For every lovable protagonist that exists in our favourite shows and movies, there exists a bastard of equal scale. Not a ‘born-out-of-wedlock’ bastard, well except in one case, but just a generally nasty person who simply exists to be a bit of an asshole to other characters and make people’s lives a misery. Sometimes we can’t hate but love them, other times we just love to hate them but these are one-hundred percent people that you wouldn’t want showing up at your dinner party. In this list, we are going to show you the picks for the 10 biggest bastards in TV and film, featuring an all-star cast of bad-guys from the murky north of Game of Thrones to the troublesome tropics of Jurassic Park.
The biggest bastards in TV shows and movies
1. Ramsay Snow/Bolton – Game of Thrones
The most bastard-y of all bastards, Ramsay Bolton (nee Snow), is the bastard (this time meaning child out-of-wedlock) son of Roose Bolton. If his father wasn’t bad enough, this absolute psychopath rapes and tortures his way to true antagonist status on the show. This guy has done so much bad stuff, it is difficult to decide where to start but ultimately, the most chilling thing about Ramsay is his underlying charm and charismatic attitudes towards flaying and murder. Portrayed by Iwan Rheon, who does an excellent job of balancing the personality of a psychopath with charm and brutality, Ramsay is a stand out bastard amongst a show which is full of them.
Game of Thrones is famous for its bastards, both of birth and of personality, from the brooding Jon Snow to the spoilt brat, Joffrey Baratheon, yet Ramsay teaches them all a bit about being bad. Not to mention the fact that Ramsay was a part of the ‘Battle of the Bastards’, one of the most epic Game of Thrones episodes to date. He’s cold-hearted, manipulative and generally just an evil bloke, earning his place on this list.
2. Dennis Nedry – Jurassic Park
What is worse than being a complete slime-ball of a human being? Being a complete slime-ball of a human being who causes a load of hungry dinosaurs to be let loose on a rich dinosaur-lover, his family and a couple of eager paleontologists, Dennis Nedry starts the film as a computer programmer at everyone’s favourite dinosaur-themed amusement park, before essentially selling out and agreeing to smuggle dinosaur embryos off the island and into the hands of those who definitely should not be given dinosaurs.
Played by Wayne Knight, Nedry has no redeeming quality and simply just causes chaos, only to meet a fitting end to a Dilophosaurus that only escaped because of Nedry’s actions. He’s selfish, annoying and destructive and life most certainly finds a way to rid us of this bastard. However, you cannot blame the events of the film entirely on his actions, as we see at least three more incidents of dinosaur outbreaks from Ingen funded projects since the escapades on Isla Nublar.
3. President Snow – The Hunger Games
I’m not sure how much more of an evil bastard you can be than a guy who takes pleasure it organising a tournament where (usually) children in poverty are brutally hunted and murdered by the equivalent of private school students. President Corliolanus Snow is not the future bastard son of a Westerosi lord, but the tyrannical dictator and antagonist in The Hunger Games series of novels and films. He is an extremely powerful political figure who manipulates masses and tortures individuals, whatever it takes to keep him at the top.
He also is a master in the art of threatening the families of rebellious teens in order to get what he wants, essentially throwing his toys out of the pram. He’s one hell of a bastard but probably would have a far more infamous reputation if he wasn’t defeated and brought down at the height of his political power by a couple of teenagers.
Portrayed by Donald Sutherland, whom has never looked so evil as with his powerful grey beard and hair style, Snow is an evil tyrant whom fits the big bad guy stereotype perfectly.
4. Francis Underwood – House of Cards
In real life, politicians get a lot of hate. They can lie, argue and mishap their way to real infamy yet none compare to the despicable politician in Netflix’s House of Cards TV show. Francis Underwood begins the show as a nice-enough man who, although has made a couple of bad decisions, really isn’t in contention for being one of the biggest bastards in popular culture. However, he quickly becomes involved in things he shouldn’t, making extreme decisions to get what he wants: power.
Without spoiling it, Frank really isn’t as innocent as you may think, and alongside his equally-manipulative wife, Claire, is a bastard through-and-through. Every time you think Frank may be learning from his mistakes and the error of his ways, he spirals further into the ways of corruption and evil. Not all of his intentions are evil, but he certainly does some suspect things that bring his morality into question and whether or not he is truly fit to be in politics.
5. Captain Vidal – Pan’s Labyrinth
There’s no better way to become a big, bad, bastard than by becoming the highly-skilled Captain of a Spanish fascist group. If being a fascist wasn’t bad enough, Captain Vidal, in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, also has a penchant for torture and murder. He is arguably one of the evillest characters in film, with absolutely no redemption or qualities to stop and make you think, “Is he really that bad?”. He takes pleasure in his despicable acts, seeming to enjoy the act of inflicting pain on another human.
This bastard is ruthless and sociopathic, with no empathy, sympathy or emotional feelings towards those he kills. He does, however, meet a just end at the hands of a bullet but nothing will quite make up for just how much we are supposed to hate this character. Vidal makes Francis Underwood’s actions look like altruistic acts of generosity and peace.
6. Melvin Udall – As Good As It Gets
At the start of the Oscar-winning As Good As It Gets, Melvin Udall, played by Jack Nicholson, is not a nice guy. Melvin lives in an apartment block, surrounded by a load of people he hates. He has never been in love, which is kind of ironic given his status as a romance author. He is rude, racist and puts a dog down a garbage chute, making him a bit of a bastard, if we do say so ourselves. Although it is true that Melvin begins to develop as a character and gradually becomes less of a bastard, for what we see of his cranky side, he definitely belongs on the list alongside some of these other guys.
This being said, he isn’t murdering or torturing anybody so he isn’t as bad as the likes of Captain Vidal and Ramsay Bolton, but is still a bastard for his overwhelming sense of misanthropy and hatred. Nicholson’s acting in As Good As It Gets is truly brilliant and creates a dynamic and evolving portrayal of such an originally brutal and angry character.
7. Terence Fletcher – Whiplash
It’s hard to pick where to start with Terence Fletcher, the jazz music teacher and conductor at the Shaffer Conservatory. He is renowned for being strict and pushing his students to their limits and was responsible for the suicide of an ex-student, Sean Casey, who took his own life due to anxiety and depression caused by Fletcher’s unorthodox and draconian teaching methods.
In the events of the film itself, Fletcher throws a chair at protagonist Andrew Neiman, after the latter fails to play at the right tempo in a practice session. He even goes as far as attempting to ruin Neiman’s potential career as a musician by trying to make him mess up in front of all the people that matter. Fletcher is desperate to have a student become a star, and after thinking that Sean Casey was that man (before he took his own life), decided to turn his attention to Andrew Neiman.
8. Gustavo Fring – Breaking Bad
It is not a silly thing to assume that, more often than not, Drug Kingpins and bastards are one and the same. Gustavo Fring is not an exception to this rule and in AMC’s Breaking Bad, he features as one of the primary antagonists. He does whatever it takes to expand his illegal drug empire and intelligently hides behind the disguise of Los Pollos Hermanos, a fried chicken store that Fring owns.
The thing with doing ‘whatever it takes’, is eventually, you are going to have to do bad things that will cause list-writers to label you as a bastard. These range from murder to manipulation, as well as running a drug cartel and catalysing the exploits of a chemistry teacher who has taken up the credible job of cooking crystal meth.
9. Mark Zuckerberg – The Social Network
Way before he was assigned the role of super-villain bastard Lex Luthor in Batman vs Superman, Jesse Eisenberg took on the part of Facebook founder and businessman Mark Zuckerberg. Although we have Zuckerberg to thank for Facebook and the big part it plays in modern life, there is no denying that in The Social Network, Zuckerberg is a real bastard.
Not only does he steal the idea for Facebook off of perfectly credible classmates at Harvard who were willing to work with him, but he betrays his best friend and Facebook co-founder, and treats pretty much every female character in the film like s***. Zuckerberg is a complete bastard, not because he goes around slaughtering innocents or fuelling the drug trade (like other entries on this list), but because he’s a bastard to those who trust him, love him and respect him, consequentially isolating them in the process.
10. Alex de Large – A Clockwork Orange
What would any list of completely devilish bastards and freaks be without the mention of the anti-hero protagonist of Stanley Kubrick’s divisive film A Clockwork Orange, Alex Delarge. This milk-drinking psychopath and eccentric hooligan commits several horrific acts in the film and the novel on which it was based. His favourite pastimes include rape and murder and Alex is one hell of a bastard who we love to hate. Unlike some of the characters on this list, Alex has no justification for his actions other than enjoyment – the archetypal psychopath.
However, as an audience, we are meant to question whether or not we like Alex as a character, after seeing his journey from criminal to rehabilitation experimentation subject and everything that follows. There’s no doubt that he’s a total asshole who takes pleasure in the pain of others but he also brings elements of comedy and charm into the mix too.
About the author
Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home state Colorado and plays in women’s amateur rugby league.