The current Golden Age of Television has given audiences plenty of male antiheroes to follow. Whether you root for them to succeed or hope to see them fail,
TV is full of toxic male characters. These bad guys range from advertising execs to serial killers, but the one thing they all have in common is that when other characters have any sort of relationship with them, it inevitably ends in disaster.
At this point in the television landscape, antiheroes make for better characters than straight-up heroes (sorry, Walker, Texas Ranger). While some of the men on this list would be considered villains more than anything else, a large number of them are the main characters who drew you into the TV series despite their despicable behavior. Of course, there is something alluring about a bad boy, but these characters go far beyond "bad boy" to something more like "sociopathic man."
While I couldn't include every toxic male TV character in existence, any proximity to the 19 characters who made this list leads to sorrow. Their actions almost always have a poisonous outcome, so put on your hazmat suit (hey! one of the men on this list
loves hazmat suits) and dive into the most toxic male characters in TV history. 1 Don Draper, 'Mad Men'
This king of toxic has so much allure — thanks to his skilled profession as a marketer — but once you look beyond his glossy surface, you'll quickly see how deeply destructive Don Draper is to his coworkers, wives, girlfriends, and even children.
2 Tyrell Wellick, 'Mr. Robot'
Tyrell is completely ruthless and will do anything to get what he wants — whether that's beating up homeless men for money or killing people. Although Elliot and audiences are intrigued by him, Tyrell's drive has the ability to push Elliot into unsafe territory,
3 Adam Sackler, 'Girls'
Every single character on
Girls can be considered toxic (and I mean, every. single. one.), but when it comes to members of the male persuasion, Adam is at the top of the list. (Desi is a very close second.) His inability to control his rage leads to emotionally abusive — and sometimes physically and sexually abusive — encounters with other characters. 4 Ramsay Bolton, 'Game Of Thrones'
Although it's on a completely different level than
Girls, Game of Thrones is another HBO show chock full of vile people. Ramsay has been rocking the crown of being the worst for the last few seasons. Once you've dismembered a man, there's no going back. 5 Frank Underwood, 'House Of Cards'
Before Donald Trump was elected president, Frank Underwood's political evilness seemed like totally unrealistic fiction. Now, some of his behavior feels disturbingly real.
6 Captain Jack Randall, 'Outlander'
Black Jack Randall is a man who has the ability to equally terrorize a husband and wife while violently and sadistically struggling with his own sexual identity. He has more than earned his spot on this list.
7 Rowan "Eli" Pope, 'Scandal'
Dads can be toxic too and no one better epitomizes a toxic dad than Papa Pope. While trying to build his daughter up, he is constantly cutting her down. Not to mention, he likes to control her by sending men to seduce her. That's pretty disturbing, Papa Pope.
8 Dexter Morgan, 'Dexter'
How many people do you need to kill to be considered toxic? No matter if it's one or 100, Dexter fits the bill. Yet, he might have stayed off this list if he didn't gaslight those around him. Making people who love him feel crazy while he's off being a serial killer is what makes Dexter a true villain.
9 Bill Compton, "True Blood"
Plenty of other vampires on
True Blood were more brutal, but Sookie's main love could rarely be trusted, no matter how hard he tried to be good. That's the thing with vampires, they live so long that sometimes they reinvent themselves and become the show's major villain for a season or two. 10 Jimmy McNulty, "The Wire" The Wire showed the moral ambiguities that plague both the stereotypical "bad guys" and "good guys." So even though The Wire had many characters who dealt drugs or murdered people, Detective Jimmy McNulty manages to be one of the most toxic characters. That's because when he's good — at his job, in a relationship, with his family — he's so good. And when he's bad, you'll find him drunk at the bottom of a pit. 11 Professor James Moriarty, "Sherlock"
Sherlock Holmes' foil is just as intelligent as he is, but with none of the basic human decency. An evil mastermind is never good news for anyone, including Sherlock Holmes.
12 Dr. Hannibal Lector, "Hannibal"
Does it get any worse than a genius, cannibalistic serial killer? I don't think so.
13 Ben Linus, 'Lost'
Ben made living on the island in
Lost hell. (Oh, was that the point?) Although he isn't always the number one villain of the show, his selfish and devious ways — not to mention those unsettling eyes — mean he can never be trusted. 14 Kilgrave, 'Jessica Jones'
A man who can literally control your mind might just be the definition of toxic. If you can't ever use your own free will against him, how do you stay away?
15 Dennis Reynolds, 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia'
The gang of
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are all terrible people — that's pretty much the whole point of the show. However, Dennis takes the cake mostly because he's the most competent at his schemes. His vanity and egotism are unparalleled and this sociopath has screwed up ideas about consent. 16 Tate Langdon, 'American Horror Story'
Tate's toxicity can never go away, thanks to the paranormal world presented by Ryan Murphy in the first season of
American Horror Story. That's really a shame since a ghost who can still seduce a living girl after shooting up a school is someone to avoid. 17 Angel, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
When he is the human-souled Angel, everything is good. But when he becomes the cursed soulless vampire Angelus, everything is not good. The fact that he becomes Angelus once he experiences pure happiness (aka sleeps with Buffy) makes him all the more toxic.
18 J. R. Ewing, 'Dallas'
Don't let the smile fool you, J.R. is one tricky S.O.B. There's a reason someone shot this manipulative and greedy oil tycoon.
19 Walter White, 'Breaking Bad'
The show's title,
Breaking Bad, is all about Walter White. This high school science teacher becomes an international drug dealer — and willingly loses most of his humanity along the way.
While these man are certainly people you'd want to stay away from in real life, when it comes to watching them on TV, you can't look away. And that's what truly makes them so damn toxic.