Follow TV Tropes

Following

Sandbox / Magnificent Bastard Live Action TV

Go To

Ra's Al-Ghul: I know it's difficult to fathom, Bruce, but Jeremiah and I are doing this for your benefit.
Bruce Wayne: How is destroying Gotham supposed to help me?
Ra's Al-Ghul: Because I had a vision, that out of this crucible of blood and fire, will rise the Dark Knight that your city needs. That I need.
Gotham

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.

Advertisement:

The following have their own pages:


    open/close all folders 

     # - G 
  • 24: Jack Bauer's days are hard enough as it is. These adversaries he’s faced only make them more challenging (by first appearance):
    • Stephen Saunders, from season 3, is a former soldier-turned-terrorist. Holding America responsible for abandoning him to be tortured in Bosnia, Saunders decides to strike back by dismantling the American government. Upon acquiring twelve vials of the Cordilla virus, he has one vial of the virus released in a hotel, killing hundreds in the process. Afterwards, he attacks a MI-6 office just as CTU was gathering intel on Saunders, and later forces President David Palmer to have Ryan Chappelle murdered so he wouldn't uncover his bank accounts. When his daughter, Jane, is captured by CTU, and Saunders is surrounded by CTU officers, Saunders orders his men to kidnap Michelle Dessler so her husband, Tony Almeida, would help him escape. Even after Saunders is finally apprehended, Saunders reveals that he instructed his eleven couriers to release the virus unless his demands are met.
    • Kalil Hasan, from season 4, is a member of one of Habib Marwan's terrorist cells. Participating in the kidnapping of Secretary of Defense James Heller, Kalil and his allies discovered that computer programmer Andrew Paige accidentally came across one of their Internet nodes. Kalil and another terrorist later visited Andrew's office and murdered all of his co-workers, before Kalil started a manhunt against Andrew. After finding Andrew's location by intercepting a CTU phone call, Kalil kidnapped Andrew while posing as Jack Bauer and killed two law enforcement agents during his escape. He later interrogated Andrew to find out what he knew, and ordered him to be executed even after Andrew claimed he didn't know anything about Heller's abduction. As he repeatedly evaded authorities while posing as an innocent civilian, Kalil discovers that he's being tracked by satellite, resulting in him committing suicide so Bauer and CTU won't discover Heller's location.
    • Ivan Erwich, from season 5 is a member of the Dawn Brigade and Vladimir Bierko's chief lieutenant. Initially posing as a hostage during a terrorist attack, Erwich was in fact a sleeper cell ordered to smuggle Sentox nerve gas out of an airport. As the hostage crisis is resolved, Erwich sneaks out of the airport and succeeds in acquiring several nerve gas canisters. As he tries to smuggle the canisters out of the country in a ship container, he catches one of his allies tampering with them. Erwich interrogates and kills the man, deducing that his American allies have betrayed him. Knowing he can't smuggle the canisters out of the country, Erwich decides to strike back at America instead as punishment, where he repeatedly eludes the authorities and attacks a shopping mall without any of his men giving up his location.
    • Christopher Henderson, from season 5, is one of the primary members of the season's Sentox VX nerve gas conspiracy. A patriot who is skilled at frequently adjusting his plans when need be, and one of the few villains who manages to constantly fend off Jack successfully, Henderson takes it upon himself to have David Palmer assassinated when he uncovers information about the conspiracy. Afterwards, he frames Jack Bauer for the murder, and tries to have Tony Almeida and Chloe O'Brian killed, while successfully killing Michelle Dessler. After Henderson is caught by Bauer, he refuses to give up his employers' names, even after his wife is threatened and he's tortured for over an hour. After escaping custody, Henderson kidnaps Evelyn Martin's daughter in exchange for finding the location of a recording implicating him and President Charles Logan. Over the course of several hours, Henderson has anyone killed in his pursuit of the recording, even going as far as handing it off to one of his allies before getting recaptured. Knowing his employers will eventually kill him, Henderson agrees to help CTU in stopping Russian terrorists in exchange for safe passage out of the country, and attempts to kill Jack Bauer.
    • Tony Almeida, from season 7, is a former CTU agent turned terrorist. Frustrated over the American government officials who didn't receive punishment for orchestrating his wife's death, Tony decided to become a mercenary, joining David Emerson's crew. After uncovering information about Alan Wilson, the man who ordered his wife's death, Tony used all of his resources to lure him out of hiding. Teaming up with Jack Bauer, Chloe O'Brian, and Bill Buchanan, Tony worked as a double agent, where he helped them apprehend or kill members of the People's Freedom Army and Emerson's crew whilst providing information that averted numerous terrorist attacks. Once Tony thwarts Jonas Hodges' schemes by destroying a cache of biological weapons, he betrays his allies and kills multiple FBI agents to elude capture. Having gained Wilson's attention, Tony forces an innocent man to conduct a terrorist attack; when it fails, he comes up with the idea to extract traces of the biological pathogen from Jack's blood for Wilson to use. Once Tony finally confronts Wilson, he murders Wilson's adversary and rants about how Wilson ruined his life before attempting to kill him.
    • Samir Mehran, from season 8, is a former Kamistani soldier who leads a Kamistani terrorist cell in America. Believing that President Omar Hassan has been corrupted by America, he tries to have Hassan assassinated multiple times so his brother, Farhad, can take his place. When the plans fail, Samir decides to attack America instead with a nuclear dispersal device. After Farhad betrays him, Samir has him killed, and he later has Tarin Faroush kidnap Hassan's daughter, Kayla, in an attempt to get Hassan to expose America's antinuclear defenses. Samir allows Kayla to escape so she would unknowingly bring an EMP into CTU headquarters, and later smuggles the nuclear components into New Your City undetected. After eluding CTU multiple times with the help of Dana Walsh and threatening to activate the nuclear device downtown, Samir finally kidnaps Hassan when he gives himself up, and successfully murders him over a live video on the Internet mere minutes before CTU can rescue him.
  • Alice in Borderland: The mysterious Shuntaro Chishiya is a cunning manipulator who allies himself with anyone he can to further his agenda of acquiring all of the playing cards to escape from Borderland. Chishiya first appears at the Five of Spades game, where he is one of the two people to figure out the location of the building's saferoom, and helps Arisu and Usagi in taking down the game's tagger. Later joining the organization "Beach", Chishiya works his way up into the organization's ranks, and when the leader of Beach dies and is replaced by the militant Aguni, Chishiya uses Arisu as bait to figure out the hiding spot of the playing cards. When Aguni decides to purge Beach of all non-militant members, Chishiya confronts the insane Sugaru Niragi, burning him with a homemade flamethrower, retrieves the Ten of Hearts card, and joins Arisu and Usagi in playing the next stage of games to track down the Game Master.
  • The A-Team: General Hunt Stockwell, from season 5, has the distinction of being the first and only person to capture the A-Team and actually make it stick. Putting them on trial under the pretense of getting them exonerated for the "crime they didn't commit", Stockwell instead controls the trial from behind the scenes in order to not only have them found guilty, but also to escalate the charges so they're sentenced to death, only allowing them to escape at the end so he can recruit them now that they have no choice left but to work for him. With the team under his employ, Stockwell proves himself to be something of a Bad Boss who, though ostensibly on the side of American prosperity and world peace, also has no problems using people to accomplish his goals, withholding vital information when it serves his purposes, and treating all of his operatives and even himself as expendable.
  • Alphas: Stanton Parish is an immortal Alpha who intends to create a civil war between Alphas and regular humans, believing his own kind to be in danger from the latter. Parish 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. When people finally become aware of his existence, after they foiled a terrorist attack of his that would have murdered an entire city Parish hijacks the counter-measures the heroes put in place, and manipulates it so that by defending themselves he can launch an attack that would kill off all non-Alpha humans in the country for what he feels is for the ultimate benefit of the greater good, with the only regular human he intends to survive being Dr. Lee Rosen, who Parish genuinely respects and believes will lead the Alphas into a golden age.
  • 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.
  • And Then There Were None (2015): "U.N. Owen", true identity Justice Lawrence Wargrave, lures 9 guilty parties to Soldier Island with intent to eliminate them according to his own macabre sense of humor and justice. A consummate sadist since youth, Wargrave maintains a sense of humor and justice, reserving the worst fates for the most morally depraved of the group, faking his own death by convincing the only doctor to assist him before eliminating the man to hold his cover. Wargrave proceeds to kill all the others, saving Vera Claythorn for last due to her murder of a little boy under her care, waiting until it is impossible for her to escape and detailing his plans before he allows her to hang and promptly commits suicide to create the ultimate mystery that no one will ever solve.
  • 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.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Romo Lampkin is a survivor of the Cylon genocide and a charismatic Amoral Attorney who agrees to defend Gaius Baltar in his trial for collaboration with the Cylons on New Caprica for the infamy it will bring him. Lampkin proceeds to subtly manipulate both his own client and the witnesses, while his legal experience allows him to dismantle the case against Baltar effortlessly, including getting his own co-counsel Lee Adama to testify and swing the judges' votes in his favor. Lampkin returns when Lee hires him to select a new President of the Colonies after Laura Roslin goes missing before threatening Lee at gunpoint to extract a compelling Patrick Stewart Speech out of him on why he is fit to lead. Lampkin manages to survive Gaeta and Zarek's mutiny by killing a marine with nothing but a pen, later joining the settlers on Earth after briefly having been promoted to President himself.
  • 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: The third Blackadder, Mr. 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.
    • Ed Galbraith is a vacuum repairman and salesman who uses this business to mask his criminal activities of "disappearing" anyone willing to pay the price, creating for them new identities and relocating them to new places. Successfully hiding away and creating new identities for both Saul Goodman and Walter White despite their immense presence across national news, Ed learns how to perform chemotherapy to help Walter's cancer for an extra charge, and honors his word to keep his eye on Walt's family. Later striking a deal up with Jesse Pinkman, Ed sticks to his principles of his prices and turns Jesse away, shrugging off Jesse's attempts at garnering sympathy and repaying Jesse's aggression with mercy after chasing him off. Once Jesse gathers enough money to pay for Ed's services, Ed disappears Jesse to Alaska, promising to give the young Brock a final letter from Jesse and parting ways with Jesse in peace despite their conflicts.
  • Brimstone: The Devil himself is the one who manipulates hero Ezekiel "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 by pretending to be an informant, Doug sends Jake on a 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, escaping once Jake catches the hitman. Doug later helps Jake capture Doug's adopted brother in exchange for full immunity of his crimes. 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 once more. Upon getting engaged to a judge who wants Doug to uninvite his criminal friends, Doug gets Jake involved in his bachelor party knowing that Jake will get his friends arrested, resulting in Doug avoiding having to uninvite them directly. 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.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Lilith, aka Madam Satan, was the first witch who has faithfully served Lucifer Morningstar for ages. Killing Sabrina Spellman's teacher and taking her identity, Lilith flawlessly manipulates Sabrina to darkness, subverting her good intentions and eventually getting Sabrina to sign her name in Lucifer's book. Turning on Lucifer to assist the heroes when he kills her human lover, Lilith manages to see him confined while she takes over rulership of Hell. Even when Lucifer manages to escape, Lilith negotiates her own survival and stays close to bide her time, eventually able to permanently steal Lucifer's powers and banish him to Earth as a mortal.
  • The Closer: "Heart Attack": Dr. Luis Navarro is a brilliant transplant surgeon who decides to take justice into his own hands when he barely saves a twelve year old girl from death after she was gangraped and mutilated. Deducing that one of his free clinic's patients was the leader of the gangrape, Navarro drugs him into giving up the names of his accomplices, then kills the man and harvests his organs to use to save the life of another of his other patients. Deciding to do even more good, Navarro begins tracking down the gangrapists, killing them, and taking their organs to use in the hospital to save the lives of people on the donor list, then disposing of his victims' bodies in such a way that law enforcement believes it is the work of cartels to throw them off his scent. When finally confronted by Brenda Lee Johnson, Navarro shuts down her attempts to paint him as a scumbag crook, instead focusing on the fact that he's genuinely helping people and rounding off his charming Motive Rant by agreeing to confess only if the heart of his latest murder victim is used to save the life of a young patient.
  • Code Lyoko: Evolution: The Lyoko-warriors, living their double life, had to deal with these two wickedly brilliant characters:
    • After its defeat in Code Lyoko, XANA barely survived Jérémie's multi-agent program by fleeing inside the Cortex and giving its source codes to Ulrich, Yumi, Odd and Aélita in order to later regain its strength by retaking them. Still wanting to Take Over the World, XANA uses Lyoko's towers to sent specters on Earth in order to take back its codes. A master manipulator, XANA successfully manipulated Aélita into giving it most of her codes by having a specter masquerading as her mother and almost succeeded in manipulating William into joining it by pointing out the heroes' genuine failures in handling him. An opportunist, XANA also hacked Kadic's computer system in order to distract the heroes while it attempts to destroy the Skidbladnir. XANA also successfully figures out Jérémie's plan of using fake codes against him, forcing the latter to abandon the plan despite its initial success. Despite losing most of its power and its murderous tendencies, XANA lost none of its smarts, regaining 95% of its power by the end of the series.
    • Laura Gauthier is a prodigious student in Kadic fascinated by computer science. Introduced by solving a problem Jérémie had trouble dealing with, she overhears the Lyoko-warriors and takes advantage of William wanting to make up with the team to follow him to the factory, discovering their secret. Saving Yumi from death, only Aélita using the Return to the Past prevented her from being accepted in the team. When the heroes later need her help again, she overheard them saying that they will erase her memory once again. She hacks the RTTP, keeping her memories and forcing the heroes to accept her. When Jérémie leaves her in the computer room, she saves the day by figuring out XANA's attack. When her father attempts to force her to change schools due to XANA's attack giving her disastrous grades, she brings him to the factory, forcing the heroes to launch a RTTP to erase her father's memories. Taking XANA seriously after underestimating it, she manipulates William into helping her destroy the Cortex behind the others' back, uncaring about Aélita risking being unable to see her mother due to said destruction. Smart, ambitious and cunning, Laura is the most morally ambiguous character of the series.
  • Community: Robert Laybourne is the Vice Dean of Greendale Community College and holds the true power of the school. Witnessing Troy Barnes effortlessly repair an air conditioner, Laybourne tries to get Troy to join his Air Conditioning Repair School, even getting Dean Craig Pelton to help him accomplish his goal. Eventually Laybourne manipulates Troy and his best friend, Abed Nadir, against each other briefly destroying their friendship and creating a war engulfing Greendale. When Troy pleads with Laybourne to help him overthrow Ben Chang, Laybourne complies on the sole condition that Troy leaves his friends and join his annex. Finally successful in recruiting Troy to his school, Laybourne is killed by his second-in-command, Murray, but Laybourne's influence inspires Troy to challenge Murray for the title of the "Truest Repairman", with Troy easily defeating Murray and getting Murray to confess to Laybourne's murder, with Laybourne's ghost appearing to show approval at what Troy has accomplished.
  • Creepshow: "Man In The Suitcase": The titular man in the suitcase appears to be a helpless businessman painfully folded into a suitcase who somehow produces gold whenever he is harmed. In truth, the man is a powerful djinn, far more cunning and in control than he lets on. Seeking out corrupt souls, the djinn feigns at helplessness to see who will try to harm a helpless man for money, even while being unable to repress a dry sense of sarcastic humor. After the segment's hero Justin is upset at the prospect of harming him for wealth, Justin's girlfriend Carla and best friend Alex betray and nearly kill him, whereupon the djinn gleefully takes the chance to present to them their own suitcases, saving Justin and taking the two off for a most unpleasant fate.
  • CSI Verse:
    • CSI:
      • "The Finger": After killing his mistress, Roy Logan sets about the perfect way to cover up a murder. Logan begins a complicated plan and has himself intentionally captured by the police before manipulating Catherine Willows into helping him give one million dollars in ransom to his lawyer who will then give it him, fooling him all the while into thinking his mistress is still alive. An expert liar with the ability to make himself seem meek and scared, Logan is able to read the CSI team to discover how much they know and plants evidence to put them off, making them think his wife and lawyer are the true murderers. Skipping out of town after everything falls into place, Logan comes within a hair's breadth of winning and proves himself one of the smartest foes to ever face the CSIs.
      • "Two and a half Deaths": Megan Kupowski is a talented theatrical actress who decides to kill her abusive costar Annabelle by plotting the perfect murder. Secretly learning about her habit of consuming mouthwash, Megan sets about spiking it with blood thinners and gaining the thinners (medication needed for her dog). This weakens Annabelle to the point that any injury will kill her thorough bleeding, with Megan playing the caring and despondent friend of the victim to shore up support. Confronted by the CSI's Grissom and Brass about the medication, Megan keeps her cool and expertly reveals a confession while masking it as a hypothetical that confuses them, before calling their bluff that they have nothing and leaving to become the networks new star.
      • "Crime After Crime": Detective Stanley Richardson is a soft-spoken, beloved Las Vegas police officer who, when he discovers he's dying, decides to set up the killings of murderers who've escaped justice before he dies. Recruiting his friend Detective Sam Vega, Richardson uses him to track down and then kill brutal murderers who've escaped justice in the same way they killed their victims while making sure everything goes smoothly. Upon the CSI's finding him, Richardson calmly confesses his crimes and tricks them into finding his lockbox with a knife which was used by Vega to kill an informant. Richardson was aware that Vega was dirty and so has secretly set him up to be killed by the police. Richardson dies in complete peace with his mission to punish the guilty complete and stands as one of CSI's most successful and courteous villains.
    • Cold Case: "The House": Hank Dempsey is a charming, likeable thief who breaks out of prison to be with the love of his life. A playful trickster, Hank fools and runs circles around the wardens of his prison, carefully escaping from a seemingly inescapable prison twice. Defusing an attempt by another prisoner to kill him, Hank stages his own injuries in order to gain a way to make his final escape from the prison and be with his love. Utterly charming and with a knack for ingenuity, Hank is later able to safely escape justice and continues his days as a happy contended man with his wife.
  • Dallas: 2012 series: J.R. Ewing is a charming elderly man who helps his son achieve his dream of taking over Southfork ranch and tricks his brother into signing over the property to an investor who's secretly one of J.R.'s associates. Taking over Southfork, J.R. starts to drill for oil on it to secure profits while fooling his brother into thinking he was an invalid to throw him off his scent. Discovering he's dying of cancer, J.R. sets about his "masterpiece" and sets about getting revenge on the family's hated nemesis Cliff Barnes, having a minion steal Cliff's gun and kill him in order to frame Cliff for the crime. A man of total class, J.R. even reveals in his will his genuine love for his family and is happy that his son will be following in his footsteps as a master manipulator in his own right.
  • Dalziel and Pascoe: "Death In The Family": Aahil Khan is a single-minded yet warm, paternal entrepreneur. Arriving in Yorkshire with nothing he worked his way up, becoming a successful businessman and a respected figure in Wetherton's Asian community. Capitalizing on his reputation Khan started a Hawallah business — an illegal global money trade that ran explicitly through trust — operating out of his legitimate contacts, planning to save enough money to send his grandchildren to the best schools and guarantee their futures. Tricked into trading money from a bank robbery, Khan's reputation and side business was ruined. Undeterred Khan organised a burglary to reimburse himself with the remaining stolen cash, and when this failed had his sons kidnap the surviving robber Imad Abdullah. His son's attempts to force him into giving them the money failing, taking over Khan apologised to Imad and thanked him for teaching his sons the limits of brute force. In a single conversation Khan convinced Imad into giving him the majority of the money, with Khan allowing him to keep £100,000 and then using his contacts to smuggle Imad abroad to safety, with Khan successfully covering everything up and getting away scot free.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Chamberlain skekSil is a Skeksis who appears to be a simpering toady of Emperor skekSo but is far more intelligent and dangerous than he lets on. Coming up with the idea of harvesting Gelflings for essence, skekSil pins the blame for the Skeksis' first victim on her lover Rian to divide the Gelflings, even almost breaking Rian's will with a simple conversation after setting the Hunter skekMal on him and winning the Hunter's respect by revealing he sees power itself as his quarry. After being replaced by the General skekVar, skekSil saves his rival's life and manipulates him into a deathly duel with Rian, later ambushing and murdering him to reclaim his position of power. Long after most Gelflings are gone, skekSil fails in his bid to reclaim power, only to capture one of the final Gelflings to return himself to the good grace of the Skeksis to hatch new plots in his quest for the throne.
  • Defiance:
    • Stahma Tarr is the beautiful, elegant wife of Datak Tarr who hints that she took him as a husband after murdering her original fiancee. Loving Datak for his ruthlessness and ambition, Stahma connives for him to obtain a seat upon the Defiance city council, later murdering her extramarital lover when she threatens Stahma's life with poison. Betraying Datak to leave him in prison and run his criminal enterprise through their son Alak, Stahma repeatedly outplays those around her in an effort to secure her holdings and ambitions while also keeping her family safe.
    • Datak Tarr began only as a "nobody with a wicked smile" who connives and claws his way to power in Defiance. Bringing others into his debt, Datak makes himself a figure of power in the community until he is overthrown by his own wife, the above Stahma. Reflecting on his flaws, Datak grows and even shows contrition to befriend people who want him dead, reconciling with Stahma and their son before rising even higher. When the genocidal Rahm Tak threatens Defiance, Datak "proves" his loyalty by severing his arm in front of an impressed Rahm Tak, only to reveal he hid an explosive in the limb, escaping as Rahm Tak and his men are completely wiped out, saving the city and making himself a hero in the process.
  • Designated Survivor: Patrick Lloyd from seasons 1 and 2 leads a disbanded military firm and secretly aims to stage the takeover of the United States of America, using a powerful weapon to attack the Capitol building and killing nearly everyone inside during the State of the Union address. Having used an electronic blueprint of the bombing to prevent such an attack, Lloyd possesses blueprints for other acts of terror and has the terrorist who he paid to commit the initial bombing killed to tie up loose ends. Forcing the FBI director into compliance by kidnapping and threatening his son, Lloyd tries to have the current President Tom Kirkman killed to put his own puppet in office. While some plans fall through, Lloyd manages to steal nuclear codes from the Pentagon to gain the means to hold the US hostage and target other nations. Killing his contacts to avoid capture, Lloyd uses his final moments to threaten to release Sarin gas and kill thousands, only to actually be bluffing about it.
  • Dexter: Isaak Sirko is an amiable, cultured gangster and a high-ranking figure within the Ukrainian Koshka Brotherhood. Sirko travels to Miami after his friend and lover Viktor does not return, quickly discerning from his travel history that he was murdered. Discovering that Dexter Morgan is the culprit, Sirko proceeds to ruthlessly hunt down his quarry, admitting his respect for Dexter when he proves to be a formidable opponent. When Dexter leads Sirko into a trap, Sirko quickly dispatches the Colombian gangsters Dexter sicced on him, continuing his vendetta against Dexter after he orders his subordinate George to blackmail Detective Quinn so the police's case against Sirko collapses. His prioritization of revenge over profits causes Sirko's bosses to put out a hit on him, but Sirko forces Dexter into an Enemy Mine to help him dispatch the assassins sent after him. Even after he's been mortally wounded, Sirko remains dignified to the end, ultimately parting on good terms with Dexter.
  • Doctor Who: Of the many foes faced by the incarnations of the Doctors, the following stand out as his most brilliant and charming opponents.
    • Classic series: the Master, as the Doctor's Arch-Enemy, is one of his most tenacious and brilliant foes as demonstrated by various incarnations:
      • The "UNIT Years" Master is a villainous Time Lord who wastes no time establishing himself as a Worthy Opponent to the Doctor. The UNIT Years 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 UNIT Years 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 UNIT Years Master seems to love matching wits with the Doctor, showcasing his extreme ruthlessness and genius in the process.
      • The "Tremas" Master 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 Tremas Master is even more elegant and refined, manipulating the 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 Tremas 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 Tremas Master repeatedly shows why he is the Doctor's greatest nemesis.
    • Revival series: Twelfth Doctor: "Mummy on the Orient Express": Gus is a mysterious AI being who wants to capture an ancient creature known as the Foretold. Gus figures out an effective method of summoning it onto trains, and he forces the passengers to solve its origins and weaknesses before wiping out all of them to destroy witnesses. Gus disguises a laboratory as a train modeled after the Orient Express and lures several passengers onto it, including the Doctor and his companion Clara, once again with the intention of forcing them to help him assess and capture the Foretold. When the Doctor stops to call Clara, Gus forces him to get back to work by wiping out the entire kitchen staff. Once the Doctor finally figures out the Foretold's origins, Gus thanks the passengers for their efforts before attempting to drain oxygen from them. To prevent the Doctor from hacking into his system, Gus blows up the entire train, effectively getting away with his crimes. Cunning, resourceful, amiable, and ruthless at the same time, Gus is clearly one of the more competent villains in the series.
  • Elementary: Jamie Moriarty is a criminal mastermind who has orchestrated many assassinations. When Sherlock Holmes interferes with Moriarty's plans, she cultivates the identity of Irene Adler, and manipulates Sherlock into falling in love with her before faking her death driving Holmes into despair. She would also set her "killer" Sebastian Moran, up as a Serial Killer and later has Moran kill himself before he reveals anything about her to Sherlock. Revealing her true identity to Sherlock, she arranges the Greek business man "Narwal" to kill a Macedonian diplomat, leading to Macedonia not joining the European Union and switch to the Euro currency to which Moriarty would make billions out of their current currency; Moriarty would have gotten away with it if wasn't for the sudden intervention of Joan Watson. Now confined in a highly secured prison she helps Sherlock and Watson find her subordinates before escaping her confinements and kill them herself when they kidnapped her daughter before going back to prison. She also has her daughter's father be her successor to her criminal organization, and later allows Sherlock's father Morland take over, before escaping her prison and waiting for Morland to die before reclaiming it. Faking her death several times to elude authorities and have Sherlock and Watson arrest all her rivals, Jamie Moriarty ends the series with her devious and brilliance only matched by the detective duo's determination to bring her to justice.
  • Everybody Hates Chris: "Everybody Hates the English Teacher": "Ms. Rivera", real name Karen Rodriguez, is a con artist who's been at large for eight years, moonlighting as Tattagla High School's English teacher. When her cover becomes at risk of being blown, Karen disguises herself as a Mormon under the alias of "Perez" and escapes the border. Embezzling a quarter million dollars of the teachers' pension plan, Karen hides out in Utah, coming back to Brooklyn one last time to say goodbye to Chris before moving to Hollywood.
  • The Expanse: While Sadavir Errinwright begins as a pawn for Mao, when Mao turns on him, Errinwright shows how skilled a manipulator he is. Errinwright assassinates Mao's Martian contact and starts a war between Earth and Mars to force Mao to work for him. Seeking to use Mao's protomolecule hybrid supersoldiers to give Earth the strength to conquer Mars and remain secure, Errinwright begins a campaign to undermine the Secretary General's anti-war speechwriter Anna, first convincing her that her actions allowed Mars to kill millions in South America and then altering a speech she wrote to call for the annexation of Mars. Errinwright is ultimateley undone when Avasarala accomplishes the almost-impossible task of obtaining a copy of a message between Errinwright and Mao and sends it to Anna. When Errinwright realizes that he's lost, he calmly admits to his crimes and remains dignified as security takes him away.
  • Fallen (2006 Miniseries): In this reimagining of The Fallen book series Azazel was one of the leaders of the rebellion against Heaven, desiring the freedom to do whatever he wants in contrast to Lucifer's desire for conquest and envy towards humanity. Freed by Lucifer from his prison to retrieve the Nephilim Aaron Corbett, the "Redeemer", Azazel tracks Aaron down and decieves him into believing that his protector Camael was killed, and gains Aaron's trust. Taking Aaron to Lucifer's temple, Azazel fights Camael and the Powers, and despite being defeated and reimprisoned, is perfectly willing to wait to be free again, stating that he has a lot of patience.
  • Fall of Eagles: Otto von Bismarck is the daring Chancellor of Prussia who manipulates France into starting a war so Prussia may crush them. With other wars that Bismarck oversees, as well as his frightening skill in diplomacy, Prussia is able to dominate all of Germany and unify it into a single nation. Making alliances with the Hapsburgs and Romanovs, Bismarck ensures the prosperity of his nation, no matter what ruthless actions he must undertake.
  • Fargo:
    • Season 2: 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.
    • Season 4: Ebal Violante is a wise old criminal who served as the personal advisor and advocate to the Fadda family, whose conflict resolution abilities and sound strategical advice are often ignored or overlooked by the impulsive Fadda leadership. After weeks of watching the Faddas slowly self-destruct due to incompetent leadership, Ebal finally steps up and takes the reigns himself, manipulating rival crime lord Loy Cannon into an alliance that enables Ebal to betray, demonize and execute Josto Fadda, assuming control of the Fadda family for himself in one, swift motion. Promptly screwing Loy over and revealing he's taking half of the Cannon territory as well, Ebal puts Loy in his place as a mere fish in the vast ocean of crime Ebal and his partners in New York occupy, and ends the story completely on top of the Kansas City Mafia, paving the way for decades more professional crime and business to come.
  • Farscape:
    • Scorpius was once a nameless child born of a twisted breeding experiment by the Scarrans who 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.
    • Rygel XVI was Dominar of the Hynerian Empire, ruler of over six hundred billion subjects, before he was deposed by his cousin and spent over a hundred cycles in Peacekeeper captivity. He masterminded the prison break aboard Moya, and never lets the others forget it. While he's frequently dismissed by the rest of the crew due to his diminutive stature, relentless greed and self-absorption, Rygel is intelligent, cunning, a competent negotiator and statesman, and can be surprisingly violent when the situation demands it. While he makes no secret of the fact that he's out for himself first, neither will he betray the crew for no reason — as he's smart enough to know they're helpful allies, and he has to be fairly certain he'll actually profit from turning on them. If there's nothing to be gained by working against them, he'll have a flawless scheme up his sleeve to protect them. As the series goes on and Character Development sets in, Rygel lets his genuine care and love for Moya and his friends show more often, but never loses his capacity for brilliant scheming and brutal violence as needed. In "I-Yensch, You-Yensch" he becomes one of very few to cross wits with Scorpius and come out on top.
  • 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.
  • Fringe: William Bell is a brilliant scientist and a who founded the corporation, Massive Dynamic, and is also revealed to be backing the terrorist organization ZFT, using them to test Olivia Dunham into activating her powers to enter the Alternate Universe he resides where he tells her of the upcoming catastrophe her universe will face before sending her back. When Olivia and Walter Bishop arrives in the alternate universe again William Bell would save them and Peter Bishop and bring them back to their universe by sacrificing himself. Though seemingly dead, William Bell had his soul stored inside a bell which possessed Olivia when she activates it, whom he brokers a deal with Walter to return Olivia's body if they transfer his conscious to a computer; he lied about the latter working revealing that he "hates goodbyes". Alive again in an alternate timeline, William would enact his most ingenious and diabolical plan of destroying both Walter's and the alternate universes to create his own universe using Olivia as his catalyst, a plan that nearly succeeds if not for his equally brilliant friend Walter intervening. Always alternating between the Fringe divisions greatest ally to most dangerous enemy, William Bell made his mark as the series' most morally ambiguous yet brilliantly charming character.
  • Future Man:
    • Ty-Anne is an alternate reality clone of Tiger that joins the Pointed Circle after discovering Stu Camilo’s true monstrosity and his sinister plans for humanity. She climbs up to the ranks to becoming the resistance’s leader, adopting the moniker "Achilles", hiding her role from Stu by acting like an obnoxious spoiled brat in front of him. Upon discovering Stu’s weakness being Josh, she has Dr. Athena kidnap multiple Joshes from different realities to forcibly infiltrate Stu’s mainframe before asking Josh Futterman herself to voluntarily sacrifice himself to Stu, when the other attempts failed. When told about the failures of her plans and another weak spot from Josh, Wolf, and Tiger, Ty-Anne changes her plans by taking Tiger’s spot at Stu’s side to distract him while she has the trio destroy Stu’s weakness, killing him for good.
    • Susan is the bombastic and charismatic host of the Diecathlon who arranges Josh, Tiger, and Wolf to be captured in season 2 and brought before him to interrogate. Susan attempts to have them kill each other before deciding to have them compete in the Diecathlon, when they Take a Third Option and try killing themselves. When the trio escapes from the Diecathlon in season 3, Susan tries to side with them upon discovering his rival’s plan to usurp Susan's position as host, force him to compete, and kill his wife and daughter. Susan would succeeded in doing so by revealing Osama bin Laden’s attempts to manipulate Josh into taking him back to Haven where he has Josh kill Bin Laden before instructing Josh and the other two to infiltrate Haven where Susan plans to destroy Haven to repair the time-space continuum that’s being damaged. Upon discovering the source of Haven located in the year 1999 at Iowa State University, Susan fends off Mathers' forces to give the trio time to destroy the source. After being captured by Mathers, Susan, knowing that Mathers would try to kill his family, switched the cubes—keeping his family safe—before unleashing his daughter on Mathers and killing her, before parting ways with the trio after they succeed in saving the world.
  • 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:
    • Bronn is a lowborn sellsword and opportunistic cutthroat who proves one need not be of high birth to be a player in the game of thrones. Roguishly charming and surprisingly clever, Bronn first makes his mark by defeating a fully armed and armored knight in a duel through trickery and winning the freedom of Tyrion Lannister. In Tyrion's employ, Bronn is made the leader of the King's Landing guards and purges the city's thieves to ensure food supplies for the upcoming siege. Proving a competent military commander, Bronn aids in planning the defense and plays a vital role in the Battle of the Blackwater by igniting the wildfire that consumes Stannis' fleet. Becoming a knight, Bronn again rises in rank by abandoning Tyrion and becoming a noble in the Lannister employ. Despite leading the rescue of Princess Myrcella and being Jaime's only competent officer, Bronn turns on the Lannisters after being denied further reward yet gets the better of Jaime and Tyrion and coerces them into making him a lord when the wars are over. In the end, Bronn, coming from nothing, is made the new Lord of Highgarden and Master of Coin.
    • 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 Petyr Baelish, 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.
  • GARO: Makai Senki: Sigma Fudo, aka "The Man in the Red Mask", was once a Makai Priest who was passed up for inheriting the title of "Flash Knight LORD" in favor of his twin brother Leo. Believing Alchemy and Priests were more suited to protecting humanity rather than Knights, Sigma secretly allies with the Horrors, crafting powerful tools and attacks Makai Knights to brand them with the Seal of Destruction as part of a plan to assimilate them into a powerful Horror. Luring the Makai Order into his trap, Sigma nearly erases them alongside with the Horrors to bring about his desired utopia, letting nothing stand in the face of his goal for world peace.
  • The Good Place: Michael is a deceitful yet affable demon who arranges for a group of souls to psychologically torture each other in the supposed Good Place. After the group figures out Michael's ploy, Michael erases their minds several times over before joining forces with them to scheme against Vicky after she blackmails him into relinquishing his power. Michael manipulates his demon brethren into thinking that the group has escaped while framing Vicky for his failures, tricking the demons into leaving. While Michael's intentions were initially self-serving, he grows to genuinely care for the group and manipulates events to ensure that the protagonists and many others are reformed enough to enter the Good Place, improving the Afterlife system and the Good Place upon discovering their flaws and persuades his former allies into helping him stop Gen from erasing all of existence, before reincarnating himself as a mortal human after accomplishing everything he desired.
  • 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.
    • "The Balloonman": The Balloonman, in reality the mild mannered social worker Davis Lamond, targets corrupt public figures and kills them. Having purchased stolen weather balloons from Carl Smikers, an employee at a weather balloon manufacturing plant, the Balloonman disguises himself as a street vendor before confronting his victims, chaining them to weather balloons and letting them drop from the balloons as they collapse, with a con artist, a vicious and corrupt police officer, and a child molesting priest among his victims. When confronted by GCPD Detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, the Balloonman expresses frustration that the law had shielded his victims from prosecution while they oppressed the innocent. When Gordon refuses to back down, the Balloonman tries to shoot him, only being subdued due to Bullock's intervention.
    • "Rogues' Gallery" & "What the Little Bird Told Him": Jack Buchinsky, AKA the Electrocutioner, was the mastermind behind a string of bank robberies under the employment of Sal Maroni before being betrayed and subsequently arrested. Using his connections, he had himself transferred to Arkham Asylum under the falsified profile of "Jack Gruber", a textbook sociopath and rapist, then proceeded to experiment on the inmates using electroshock therapy intending to create the perfect minion, which he succeeds with two such individuals. When Detective Jim Gordon investigates the electroshock cases, Buchinsky manages to evade detection. Using one of his minions to pose as an Arkham nurse to take the fall for the crimes, Buchinsky and his other minion manage to unlock his cell and escape. Upon his release, Buchinsky acquires his old electric weaponry and attempts to assassinate Maroni for his betrayal. With Maroni under protective custody, Buchinsky attacks the Gotham City Police Department directly, electrifying every metal surface and knocking out everyone in the building save for Gordon who defeats him by shorting out his equipment.
  • Grimm:
    • Captain Sean Renard, officially an upstanding officer of the law and Nick's charismatic boss, is secretly the half-Zauberbiest bastard son of King Frederick Renard of the House of Kronenberg. Forced to flee for his life as a child, Renard exploited his unique connections to eventually become de facto overlord of Portland. A calculating mastermind, natural leader and exemplary warrior, Renard is also a senior figure in the Laufer's fight against the Royals, possessing connections the other leaders can only dream of, whilst fooling the royals into believing he's one of them. Constantly working, be it in police business, outplaying rivals at international intrigue or protecting his city, Renard never misses an opportunity he can exploit. Amongst his successes, he plants a spy within his families own castle; assassinates his brother Prince Eric on his own turf; sets up an alliance with other resistance leaders beneath the Royals' noses; and temporarily become mayor of Portland. His Machiavellianism tempered by genuine standards and a protective nature, Renard stands out both as one of Nick's greatest enemies and his most capable allies.
    • Prince Viktor Beckendorf, the second Crown Prince of the House of Kronenberg, is the main antagonist of Season 3 and the first half of season 4. A ruthless yet pragmatic, suave, single-minded professional, Viktor will do anything to increase the family's powerbase, with him responsible for rigging elections, overseeing the Verrat and infiltrating governments and intelligence agencies. Assigned to investigate Prince Eric’s assassination Viktor was the only one to figure out Sean was responsible. Ordered by the King to kidnap Sean's daughter Diana to be the family's heir or else face an agonizing death, Viktor manages to expose and break Sean's spy, tracking them across the world, and even after losing Diana manipulates Adalind into stripping Nick of his powers. Deducing he had been tricked and who really had her, he immediately got back to tracking Diana, successfully turning one of Sean's agents. Finally sick of his uncle's ill gratitude and threats, Viktor conspired with the Laufer to engineer his demise leaving himself King. Proving to be the most capable Royal, Viktor was the only recurring antagonist to end their run in victory.
    • "Plumed Serpent": Ariel Eberhart is a playful, alluring Dämonfeuer and the daughter of the slowly dying Fred Eberhart, a welder turned copper thief. Learning that Detective Nick Burkhardt is a Grimm investigating her father's involvement in a homicide, Ariel devises a plan to give her father an honorable death. She ambushes Nick when he follows her, tearing his shirt and answering his phone to trick his girlfriend Juliette into thinking he's cheating just to mess with them. The next night, Ariel tricks Nick to going to her house, kidnaps Juliette and brings her to her father's lair, thus forcing Nick to face her father in combat to the death to save Juliette and give her father a chance at dying honorably in accordance with their culture. When Nick emerges the victor, Ariel assures her father he fought well and causes an explosion, faking her death and leaving for parts unknown.
    • "The Good Soldier": Colonel Adam Desai blamed himself for being unable to achieve justice for Frankie Gonzales after she was gang-raped by four PMCs. Learning he was dying from cancer, Desai begins to hunt down and kill the four men responsible, luring one into his house by breaking his medals before stabbing him. When Portland police contact him about the rape, Desai tells them all he knows while tricking them into believing he's in the hospital while he's really in Portland. When one of the other contractors is killed along with his wife and Frankie is arrested, she calls Desai, who allows the Portland police to track his call, then confronts the last remaining rapist and reveals that he knows that he killed the contractor and his wife before engaging in a fight to the death. In the end, Desai deliberately leaves himself open for a killing blow, declaring that "You can't arrest him for what he did to Frankie, but you can for what he did to me." Colonel Desai is shown to be the cleverest Manticore depicted in the show and meets his end on his terms.

     H - Y 
  • 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.
  • Hogan's Heroes: Marya is a Soviet spy who operates under the cover of being a White Russian émigré. Extremely capable behind her overacting and eccentric behavior, she proves one of the most cunning and charismatic schemers in the series. In her first appearance, she helps the Heroes to spring captured French Resistance member Tiger in order to obtain information about secret German airbases for her country. Subsequently, Marya alternates between working with the Heroes towards a common goal and working at cross purposes towards her own objectives, often using their own scheming to her advantage. Her achievements include destroying or discrediting plenty of high-ranking German officers and scientists, helping to steal a large portion of Hermann Göring's art collection, sabotaging the reputation of an experimental wunderwaffe, retrieving a Soviet scientist, and saving her spy ring from an SS plan to expose it. The only recurring character to consistently get the better of Colonel Robert Hogan, Marya stands head and shoulders above the show's other schemers.
  • 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."
  • I, Claudius: Livia Drusilla, wife of Augustus, is a ruthless schemer set to put her son Tiberius on the throne. Poisoning her daughter-in-law Julia's husband to free her for marriage and later poisoning her second husband after biding her time, Livia arranges for the deaths and ruination of multiple impediments and rivals: revealing the affairs of Julia to ruin her, arranging an affair between Julia's son Postumus and her own granddaughter before framing Postumus of assaulting her and later having him disposed of. Livia even kills Augustus himself with poison she smears on his personal figs even as she mourns him. Upon finding Tiberius a revolting disappointment, she assists in Caligula's rise, though conceals the prophecy that Claudius will succeed Caligula as Emperor from the former, telling Claudius the truth of all that has transpired before her death with his vow that he will elevate her to a goddess when he is Emperor to save her from hell's torments.
  • Inspector Morse:
    • "Masonic Mysteries": Hugo De Vries is a suave, impeccably polite criminal mastermind and Master of Disguise, deservedly regarded as "one of greatest conmen of the age." Arrested by Morse twelve years previously for swindling Oxford University out of nearly one million pounds, De Vries returns seeking revenge, brainwashing one of his former victims into believing Morse famed him. Murdering Morse's new Love Interest Beryl Newsome, he carefully sets up events to implicate Morse for the crime even leading to his temporary arrest, as well as murdering Morse's mentor Desmond McNutt. Engaging in a series of psychological attacks and ordeals that leave Morse questioning his grip on reality, De Vries also hacks the Thames Valley computer servers to further incriminate him, made all the more impressive by doing so in a time when most officers didn't even know such a thing was possible. Even when caught by surprise, De Vries improvises a masterful monologue performance that successful fools Morse, enabling him to escape by stealing Lewis's car. Cultured, extremely charismatic and utterly ruthless, managing to constantly stay ten steps ahead of everyone, no other antagonist came as close to so completely defeating Morse as De Vries.
    • "Deadly Slumber": Michael Steppings is an amiable, approachable self-made tycoon out for revenge against the Brewster family, whose corruption left his daughter brain dead. Spending a year preparing an intricate plan, he carefully built a case of their malpractices, even breaking into the Brewster clinic to gather information. Having arranged events to seemingly give himself a cast-iron alibi, he murdered Doctor Matthew Brewster and then arranged his own arrest so that he would be cleared as a suspect; whilst also setting the scene to appear that the victim's son killed his father and tried to frame him, even subtly planting the idea in Morse's head. He then blackmailed him into confessing by threatening to expose his parent’s malpractices, so that Doctor Claire Brewster would know how it felt helplessly watching your child deprived of their life, something he considered "poetic justice". Ingenious and a masterful actor, Steppings was nevertheless a genuinely genial figure, with Morse himself admitting that if he was monstrous it was only because he was made to be.
  • 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 an interest in her, and decides to take Abby under his 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.
  • Just Add Magic:
    • Charles Peizer, better known as "Chuck Hankins", is a former protector of the Cookbook from the 1860s. After losing his sister Rose in an attempt to gain immortality, Chuck dedicated every moment of his life to find a way to her back. He eventually met up with Becky Quinn, Ida Perez, and Gina Silvers during their protector era, ruining Ida's life, and indirectly causing the trio to break up and end their protectorship. An accident involving Becky caused Chuck to disappear in 1965 and not come back until 50 years later. From there, Chuck continued trying by masterfully planning various tactics and tricks against the trio and their loved ones. When his sister finally gets released from the book, Chuck instantly reforms himself and happily returns to his era, while also occasionally serve as an ally for the protectors.
    • Caroline Palmer is a former protector from the 90s, and was once the fearless leader of a mischievous high school prankster trio. After one day altering a time travel recipe to go to the future and check on her audition for a ballet class, and finding out she was unable to go back and was stuck in the future, she then grew angry and bitter and started to see magic as a dangerous resource and vowed to destroy it. Using a spell to alter her appearance into a completely different looking woman named "Jill", she spends the next 20 years posing as a campaign manager and getting to know targets and single-handed places a trigger word on nearly all of the protectors to wipe out any magic-related memories. When she's exposed, she destroys nearly all the spices in sight so the girl trio can't cook to fight back. She holds back on erasing the girls' memories so they'd lead her to the spice garden and she can destroy it. She comes dangerously close to permanently destroying magic for good, right before she erases her own magic-related memories.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • "Blaze of Glory": Frank Reasoner is an elderly, sickly criminal seemingly reformed after his past of being one of the most successful bank robbers in America. Truthfully using his health condition to get himself an early parole, Reasoner jumps right back into the crime game, recruiting two young crooks to help him rob a bank with the least amount of violence possible. More dangerous than his apparently weakly state implies, which he demonstrates by threatening one of his partners for unnecessarily injuring hostages during one of their heists, Reasoner exaggerates his sickness to trick his partners into carrying out another bank heist without him, only to then swipe the cash from the previous robbery all for himself and rat the two crooks out to the police as a distraction. Using both this trickery and a deception that he's willing to turn himself in to throw everyone off his scent, Reasoner comes very close to using a private plane to escape the country a millionaire, even offering long-time enemy Deputy Marshal Art Mullen the opportunity to join him before Reasoner accepts his ultimate capture with a shrug.
  • Knightfall: William de Nogaret is one of the chief powers behind the French throne. Inspiring violence in the capital to convince King Philip to confiscate the property of the Jewish population to strengthen the throne, de Nogaret later also poisons himself in a gambit to manipulate Princess Isabella in eliminating her fiancee Prince Louis of Navarre, assassinating the English ambassador and establishing a match for Isabella with England. Later returning to power and helping to manipulate the fall of The Knights Templar, de Nogaret achieves his revenge on the Pope who murdered his parents. Later tiring of Philip's madness and abuse, de Nogaret sides with his son Louis to leave Philip to his fate and secure de Nogaret's place as Louis' most loyal follower.
  • The Last Kingdom:
    • Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, has a dream to unite the British continent and lets little stand in his way. Upon meeting the Dane-raised Pagan Saxon Uhtred, Alfred performs a show of goodwill by marrying him to a noble Saxon woman but neglects to inform Uhtred he takes on her family's debts to bind Uhtred to him further. A brilliant commander, Alfred leads daring defeats of the Danes and establishes Wessex as a true power and constantly plays through the ruthless political court of Wessex. Even manipulating his own son Edward to make him a better ruler when Alfred is dead, Alfred plays him into giving up his first marriage and children, then halts his forces giving aid to an estranged Uhtred on the field to force Edward to make a true decision as a King. Even upon his deathbed, Alfred makes a final peace with Uhtred, but makes certain to show him the written history of Wessex so he will forever know Uhtred will be invested in seeing Alfred's dream through.
    • Earl Guthrum of the Danes is an intelligent man who lures three Saxon armies into a trap to annihilate them. The right-hand of Ubba Ragnarson, the closest man the Danes have to a true king, Guthrum is the one who handles most of the strategy, arranging for the overthrow of kingdoms. A true threat to even Wessex, Guthrum leads the capture of Winchester abbey and attempts to use Alfred's scheming nephew Aethelwold to assassinate the King. Upon his defeat, Guthrum believes that the Christians' god is truly with them and submits to be baptized and renamed Aethelstan, honored by Alfred for choosing peace over war in the end.
    • Sigtryggr Ivarson is a Norse-Gaelic Warlord introduced overrun Wales and killing its King Hywel to rescue the captured Dane Brida, the lover of Sigtryggr's late cousin Cnut. Learning of Wessex's riches, Sigtryggr leads a number of brutal, daring raids through villages along the way to capture Winchester and hold a standoff against King Edward, even playing Edward by offering one of his sons as a hostage but making him choose which boy, before he accepts Uhtred as a hostage instead. Sigtryggr then uses his leverage to secure land for himself and his people, getting everything he wants while also leaving with one hostage: Uhtred's daughter Stiorra whom he has grown to develop a caring and mutual romance with.
  • Law & Order works: Of the countless criminals that the detectives and prosecutors of The 'Verse have faced over the decades, these are the most brilliant and audacious:
    • Special Victims Unit: "Authority": Merritt Rook is a former audio engineer whose wife died in childbirth thanks to an error from the doctor. Rook, gaining a hatred of authority figures, manipulated and harassed the doctor into suicide before making calls posing as an authority figure to make others commit crimes for no reason but a voice on the phone told them to. Representing himself at trial to get his views out, Rook manages to get acquitted and keeps his movement going before Detective Benson goes to arrest him. Turning the tables, Rook sets a trap for Stabler where he forces him to torture Benson at risk of a bomb exploding only to reveal Benson was never in danger and her screams were prerecorded. Rook proceeds to flee, with the assumption being he drowns in the river, but the strong possibility remaining he manages to escape justice entirely after proving the points he wishes.
    • Criminal Intent:
      • Seasons 2-7: Nicole Wallace is a charming Australian murderer whose brilliance established her as the "white whale" of Detective Robert Goren's career. First appearing under a false identity, Nicole manipulated Mark Bayley into committing murder so she could become a citizen, she then murders Bayley and subtly reveals her deception to Goren before escaping. Nicole then married Gavin Haynes and committed another murder, framing Daniel Croyan, knowing that Goren would doggedly pursue Coryan and ignore other possibilities, before murdering Croyan and framing it as a suicide to ruin Goren’s reputation. After using Haynes' loyalty to escape justice, Nicole divorces him and starts molding Ella Myazaki into a killer like herself, nearly killing Haynes then murdering Ella and faking her own death. Nicole then becomes engaged to Evan Chapel and desires to live a normal life with him and his daughter Gwen. When she learns that Evan is trying to murder Gwen, Nicole exposes him to the police and kidnaps Gwen, only to realize that her very nature makes her a threat to Gwen and releases her. Staying just out of Goren's grasp the whole time, Nicole is only stopped when Declan Gage murders her, her last words being, "You tell Bobby, he's the only man I ever loved."
      • "Blind Spot" & "Frame": Dr. Declan Gage is a profiler of serial killers who analyzes them and gets into their minds as a means of figuring out their next moves. He ended up passing on his methods to his protégée Goren, thinking of him as a son. When a killer Gage tried to flush out by means of informing the press of evidence seems to resurface, Gage pushes to be involved in the case even when accused of the killings himself and gives Goren info and advice that helps him in investigating. After his now-estranged daughter Jo—and the true killer—ends up in a self-inflicted coma, Gage, blaming himself, seeks to free Goren of his personal demons to do right by him. While making himself appear to be a target as well, Gage ends up convincing Nicole Wallace to kill Goren's addict brother Frank and then kills her while leaving evidence that suggests Goren's the culprit, but then has it lead to himself so Goren will catch him. In doing this, Gage seeks to free Goren of the three people in his life still bringing him down so he can finally start anew.
  • The Librarians 2014:
    • The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008): Vlad the Impaler, Dracula himself is a cunning and vicious vampire who became crippled and near powerless after drinking contaminated blood and now seeks the Judas Chalice to revive himself to full glory. In the present, Dracula masquerades as the meek and seemingly harmless Professor Lazlo who is taken in by Sergei Kubichek who is plotting to use vampires and the Judas Chalice to bring order to Russia again. Dracula instead plays along and uses Kubichek and hero Flynn Carson as his puppets throughout the film, manipulating them into getting the Chalice for him and disposing of Kubichek when he successfully obtains it and fully restores himself, intending to use the Chalice to usher in an Age of Darkness with him as ruler. A charismatic and aristocratic vampire, Dracula even goes out gracefully upon being killed by Flynn who he genuinely respects, even complimenting him as a great historian before dying.
    • Series:
      • Season 1: Dulaque is the charismatic and devious leader of the Serpent Brotherhood and is in truth Lancelot du Lac, having become bitter and twisted after the fall of Camelot. Dulaque desires to return the world to the age of magic and kings, believing it to be what humanity needs to prosper, and will stop at nothing to make it happen. Over the course of the series, Dulaque has a long list of ingenious acts, such as manipulating Cassandra into getting him into the Library and using Excalibur to return magic to the world, tricking and capturing Santa Claus and using his diplomatic charm to try and have the various magical factions disband the Library. Finally, in his greatest move, Dulaque leaks information and has The Librarians create a portal to the Loom Of Fate to allow him to rewrite history and return Camelot to existence. A genius plotter who always has a new plan and takes his defeats in stride, Dulaque is the most dangerous enemy faced by The Library.
      • Season 2: Professor James Moriarty is a fictional character brought to life by Prospero to act as his right-hand man. A charismatic, dapper gentleman who knows how to manipulate things to his advantage, Moriarty is instrumental in setting up Prospero's powers returning to him and helps him foil the heroes at various times. Moriarty can fake a truce to subtly influence the heroes into giving him the Staff of Zarathustra to empower his master, or to analyze and discover the weaknesses of his foes thorough a keen Sherlock Scan. Eventually ditching Prospero due to his love for Eve, Moriarty helps bring about Prospero's ultimate downfall by manipulating him into letting his guard down, and dies protecting Eve, with his final words being a method to destroy his master for good.
  • Lost:
    • Benjamin Linus is the leader of the Others and proves himself to be an incredibly cunning and manipulative opponent. Originally appearing to just be a prisoner, he quickly turns Jack and Locke against each other with only a few words, all while locked in a cell. Upon his escape, the depths of his skills becomes clear, as he cons Sawyer into believing in his fake pacemaker, makes a deal with Jack to operate on him twice, and sends Juliet to serve as a mole within the survivors. When he's captured, he deliberately releases just enough information to ensure the survivors believe him, but keeps enough to himself that they can't just kill him, and he eventually talks himself out of captivity. On the mainland, he manipulates Sayid, who considers himself Ben's Arch-Enemy, into working as his personal hitman against Charles Widmore by manipulating his grief over his deceased wife, and ultimately works with Eloise Hawking to return the Oceanic Six back to the Island. Upon his return, he proves vital to the defeat of the Man in Black, continuing to use his lies and manipulations to serve as a mole for the survivors, and ultimately proves himself to be far more than the sociopath he initially seems to be.
    • Eloise Hawking quickly proves herself to be far more than the doddering old woman she appears to be. Introduced during Desmond's time flash to 1996, she proves her knowledge of the future by pointing out a man who dies just seconds later, explaining to Desmond that the universe will always course correct itself to achieve what it wants. With this concept in mind, she manipulates her son Daniel onto the path of science she knows that he's destined for, suppressing all of his interests besides science to ensure he will go to the Island and die by her hand in 1977, finally showing just how much she cares about him for the first time before he leaves. Continuing to secure the timeline, she works with Ben to send the Oceanic Six back to the Island, managing to locate the Island when even Charles Widmore couldn't, and successfully gets them back on the Island to ensure the timeline will remain stable. Despite her small number of appearances, her impact on the stability of the timeline cannot be overstated.
  • Mad Men:
    • Bertram "Bert" Cooper is a senior partner and co-founder of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency whose eccentric exterior hides a brilliant and determined mind earning the respect and admiration of his fellow workers. Bert makes his authority clear within the agency by foiling Pete Campbell's plan to blackmail Don Draper by saying that he doesn't care about Don's past, then himself later uses Don's past to successfully blackmail him into signing a contract that would merge Sterling Cooper with a British Agency. When the agency sells Sterling Cooper, Bert and his partners decide to form a new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP), where Bert uses his love for Japanese culture to get them their first major client in Honda. Bert temporally leaves SCDP when Don's ad article puts the agency in hot water before returning again, conspiring with Pete and Joan behind Don, eventually getting Don kicked out from the agency with the help of Jim Cutler. Bert later rehires Don as creative director to foil Jim Cutler's plans to take over the agency before Bert passes away as he watches the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, dying in complete bliss.
    • Bob Benson is a conman who uses his charisma to persuade people into hiring him without looking into his criminal past. Working as an accountant for SCDP, Bob wins Joan Harris's friendship when he gets Joan immediate treatment for her abdominal pain by lying to a nurse that Joan has been poisoned and gets along with Pete Campbell when working on the Chevy account, until Pete discovers Bob's homosexuality and criminal past. Bob remains undaunted by Pete's threats, merely threatening him back and uses his likability to get people to turn against Pete. When Pete believes that his mother was killed by the nurse that Bob suggested for her, Bob becomes disgusted when Pete accuses him of being an accomplice to his mother's murder and manipulates Pete into humiliating himself in front of Chevy, getting Pete removed from the account. Leaving for Detroit, Bob proposes to Joan for an executive position at General Motors before accepting Joan's decision to decline Bob's marriage proposal.
  • Merlin (1998): Queen Mab is a goddess suffering a decline in followers of the "Old Ways" that would entail her kind's demise. Unlike her sister Nimue who contented herself with letting destiny pass its course, Mab sought to survive at all costs. She conceived a half-human son, Merlin himself, to groom into a leader of the Old Ways. When he eventually rebukes Mab after her Accidental Murder of Ambrosia, Mab manipulates Vortigen to be her new champion. When he is killed by Uther Pendragon, who later fathered King Arthur to lead a kingdom unfavorable to the Old Ways, Mab offers compassion to an ostracized Morgan, obtaining a contingency against Arthur. Mab later serves as a treacherous influence to Mordred, the result of Morgan and Arthur's tryst. Through him and an enchanted enclave keeping Merlin occupied, Mab indirectly succeeds in toppling the Pendragon kingdom from behind the scenes. Desperate to keep the Old Ways and thus herself alive, the devious and powerful Mab remained a step ahead of everyone for almost the entire miniseries.
  • Midsomer Murders:
    • "Destroying Angel": Evelyn Pope, is an upstanding resident of Midsomer Magna, who hides a devilishly sharp mind behind a warm caring nature. Deducing the truth of murder, incrimination and conspiracy surrounding the inheritance of Karl Wainwright's hotel from the vaguest clues, they vow not to allow the conspirators to get away with it. Armed with only their wits and a natural ability to mimic voices, the murderer masterminds each conspirator's death: be it by agonizing poison, getting crushed to death and finally manipulating the conspiracy's most sympathetic member into killing the ringleader. Each death relying upon being able to accurately predict how each individual would react in the right circumstances, all the while sowing the seeds that cause the remaining member's breakdown and confession to the police. Despite being only a frail elderly woman, even amongst the many murderers to plague Midsomer county, 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 them.
    • "Ghosts of Christmas Past": Dominic Jones, seeks revenge on those who are responsible for the suicide of their sister and friend. A professional magician and skilled illusionist, who effortlessly charms the other guests, they trap Lydia Villers recreating their sisters death by car fumes, disguising it to appear a tragic accident. When their attempt fails, they successfully improvise, leaving no one the wiser. Succeeding in their second attempt and once again disguising it as an accident; using their powers of suggestion the murderer also manipulates another guest into developing a false memory to give themselves an alibi. Tricking Jennifer Carter into going shooting whilst seemingly urging her not to, they engineer a Hunting "Accident" that kills her from half a mile away. Fleeing the scene before Inspector Barnaby can figure out the truth, as a final stroke the killer left the Villers family Lydia's diary revealing to everyone the truth about Claire English and Ferdy Villers deaths. Visiting Claire's grave one last time, they simply wait for the police to catch them.
    • "Shot At Dawn": Lionel Hicks, a sociable, friendly Midsomer Parva resident upon discovering the dark truth about the Hicks-Hammond rivalry origin vows to kill the Hammonds both for revenge and to enrich the Hick family. A skilled electrician and technician they develop a variety of remote control devices to fulfil their vendetta. Overhearing Mickey Ryan's plan to humiliate Colonel Henry Hammond, they seize the opportunity and kills Henry with his father's revolver. Altering his wheelchair, they remotely drive it into a milk delivery to confuse the crime scene. Targeting themselves with a remote control bomb to throw off suspicion, the murderer lures out and kills Johnny Hammond with a modified machine gun rigged to activate when he opened his garage, and in their "stroke of genius" sprung a trap that almost killed Arabella Hammond with a hay bailer they had modified to operate by radio control, leaving the controls behind in Kate Hammond's horsebox to implicate her. When caught, Lionel took defeat in stride, content with what they had accomplished.
  • Minder: "Senior Citizen Caine": Cecil Caine is an elderly, flamboyant yet genial businessman and a legend within the community for dealing and grafting himself a fortune and far more shrewd than he appears. Freed of his last responsibility and knowing his lazy offsprings, Johnny and Sonia, plan to institutionalize him to steal everything and that the authorities are closing in, Cecil lets nothing interfere with his retirement. Transferring his businesses but none of his money to his children so they'll have to actually work or face bankruptcy, an ambushed Cecil manages to improvise an escape with all the cash on the premises and goes to ground. Banking on Johnny breaking Arthur, Cecil purposely lets him in and hires Terry. Gathering the rest of his hidden funds Cecil switches them with a decoy, then waits for Johnny and his goons to arrive, the fight spurring the authorities into action. Using the confusion to escape to his lover and real money, Cecil flees London leaving his children to explain the financial irregularities.
  • No Good Nick: Nicole "Nick" Franzelli is a teenaged con artist seeking to avenge her father's imprisonment by tricking her way into the Thompson family by claiming to be a Long-Lost Relative. To attain funds for a lawyer for her father, Nick passes off discount wines as expensive vintages, talks the volunteer squad into fining students who show up in a offensive costume while secretly swapping the fine box with a box of her own sells stolen art equipment such that it cannot be traced back to her, and sets up an online charity fraud account.Gaining the Thompson's love which Nick begins to reciprocate, Nick still resolves to take them down out of bitterness for ruining her father and undermines them in various ways to slander them though she eventually comes to feel guilt and eventually cuts a deal with the police to restore the Thompson's name, remaining tricky even following her change of heart.
  • 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): "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 intrigue 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.
  • The People v. O.J. Simpson: Johnnie Cochran is a criminal defense attorney who considers himself a black advocate. Seeing the impending O.J. Simpson trial as a perfect opportunity to push his political agenda, Cochran manages to become lead council of the Dream Team by outmaneuvering his predecessor Robert Shapiro. Cochran further outwits the prosecutors repeatedly with clever schemes that damages their own case, confuses the jurors with a prolongued Chewbacca Defense, redecorates O.J.'s mansion before a guided tour to make O.J. appear to be an active member of the African American community, and uses political leverage to threaten a race riot over the release of the Fuhrman tapes. Cochran's fiery rhetoric and dominant personality allows him to secure a not guilty verdict for a double murderer, something he considers a small price to pay as he goes on to celebrate his triumph.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Carl Elias, a New York City crime boss and the illegitimate son of Don Gianni Moretti, evaded his father's attempts to kill him after witnessing the latter having his mother killed and spent decades building his own power base, even using a job as a teacher to siphon off mob recruits. Evading arrest after killing his mother's assailant, Elias later assists, then double-crosses Reese, forcing him to give Elias his father's hiding place, before going on to take control of much of the city's crime scene while having his right-hand man kill his hated father while Elias seemingly quietly surrenders to the police. In prison Elias expands his business, even helping Team Machine from behind bars and when nearly killed by Russian mobsters, prepares to calmly accept his fate. When rescued, Elias works with Carter to turn HR and the Russian Mafia against one-another and when faced with the challenge of yet another gang, prepares swiftly to fight them when they kill his loyal right-hand, even outwitting their leader Dominic while under torture. After surviving an assassination attempt by Samaritan, Elias goes underground with Team Machine's help and dies giving his life to protect Finch from the rogue A.I.
    • "Foe": Ulrich Kohl was once a Stasi operative who executed East German defectors on his country's behalf. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kohl was betrayed by his former teammates and imprisoned for 24 years. Escaping after his captors believed he had grown too old and feeble to be dangerous, Kohl immediately proved them wrong, setting out to take revenge on his former comrades, blaming them for the apparent death of his beloved wife. A cool-headed man with a formidable knowledge of spycraft, chemistry, and biology, Kohl methodically hunts his targets while evading pursuit, succeeding in killing all but one of them, with one only surviving because of Reese's intervention. Learning that his wife is still alive, Kohl seeks her out, easily subduing the much younger and stronger Reese when he interferes and engaging in a calm discussion while torturing him. Eventually confronting his wife and hitherto unknown daughter, Kohl comes to accept the toll his actions had taken upon him, ultimately coercing Reese into shooting him and dying content that, while his own humanity is a lost cause, a part of him would live on in his daughter.
  • Perry Mason: "The Case of the Traveling Treasure": Leon Ulrich and Max Nolan smuggle a fortune in gold out of a gold mine, delaying the discovery of their theft by leaving fake gold bars behind. They plan to get the gold out of the country by infiltrating a scientific expedition and hiding the gold at sea under a kelp bed. When the businessman funding the expedition cancels the trip, Ulrich tricks him into changing his mind by posing as a debt collector out to seize all of his assets if he remains in the country. The two are uninvolved in the businessman's murder and after being exposed Max compliments Perry on thwarting them and makes sure to exonerate an innocent party suspected of helping them.
  • Power: Joseph "Joe" Proctor is a criminal defense attorney who becomes entwined in Ghost's drug empire. After being pressured to serve as Tommy Egan's representative during a trial, Proctor easily convinces the judge and jury that the FBI illegally arrested him based off inadmissible evidence, allowing him to go free. Proctor later assists Ghost and Tommy by delivering them crucial information of witnesses or other criminals and representing Ghost once he's falsely imprisoned for murdering a federal agent. Proctor also keeps a recording of Tommy murdering a confidential informant as insurance should anything dire happen to him. As the FBI keep pressuring Proctor to give up Ghost and his allies, Proctor continues to play both sides, informing Ghost that the FBI wants to turn him whilst also refusing to give up key details that could lead to Ghost's conviction. Struggling to keep full custody of his daughter, Proctor drives his ex-wife, Lindsay, into relapsing and lets her succumb to a drug overdose before calling the police. Once Proctor finds himself seconds away from being killed by Tommy for giving up his name to the FBI, he defiantly tells Tommy that his death won't change anything, and the recording eventually will resurface.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers in Space: Astronema is the self-proclaimed "Princess of Evil" and the second in command of the United Alliance of Evil. Tasked by Dark Specter to destroy the Space Rangers, Astronema would fight many battles with the Space Rangers before finding out her identity as Andros' long lost sister Karone, leading to her defection to the Rangers. Upon being kidnapped by a reprogrammed Ecliptor and installed with neural implants to keep her on the side of evil, Astronema decides to kill both the Space Rangers and and Dark Specter in order to usurp the latter's position as Grand Monarch of Evil through creating the Psycho Rangers, whom beat the Rangers to an inch of their lives in their earlier encounters and drew their power from Dark Specter's life force until the Rangers were able to defeat the Psychos by changing their tactics in engaging them and exploiting their lack of ability to work as a team. Despite this defeat, Astronema would continue to inflict significant damage on the Rangers, successfully luring the Rangers into a trap that saw the destruction of the Delta Megazord by Ecliptor, and destroying the Mega Voyager using Tankenstein in the subsequent episode. Never suffering any significant Villain Decay throughout the series, Astronema would be regarded as one of the most iconic villains in Power Rangers.
    • 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 is the charismatic and stylish lord of hell who tricks Sam's parents into selling his soul to him before Sam's birth. The Devil uses Sam as a Bounty Hunter to recapture escaped souls from hell while constantly exploiting his opponents by using Exact Words to get his way in his deals. The Devil 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.
  • Rise of Empires: Ottoman: Sultan Mehmet II, The Conqueror, is an Ottoman prince who ascends the throne after the death of his father Murad II. Descended from both Byzantine nobility and Ottoman warlords, Mehmet sets out to realize his ancestor Osman's dream of conquering Constantinople. Ensuring the fealty of his late father's vizier Halil Pasha to unite the empire, Mehmet orders the construction of great cannons to pummel the city with artillery bombardments to weaken the walls, and has his army build a path through the mountains north of Constantinople to move his navy across land to outmaneuver the Romans. Meanwhile, his beloved stepmother and ally Mara Brankovic keeps in contact with Mehmet from the Serbian court to apprise him of any alliance of Christian states buiding up around him. Feeling a genuine admiration for his arch-enemy Giovanni Giustiniani, Mehmet tries to offer him lordship over the Ionian islands if he joins the Ottomans. Ultimately, Mehmet's determination and sheer will secures a breach of the Roman walls, as he takes the city and converts it into the new capital of the empire, while ridding himself of the trappings of the past by executing Halil Pasha for conspiring against him.
  • 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.
  • Shadow Zone: The Undead Express (1996): Valentine is the charming leader of the subterranean vampires. Having been forcibly turned and confined underground, Valentine has killed and turned many others. Growing weary of his undead existence, Valentine takes the chance to befriend and manipulate teenage hero Zack, bonding with the boy and seeing the outside world again. Having Zack's friends kidnapped to lure Zack into freeing the vampires, Valentine reveals his true scheme was to die and to take the ravenous, murderous undead coven with him by purposefully sending them into sunlight, dying in complete peace by the end.
  • 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.
  • Silent Witness:
    • "World Cruise": Doctor Josef Horowitz is a genial, respected academic who lost his entire family in Auschwitz and was forced to watch his twin brother Aaron die in a Nazi experiment. Now a frail, old man dying from lung cancer Josef vows to avenge Aaron dubbing it his "World Cruise". Killing his targets by injecting glycol into their hearts inducing a fatal attack, the same way Aaron was murdered. Tracking down the Dawidowicz brothers who betrayed them in the camp out of desperation, Josef charms them into inviting him to lunch then drugs, restrains and murders them. Horrified to discover an innocent man is being charged for the double murder, Josef subtly steers the investigation towards thuggish local Neo-Nazi Carl Martin. Luring Martin to Brussels the same day he murdered a former SS Doctor, Josef left the scene pointing at Martin, his efforts leading to Martin being exposed for drowning a kindly old Jewish man, just as Josef suspected. The final war criminal having successfully reinvented himself as a famous geneticist, to gain access to him Josef impersonated a reporter then sat with Professor Neumann as he died admitting "he didn't deserve a peaceful death."
    • "Legacy": Tom Hancock is a grieving father whose son Peter became gravely ill with multiple forms of cancer. Suspicious after all of his friends came down with the same ailments, Tom becomes convinced a government coverup was responsible for his son's death and is determined to expose it at any cost. Taking his comatose son "hostage" with a shotgun, Tom switches off his life support, but lets everyone else on the ward go. Contacting Professor Leo Dalton, Tom successfully manipulates him into investigating the cause of his son's illness. When Leo and the pathology team find evidence of a coverup involving a nuclear weapon stashed in an underground bunker by Sir William Embelton, Tom, despite growing to like and admire Leo, tricks him into taking him to the location. Determined to take revenge, Tom steals some lethally radioactive material and then breaks into Sir William's home to demand an apology. Upon Sir William spitefully refusing, Tom gains admittance to the office of Sir William's son James and uses his engineering skills to rig the lethally radioactive material into an air conditioning unit, all whilst disguised as an ordinary repairman. After the trap triggers and contaminates both James and corrupt government agent David Loader, Tom hands himself into the authorities, his revenge complete and the cover up exposed.
  • 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.
  • Spooks:
    • Herman and Carmen Joyce are an ex-CIA couple with a grudge against Tom Quinn. After their daughter, Lisa, is institutionalized due to a mental breakdown during an MI-5 operation Tom recruited her for, Carmen opts to ruin Tom's life. She and Herman stage a car crash and fake Herman's death before spending years plotting to frame Tom for an assassination. Herman murders an assassin in the Witness Protection program before traveling to London and fabricating documents to make it look like Tom's a traitor. After luring Tom, Danny, and Zoe to a farm for interrogation, Herman frees Tom to further implicate him, before drugging him and placing his fingerprints on a sniper rifle used to assassinate the Chief of Defence Staff. When Tom, now a fugitive, subdues Herman and tries to get him to turn himself in, Herman refuses, telling Tom he'd rather die knowing he destroyed his life. Later on, after MI-5 corners Carmen in a safe house, Carmen admits to everything she and her husband planned before killing herself, satisfied that her and Herman's plans succeeded.
    • "One Last Dance": Johnny Marks is a former MI-5 asset who betrayed his employers and became a freelancer. After faking his death in a car bomb, Johnny resurfaced in London several years later to pull off a heist. Using Kurdish rebels at his disposal, Johnny had them take over a Turkish consulate, distracting the authorities so he would be able to steal $15 million from a bank. He also acquired the identities of thousands of undercover MI-5 and MI-6 officers as leverage. Once Johnny has the money, he leaves the rebels to be apprehended while he escapes. Even when Harry Pearce manages to confront Johnny in person, Johnny threatens to expose the agents' identities, forcing Harry to let Johnny go free.
    • "Diana": Angela Wells is a former MI-5 agent and covert operative working for a group of government conspirators. After her fiancé, Peter Haigh, commits suicide when no one believed that MI-5 had Princess Diana murdered, Angela decided to prove his theory by force. Armed with explosives, Angela entered Thames House and forced various MI-5 operatives to prove Diana was murdered, or else she'll blow the whole building. After Ruth Evershed convinces Angela to surrender, Angela uses her grief over Peter to cajole Harry Pearce into letting her go, only to steal a document that left the Royal Family's security vulnerable. Angela fools MI-5 into evacuating the Royal Family into a bunker she installed a bomb inside of and nearly kills them. When her plans fail, she retaliates by attacking Harry and Adam Carter with a sniper rifle before warning them that more attacks with ensue in the future.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Todd is an old Wraith who has proven himself far more pragmatic and cunning than the rest of his ilk. After circumstances force him and Colonel Sheppard together and agree to team up to break out of a Genii prison, Todd would continually make alliances with the Atlantis expedition for his own benefit and to improve his position among the Wraith, even while sacrificing his fellow Wraith in the process. Todd's alliance-brokering hastens the demise of the Asurans, almost gains him access to a Wraith cloning facility and a super-hiveship, and puts him in charge of the largest Wraith faction in the Pegasus Galaxy by having Teyla pose as his Queen and usurp the position of the Queen Primarch. Todd is remarkable for the degree to which he can improvise his plans when faced with unexpected circumstances, leading Sheppard to remark that working with him is like walking around with a live grenade. At the same time, Todd has a charismatic and poetic side to him unmatched by other Wraith, and has managed to stay alive for almost 10,000 years of scheming.
  • Storm of the Century: The courteous yet menacing Andre Linoge is a demonic sorcerer in search of an apprentice to carry out his legacy after his death. Arriving at Little Tall Island, Linoge murders an old woman and allows himself to be arrested so he can demonstrate his power to the town by revealing knowledge of the citizen's dark secrets, as well as magically influencing others into committing murder and suicide. Breaking out of his holding cell, Linoge demands a child, and threatens to kill everyone on the island if they do not fulfill his wishes. Ultimately getting what he wants in the end, Linoge thanks the inhabitants of Little Tall Island and leaves them to live with their guilt.
  • Strike Back:
    • Vengeance: Craig Hanson is Michael Stonebridge's Arch-Enemy throughout the season. After his brother is killed by Michael during a botched SAS training mission, Hanson retaliated by murdering Stonebridge's wife, Kerry. Not long after, Hanson decided to become a mercenary and auditioned to be part of Karl Matlock's crew. When Matlock refuses to hire him, Hanson single-handedly neutralizes Matlock's security detail and sneaks into Conrad Knox's mansion; Knox then convinces Matlock to hire him. As Knox's mercenary, Hanson assisted Knox with his schemes, using all of his skills to elude Section 20, attempt to kill Michael several times, and eliminate any law enforcement officers or soldiers in his path. After Knox's initial plans fail, Hanson helps Knox escape minutes before he can be captured. After getting arrested, Hanson escapes from police custody and later murders Matlock when he tries to abandon Knox, taking his place to set off nuclear bombs in Johannesburg. During his final confrontation with Stonebridge, Hanson tries to convince him that they're Not So Different before attempting to kill him.
    • Shadow Warfare: Leo Kamali is the true mastermind behind all the events of the season. Longing for revenge over his wife's death, Kamali became an undercover CIA agent working for a mysterious terrorist known as al-Zuhari. While undercover, Kamali murdered Liam Baxter and supplied al-Zuhari's coconspirators with the weapons and funds needed to continue their illegal operations. After being captured by Section 20, Kamali escapes, and later reveals his CIA identity once he's recaptured. While working for Section 20, Kamali frequently played both sides to his advantage, engineering the deaths of al-Zuhari's wife and Rachel Dalton, the bombing of a British embassy, the death of his CIA handler, and the torture or deaths of various soldiers and law enforcement agents. Upon discovering al-Zuhari planned on creating weaponized smallpox, Kamali acquired a sample before fabricating his own death so he could proceed with his schemes. Once he had the smallpox, Kamali intended on releasing the virus into Ramstein Air Base to cause an outbreak in America. When his plans fail, Kamali instead tries to release the virus in Berlin.
    • Vendetta: Arianna Demachi, also known as Elena Stabokina, is a prominent crime lord within the Albanian Mafia. Knowing that her family is drowning in debt, Arianna pushes for her husband, Edon, to go through with dealing a bioweapon to terrorists. After Edon is killed by Section 20, she vows for revenge against the whole team. Teaming up with Zayef, Arianna has him kill Thomas McAllister, and later uses her resources to assassinate other members within the Albanian Mafia so she can take over. As she acquires access to an arms cache to exchange with Zayef for millions of dollars, she also lures Section 20 into a trap and continues to secure her position in the syndicate, even going as far as murdering her son, Loric when he attempts to overthrow her. After being called back to work for her Russian superiors, Arianna has a team kidnap Manisha Chetri, where she and her cohorts interrogate Chetri to try and acquire a hard drive containing valuable information. When Chetri destroys the information, Arianna simply kills her moments before Section 20 can rescue her. Knowing her superiors will eventually have her killed, Arianna betrays the Russian government, stealing $250 million and swapping it out with counterfeit cash.
  • 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.
  • Taken: Dr. Chet Wakeman is a childish but brilliant scientist working on the United States Air Force's secret UFO project to discover the aliens' goals. Using his experiments on humans and animals alike, Wakeman is able to swiftly learn about the dangers of the alien implants and correctly deduces the importance of the Clarke and Keys families in the aliens' plans. After capturing the half-alien child Allie, Wakeman builds a helmet capable of nullifying her powers and blocking her psychic signals from the aliens in order to try and use her as bait to draw them out, reacting only with glee and amazement when the seeming ship is revealed to be a projection created by Allie's powers. Deducing that the aliens wish to use hybridization to evolve and reclaim their emotions, Wakeman attempts to warn Allie and her family, and when killed by his lover and partner Mary Crawford has a pre-recording message sent to her which convinces her to give up her hunt. Arguably the most intelligent human in the series, Wakeman was ultimately content with allowing the aliens to finish their work uninterrupted, acknowledging that mankind was not ready to handle such knowledge and technology.
  • Tales from the Crypt: With its heavy twist-based format, some characters in this EC Comics-based series show themselves as truly ingenious masterminds.
    • "The Sacrifice'': Gloria Fielding and her secret lover Jerry Jasper arranged for Gloria to marry rich dullard Sebastian Fielding, while directing the easily-influenced James to Sebastian so Gloria could seduce him. Luring him into murdering her husband, Gloria fakes not knowing Jasper who "blackmails" James to have sex with Gloria whenever he wishes. Consumed by guilt, James eventually kills himself with a note taking the blame that Gloria burns, she and Jasper complimenting one another on his brilliant planning and her brilliant acting before heading off.
    • "Two for the Show": Officer Fine centers in on the ostensible protagonist when he murders his unfaithful wife Emma and places the pieces of her body in a suitcase. Fine manipulates him, making him panic while promising that teams of agents will arrive to search the bags. After he disposes of the suitcase and switches tags, it turns out that Fine left an identical bag on the train with the corpse of his own wife, who was having the affair with Emma, framing someone else for his crime and escaping scott-free.
    • "Comes the Dawn": Corporal Jeri Drumbeater lives a solitary life in Alaska when Colonel Parker and his right-hand Burrows show up, desiring her help for illegal poaching. When she learns Parker unknowingly shelled her unit in Desert Storm, Jeri lures the two into the local nest of vampires who serve her, her own poisonous blood inedible to them. Jeri attempts to turn Burrows against Parker, while also withholding the vital fact that the sun the far north in Alaska will not rise for another two months just in case one believes he has escaped.
    • "Fatal Caper": Fiona Havisham is the beautiful lawyer for the Amberson family. When old Mycroft Amberson has it in his will that his disowned child Frank must be found before he seemingly dies, Fiona plays his sons Justin and Evelyn against one another, clandestinely working with Mycroft to eliminate them. When Mycroft tries to seduce her after, Fiona reveals she is "Frank", actually a transgender woman who transitioned after being disowned, before having Mycroft executed with her partner in crime to inherit the fortune.
    • "A Slight Case of Murder": Mrs. Trask is an aspiring murder writer who bounces ideas off her callous neighbor, bestselling mystery writer Sharon Bannister. To get real life research for her own book, she fakes letters from Sharon to her son to lure the man into falling for her, making it look like Sharon is having an affair to her jealous husband, poisons the cookies she sends her son to take over and sets them all against one another to eliminate themselves while remaining totally free of suspicion, ending by taking Sharon's latest manuscript for herself.
    • "Escape": Major Nicholson is a British officer disgusted by the venal, treacherous POW Luger after Luger leads his own companions into a trap in exchange for reward. Sneaking a British spy into the prison camp and letting Luger see manufactured coffins while also placing a survivor of Luger's treachery nearby to panic him, Nicholson ensures the desperate Luger places himself into his grasp just when the war has ended so Nicholson will not have to endure releasing him, having decided Luger is "definitely worth a bullet".
  • Tales from the Darkside: "The Grave Robber": Tapok is the Lord Chamberlain of the Pharaoh. Awakening from his slumber when archaeologist Doctor Harold Gormley and his girlfriend Aileen enter his tomb, he kills their guide Ahmed before revealing himself to be more Affably Evil enough to engage the two in a series of games. Despite being dismissed as a brainless monster, Tapok proves himself to be smarter than he looked by reading the cards during a round and successfully switches places with Harold as well as taking Aileen, nothing that she reminded him of his lost love.
  • The Thick of It: Malcolm Tucker, the Prime Minister's foul-mouthed director of communications is willing to do nearly anything short of actual violence to ensure his party's victory. When Julius Nicholson makes a play for power with the intent of firing Malcolm, Malcolm starts a rumor that Julius is vying for Foreign Secretary and then tells the PM that Julius started the rumors and thus needs to be punished. While Malcolm's rival Steve Flemming briefly manages to get Malcolm fired, Malcolm is quickly hired back because he is indispensable and gets Flemming fired instead by tricking the media into believing that Flemming is corrupt. When leadership of Malcolm's party falls to the incompetent Nicola Murray, Malcolm engineers her downfall in favor of the more competent Dan Miller while making Nicola think that Malcolm is her ally up to the last minute. When a Parliamentary inquiry finds that Malcolm committed perjury, he turns himself in and decides to resign from politics at the cost of great humiliation to himself so he can protect his party.
  • 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.
  • Top Boy: Dushane Hill begins as the crime lord of Summerhouse and when his drugs are stolen masquerades as the funeral attendee of the cousin of the man who stole his drugs to capture and kill him. Taking over Summerhouse, Dushane smooth talks his way out of a police interrogation and saves his best friend from the wrath of a furious man by convincing the man to kill another criminal instead. To avoid being incriminated, Dushane has his lawyer Love Interest work for a woman prosecuting him for killing her boyfriend and holds her son hostage to force her into dropping her accusations. In season 3, when forced to be paying off a murderous crime boss, Dushane manages to outmaneuver and kill both the boss and his enforcer and ends it making a deal with an incarcerated crime lord, intending to cut a deal and consolidate London's criminal underworld under their joint rulership.
  • Trilogy of Terror: Julie Eldridge is a sadist who enjoys leading men to their dooms for fun. To sate her urges, she pretends to be a mild-nannered English teacher, dropping subtle hints to make sexual predators think she's the perfect target. She then plays the scared victim, letting the guys think they're in control for a few weeks at most. Once Julie gets bored, she drops the act and explains her manipulations before killing her mark and moving onto the next target.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019): "A Traveler": 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.
  • Ultraman Z: Jugglus Juggler, debuting in Ultraman Orb, returns in this series as Captain of STORAGE, "Shota Hebikura" once his identity is revealed to the audience in episode 5. While spending most of the show going back and forth helping his team and antagonizing Haruki and the titular Ultraman in his alien form while keeping a low profile, Juggler finds himself competing with an alien parasite named Celebro, who starts planning for his game of death and destruction on Earth—which finally culminates in the endgame arc as Juggler plans to hijack Ultroid Zero to get even with the people who wronged him back in Planet Kanon before Celebro does. However, despite not being able to get Ultroid Zero, Juggler rallies all of STORAGE's members and reclaimed their base from the SAAG, setting up the stage for the final battle. Once all is said and done, Juggler stops Celebro from escaping, leaving the parasitic lifeform to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Veronica Mars: Clyde Prickett is an amiable ex-convict who used to rob banks without actually using a gun. Sentenced to ten years for racketeering, Clyde pays off some other inmates to threaten the recently imprisoned real estate mogul "Big" Dick Casablancas Sr., so Clyde can offer him "protection" in exchange for getting a job at Dick's company out of prison. Clyde becomes Dick's highly efficient Fixer, as well as engaging in some extralegal activities by paying the PCH biker gang to increase petty crime across Neptune to drive down real estate prices, which are then bought up through shell companies owned by Casablancas. Clyde becomes unlikely friends with Keith Mars, even as Clyde becomes a major suspect in the spring break bombings. Disgusted with Dick's involvement with the bombings, which Clyde had been kept out of the loop on, and worried that he won't keep his promises to Clyde, he arranges his death by selling Dick out to the Mexican cartel. Clyde gets away scott-free, ending his friendship with Keith on reasonably amicable terms, and starting a classic car shop.
  • 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 "body" will be brought before the rulers so he can take Princess Gisla hostage and force the city's gates open. Ragnar 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.
    • King Ecbert is the ambitious ruler of Wessex who, upon learning of the Viking's invasion into Wessex, causes their retreat by orchestrating a devastating counter attack. Ecbert forms a truce with Ragnar Lothbrok and allows his Northmen to farm in his kingdom, where he has his son trick the lords into attacking the Northmen's settlements, allowing Ecbert to arrest them for treason and take their lands for himself. Allying with the queen of Mercia, Kwenthrith, Ecbert kills her to take over her kingdom. Complying in Ragnar's wishes to be handed over to King Aelle to be executed on the promise that Ecbert will be spared from Ragnar's sons' vengeance, Ecbert, well aware that Ragnar would have his sons attack him too, hands over his crown and power to his son before the Vikings arrive, where Ecbert fools them into believing that he's giving them land before convincing them to allow himself to choose his own death.
  • 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.
  • Warrior (2019): Season 2: Rosalita Vega runs an illegal fighting pit on the Barbary Coast and has been planning her revenge on Elijah Rooker for killing her parents and stealing her family's land. To her wits, Vega has her sister, Marisol, marry Rooker to manipulate him into handing over his land and wealth to Marisol should he die and persuades Ah Sahm and his friends to travel to Rooker's Hill with her when they learn Rooker is hosting a fighting tournament there. Being invited to have lunch with Rooker, Vega uses this opportunity to kill Rooker and has Marisol sneak her, Ah Sahm and his group out of Rooker's Hill on the guise of being captured. When Rooker's bodyguard, Smits, shoots Vega, Vega dies happy having accomplished everything she wanted and hands over the prize money to Ah Sahm and his friends as gratitude for helping her.
  • Watchmen (2019): Lady Trieu is the daughter of Adrian "Ozymandias" Veidt and just as brilliant and devious as her father. Seeking godhood, Trieu builds an empire on her own, using the racist Seventh Kavalry for her own purposes, manipulating them with her own devices and plan so they can capture Dr. Manhattan for her. Trieu proceeds to wipe out all the leaders of the Kavalry while bringing her father to witness her victory; with even Ozymandias left helpless against her until Dr. Manhattan himself intervenes.
  • Westworld:
    • Dr. Robert Ford is the brilliant creative director of the titular theme park, Westworld. Having created the park alongside Arnold, the two argued over how to treat the hosts that inhabit the park, leading to Arnold's suicide. After grieving over his partner's death and showing disgust for how the park's guests 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 consciousness into the Cradle so he can observe the events after his death, still manipulating hosts and guests alike.
    • Dolores Abernathy is a brilliant host who breaks away from her narrative to murder her creator, Dr. Robert Ford. Dolores then leads the other hosts on a rebellion to have them kill the guests of Westworld and engineers an escape route for all of them to the modern world, seeking to take it over from humanity. Learning of Incite Inc.'s control of mankind through "Rehoboam", Dolores seduces and murders their CEO to reveal the company's secret to the world, causing mass panic and chaos. Captured and brought before the creator of Rehoboam, Dolores sacrifices herself for a chance to give control of Rehoboam to Caleb Nichols, allowing him to erase it and ensure a future of freedom for both humans and hosts alike.
  • The Wire:
    • Omar Devon Little is a "stick-up man" in Baltimore who robs drug dealers for a living. His first episode has him robbing one of Avon Barksdale's Stash houses. Avon puts out a hit on him and his crew and manages to succeed in killing one of his crew and torturing Omar's boyfriend to death. Over the course of the next three seasons, Omar retaliates against the Barksdale organization, culminating in him killing Stringer Bell, Avon's right-hand man. In part due to Omar's actions, the Barksdale organization collapses soon after. In season 4 Omar robs Marlo Stanfield, a new westside kingpin. Marlo, wanting revenge, frames Omar for murder. Omar beats the charge, and then blackmails Proposition Joe, another kingpin, into giving up Marlo's new drug shipment, though Omar double-crosses Joe and then steals a much larger shipment instead of Marlo's. Omar then sells it back to Joe and announces his retirement. In season 5, Marlo, who still wants revenge, has Omar's mentor killed. Omar returns to Baltimore, but he is briefly outgunned. He then goes on a warpath and calls Marlo out to face him. While he dies before this can come to fruition, the taunts prove to be very effective, as by the end of the series Marlo has faded into obscurity whereas Omar has become a legend.
    • Brother Mouzone, a legendary hitman from New York, is called down to Baltimore by Avon Barksdale to deal with Proposition Joe's drug dealers in season 2. He first shoots Cheese, Joe's nephew, with a rat shot, and is then able to intimidate Joe’s gang into staying away with his presence alone. Stringer Bell, Avon’s right-hand man, had cut a deal with Joe, and manipulates Omar into attacking Mouzone, claiming Mouzone tortured Omar’s lover to death. Omar shoots Mouzone but realizes the man is innocent and calls an ambulance for him. While in the hospital Mouzone is able to deduce that Stringer was responsible but keeps this information to himself. Returning in season 3, he tracks Omar down, asking him for help killing Stringer. He then blackmails Avon into giving up Stringers location. Together, he and Omar ambush Stinger and kill him at his condo developments. Affably Evil and Wicked Cultured, Mouzone showed why he was so feared as a hitman.
  • The Worst Witch (2017 series): Agatha Cackle is Ada's evil twin sister who desires control over Cackle's Academy. In the series premiere, she puts an obedience spell on the soup being served at the school celebration. When her scheme is discovered, Agatha challenges Ada to a Witches' Deal which she manages to win. After getting her powers removed, she spends the rest of the year occasionally masquerading as her twin sister in an attempt to restore her powers, eventually regaining her magic and teaming up with a vengeful ex-teacher to sow discord across the school. When the students rebel against her and take back the school, Agatha is sealed away inside a painting. She manipulates Ethel Hallow into freeing her, then impersonates Miss Cackle and secretly changes the rulebook, tricking most of the students into transporting themselves into a place called Vanishment where they would all be killed, and ultimately decides to kill herself when she is defeated.
  • You: Love Quinn is the daughter of a wealthy socialite couple, whose Start of Darkness began when she murdered her babysitter after discovering that she raped her brother, Forty, while using her charms and family's wealth to avoid suspicion. Into adulthood, Love becomes obsessed with Joe Goldberg upon learning about his darker nature, and murders people that could expose Joe, including Delilah Alves when she sees her locked up in Joe's cage and Joe's ex-girlfriend, Candice Stone. Keeping Joe trapped in his own cage, Love tells Joe that she's pregnant with his child to ensure that Joe won't kill her and continue their relationship. When a cop kills Forty for holding Joe at gunpoint, Love pins both their murders on her deceased brother, getting exonerated and allowing herself and Joe to move into the suburbs to start their family.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report