We all love a bastard. There’s no denying it. Some of the most memorable TV characters have been bastards of the most evil kind. Perhaps we love them because they do the things we’d never dare do ourselves. We certainly enjoy the maelstrom that follows behind them wherever they go.
However, before we slip into a spiral of self-analysis, lets just sit back and enjoy some of the exploits of the infamous Top 5, and find out about the people they’ve trodden over and the possible comeuppance that came their way. If, indeed, the strong arm of the law did ever catch up with them.
5. Pablo Escobar - Narcos
For those of you who haven’t seen the brilliant Netflix series, Narcos, make it your next binge fest. Get in quick, because Season 3 is released on September 1st.
Pablo Escobar is a perfect example of an utter bastard - charismatic, powerful, utterly ruthless but, ultimately, likeable. Even as he declares murder without as much as a flicker of conscience, you’ll still find it hard to strike him off your Christmas card list.
He’ll make you question your own moral compass - you totally admire him even though the body-count of each episode is higher than your average scuffle in Lord of the Rings.
OK, he rarely kills with his own hands. He’s way too cool for that. But he certainly - let’s call it - project manages with aplomb.
But for all of his charm, he’s a complete and utter bastard, profiting from more misery and corruption than the your average narcissistic president. Which makes a convenient segue to -
4. Frank Underwood - House of Cards
If there was ever a president more guilty of underhanded dealings, in-house sabotage, rash firings, purposely confusing contradictory doublespeak, manipulation of the press and questionable ethics, I surely couldn’t think of one. Surely no-one is going to believe all that? But, believe it - it’s Frank Underwood. Who would have thought that an American president could be such a complete and utter bastard?
Frank has all the charisma, Machiavellian intent and manipulative verbosity of your basic Shakespearean baddie and we love him for it. That’s the thing with a bastard - you wouldn’t want them as a friend, but you definitely wouldn’t want them as an enemy.
A bastard is difficult to hate because they’re clever, and we’d hate to be on the wrong side of them. They’re the cool kid in the class who got away with it and have managed to talk their way to the dizzying heights of the White House.
Kevin Spacey plays Underwood with complete mastery - cool and calm on the outside, seething with evil intent on the inside. He’s difficult to hate, but isn’t that the point?
3. George “Pornstache” Mendez - Orange Is The New Black
George “Pornstache” Mendez is a prison guard. If you’re ever unfortunate enough to find yourself incarcerated and surrounded by those charged with your rehabilitation, then hope to the imaginary deities in the sky that your time goes quick, because Mendez will make every second count. And not in a positive, empowering way.
With absolutely no filter, he says it how he sees it with a complete lack of empathy - totally drunk on power and enforcing the law to the letter (and beyond) with every breath. It's amazing that he makes it onto this list, because bastards are usually bad-guys that we admire.
However, George is a total car-crash, but with a blunt razor-edge of humour and a mother who loves him. With a tache that's only ever usually witnessed in the dirtiest porn that the 70s tried to forget, George struts around Litchfield Penitentiary like he totally owns it - and for a little while, he absolutely does.
However, his come-uppance is such that it elicits a degree of sympathy, even if he thoroughly earns his fate.
2. Ramsey Bolton - Game of Thrones
Well, Ramsay Bolton, was quite a character-shift for the previously angelic actor, Iwan Rheon. Imdb him! His previous big roles were for the timid Simon Bellamy in the fabulous UK series, Misfits and as virginal neighbour, Ash Weston in the hilarious UK sitcom, Vicious. So, it came as quite a surprise when he stormed onto the screen as Ramsay Bolton - the total antithesis of innocence, with a bloodlust to rival a family Christmas dinner with Leatherface and his motley clan.
Yes, he’s quite the bastard. After killing his own father, he went on to a string of misadventures that would be rather difficult to convincingly defend in a court of law. He went on to kill poor, innocent Rickon Starke (although, in fairness, Rickon did appear to just run into his sword - should have gone to SpecSavers, Rickon). So, perhaps we could write that off as an unfortunate accident?
But, then, poor old Theon got the wrong end of Ramsay’s stick quite a lot as well. The infamous, seriously sinister sausage snacking scene will go down as one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences you’ll have had in quite a while.
Perhaps Ramsay’s demise was retribution, but one thing is certain - Ramsay Bolton earns his place as Bastard No.2 for his sociopathic, sadistic behaviour with absolutely no retribution. A total and utter bastard if I’ve ever seen one.
1. Negan - The Walking Dead
The top slot has to go to a character so evil, so lacking in the milk of human kindness, that the opening episode of Season 7 had many of us reaching for the remote to watch something less unpleasant, like American Idol. And then we discovered that that was just as much of a bloodbath, so switched back.
Negan’s name was first uttered in the second half of season 6 as the mythical leader of a rather sadistic bunch, known as “The Saviors", who we met on the way to Alexandria, the hilltop retreat that might save Maggie’s baby. It didn’t take long to realise that “The Saviors" was their ironic name.
When Negan finally makes his debut in Season 7, we discover a cold, sadistic psychopath with a thirst for dictatorship and a “prepared” baseball bat. Any prospective bad-guy in training might do well to attend the school of Negan for some Top Tips in psychopathy. He is the leather-clad Fonzarelli of the bastards. Indeed, he certainly put the sexy back in the bastards - part rock star, part moon howler. You’d really struggle to give him a reference for a job.
Yes, without giving too many spoilers, Season 7, Episode 1 goes down in history as the exploit that got the stomachs churning and the wheels turning for a rather unpleasant rollercoaster. It was a grand culling (the likes of which we haven’t seen since that infamous Dynasty wedding scene) and, unfortunately a mere taster of what was to come.
So, Negan wins the dubious crowning glory of the Biggest total and utter TV Bastard. Just hope you don’t run into him and his gang of lackeys come the apocalypse! Definitely duck if you see him swinging his baseball bat!
So, it seems that the badder the being, the more we are drawn to them. We’re bewitched by the baseball bat brandisher, seduced by the sinister sausage snacker, repulsed by the Porn-stachioed prison porter, manipulated by the Machiavellian master and in admiration of the sly and the slippery of the drugs lord that just wouldn’t be seized. Bastards, the lot of them - but all of them difficult to hate.
What is they say? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I’d say that’s pretty good advice - wouldn’t you?