Antiheros are protagonists who don’t fit the traditional “good guy” mold. Often, they’re amoral or even immoral, and even if they do the right thing, it’s usually for self-interested reasons, not noble ones. If you find yourself liking TV shows with antiheroes, you’re far from alone.
Here are some of the best of them.
At first, Walter White is someone to sympathize with. He’s an underpaid high-school chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer. We can almost understand the decision to use the time he has left to secure his family’s finances by manufacturing meth. But as he falls into a world of murder and other crimes, our feelings about him become more and more conflicted.
Better Call Saul
Saul Goodman is the shady, unscrupulous, and ultimately criminal lawyer in Breaking Bad. This spinoff tells two stories: how he got that way and what happens to him when he becomes a fugitive at the end of the parent series.
Sons of Anarchy
A motorcycle club protects its hometown from drug dealers, which is a good thing. However, they’re also deep in the illegal arms trade.
The Walking Dead
“Good guys” like Daryl Dixon might qualify as antiheroes, and the series has a long line of downright villains. Then there’s Negan. He’s one of the most brutal villains in the show, but he’s also strangely charming and likable, and it gets even more complicated when he seemingly reforms himself.
No one is ever going to make a case that Tony Soprano is a good man. Still, spending so much time getting to know him and his family makes it difficult not to like him.
Marty and Wendy Byrde are just two regular middle-aged people trying to raise their kids. The problem is that they make organized crime a family business in this show where just about every character is villainous or deeply complicated.
Bookstore owner Joe Goldberg seems perfectly polite and meek when we meet him. Soon, we learn that when it comes to love interests, he’s obsessive, stalking, and murderous.
Any number of characters in this police drama could qualify as antiheroes. Detective Jimmy McNulty is a key one, but there are many others, including Omar Little, a criminal who makes a living sticking up drug dealers.
This series introduces us to vampires who live off a synthetic blood product, allowing them to take part in regular society. But they’re still vampires, and things don’t always go according to plan.
Dexter is a serial killer, which kind of qualifies you as a bad person. So what do we make of a serial killer who satiates his need by killing other serial killers?
There are two principal antiheroes in this crime series set in rural Kentucky. First, there’s Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal who increasingly stretches the bounds of the law and ethics. Then there’s Boyd Crowder, Raylan’s former mine co-worker and chief nemesis.
Set in South Dakota during its Wild West days in the 1870s, this series ran for only three seasons but garnered critical acclaim and several Emmys during its run. Ian McShane is spectacular as the real-life Al Swearengen, who ran a Deadwood brothel during the period and is the show’s villain you can’t help but like.
Another show where the distinctions between heroes and villains are blurry, Peaky Blinders is another crime drama with criminals you like and cops you don’t. Tommy Shelby is the marquee character, but he’s not the only character about whom you’d say “He’s bad, but…”
There’s no good vs. evil theme in this show. Instead, we get an endless parade of characters that in some ways we relate to but in other ways are pretty horrible people.
She has superhuman strength. She also has PTSD and runs her own detective firm. Jessica isn’t exactly the nice girl you want your parents to meet, but she’s pretty awesome and leans toward justice.
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25 Movies on Netflix Actually Worth Watching
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