J.R. Ewing, "Dallas"
(CBS, 1978-1991). Larry Hagman's cunning portrayal of "Dallas's" scheming tycoon launched a thousand great bad guys, including Tony Soprano and Vic Mackey on "The Shield." Over his conniving, cheating, lying core, J.R. spread a glistening patina of Texas crude that made him irresistible, but no less deadly (Cliff Barnes, R.I.P.). Who didn't want to shoot him, darlin'?
Leland Palmer, "Twin Peaks"
(ABC, 1990-1991). Yes, there were loads of creepy people on David Lynch's skin-crawling series -- whacked-out Leo,
double-crossing Benjamin Horne, icy Catherine Martell -- but Laura Palmer's avuncular-seeming dad was by far the scariest. He killed his daughter (which viewers were spared) and then he killed her look-alike cousin, Maddie (which we weren't... shudder), and then his "spirit" appeared to live on in all the evildoings around town, including the mysterious BOB. Diane, the food is damn good -- but the villains, even better.
Mr. Burns, "The Simpsons"
(Fox, 1989-present) Evil, cold (literally), calculating -- with (yellow) feet of clay. As an animated baddie, he owes a debt to Boris Badenov of "The Bullwinkle Show" (nefarious plans undone by own hubris) and Snidely Whiplash of "Dudley Do-Right" (drumming of fingers replacing twirling of mustache). But Montgomery Burns has his own way with words ("Simpson, I like the cut of your jib!"). Springfield -- not to mention Smithers -- would be lost without him.
Omarosa, "The Apprentice"
(NBC, 2004). Does anyone even remember who won "The Apprentice" the season Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth appeared? No wonder; she eclipsed the entire boardroom with her scheming, double-crossing, take-no-prisoners approach. That she was gorgeous and supremely self-confident only added to her allure. Never mind the "Surreal Life" backslide; one day we'll all be working for her. And watching our backs.
Amanda Woodward, "Melrose Place"
(Fox, 1992-1999) The minxy love child of J.R. Ewing and "All My Children's" Erica Kane, Heather Locklear's flinty Amanda was the steely backbone of Aaron Spelling's soapy masterpiece. What Amanda wanted, she got: businesses, boyfriends, real estate, other women's husbands. Nobody ever looked so fierce in a power mini-suit.
Bill O'Reilly, "The O'Reilly Factor"
(Fox News, 1996-present). If Baretta -- or Travis Bickle --
had his own newscast, this is what it'd be. For the throw-the-baloney-sandwich-at-the-TV-as-you-shriek quotient, you can't beat O'Reilly's show (though Nancy Grace's is a close second). He's a jerk and a proud provocateur; even if you disagree with him, you can hardly turn him off. That's right: Shut Up!
(ABC, 1966-1968). Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether have their fans, but the Catwoman who earned nine lives for her statuesque, slinky nastiness was the original, Julie Newmar. Honestly, we never really thought the Joker, the Penguin or the Riddler could pull one over on Batman, but who could miss his squirming when Newmar padded in on little cat feet? Halle Berry, eat your heart out.
Eddie Haskell, "Leave It to Beaver"
(ABC, 1957-1963). What saved this wholesome sitcom from a saccharine aftertaste was the unctuous, two-faced Eddie Haskell, whose very name has come to mean "insincere brownnoser" ("Why, good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver... "). Weren't we all just a little disappointed when the actor who played him, Ken Osmond, ended up becoming an L.A. cop and doing something meaningful with his life?
Maj. Frank Burns, "M*A*S*H"
(CBS, 1972-1983; Burns 1972-1977). Larry Linville played the hypocritical, obsequious Burns to perfection as the foil of Capt. Hawkeye Pierce and gang. Burns' blowhard character took potshots as a stand-in for the Nixon administration as well as a military whose goals in Vietnam seemed murky at best. Typical exchange: Burns: "Why does everyone take an instant dislike to me?" Trapper John: "It saves time, Frank."
Soup Nazi, "Seinfeld"
(NBC, 1990-1998). OK, I actually ate the real guy's soup in New York. He was horrible! And mean! (Good soup, though.) What, you thought Newman was a better bad guy? No soup for you!