Throughout the month of November, we’re soliciting readers’ help to definitively answer an age-old question: Who is the actual worst character on television? We reviewed your submissions, did our own research, and came up with a list of 32 characters across four different categories, who’ve gone head to head over the last three weeks. Only four are left. Which one of them will be crowned as the most despicable, unlikable, flat-out awful (fictional) person on the small screen?
David Sims: First things first: Hannibal Lecter and Fitzgerald Grant couldn’t be more different. One’s a psychiatrist who eats people and the other is the President of the United States. Fitz has his foibles, yes, but could you really definitively say he’s worse than someone who once cooked a man’s leg and then fed it to him? But I appreciate the strange symmetry of acting that comes with these two characters. Hannibal is a man of letters, a patron of the arts, and a brilliant dinner guest, but he has to keep his dark side under wraps. Fitz is a politician, and thus his whole public life is a bizarre performance of good and proper behavior.
Still, I’m here to argue for Hannibal, and my argument begins and ends with him eating people. Weirdly, Dr. Lecter might be a more lovable character than his opponent—he certainly kills quite a few villains over Hannibal’s three seasons, while attacking the innocent only when he needs to defend himself or maintain his secrecy. He’s also a gourmet chef and well-read raconteur who helps the FBI catch numerous other serial killers, both before and after they imprison him. But he just can’t shake that compulsion for eating people. How do you top that?
He’s also a pretty bad psychiatrist—when treating Will Graham, who shows obvious signs of brain inflammation and post-traumatic stress disorder, Hannibal gives him a clean bill of health and practically shoves a gun into his hand, pointing him towards the bad guys. He’s capable of love, but in a rather twisted way, molding a severely damaged trauma survivor in his own image after the death of her serial-killer father, and brainwashing a kidnapped FBI agent so she can serve as an alibi by pinning his crimes on somebody else. Everyone who has a relationship with Hannibal, like his psychiatrist and eventual lover Bedelia (Gillian Anderson), has to be totally in his thrall, or else he abandons them to die.