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It is odd how ideas pop into your head. I was reminiscing about the Whedonverse and how some of my favorite characters weren’t really the good, good guys. Angel, Spike, and Faith had all done horrible things in their lives but in the end became that universe’s best heroes (IMO).

I then started my 24: GIF Party recap for hour 7 of Live Another Day and realized that the guy I consider the best Anti-Hero in the history of television is back in the mix!

I then realized anti-heroes are born two ways:

A-H#1: You do heroic things, but not in a way that is not generally acceptable by most

A-H#2: You were once a villain that began to discover a need to do the right thing.
Think of this person as the atonement hero.

The three I mentioned were most certainly in the second category and I can think of many others. In Farscape, Crais and even Scorpius after the 3rd season went from the Big Bad to allies that generally seemed to want to help the main heroes. The genre shows on The CW seems to take soulless creatures from an evil past and tries to fashion them into good guys from time to time. Nothing sexier than a redemption story.

It is easier to think of characters that you would attribute to my first example. The heroic character that does some pretty despicable things in the name of the greater good. That greater good could be as big as the whole world or as small as the person’s family or one true love. But in the end, #1 Anti-Hero does some of the worst things for the right reasons.

The choices from TV’s past will be universally agreed on, I am quite sure. I am going to ask you to give me your Top 5/Hall of Anti-Hero Fame in the comments. Most of us will have a different top 5, but I am sure we will all agree on the validity of all the choices.

But the heart of this discussion is deciding who your favorite newcomers are.

Anti-Heroes in general have become a popular character in television, most recently by the introduction of guys like Vic Mackey from The Shield and Walter White in Breaking Bad. But we have a new batch to consider.

So here is what I ask of you, oh wise and compelling TV.com Community… Who are your top Anti-Heroes on current television? And then, who are your top 5 Hall of Famers? You may have a different idea of what constitutes an Anti-Hero and that is very cool. If you want to add or take away how I defined it – please do! But maybe throw in your reason in the Comments as well. We can not only create a very cool “Best Of” list but maybe evolve the definition for the Anti-Hero.

So! Let me begin with my absolute favorite newcomers:

Raymond “Red” Reddington (The Blacklist):

We have only had one season of Red so far, but suffice it to say he has accomplished a whole lot of good doing some very bad things. Season 1 didn’t really make up my mind on whether he is just an outright villain who is allowing some good things to happen for the F.B.I. as a side effect of completely selfish goals or he is genuinely interested in doing some good. At times he genuinely seems interested in making sure bad people lose the ability to do bad things. Other times I think he finds helping others save the day just amusing. For now – he has done enough good despite his methods to be a top new Anti-Hero in either one of my categories. (A-H#s1&2)

The Jennings (The Americans):

Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings should simply be the villains in our minds. They are Communist spies planted in the American suburbs, betraying the country they are living quite comfortably in. Yet, despite their political ideology, we root for them. They are committing treason professionally, yet every day they have a battle for a greater good we all understand: protecting friends, family, and each other. You may not like their cause politically, but you have to love their dedication to one another.

Not to mention they are just downright sexy. (A-H#1)

Alison Hendrix (Orphan Black):

Sarah was my original choice here, but honestly she has gone from a total punky little thug con artist to a real hero. But Alison is another matter. She is a self-centered, rude, erratic, spaz. And a full blown addict and alcoholic (in recovery, thank you!). She makes terrible decision after terrible decision but does it all in the name of her kids and her sisters in clone. I have a feeling she could fit into both of my categories as she was probably a whole lot worse than she is now before she found out she was a part of the clone club and grew to feel a sense of responsibility to the others. And I think that responsibility is now going to stretch to her husband (finally) as well. She does some pretty obnoxious things, but she has the best of intentions. I doubt Ainsley would agree with that assessment, however. (A-H#s1&2)

Lucas Hood (Banshee):

I have to be honest, I just began watching this show so I am light on specific examples. But take a complete ass-kicker, release him from prison, and put him in the role of impersonating a dead Sheriff and you have the makings of a guy who is going to deal with bad guys but use techniques that look nothing like standard Law Enforcement. (A-H#1)

Will Graham (Hannibal):

I know this sounds a bit out of the box, but let me explain. Season 1 Will – definitely not. He was simply a reluctant hero. But in Season 2, Will has done some very awful things for the right reason… as long as we agree the right reason is stopping Hannibal any way possible. First, he goaded a psychopathic orderly into making attempt on Hannibal’s life. Not exactly a part of F.B.I. protocol for justice. When that failed, his goal was to win Hannibal’s complete trust by acting as much like his mentor as possible. That included the mutilation of a man that was initially a righteous kill. Will was trying to do the heroic thing but he was certainly doing it, in what most would find, a disturbing way. (A-H#1)

Kate Morgan (24):

Since Jack is, indeed, back – that would be a slam dunk. But I am going to shift my attention to who (depending on fan reaction this season) may be the character meant to replace Jack in a spinoff. She is still a bit more innocent than Jack as seen by her reaction as Jack “encouraged” some helpful feedback from the villain.

But notice she did not stop him. Anyway, as we see, she is just fine with the Bauer approach to procuring assistance from criminals...

...and suggesting different courses of action to her superiors.

I think it is safe to say Kate wants to save the day but is willing to achieve her goals in unconventional ways! (A-H#1)

And now, my Anti-Hero Hall of Fame. Please now - this is a personal list. It is not a rating of who is the objective “best”. For the love of Dog, please do not explode at me because a guy with the initials WW is not in my list. Or a certain dirty cop or two. I would rather leave that to you folks who were fans of those shows to express your love for the characters.


#5. Angel/Spike/Faith Combo Meal (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel)

#4. Sawyer (L O S T)

#3. Captain Tightpants (Firefly)

#2. Dexter (Dexter)

#1. Jack Bauer (24)

Lists are fun and I love doing them. But the real fun for me is reading the Comments and seeing what you all come up with.

So...whatcha got?

- Edshrinker


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