Top 10 Iconic Broadway Antiheroes



Top 10 Iconic Broadway Antiheroes

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: William Regot
These characters aren't quite heroes, but not quite villains either, they're the 10 most iconic broadway antiheroes! For this list, we're looking at antiheroes in Broadway musicals whose moral complexity makes them fascinating figures, like The Witch in “Into the Woods”, Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” and Judas Iscariot in “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Broadway Antiheroes!

Top 10 Iconic Broadway Antiheroes

These characters aren’t quite heroes, but not quite villains either. Welcome to MsMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for Top 10 Broadway Antiheroes.

For this list, we’re looking at antiheroes in Broadway musicals whose moral complexity makes them fascinating figures.

#10: Emcee


Whimsical and cavalier, this character is the Master of Ceremonies, or Emcee, of the Kit Kat Klub in 1930s Berlin. Commenting on characters and events within the show, Emcee serves as the narrator of “Cabaret.” Initially, Emcee mocks the Nazi Party that’s taking shape in Germany, but as the show continues, he normalizes the movement, goose stepping in a kickline and mocking Jewish people in a song number with a person in a gorilla suit. Emcee is a poignant example of how casual indifference helped lead to the rise of the Third Reich. Joel Grey, who played Emcee in the original 1966 production of “Cabaret,” won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal in the 1972 film adaptation.

#9: The Witch

“Into the Woods”

Nothing is what it seems in this play, including the narrator. Usually, witches in fairy tale stories are villains who are out to hurt the protagonist in some way. However, this witch is different as her motivations aren’t quite so simple and her backstory is somewhat tragic. Her beauty is taken from her after a man steals from her garden, and she takes the man’s first-born child as payment. Even after she kidnaps a child, the witch raises her with the best of intentions. Though she keeps the child locked in a tower, we find out that she does it to shield the child from the horrors of the world.

#8: Dr. Frank-N-Furter

“The Rocky Horror Show”

This flamboyant mad scientist who describes himself as a “sweet Transvestite from Transexual Transylvania” serves as a strange host to Brad and Janet, a wholesome couple who are stranded during a thunderstorm. At first, he appears gracious to his guests, giving them a tour of his castle and his laboratory, but he eventually seduces them and turns against them. Ruthless when he has to be, Dr. Frank-N-Furter has no problem holding people against their will or killing them. Although he is sinister, he’s also fun, so you can’t help but root for him.

#7: J. Pierrepont Finch

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

A lowly window washer, J. Pierrepont Finch wants to work his way up at the World-Wide Wicket Company. By reading “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” the ambitious Finch learns how to achieve this goal by following the steps laid out in the book. Unfortunately, to get ahead at the company, Finch has to act unethically by deceiving his coworkers and bosses and repeatedly throwing Bud Frump under the bus. Finch’s hard work and savvy serve him well as he makes chairman of the board at World-Wide Wicket in two weeks.

#6: Aaron Burr


In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton are depicted as sharing a close friendship. Despite their mutual admiration, Burr is seen as Hamilton’s foil, with Burr being reserved while Hamilton is more daring. Their friendship suffers when Hamilton becomes successful by taking chances and Aaron Burr is held back by his unwillingness to do the same, and it ends when Hamilton endorses Burr’s opponent in the 1800 presidential election, Thomas Jefferson. After Burr kills Hamilton in their infamous duel, he shows remorse for his action, believing that he will forever be seen as a villain. Like John Wilkes Booth in “Assassins,” the audience is left with a whole new perspective on a historical figure.

#5: Billy Flynn


A superstar defense lawyer in 1920s Chicago, Billy Flynn has a knack for showmanship in how he dazzles juries and spins the press. Highly sought after because of his impressive record, Flynn becomes Roxie Hart’s last hope when she goes on trial for murder. When making legal arguments in court, Flynn often twists the facts to suit his case, or, if that doesn’t work, he cooks up false accounts altogether. Though he pretends to care about Roxie while he defends her, the only things that Flynn cares about are fame and money.

#4: Phantom

“The Phantom of the Opera”

A deformed outcast, the Phantom inhabits the Paris opera house in the late nineteenth century. Hiding behind a mask, the mysterious figure is afraid to show his face, because he knows how hideous it looks. He loves Christine, one of the actresses at the opera house, and is desperate to seek her affection. The Phantom goes as far as to threaten the opera house’s owners to give Christine a lead role in their production, or he would wreak havoc during the show’s premier. Though the Phantom loves Christine, he realizes he must let her go so she can be with Raoul, the man she truly loves.

#3: Judas Iscariot

“Jesus Christ Superstar”

Having been the apostle who betrayed Jesus, Judas is one of the most despised figures in Christianity. Yet, “Jesus Christ Superstar” gives a sympathetic portrayal of the man. The audience comes to see things from Judas’ point of view as he begins to question Jesus, a man that he had spent the last few years of his life following. Judas becomes disillusioned with Jesus and feels the need to set things right, though, he ends up taking actions he regrets. There is pain and conflict that comes with his decisions.

#2: Sweeney Todd

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Motivated by revenge, Sweeney Todd wants to kill a judge who tore apart his family and sent him to prison on a trumped-up charge. When he gets out of prison, he sets up a barber shop where he slits the throats of his customers, as he’s become a misanthrope who believes everyone deserves to die. Though it is understandable why he’s bitter, his resentment sends him down a destructive path. Sweeney Todd is a cautionary tale of the monster we could all become if we get obsessed with revenge and violence.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions.



The Leading Player


Officer Lockstock



“Sunday in the Park with George”


“Dracula: the Musical”

#1: Javert

“Les Misérables”

Throughout “Les Mis,” Inspector Javert tries to track down Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who went to prison for stealing a loaf of bread and violated parole. A stickler for the rules, Javert believes that only good men follow the follow and only bad men break the law. To Javert, it is irrelevant that Jean Valjean only broke the law to help feed his sister’s son. Once a criminal, always a criminal. It is only when Jean Valjean shows Javert mercy that Javert begins to question his own moral code. Though Javert is a cold-hearted character whose moral code leads him to commit horrible acts, he does earnestly believe that he is right.