Top 10 Scariest TV Characters from Non-Horror Shows

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Top 10 Scariest TV Characters from Non-Horror Shows

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
The scariest TV characters from non-horror shows prove that you don't need horror to be horrifying.
Transcript
You don’t need horror to be horrifying. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 scariest characters from non-horror shows.

For this list, we’ll be going over the most frightening characters from television series outside of the horror genre. So that means that characters like Hannibal Lecter will not be “joining us for dinner.” Also, there may be some spoilers ahead.

#10: The Client
“The Mandalorian” (2019-)


A former member of the Galactic Empire, this unnamed man, known only as “the client,” hires the series’ titular bounty hunter to retrieve an alien child. Although not particularly threatening on his own, the Client’s command over Stormtroopers, his casual disregard for the child’s life, and actor Werner Herzog’s distinctive voice make every encounter between him and the Mandalorian full of menace. Sure, we can all relate to him when he says he wants to see what the internet has lovingly dubbed “Baby Yoda,” but the way he says it is just so dang creepy! “I want to see the baby.”

#9: Borg
“Star Trek” franchise (1966-)


One of the most terrifying villains in the “Star Trek” universe, the Borg aim to assimilate various species and their technology into their hive mind through their own technology. On both a conceptual and practical level, these cybernetic beings are horrific. The idea that they’ve become consumed by their technology taps into a very real and present fear in the modern world, and the loss of individuality of those converted is painful to contemplate. Within the franchise, the Borg are almost unstoppable. Their general lack of free-will means they can’t really be reasoned with and their adaptive technology and collective memory allows them to recover from damage quickly, Furthermore, they rarely make the same mistake twice.

#8: Homelander
“The Boys” (2019-)


What if Superman was evil? This question has been asked many times over the years, but few answers have been quite as interesting as Homelander. Raised from birth to be the perfect patriotic hero of America, Homelander may come across as wholesome as apple pie, but underneath lies a cold, unfeeling Supe. Homelander is incredibly cavalier with his powers, often causing the deaths of innocents or killing needlessly. Anthony Starr’s intense performance is magnetic, while the fact that no one seems able to stop Homelander makes every second that the character is onscreen a tense one. Homelander might stand for the American Way, but truth and justice aren’t even in his vocabulary!

#7: Gemma Teller Morrow
“Sons of Anarchy” (2008-14)


Men might dominate this list, but the SAMCRO matriarch certainly earns her spot. Gemma Teller Morrow is the mother bear to the chapter of the motorcycle club/gang from which this series takes its name. Sure, the relationship she shares with her son, Jax, the up-and-coming reluctant leader of the gang, is all kinds of creepy and Oedipal, but what makes Gemma truly scary is how manipulative she can be. Much of the show’s conflict is a result of her actions, from conspiring to murder her first husband, to ending the life of her daughter-in-law and blaming a rival gang. Plus, there’s just no telling what she’ll do – who holds a baby at gunpoint?! Honestly!

#6: Kilgrave
“Jessica Jones” (2015-19)


Most of these frightening characters get their hands dirty at some point – but Kilgrave doesn’t have to! A mind-controlling supervillain, Kilgrave can make anyone do whatever he tells them to do, with one exception – those who underwent traumatic events and broke free of his abilities - notably, Jessica Jones. Kilgrave’s commands can range from petty requests for people to injure themselves, to sadistic and cruel instructions for family members to kill one another - or even compelling women to be physical with him. Kilgrave is privilege taken to its most terrifying extreme – he always gets whatever he wants and, in the rare cases where he’s denied, the lengths he goes to are just as appalling.

#5: Arthur Mitchell [aka The Trinity Killer]
“Dexter” (2006-13)


As many people as Dexter Morgan, the serial killer-killer protagonist of the series, has killed, Arthur Mitchell is even more prolific. Despite being an apparently normal family man, Mitchell, who is arguably Morgan’s greatest foe, has killed hundreds of people over the course of 30 years in a ritualistic reenactment of his family’s deaths, which he caused either directly or indirectly. Also, his psychopathic behavior isn’t limited to murder; Mitchell terrorizes and controls his wife and children, veering wildly between cold anger and overt cheeriness at home. Disturbing Dexter Morgan is no small feat, but with his erratic personality and propensity for both physical and emotional cruelty, Arthur Mitchell is a serial killer cut from a different cloth.

#4: Tony Soprano
“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)


Tony Soprano may be the protagonist of the show that bears his family’s name, but that doesn’t make him a hero. While frequently relatable and a loving -if far from perfect- family man, Tony is also a violent mobster, which the show never lets us forget. Although he naturally performs many of the usual hits against threats to his criminal enterprise, or else orders them done by others, Tony has also impulsively ended the lives of several people close to him for slights both large and small. As entertaining and fascinating as his story is, we certainly don’t envy his friends and family.

#3: Vernon Schillinger
“Oz” (1997-2003)


Don’t let the fact that he’s played by J.K. Simmons lull you into a false sense of security – this guy is a monster! The leader of the Aryan Brotherhood inside Oswald State Correctional Facility’s experimental “Emerald City” unit, Schillinger is a serial rapist who often turns his fellow inmates into slaves; frequently taking pleasure in degrading them. A complex character full of contradictions (his ardent homophobia, for instance), Schillinger is also willing to stoop to seemingly any low, including ordering the death of his own son. As such it’s fitting that such a theatrical villain meets his end during a production of Shakespeare.

#2: Ramsay Bolton
“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)


As terrifying as the existential dread that the Night King inspires is, we elected to discuss a far more human evil from “Game of Thrones.” Ramsay Snow/Bolton is a bastard…in every sense of the word. A sadistic sociopath, Ramsay revels in tormenting people in cruel and unusual ways, from hunting and/or feeding them to his dogs, to sexually assaulting them, to just plain torture, Ramsay is an absolute nightmare, both for the people he torments and for the audience. Not even familial bonds mean anything to him, since he kills his own father, step-mother, and baby half-brother! Westeros is home to countless ugly and irredeemable characters, but Ramsay is arguably the one we’d be most scared of meeting, which is really saying something.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Tyrell Wellick

Calvin ‘Cal’ Roberts
“The Path” (2016-18)

Villanelle
“Killing Eve” (2018-)

Serena Joy Waterford
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (2017-)

#1: Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13) & “Better Call Saul” (2015-)


The owner of the chicken restaurant “Los Pollos Hermanos,” Gustavo Fring presents himself in public as a friendly businessman. But in private, he’s the calculating head of a drug empire. Frequently cold and unemotional, Gus is a brilliant, patient, and cautious criminal, who is utterly merciless when it comes to his enemies. Actor Giancarlo Esposito gives such a subtle performance that when Gus does or says something frightening, it becomes that much more terrifying due to the contrast with the character’s usual behavior. Whether he’s exacting his long-awaited revenge on his foes or sending a message by killing someone, Gus is one of the scariest characters on TV – period.
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