The Baddest of Them All

Ranking the criminal and morally corrupt faces of television.

By Bryan Berlin

While there aren’t any huge, ‘4th Season Finale of Dexter,’ spoilers in here, there are vague plot spoilers that probably won’t ruin the show for you but do give away some things that have happened.

Recently, I spent a week of my life watching the entire series up to this point of Breaking Bad. It started when I watched the first season in a day. After that, it was spent cramming episodes in between work and writing sessions. The addiction was so great that when I finished I immediately wanted more episodes, but they didn’t exist yet. It was tough to accept that.

I realized that Bryan Cranston is what makes the show so good. His character is absolutely incredible and anytime the story focused on Jesse Pinkman for too long I got irritated and wanted Walter White back. Walt is the man, and I can’t get enough of him.

This is where TV has completely changed in the past few years. Walt is a terrible person, but I want more of him. Don Draper is an asshole, but you still want to see him on top. Cable networks, for the most part, have jumped on this idea. The worse your main character, the better your show. So the obvious question becomes, who is the worst?

The Competitors: Don Draper (Jon Hamm) from Mad Men, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from Breaking Bad, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) from Boardwalk Empire, Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) from Weeds, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) from Dexter

The Criteria: Each competitor will be judged in two categories: morality, how bad they are by the standards we’ve created as people, and delinquency, how bad they are based on the standards created by the law. There will also be a wild card category that will give the character a chance for bonus points.

The Scoring: Each of the two main categories will be given a point value of 10 points. The wild card will be worth up to 5 points, for a grand total of 25 points.

The Winner: The character with the highest point total will win the crown of the worst character on television.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) Mad Men

Delinquency: Don probably wins the award for being the most law-abiding character on this list. His one crime would be considered white collar and it was done during war, which has a whole different set of standards to it. Yes, it still is a pretty big deal in the federal sense, and it almost came back to bite him in the first season, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that terrible. 4

Morality: Don Draper doesn’t have much of conscience. He sleeps with a lot of women, does pretty much whatever he wants at work, and has really only cared about one person in his life (not his wife or kids). The second you think Don may be becoming a real human with real emotions, he does something completely atypical of something any normal person would do. Still, the next time it happens, you still think it will be different, but it never is. 8

Wild Card: As far as morality goes, Don works in a world of people with no morals, so its common to see characters that are as terrible as he is. The difference is, these people have fleeting moments of it. Roger Sterling may be more and more of a douche every time you see him, but he still pulls himself together at the end of the day. With Don, you usually see him making terrible moral decisions most of the time, with the occasional change of heart, instead of the other way around. 3

Total: 15 

 

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) Dexter

Delinquency: Dexter has killed a lot of people. There’s no denying that. It’s possible he’s killed the most people on this list. He has an almost sadistic ritual where he cuts up his victim’s body, dumps it in the ocean, and then keeps a blood sample for his collection. He’s a pretty messed up guy. 9

Morality: What’s amazing about Dexter is that he has killed the most people out of anyone on this list and yet he is no question the most moral. Dexter follows a code where he only kills someone if they have killed someone else. In a world today where superheroes are all the rage, Dexter has become the anti-superhero, but is still a vigilante whose goal is to get the bad guys; he just has more of a Hammurabi approach to it all. 4 

Wild Card: Dexter probably has the biggest internal struggle out of anyone in the group. If it weren’t for his ‘Dark Passenger,’ Dexter would probably be a normal, functioning member of society. The end of season 4 showed us that he has emotional attachment, that attachment just turns into a desire to kill someone.

Total: 14

Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) Boardwalk Empire

Delinquency: Nucky is a mob boss. Not only is he running an illegal alcohol ring, but he’s beat up, and even murdered, a decent amount of people. The one thing that does drop his delinquency a little is that a lot of the time he has someone else commit the crimes for him, but in a law sense they are equally as bad. 8

Morality: When it comes down to it, Nucky really only cares about himself. Over the course of the first season, he threw two girlfriends and his own brother under the bus because it benefitted him. He will stop at nothing to make sure he is on top, and never has any remorse for his terrible actions. 8

Wild Card: Although Nucky is terrible on paper, he is in a show with terrible people all around him. This element waters down his badness because you are watching a show where everyone is terrible. If he were in another setting, Nucky would appear a much worse guy, but that’s not the case. 2

Total: 18

Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) Weeds

Delinquency: Nancy is no stranger to the law. Besides selling pot for seven seasons, Nancy has also on and off grown it, coming off as a female drug lord for certain seasons (mainly 2, 3, and 7). She’s also been an accomplice to weapons and human trafficking, and went to jail for 3 years for murder (even though she didn’t do it). 6

Morality: There was a time in the earlier seasons of Weeds where Nancy had some morals. Yes she dealt drugs, but she was only doing so to provide for her kids after her husband’s death. Slowly but surely, Nancy lost any real feelings for people in her life. Today, she pretends to care about her youngest child, but even then it’s a pretty half-assed attempt. 7

Wild Card: Nancy’s wild card comes from the fact that she’s a bit of a black widow. She’s had three husbands, and all of them have ended up dead. While she’s only been partly responsible for one of those deaths, it adds a little badassery to her. 4

Total: 17

 

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) Breaking Bad

Delinquency: Walter has one-upped Nancy and cooks meth instead of sells pot. He also makes and distributes it at a much larger scale than Nancy ever did because of the dealers he has worked with. Walt has also killed a few people, which only adds to his rap sheet. 8

Morality: One of the coolest aspects of Breaking Bad is that the whole series up to this point has only spanned less than a year. When you think of this, it’s crazy to think of how quickly Walt’s morals have disappeared. Initially wanting to make meth to provide for his family when he was diagnosed with cancer, Walt got a taste of the bad life and then fully committed to it. What makes Walt so morally corrupt is how he will often act as a moral center for other characters on the show, reprimanding them for their morally wrong actions, but then he does something substantially worse with no remorse. 9

Wild Card: Walt’s wild card is a combination of his change with the environment his character is in. Mainly, the fact that his brother-in-law is a DEA agent and the rest of his family are incredibly normal people. Yes his wife is a money launderer (for him) and his sister-in-law is a kleptomaniac, but Walt easily outshines their crimes. For me, the moment you realize how truly terrible he has become is when he took Hank’s suspicion off of Gail as the kingpin when Walt’s ego got the better of him. 3

Total: 20

 

Winner: Walter White Breaking Bad

With 20 points, Walter White has taken the crown as the Worst of the Worst. I mean, look at that face. Total badass.

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One Comment on “The Baddest of Them All”

  1. Caitiff says:

    Are you kidding me? Don Draper is worse than Dexter Morgan? Nevermind your erroneous statement that Don doesn’t care about his kids (he’s WAY better with them than his ice-cold ex-wife). You just cannot convince me that someone who drinks a lot (in an era where it was totally okay to) is worse than someone who has murdered over and over again.


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