From time to time, at happy hour or by the proverbial water cooler, the thoughts of The Atlantic’s culture team return to one timeless question: Which character in the rich, complex, antiheroic world of modern television is the actual worst character ever?
“Worst,” by its nature as a superlative adjective, should be easy to define, but TV’s Golden Age being what it is, there’s a lot to consider. Should the title of actual worst go to someone like Game of Thrones’s Ramsay Bolton, a psychopath and sadist with an almost unparalleled propensity for cruelty; or to House of Cards’s Claire Underwood, who threatens an employee with what amounts to infanticide? Or should it go to Homeland’s Carrie, for being a terrible spy and sleeping with all her sources, or Scandal’s Fitz, for being the worst president (and married lover) in recent memory? Is the #actualworst character someone viewers love to hate or hate to love? Is it Lucious Lyon or Piper Chapman? Hannah Horvath or Mr. Burns?
Over the new few weeks, we’ll be pitting characters against each other in a battle of wills, guile, and sheer nastiness. But we’re looking for your nominations. The best entries may end up being used in the bracket, and authors will be compensated accordingly.
Some ground rules:
-They have to have appeared in an episode during the last three seasons of TV, so 2012 or later.
-Entire casts cannot be nominated (sorry, Girls).
-Characters should be nominated for the tenor of their nature as opposed to the the bloodiness of their deeds. In many cases, the two accompany each other (Rowan Pope anybody? Gus Fring?). But we’re looking specifically for characters who are awful, cringeworthy, malevolent, scheming, weaselly, cruel, egotistical, sociopathic, and all of the above.
In the form below, we welcome your submissions, and we look forward to reviewing the answers. (The form may be easier to fill out at this link if you’re on a mobile device.)