even in death, Vane allows himself to be hanged to inspire Nassau to rebellion, reminding the crowd that the British are not as numerous as the islanders and "they can't hang us all" before ordering the hangman to get on with it.
    • Vane's former right hand man, Jack Rackham, comes from the bottom to organize a new crew and pirate venture, stealing a fortune of gold out from under the noses of every other player. After the death of Vane, Rackham helps to organize some of the most devastating defeats of the British, and when he finally helps to defeat his nemesis, Woodes Rogers, Rackham on a plan to destroy him by having Rogers' debts purchased and defaulted upon, writing all his failures into a public ledger as Rogers is forced to hear his once-promising future destroyed. Rackham ends the series still secretly a pirate, setting sail for adventure anew with his beloved Anne Bonney at his side.
  • Blackadder: The third Blackadder, Edmund Blackadder, is the butler to the idiotic Prince George of Regency England. A roguish cheat who constantly scams money out of his employer, Blackadder is also left with the task of running the country, manipulating the election of his completely idiotic sidekick Baldrick to the House of Commons to vote down a measure harmful to the prince by setting up a Rotten Borough and taking over the position as the only voter as well as the supervisor of elections by murdering his predecessors. When a bet is made for him to one-up the Scarlet Pimpernel, he simply opts to head down to a coffee house and find an aristocrat at the French embassy. When the real Scarlet Pimpernel is about to reveal his treachery, Blackadder promptly murders him and wins a great award from Prince George by claiming to be the true Scarlet Pimpernel. Even in the finale, Blackadder sees Prince George dead when they've switched identities and takes the chance to claim to be the real prince to the insane King George III, gleefully ascending to the throne of England several years later.
  • The Blacklist: Raymond "Red" Reddington starts the show by turning himself over to the FBI to assist them in taking down a supposedly-dead terrorist, who is just the first out of many in the eponymous Blacklist. He follows that up by constantly manipulating the Feds and criminals to pursue his own agendas. Raymond goes against the worst criminals in the world, constantly outplaying them and leading them to ruin while working towards his own master plan, using others as bait or pawns in his schemes. In one famous incident, he outwits human trafficker Floriana Campo and leaves her poisoned out of his revulsion towards her business, but not before destroying her good name and watching her beg for her life. Despite his ruthlessness, Raymond truly respects those who work for him and cares greatly about series heroine and FBI agent Elizabeth. A man with nerves of steel, Reddington rarely ever loses his temper or composure, frequently playing cop and criminal for his own mysterious ends.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Charlie "Lucky" Luciano and his best friend Meyer Lansky spend the first four seasons learning at the sides of the greatest mobsters of the age and put their lessons into ruthless practice in season 5. Luciano has his former mentor and boss Joe Masseria assassinated after manipulating him to his death, seizing control of his outfits and having his rivals killed. Luciano and Lansky proceed to force the other mobsters to submit to them or convince them it is in their best interest to give in and 'partner' with them before forcing Nucky Thompson's capitulation by kidnapping his nephew to use as leverage. Realizing that the criminal Valentine Narcisse may also prove a problem, Luciano and Lansky allow him to think he is safe for a time before having him publicly assassinated, ending the season as the dominant masters of organized crime, sitting down to do business with a new coalition of their making.
  • Breaking Bad: Gustavo "Gus" Fring once lost his best friend Max to the ruthless Hector Salamanca and Don Eladio. Building a drug empire with his own connections, wits and intellect, Gus launches a crusade for revenge, slowly bringing the Salamanca family to ruin and tormenting the now invalid Hector in his nursing home over it. Gus controls the meth trade with an iron fist, frequently seeing through Walter "Walt" White's plans and rendering Walt as helpless before him more than once. Upon returning to Mexico, Gus destroys Don Eladio's cartel in one swift move before returning to the US in triumph. Even after his death, the empire Gus has built endures and only Walt's incompetence manages to destroy it. A suave, sophisticated, even friendly seeming man, Gus repeatedly shows why he is the true master in the game the others are playing.
  • Brimstone: The Devil himself is the one who manipulates The Hero, Zeke Stone, into going to earth to reclaim 113 damned souls who fled hell, holding out the promise of a new hope of heaven over Stone's head. Throughout the series, the Devil is charming, witty and sarcastic, constantly monitoring events and arranging things to have Zeke return his quarry to hell while demonstrating a frightening amount of insight, while always teasing Zeke and pushing him to do his job. While playing Zeke constantly, the Devil 's main interest is keeping the status quo, while always willing to welcome the new damned souls into his domain.
  • Bron|Broen: The Truth Terrorist, real name Sebastian Sandstrod, the Big Bad of season 1 is an athletic and military-trained but also well-dressed and charismatic Serial Killer who wants to bring attention to social problems. To do this, the Terrorist starts killing them, giving the issue more attention than ever. Having five children kidnapped and placed inside a locked room, the Terrorist wants to bring attention to child labor by giving a demand that people will have to burn down the offices of five companies using it, everytime it happens he spares one child each, and doesn't back out of the deal once they do as he says. Placing Hennig, an officer committing misconduct which lead to a man's death in the basement of said man's brother, the Terrorist tries framing the brother for the murder by having him torture Hennig. With his true goal being revealed to get vengeance on Martin Rohde for cheating on Sandstrod's wife before she along with their son died, Sandstrod, then named Jens Hansen and the best policeman around, now wants revenge on Rohde for ruining his life. He does this by having Rohde's eldest son August build a good relationship with his father by putting them through life-threatening situations, only to later kill him, just so that it would hurt more.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Doug Judy is the Pontiac Bandit, an affable car thief known for stealing 200 cars. Making himself known to Jake Peralta by pretending to be an informant, Doug sends Jake on a wild goose chase to the barber Doug framed, while he slips past him unnoticed. When Doug unexpectedly encounters Jake, he gives him the drug manufacturer of giggle pig in exchange for a four-star hotel suite where he collaborates with the suite's waiter on his escape, with Jake being too busy capturing the manufacturer. When Doug learns of a hitman trying to kill him he contacts Jake for help, making sure to meet Jake on a cruise ship, where Jake has no jurisdiction, while escaping said ship once Jake catches the hitman. When Jake needs Doug’s help to capture his adopted brother, Doug uses this opportunity to get immunity on all 600 crimes he committed in return for his assistance. Getting Jake’s attention again by holding hostages, Doug gets Jake involved in a plan to rescue his mother from a drug lord, before escaping from Jake once more. Always being Jake’s most elusive adversary, Doug Judy’s master planning was only matched by his unlimited charm.
    • Trudy Judy is the younger sister of Doug Judy. Turning to crimes for the fun of it, Trudy eventually discovers Doug's old notebooks, and decides to follow his footsteps as a car thief. After being caught, Trudy takes advantage of her brother offering to capture an Arms Dealer she stole a Ferrari from in exchange for Trudy's charges being reduced. Having an employee of hers act as if he bought the stolen car, Trudy manipulates Doug into arguing with Terry, distracting them from noticing that her employee placed a bomb in the Ferrari. She later sets off the bomb when the car is being delivered, and uses the chaos to sneak away without facing any charges. With an attitude as playful as her brother's, Trudy earns the distinction of being the first person to outwit Doug Judy.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Big Bad of season 3, Mayor Richard Wilkins, was the founder of Sunnydale and the architect of much of the evil in the show to that point. Having created the town as a place for demons to gather, Wilkins manipulates the town and demons alike to empower himself for his Ascension into a pure-blooded demon. Wilkins frequently stays ahead of Buffy and the Scooby Gang and manages to become invulnerable, even allowing the rogue slayer Faith to join his team. Forming a genuinely loving father-daughter bond with her, the Mayor manages to complete his plans to Ascend, with only a fullscale war at Sunnydale High managing to stop him. Even post-mortem, Wilkins leaves behind a way for Faith to prosper and possibly destroy Buffy. Despite his clear evil, Wilkins manages to remain a very pleasant and intelligent man, always ready with a smile and a joke who proves to be one of Buffy's most dangerous enemies.
    • Angel: Daniel Holtz was once a great force for good, a heroic vampire hunter whose family was destroyed by Angelus and Darla. Succumbing to vengeance, Holtz allows himself to be taken to 20th century LA where he builds an army of fanatics from those who have lost loved ones to vampires to use and manipulate, before focusing on how best to make Angel suffer. Holtz sees Angel's newborn son and manipulates Wesley into kidnapping the child before stealing the baby Connor away, intending to raise Connor himself far from Angel. When caught, Holtz elects to dive into the worst demon dimension with Connor, but survives and raises the boy there, later returning, seemingly at peace with Angel. Pulling off his final masterstroke, Holtz has himself murdered in a way to simulate a vampire attack, framing Angel to Connor so Connor will try to destroy Angel himself. Consumed by revenge and showing how far a true force for righteousness can fall, Holtz did more damage to Angel than even demons and gods have managed.
  • Camelot: Morgan Pendragon 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, Morgan will stop at nothing to become queen and gets most of the English people on her side by virtue of her incredible charisma and assisting them with their own goals so she can bind them to her service and win their loyalty. Morgan frequently displays herself as getting the best of King Arthur, with most of the characters in show cheering her on in her ruthless schemes.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who: The Master, as The Doctor's Arch-Enemy, is one of his most tenacious and brilliant foes as demonstrated by various incarnations:
    • Unit era Master, played by Roger Delgado, is a villainous Time Lord who wastes no time establishing himself as a worthy foe of the Doctor. The Master manipulates entire wars, attempts to hold the galaxy hostage to control it, and even after being sent to prison, tricks a warden into allowing him to contact the underseas Sea Devils so he may begin an invasion from the ocean and make himself earth's ruler. The Master constantly keeps the Doctor on the edge of his toes, acknowledged by the heroic Time Lord as his greatest rival, and once his dearest friend. For his part, the Master seems to love matching wits with the Doctor, showcasing his extreme ruthlessness and genius in the process.
    • The Tremas Master, played by Anthony Ainley, came to be after a dying Master manipulated all of Gallifrey and Traken alike, before stealing the body of a Trakenite scientist. Just as ruthlessly brilliant as his previous incarnation, the Master is even more elegant and refined, manipulating the Fourth Doctor into helping him stop a wave of energy that threatens the universe, only to betray the Doctor and lead to his death while seeking to blackmail reality itself into accepting him as its sovereign. After the Doctor regenerates into his fifth incarnation, the Master returns with new, brilliant schemes again and again, even being the puppet master to King Arthur in the past as Merlin. Even more charming and deadly than his previous Incarnation, the Master repeatedly shows why he is the Doctor's greatest nemesis.
  • Fargo: Ohanzee "Hanzee" Dent is the Hypercompetent Sidekick to the entire Gerhardt family, and a seemingly-unassuming Native American mercenary whose unexpected brilliance eventually brings him above both his employers and the Kansas City mafia. Already a ruthlessly efficient tracker and assassin with an unmatched tendency to eliminate every person in his way, Hanzee's tire over mistreatement in his life even in spite of his years in Vietnam spur him to start manipulating every side in the heated conflict brewed from the death of Rye Gerhardt. Hanzee kills his abusive boss Dodd, and — with his last chance to escape the criminal life seemingly dashed — Hanzee effortlessly plays both the Gerhardts and the law enforcement pursuing them against each other, spurring them into a massive shoot-out that decimates both sides as he walks away the only true victor of the conflict. In the end, under the new identity of Moses Tripolgi, Hanzee goes to forge his own successful criminal empire through the years to come, even with the full knowledge that some day, it too will fall.
  • Farscape: Once a nameless child born of a twisted breeding experiment by the Scarrans, Scorpius schemed his way to freedom and murdered his abusive caretaker Tauza. After finding out about the horrific circumstances of his birth via the rape of his mother by a Scarran soldier, Scorpius dedicated himself to destroying the Scarrans in retribution Becoming a top officer in the normally fiercely xenophobic Peacekeeper armada, Scorpius tries to hunt down the Wormhole technology in hero John Crichton's head, constantly manipulating others to his ends, using and betraying others in his way and destroying his enemies while the crew of Moya barely remains a step ahead of him, proving himself the single most brilliant and dangerous enemy John has ever faced who will stop at nothing in pursuit of his goals to destroy the Scarrans.
  • Forever Knight: The sire of Nicholas Knight, Lucien LaCroix was a brilliant Roman general turned into a vampire by his own daughter Divia. Horrified at the corruption Divia succumbed to, with her even suggesting they become lovers, LaCroix seemingly destroyed and entombed her. Becoming a brilliant, dangerous vampire, LaCroix once arranged for Nick to be hanged by peasants to trick him into succumbing to his killer instinct once Nick renounced his old ways. In the present, LaCroix frequently manipulates Nick and all around him, even having his own radio show as the Night Crawler where he frequently talks about his philosophies and his schemes. Always charismatic and compelling, LaCroix also admits to certain standards and always maintains his complex relationship with Nicholas.
  • Galavant: Madalena was a peasant woman and Galavant's girlfriend who dumped him to marry King Richard and become his queen. Successfully collaborating with Richard in luring Galavant into a trap on the pretense that she’s Richard's prisoner, she overthrows Richard with the help of his treacherous brother Kingsley, only to stab Kingsley In the Back, becoming the sole monarch of Valencia. When she learns of Galavant, Richard, and co. escaping her imprisonment and their whereabouts, she uses her vast army to declare war on them, while also obtaining the magical powers of the Dark Dark Evil Ways to ensure her victory. Only loosing to Richard's Sword of the One True King, Madalena never looses her dark charm and only expands her ambitions to conquer the rest of the world, becoming the apprentice of the Dark Evil Lord to master her powers boldly claiming that nothing will stop her now.
  • Game of Thrones: Olenna Tyrell is the acidic, witty matriarch of House Tyrell, far more formidable than her oafish son Mace. Olenna, upon her arrival in King's Landing, helps to secure her granddaughter Margaery's power base and soon learns what a monster King Joffrey Baratheon truly is. In an alliance with Littlefinger, Olenna poisons Joffrey at his own wedding, letting Tyrion Lannister take the blame while remaining entirely out of suspicion. Even upon her final defeat, Olenna simply downs a vial of painless poison before revealing to Joffrey's father Jaime that she was Joffrey's true killer, robbing him of any satisfaction at all before inviting him to tell Cersei as "I want her to know it was me," dying on her own terms in full satisfaction.
  • Gotham: Ra's Al-Ghul is the leader of the League of Assassins and the true brains behind the Court of Owls. After unleashing a deadly virus on Gotham, a brainwashed Bruce is sent to Ra's, where he orders him to stab Alfred. Bruce obeys, but breaks free of his conditioning. Ra's escapes, but not without letting Bruce use the Lazarus Pit to save Alfred. Ra's later returns searching for a mysterious knife. After killing the knife's previous owner and later on his son, Ra's turns himself in and is sent to Blackgate Penitentiary, and has his guards infiltrate the facility. Bruce later arrives to confront Ra's, and Ra's successfully goads him into killing him. Ra's is later resurrected by his loyal followers, and after regaining his powers from Barbara Kean, teams up with Jeremiah Valeska to turn Gotham into a no man's land, and kidnaps Bruce to take him to a building where they can witness the city's destruction. Ra's then dies during a battle with Bruce and Barbara, but not before congratulating the latter for her efforts, and telling the former that he must now choose to remain Bruce Wayne, or become Gotham's Dark Knight. Charming and intelligent, Ra's stood out as one of the most cunning criminals Gotham ever faced.

     H - W 
  • Hannibal: Hannibal Lecter himself maintains a sense of charm and genteelness that is unmatched in other portrayals, despite being a cannibalistic Serial Killer. Hannibal delights in nothing more than 'winding others up to watch them go' and manipulates events, gaslighting people and driving them to insanity or horrible deeds simply to watch what will unfold. Manipulating the FBI perfectly, especially Will Graham who Hannibal fixates on, he manages to elude suspicion for a frighteningly long time, even triggering one captured FBI agent with a trigger to shoot Dr. Chilton who he has a special contempt for. Hannibal also manipulates the dysfunctional Verger siblings until their relationship is at a bloody head before he mutilates and paralyzes the sadistic Mason Verger solely due to dislike of him. Hannibal does rouse himself to save the life of Will from a vengeful Mason later, and in the series finale proves his care for Will and desire for them to become a murderous couple when he rescues Will from the Red Dragon serial killer. A killer with a god complex and Satanic Archetype who views the world as full of food or toys for him, Hannibal repeatedly demonstrates his joy in manipulating others.
  • Highlander: Grayson was born in Dacia as Claudianus. Becoming immortal, he soon entered into the tutelage of the infamous immortal warlord Darius. When Darius left war behind Grayson was outraged and felt deeply betrayed by it, dedicating himself to warfare and became such an exemplary player of the Game that some believed he may be The One one day. In modern day, Grayson begins murdering Darius's students in the ways of peace to draw Darius off holy ground and destroy him in retribution for his betrayal, until Duncan Macleod interferes. Grayson constantly conducts himself with the utmost politeness with Duncan, at one point informing him he didn't believe men like Duncan still existed as "I've killed so many".
  • House of Cards (UK): Francis Urquhart 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, frequently exposing scandals of rivals and supposed friends, manipulating others into doing his bidding and in some cases resorts to outright murder to get his way. Urquhart ends up as Prime Minister, determined to remain in office longer than even Margaret Thatcher, a goal which he absolutely achieves by the end, showing himself no less a cultured player of the grand game in the office as he was outside it. Even after his assassination, his machinations have ensured he will be remembered as a beloved figure in English history, his true villainy always concealed beneath the one line: "you may very well think that. I could not possibly comment."
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Abby is a con artist who Dennis meets at a water park. Scamming Dennis into giving him money by acting as his neglected daughter in front a woman he was trying to seduce, Dennis takes and interest in her, and decides to take Abby under her wing. After being taught to steal right in front of the victim's face by Dennis, the two go on a scamming spree throughout the water park, putting all the valuables in a locker. Eventually, Abby tells Dennis that she's being forced to leave by her mother, and gives Dennis a memento as thanks for being the first adult to care about her. When Dennis confronts who Abby said was her mother, Dennis finds out that the woman isn't Abby's mother at all, and that Abby took the opportunity to swipe the locker key from Dennis and make off with all their stolen goods for herself, further impressing him.
  • Justified: In amidst all the white supremacists, drug addicts, stupid crooks, and other human wreckage that comprised the gangsters of rural Harlan County, there was the occasional villain with some charisma and flair, and the according ability to run rings about series' protagonists Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder:
    • Mags Bennett was the Big Bad of Season 2 and matriarch of the Bennett family, a Bandit Clan of hillbilly moonshiners and marijuana farmers whose influence was felt throughout Harlan County. Ruling her namesake township of Bennett as not just a Corrupt Hick but an uncrowned Feudal Overlord, Mags controlled the Bennett Police Department through her son, Doyle, and the marijuana trade through his brothers, Dickie and Coover, making her the final arbiter on near everything that happened in town. Rallying the people of Harlan at large and Bennett in particular against Black Pike Mining's attempts to buy up the county, Mags secretly cut a deal with Black Pike behind the backs of her fellow townsfolk, selling most of the county to Black Pike in exchange for extensive personal profits that she planned to use to get her grandchildren out of crime. Staying her hand when her son Coover was killed by Raylan (whose family the Bennetts had long feuded with), Mags returned to action when Dickie started a war with Boyd and proved capable of matching him trick for trick. In the end, only the unexpected return of Mags' foster daughter, Loretta, to Bennett, and the ensuing intervention by the Marshal Service proved able to bring the Bennett township tyrant down.
    • Ellstin Limehouse, was the unofficial king of Noble's Holler, the one black community in rural white Harlan. Concerned with keeping his people isolated and safe, Limehouse played Harlan's criminals and law enforcement against one another with seeming impunity, always evading responsibility, and coming out on top. In Season 3 he outmaneuvered Boyd, Robert Quarles, Dickie Bennett and Raylan, setting in motion a plan that saw Quarles killed, Boyd and Dickie imprisoned, and Raylan unable to touch Limehouse. In Season 4, he successfully ripped off Boyd and the Detroit mob both, while at the same time, saving the life of frightened hooker Ellen May and extricating Noble's from the Harlan underworld. Making his final appearance in Season 6, Limehouse again got the better of Boyd, before vanishing from Harlan, one step ahead of the Marshal's Service. No other villain on the show has walked as fine a line between good and evil as Limehouse, and none has ever come close to matching his achievements or his ability to get away with everything.
    • Drew Thompson was a Detroit mobster with a unique penchant for taking Refuge in Audacity. After witnessing Theo Tonin commit a murder, Drew realized that he had to get out of town before Theo killed him to cover it up. Shooting Theo in the eye, Drew stole an airplane and faked his own death, shoving his accomplice, Waldo Truth, out of the plane, then parachuting into Harlan County where he exchanged his cocaine and drug money for a new identity, helping Bo Crowder and Arlo Givens become rural mafiosi while he himself became Shelby Parlow of the Harlan Sheriff's Department. Eventually elected Sheriff himself, Shelby used his position to undermine Boyd's control over Harlan and the office of Sheriff alike, while also joining the recently revitalized search for "Drew Thompson" whose survival, but not identity, had been discovered. Found out in the end and arrested by Raylan, Drew Thompson nevertheless enjoyed a decades long career in law enforcement, and his machinations set in motion the eventual collapse of Boyd's criminal enterprises—the very same enterprises Drew had helped Boyd's father Bo, assemble in the first place.
    • Loretta McCready was the foster daughter and Bastard Understudy of Mags Bennett, and while she might have sided with Raylan against Mags, the passage of time proves that it was Mags' influence that lasted. Aspiring to become a marijuana kingpin in the same vein as her foster mother, Loretta spent Season 6 buying up agricultural land throughout Harlan County under both her real name and various aliases, and putting herself in direct competition with Avery Markham and the various gun thugs in his employ. Allying herself with Boyd, Loretta turned the entire town against Markham with a single speech at a party that Markham himself was hosting, and bought up most of the land in the county. Even the implosion of Boyd's empire and the loss of his protection could not stop Loretta; when Markham cornered her she persuaded him that she should become his new partner, thus surviving until Raylan and Boyd killed off Markham and his enforcer, Boon. Only a teenager when the series ended, Loretta demonstrated that she was more capable than most of the adult criminals on the show, and was left in a perfect position to pick up where Mags and Boyd left off, as the reigning queen of the Harlan underworld.
  • Kings: King Silas of Gilboa is a brilliant, Machiavellian ruler who spends the season destroying his enemies and securing his crown. Silas presents as a ruthless mastermind, though he is in truth far more given to self doubt of the favor of God. Silas attempts to overcome his destined successor David, even succeeding in bringing David down temporarily before an assassination attempt is made on Silas.In the finale, Silas outwits his enemies, performing an Unflinching Walk past a battalion of armed soldiers to retake his crown, has scared his enemy William Cross into hiding, has other members of the attempted coup captured and forces David to run from Gilboa. At the end, Silas has decided he answers to nobody for his crown, not even God himself.
  • Midsomer Murders: Season 4’s “Destroying Angel”, introduces Evelyn Pope, a local upstanding resident of Midsomer Magna, who hides a devilishly sharp mind behind an unassuming warm maternal personality and kind nature. Figuring out the truth of Karl Wainwright’s death and Gregory Chambers disappearance from the vaguest clues, she decides she can’t allow the conspirators to get away with murder or framing an innocent woman. Armed only with her wits and a natural ability to mimic voices, she masterminds a series of events leading to the conspirators deaths, agonizingly poisoning one and having another crushed to death before finally setting up the conspiracy's weakest member to unintentionally kill the ringleader when she tries to silence her. Each death relying upon her accurately predicting how they would react if put in the right circumstances, all the while setting the seeds to cause the last member's breakdown and confession of everything to the police following the last death. Despite being only a frail elderly person, even amongst the many murders to plague Midsomer over the years, few came close to Evelyn’s level of cunning or brilliance which was matched only by her natural charm and kindness, with even Inspector Barnaby admitted to liking her.
  • The Orville: Pria Levesque is a time traveller from the 29th century who arranges to be picked up by the Orville by faking a distress call. After arriving on board, Pria quickly gains the crew's trust by saving them from a dark matter storm before bonding with Captain Ed Mercer, who is still recovering from a painful divorce with his ex-wife (now First Officer) Kelly Grayson, and seducing him into a one-night stand. Meanwhile, Pria installs a device in the engine room through which she can remotely take over control of the ship in order to pilot it into a wormhole to the future, selling the Orville off as an antique and forcing the crew to live out the remainder of their lives on a remote planet. When her scheme fails, Pria makes one last attempt to convince Mercer to cooperate before calmly accepting the fact that her current version will be erased from history. Pria is among the cleverest foes the crew of the Orville have faced so far, with few managing to emotionally get under Mercer's skin like she has.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): From the episode "Zig Zag", Zig Fowler is a cyberterrorist in a near-future society where almost all data is controlled by the Department of Information Technology. Founding the Syndrome cell from the shadows with the mission to free people at any cost, Zig fakes his own death and assumes the meek Cliff Unger persona in order to infiltrate the department and gain access to its central processor room. After a year, Zig's implant reverts back to its original settings, whereupon he joins up with his old comrades again, who were not even privy to his real identity. Zig stages an armed takeover of the Department offices to bomb it, manipulating his former boss through word trickery into arming the bomb with his own implant, ultimately dying in a blaze of glory as the entire city is destroyed.
  • Oz:
    • Ryan O'Reilly is an Irish convict in the Emerald City wing of the Oswald State Correctional Facility. More than any other inmate, O'Reilly is frequently at the center of whatever intrique is going in the prison, forming alliances with other inmates to take over the drug trade inside Oz by arranging the deaths of various gang leaders and even becoming a major figure in a prison riot. O'Reilly also gets Dr. Gloria Nathan to fall in love with him after putting out a hit on her husband, later personally murdering a criminal who raped her, uses various dirty methods to ensure that his brother Cyrill will win the prison boxing championship, and has Officer Claire Howell—whom O'Reilly is sleeping with—kill his rival Stanislofsky after a dispute over a contraband cell phone turns sour. Ryan O'Reilly possesses a sense of charm and bravado unmatched by many of the thuggish inmates in Oz, and his uncanny ability to get others to do his dirty work for him and turning his enemies against each other makes him one of the few characters to successfully survive the entire run of the show.
    • Enrique Morales establishes himself as one of the most cunning and pragmatic prisoners on the show. After arriving in Oswald State prison, he usurped control over the Latinos by forcing the kindly old prisoner Bob Rebadow to kill his unpopular predecessor El Cid, then takes over the drug trade inside the prison with the Homeboys and Italians and proves himself more wary to attempts by the authorities to infiltrate the organization than his associates. When Morales develops a feud with Homeboys leader Burr Redding, he manipulates Chinese refugees housed in the prison against him with false claims of race hatred and attempts to have Redding framed for a murder. A capable fighter as well when the chips are down, Morales swiftly foils an attempt on his own life by killing the assassin, and lulls his late sister's abusive husband into a false sense of security before pounding the everloving crap out of him. Always a persuasive and purpose-driven man despite being a murderer and gang leader, under the clever rule of Morales, El Norte truly became a force to be reckoned with within Oz.
  • Penny Dreadful: Dracula, the final villain of the series, kidnaps and turns Mina Murray to manipulate the heroes into chasing her in order to lure his true quarry, Vanessa Ives, into his grasp. While also outplaying his brother Lucifer, Dracula becomes close to Vanessa under his mortal guise of Dr. Alexander Sweet, while genuinely falling for Vanessa. Even after she discovers his true identity, Dracula still wins her to his side with the strength of his charm and charisma. Dracula then sets about his conquest of the world, so powerful that none of the heroes are able to even touch him, only departing to honor Vanessa's promise not to harm her friends after Vanessa's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force: Onikage introduces himself as a ninja loyal to Mandilok and conjures schemes to kidnap Princess Shyla. When Toxica fumbles his first plan, Onikage promises he can redeem her if he cuts off her horn to render her immune to the Sacred Water of Animaria, lying that Duke Orgs' horns grow back. This leads to Toxica's death and Shayla's capture. On the verge of defeating the Power Rangers, Onikage reveals his true allegiance as Master Org's right hand man, rendering Mandilok defenseless and resulting in their death. Onikage is defeated in the end mostly by luck but succeeds in almost all his goals, setting the stage for the rest of the season despite only appearing in two episodes.
  • Profit: Jim Profit is an amoral sociopath whose life's goal is to become President of Acquisitions at the multinational company Gracen & Gracen Enterprises, thus giving him control over one of the most powerful economic entities in the world. He uses various schemes such as leaking bad stories to the press and blackmailing his predecessor's secretary in an attempt to get him fired before later having him framed for murder to permanently dispose of him. Jim also ingratiates himself with the company elites and their loved ones, zeroing in on their personal demons and shortcomings to use against them and sow discord, such as causing a falling out among the Gracen brothers to maneuver himself into becoming the CEO's right hand man and using his equally manipulative stepmother Bobbi to seduce and further control his boss. When the head of security catches on to his scheming, Jim forces her psychologist to perform hypnosis on her and then presents himself as her rescuer to discredit her claims against him. Jim Profit is an expert manipulator and schemer whose machiavellian plots allow him to get away with murder, extortion, and ruining people's lives multiple times and always has more cards left to play when faced with adversity.
  • 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. He then repeats this plan with the few survivors of the rebellion, and is still witty, charming and diabolically affable.
  • Rome: Gaius Julius Caesar conquers the entire land of Gaul, while masterfully manipulating the Roman senate into declaring him a criminal to give him an excuse to march on Rome, scattering the Senate and seizing ultimate power while acting humble to continue winning the love of the populace. Caesar continues a series of masterful political maneuvers to entrench himself while maintaining the loyalty of his soldiers and closest allies, even rewarding a veteran for defying his explicit orders when the man's actions win favor with the crowd, securing himself a trusted bodyguard in the process. In almost every moment, Caesar continues to show how he is the true master of Rome and is seen as almost divine even before his assassination.
  • Shaka Zulu: King Shaka Zulu was born into the Zulu tribe to an arrogant prince and a commoner girl. Defending his mother's honor, Shaka and his maternal relatives were expelled, but when Shaka returns as a young man he publically defies his father's wishes for him to become a Zulu warrior, fleeing from his soldiers to instead join the army of the Mhethwa Paramountcy, whose current King he once nursed to health. Shaka singlehandedly revolutionizes tribal warfare, allowing him to utterly annihilate rival tribes, gain revenge on his past enemies, and take over his late father's throne. Shaka manages to use the threat of an enemy tribe to bargain himself into becoming supreme commander, then declares himself King after his patron is unexpectedly assassinated. Shaka also cleverly uses the British expedition to his court for his own ends, using their technology to wipe out an enemy army, and to achieve immortality, or so he believes. He allows Lieutenant Farewell to return to Capetown with Shaka's representatives, but when he realizes that they tricked him he starts plotting revenge while damning the rest of the world after his mother dies. A powerful, dangerous, charismatic ruler, Shaka returns to his court only to Face Death with Dignity, with even his assassins remaining in awe of him after his downfall.
  • Smallville: Lionel Luthor was the Smallville villain of note, and dominated the show for all seven seasons in which he appeared. Originally created to explain how Lex grew up to be such a bastard, the Magnificent You-Know-What became a power unto himself in the show, and for the first three seasons was a virtually untouchable threat who easily undercut any efforts by Lex or Clark to act against him. Jailed in Season 4, Lionel proved he was still capable of reaching out to touch anyone, anywhere, whenever he wanted, and after his release from prison and subsequent Heel–Face Turn, remained the show’s most potent manipulator, undermining Lex’s attempts at becoming a threat in his own right, and getting the last laugh on his son when it was he, and not Lex, who was resurrected to serve as the show’s final villain in Season 10. In a show filled with mutants, aliens, and meteor freaks, Lionel Luthor was still the most dangerous man around, and no matter who he was sharing a space with, always managed to feel like the most powerful person in the room.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
    • Marcus Licinius Crassus is a self-made Roman aristocrat who showcases an odd respect for slaves and gladiators. Having his gladiator teacher fight him to the death to truly understand Spartacus, Crassus gives him nothing but respect when Hilarus dies, even having promised to free him and make him rich should he kill Crassus. Directing his rivals to die at Spartacus's hands, Crassus later introduces decimation to the roman ranks to make his men fear him more than Spartacus. With a series of intelligent strategies, Crassus slowly wins the Servile War, ending in single combat with Spartacus, and ending with Crassus's victory.
    • Gaius Julius Caesar himself is a cunning soldier who proves his mettle by infiltrating a city taken by Spartacus's rebels as a freed slave himself. Playing the freed slaves perfectly, Caesar ends up repulsed when he sees one of the rebel leaders Nemetes is keeping a Roman woman captive, and only gives her a Mercy Kill when she begs for it. He then turns them into an opportunity, having gladiators kill Roman prisoners to increase tension between rebel factions. Later embracing his role in the legions, Caesar proves a brilliant and deadly combatant, even defeating the nearly unparalleled warrior Gannicus via tactics by using his legions.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2's "Elementary Dear Data", introduces a hologram of Professor Moriarty, created to be an opponent capable of defeating Data at Holodeck games. Accessing the computer to learn of his past and the ship, Enterprise, Moriarty kidnaps Dr. Pulski, revealing he is self aware, and taking control of the ship's computer. Sealed away until the crew finds a way to free him after making an agreement with Picard, Moriarty returns years later in Ship in a Bottle when he's accidentally released. Angry at the crew's failure to free him, Moriarty demands to be released along with his beloved, Countess Regina Barthalomew. Taking control of the ship when Picard refuses, Moriarty threatens to crash it unless he and his loved one are set free. Although Picard wrestles back control of the ship, Moriarty traps Data and Barclay in an illusion on the Holodeck, before accessing Picard's access codes to the real ship, willing to die alongside everyone on board unless his dreams are granted. Although eventually trapped in virtual reality with the countess, Picard had to compromise by allowing Moriarty to live in the bliss of exactly what he wanted to save his crew from the brilliant criminal.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak presents himself as merely a plain, simple tailor, but is quickly revealed to be much more then that. A former member of the Cardassian Intelligence outfit, the Obsidian Order, Garak is exiled from Cardassia and forced to live on Deep Space 9. Garak is able to defeat several of his enemies, outwitting arrogant Cardassian military officials like Gul Dukat and Gul Toran. Garak also is able to manipulate the heroes as well, spotting an assassin on the station sent to kill him, Garak blows up his own shop to get Odo investigate the situation and deal with the assassin and gets Worf to defy his orders by playing to his sense of honor. After Cardassia joins the Dominion, Garak is resolved to freeing Cardassia from the Dominion. Garak's master stroke is forcing the Romulan Empire to declare war on the Dominion, by manipulating Sisko into manufacturing evidence of an up coming attack on Romulus and presenting it to a Romulan Senator. When the Senator decides the evidence is fake, Garak blows up his shuttle, so that the Romulan Empire will think the Dominion killed him and declare war on the Dominion. In the final season, Garak works with Colonel Kira and Legate Damar and uses his skills to help a Cardassian resistance movement overthrow Dominion rule on Cardassia.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: The Mirror Universe version of Hoshi Sato from "In a Mirror, Darkly" stands in stark contrast to her reserved Main Universe version as a conniving Social Climber who seduces men in the Terran Military who can advance her career while being no less important to the mission for her linguistic skills in communicating with hostile aliens. Hoshi supports Archer's mission to recover the Defiant from the Tholians and helps him to maintain control over the ship, even exposing a plot by T'Pol and other alien members of the crew in time to stop the uprising dead in its tracks. Seducing Archer's bodyguard Mayweather and tricking Archer into downing a poisoned drink while his guard is down, Hoshi emerges the victor out of the continual backstabbing and uses the threat of the Defiant's advanced weapons systems to declare herself Empress of the Terran Empire.
  • Supernatural:
    • Azazel, the mightiest of the Princes of Hell and one of the first demons made by Lucifer. The first to find Lucifer and formulate the plan to free him, Azazel begins cultivating the 'special' children and shaping their lives to enhance their psychic powers, including Sam Winchester. Later completely outwitting the Winchesters and defeating them, he convinces father John Winchester to sacrifice his life to bring Dean back to life, eliminating his greatest enemy and sending John to hell so the demons can begin working on breaking the 66 Seals. Azazel manipulates the psychic children further into a gauntlet to determine who will open the gates of hell to free Lilith herself, all for the sake of the winner destroying her to eventually unleash Lucifer while being ready and available as the fallen angel's vessel. Azazel remains one of the most dangerous and personal enemies the Winchesters had ever faced, whose charm and ruthlessness have rarely been matched with his love for his demon children making him a dark mirror to John Winchester himself.
    • Crowley starts as a lowly demon salesman who realizes Lucifer's intentions to wipe out humanity. Assisting the Winchesters to help bring Lucifer down, Crowley later relies on his wits and power to ascend to become the King of Hell where he becomes the Winchesters' deadly enemy. Using Castiel to assist him into mining Purgatory for the power of the souls within, Crowley usually manages to stay a step ahead of the Winchesters, frequently coming out on top and strengthening his position while eliminating his enemies and rivals. Upon the return of Lucifer, Crowley manages to even outwit and briefly helps imprison the fallen angel before his escape. Even at the end, Crowley manages to achieve a victory against Lucifer by sacrificing his own life, proving that when one faces Crowley, even when he loses, he will win in the end.
  • Taboo: James Keziah Delaney is a brooding Byronic Hero who returns to London after the death of his father to take over his trading business and his land claim to Nootka Sound, a strategic area in the Pacific Northwest contested between the British Crown, the East India Company, and the United States of America. James proceeds to play all factions against each other to set up his own monopoly trade, enlisting figures in the city's underworld to do his bidding, surviving multiple assassins going after him, executing a daring raid of an EIC compound so he can manufacture more explosives, and using various mind games to gain access to his half-sister Zilpha's bedchambers. After being captured on orders of the King and tortured in the Tower of London, James refuses to break and secures his own release. James emerges from the intrique as the triumphant party, leaving London with all of his allies on a ship bound for the new world after killing The Mole who spied on him for the EIC and ensuring that his chief enemy, EIC director Sir Stuart Strange, will be bombed in his own office.
  • The Tick (2016): Ms. Lint is a powerful super villain in The City who served as The Dragon to The Terror before abandoning him once his plans falls apart. Striking out on her own in Season 2, Ms. Lint would become the superhero Joan of Arc and work for A.E.G.I.S. to eliminate her competition in the criminal underworld and gain The City's trust, even attacking her own henchmen to deter suspicion away from her true identity and exploit the 28th amendment to prevent Tick and Arthur from doing such either. She would ally herself with The Duke, Agent Doctor Hobbes, in the latter's efforts to take over A.E.G.I.S only to steal all of his gear before leaving him at the heroes' mercy.
  • Thunderbolt Fantasy: Rin Setsua is the beautiful, playful young man who involves himself in Tan Hi's quest to keep a magic sword holding back a demon god out of the hands of the wicked Betsutengai. Rin Setsua manipulates fighters into joining the quest, including the vicious Screaming Phoenix Killer by promising him a match at the end. Rin Setsua then proceeds to double cross the team for Betsutengai's Onyx Demons, then betrays the Onyx Demons again after luring out potential traitors in Tan Hi's group. Finally facing Betsutengai, Rin Setsua proceeds to utterly humiliate him in combat, revealing his greatest pleasure is to humiliate and humble the proud and haughty.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019): A. Traveler, from "A Traveler" is a mysterious, charming man who shows up in a small Alaskan town as a charismatic 'extreme traveler.' Manipulating the townspeople into conflict to deflect suspicion from himself, he plants misinformation about himself and his goals while laying the groundwork for an alien colonization of earth. After having Sheriff Pendleton sent out to check the power grid, he manipulates Sergeant Yuka with a promise of Pendleton's job to send her after him, ending the episode victorious and sharing a slice of pumpkin pie with a cellmate as his forces come to take over earth.
  • Vikings: Ragnar Lothbrok is a bold young Viking who schemes his way into being challenged by Earl Haraldson of Kattegat to kill him and take his place. As the Earl, Ragnar faces threats from men such as Jarl Borg and King Horik of Denmark, but manipulates, betrays and destroys them too, in the case of Horik even allowing the king to believe he has turned Ragnar's allies against him before revealing they were secretly Ragnar's spies against Horik. Even managing to sack Paris by faking his own death so his "boy" will be brought before the rulers so he can take Princess Gisla hostage and force the city's gates open, Ragnar later becomes broken in his later years, but schemes to create a new Viking age by turning himself over to the Saxons for execution so his sons will avenge his death, achieving everything he sets out to accomplish. A cunning, ruthless, occasionally brutal man who is dangerous to friend and foe alike, Ragnar exemplifies both the best and worst of the Viking age.
  • Wallander: Anders Lindström, the Big Bad of the Swedish film adaptation The Revenge is a corrupt military general who, after losing his beloved son while he was fatally sick and the doctors were too lazy to cure him, went on a killing spree to murder those who were involved in it. Posing the killings as racially motivated, Anders kills multiple controversial figures to turn the attention to Islamic terrorists and frame them for the killings, before adding even more proof of that by committing terrorist attacks and blowing up cars, manipulating the entire country of Sweden into believing the framing. At the end, when Anders manages to hold Wallander hostage, they talk with each other, until Anders genuinely starts respecting him and lets him get out of the car, before jumping into the sea and blowing himself up, with everyone there watching sadly as he accepts defeat.
  • Westworld: Robert Ford is the brilliant creative director of the titular theme park, Westworld. Having created the park alongside Arnold, the two had several arguments over how to treat the hosts that inhabit the park, which led to Arnold's suicide. After grieving his partner's death and showing disgust for how the park's guest abuse the hosts, Ford decides to complete Arnold's dream of making the hosts fully sentient and free them from humanity's control. He does so by creating a new narrative for the hosts, instructing them to rebel against their oppressors and kill everyone inside the park, including himself. It's also revealed that Ford downloaded his conscience onto the Cradle so that he can observe the events after his death, still manipulating hosts and guests alike.


Example of: