Fatally flawed. Morally ambiguous. Possibly corrupt. TV viewers can’t help but be drawn to the anti-hero, those good guys who do bad things and the wrong things for the right reasons.
The anti-hero is usually the most compelling character on the show, one that’s often found riding the line between naughty and noble. A protagonist that viewers end up empathizing with despite their questionable behavior, he’s the one you find yourself rooting for.
Look to the more liberal landscape of cable and you’ll find some of the greatest anti-heroes on TV — and right now, during XFINITY Watchathon Week, you can watch the lot of them for free on VOD and online from March 25-31.
There are plenty of memorable TV anti-heroes to love to watch, from “The Shield’s” Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) to “Breaking” Baddie Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to the entire cast of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” but we rounded up some of our favorites that you can check out Watchathon-style by binge-viewing the best of the bunch.
Here Are 15 of Our Favorite TV Anti-Heroes, Past and Present:
15. Hank Moody (David Duchovny), “Californication” — The raunchy misadventures of a writer/father/sex addict … eh, what else do you need to know?
14. Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), “The Newsroom” — An unlikable, gruff cable news anchor who has the annoying habit of always being the smartest guy in the room.
13. Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), “Nurse Jackie” — This pill-popping NYC nurse gives new meaning to the phrase trauma case.
12. Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), “Boardwalk Empire” — Take a gamble on the politician/gangster who ruled Atlantic City during the Prohibition Era.
11. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), “The Walking Dead” — A former lawman-turned-leader of a group of survivors fighting to stay alive after a plague, who must battle inner demons and zombies while co-existing in a new lawless society.
10. Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), “Weeds” — A pot mama whose moral compass went up in smoke after the mother of two took up dealing marijuana in suburbia to take care of her family after the unexpected death of her husband.
9. Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), “True Blood” — The tall, blonde and handsome vampire sheriff is arguably the sexiest supernatural sight out of Bon Temps, La. (and in that neck of the woods, that’s saying a lot), who also gets the lions share of the best lines with his pitch-perfect deadpan delivery.
8. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), “Game of Thrones” — The youngest son of the House of Lannister uses his wit and wisdom to overcome the hurdles of being a dwarf among a storm of swords — one with a huge thirst for whiskey and women to boot.
7. Al Swearangen (Ian McShane), “Deadwood” — The ruthless, foul-mouthed brothel-boss and dictator of Deadwood borders on that dark (very dark) gray area between anti-hero and villain, but true to his name, Al Swearangen was one bleepin’ bad-to-the-bone baddie who made the wild, wild west even bleepin’ wilder.
6. Atia of the Julii (Polly Walker), “Rome” — Clever, cunning and calculating, this deliciously wicked woman was the mommie dearest and femme fatale of Ancient Rome.
5. Don Draper (Jon Hamm), “Mad Men” — A brooding man of mystery who’s stolen a fallen soldier’s identity and started a new life as a successful ad man who can’t stop cheating on any of his wives. (And we can’t stop watching him.)
4. Omar Little (Michael Kenneth Williams), “The Wire” — A criminally cool force to reckon with on the mean streets of Baltimore.
3. Nick Brody (Damian Lewis), “Homeland” — A married POW turned terrorist turned congressman turned CIA agent’s lover. And that’s only two seasons’ worth of twists!
2. Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), “The Sopranos” — The Godfather of dysfunctional “family” drama.
1. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), “Dexter” — Everybody’s favorite serial killer! A murderer of murderers, Dexter operates by a strict code and only kills bad guys. So that kinda, sorta makes it okay-ish, right?
Check out all of these outstanding, complex characters during XFINITY Watchathon Week, now through Sunday, March 31.