Pop Culture

Vampires and killers and ghosts, oh my! TV's best bad boys

FX, HBO (2) / Today
Evan Peters on "American Horror Story," Alexander Skarsgard on "True Blood" and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on "Game of Thrones."

Blood. Sex. Deliciously bad boys. It must be time for the return of "True Blood"! Few shows currently on the air have perfected misbehaving, yet undeniably irresistible guys as well as the HBO drama has -- or packed one program with so many of them. Consider vampires Russell Edgington and Franklin Mott, killer Rene Lenier and shapeshifter Tommy Mickens, just for starters.

Of course, there's also Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), who takes the attractiveness of bad boys to a whole new level. At 1,100 years old (give or take a few), he's among the oldest baddies of the bunch, and given some of his past deeds, he's arguably the baddest. The easy-on-the-eyes vamp is known to get plenty of use out of his own personal dungeon, but in fairness to him, his pursuits there aren't always evil -- sometimes they're sexy and evil. But there's another side to him too. Remember when he lost his memory last season and reverted to the vampire equivalent of a sweet little puppy? (It was cute while it lasted.) But even when he's not forced into the good-guy role, Eric has a fiercely loyal and protective and good-ish side he reserves for those he loves.

And as if he and the various bad boys of Bon Temps weren't enough, "True Blood" is introducing Chris Meloni's vampire Roman this season. Sure, we've seen only teases of what's to come from the man who controls The Authority, but if Meloni's turn as Chris Keller on "Oz" (not to mention his temperamental Elliot Stabler on "Law & Order: SVU") showed viewers anything, it's that the actor can channel his inner bad boy (and charmer) with the best of them ... maybe even better than anyone else. We can't wait to see!

But HBO's vampire drama isn't the only TV show with lovable bad boys. Here are some of our other favorites:

Dexter Morgan, 'Dexter'

Who can resist a good guy who simply has a Dark Passenger? Yes, yes, we know. Michael C. Hall's Dexter is a serial killer (he even has his own nickname in the press: The Bay Harbor Butcher!), but he has a strict moral code and offs only the really evil folks! (Except for that one time ...) The blood-spatter analyst may enjoy some quality alone time in his kill rooms with his victims -- and boy, does his Dark Passenger shine with delicious glee in those scenes! -- but he also revels in family time with baby Harry and is quick to protect those he loves.

Damon Salvatore, 'The Vampire Diaries'

Oh, those eyes! Sure, Ian Somerhalder may not have been nearly as charming as Boone on "Lost" (though he did grow on us shortly before he was killed off in season one), but as vampire Damon on "TVD," the actor cranks up the charisma and practically compels viewers through the screen with his intense baby blues to adore him. Sure, Damon has a tendency to act really stupidly on impulse (and we mean really stupidly), sometimes hurting those closest to him, but he's got a big heart too. (Remember when he first confessed his love to Elena and then compelled her to forget? Or when he staked dear friend Rose to release her from her painful death?) Plus, of all the vampires, werewolves and witches on the show, he knows how to have fun -- and unabashedly has the most of it.

Jaime Lannister, 'Game of Thrones'

He may be a backstabbing Kingslayer who's into twincest and fathered the most hideous ruler to ever sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros, but Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a charmer nonetheless. He didn't have much screen time during season two, but what little he was given, he shined in. Dirty, beaten, chained and caged in the mud by the Starks and their men? No problem! His allure still showed from under all those layers of grime, and it wasn't just the viewers he won over. In one scene, Jaime managed to draw his cousin in -- while chained and sitting in his own filth! -- with his hypnotic personality before killing the poor lad to enable his own escape. And he suffered his imprisonment with a touch of giddy humor that made him all the more fun to watch.

Tate Langdon, 'American Horror Story'

Oh sick, twisted young Tate. What's to like about a very disturbed teenager who commits a massacre at school, rapes his girlfriend's mother, tries to convince said girlfriend to commit suicide and gruesomely offs numerous tenants and intruders at the "Murder House"? Yeah, it's a tough job to get viewers to enjoy a character as evil as Tate, but Evan Peters, who plays the unstable ghost, somehow managed to pull it off. His need to be loved was a bit heart wrenching and easy to identify with, no? The character of Tate may be done on "AHS," but we can't wait to see what Peters does with his new role for season two. Fingers crossed he'll have at least a touch of evil in him.

"True Blood" kicks off on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. As for the rest, "Dexter" returns to Showtime on Sept. 30. "Vampire Diaries" and "AHS" and will also be back in the fall, while "Game of Thrones" will return next year. 

We know this is hardly a complete list of the best baddies on TV. Who's your favorite who's still on the small screen? Tell us on our Facebook page!

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