Alright, so let me clarify what this post is about. This is not a list of the most badass TV show characters over the years. It’s about the most badass LOOKING ones. The difference is subtle, but present.
For example, Tony Soprano is one of the biggest TV badasses of all time, without question. That said, from an outside perspective, he just kind of looks like a fat guy (RIP Gandolfini I love you). The same goes for say, Mal Reynolds. Badass space pilot, but really just a guy in tight pants and suspenders.
So what I’m talking about are people who are physical intimidating, and just look well, badass. As you see Drogo above, you may understand where I’m going with this. Read on.
10. Mr. Eko (Lost)
The main cast of Lost in season one is like what would happen if a bunch of models landed on an island in an airplane crash. Eko was the first character show that really had presence. He also had a beat-down stick with bible verses on it, so that’s pretty cool. Unfortunately he left the show early due to the actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, having island fever, so he could never live up to his true potential.
9. Al Swearengen (Deadwood)
Look at the face. Look at that goddamn face! Is that someone you want to f*** with? I think not. Al Swearengen is the Old West equivalent of Tony Soprano on this list, but has the fearsome appearance to back up his bark and bite. I’m breaking out in a nervous sweat just looking at this picture.
8. Opie (Sons of Anarchy)
In a show where nearly everyone in the cast is part of a motorcycle gang, I really probably could have picked any of them to go here. But there’s only one mountain man. Opie was always the biggest, the strongest, and the most fearsome looking by a mile with his long hair and epic beard to end all epic beards. Unfortunately after his father and wife were killed, he really didn’t have much to do, and so the show ended up killing him as well, something I’m still bitter about.
7. Raylan Givens (Justified)
You don’t have to be a hulking bearded monster to make the list here. I chose Raylan as probably the most stylish entry on this list because he does a hell of a lot with just a jacket and cowboy hat. That look in his eye…he’s an Old West gunslinger for the new world, and that’s apparent in every scene of Justified.
6. Kara Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)
Yes, Kara is the only woman on this list. That isn’t because there aren’t other badass girls on TV. There are plenty. It’s just if we’re going in terms of who is physically intimidating and just plain badass looking, I’m just not sure Buffy in a leather jacket or Sydney Bristow in her myriad of wigs qualify. Maybe this is my straight, male mind in action, as I’m more likely to be attracted to those sorts of women than fear them, but out of everyone I could think of, only Kara “Starbuck” Thrace matched the picture I had in my own mind of a badass looking woman. There are more in film, but I couldn’t think of many on TV. Debate the point if you like.
5. Crixus (Spartacus)
Again, this is another cast that probably could have filled up the entire list by itself, but ever since season one Crixus always stuck with me as the most badass of the bunch. This was back in his shorthaired days, because as the seasons progressed, he just started looking like a muscular Jesus, which is weird. I’ll always remember him as the Undefeated Gaul you see above.
4. Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead)
Most people would probably look somewhat badass if they’d survived a zombie apocalypse and constantly walked around laden with weapons, but Daryl takes things to a whole other level with his ear-necklace and ever-present crossbow. I also love when he puts on his angel wing biker jacket as well for a bit of extra symbolism.
3. Omar Little (The Wire)
There are street thugs, and then there’s the guy who robs the street thugs for a living. That man is Omar Little, and his appearance matches his job description. He’s seldom seen without a shotgun, trenchcoat and bulletproof vest, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Michael K. Williams has that famous real-life scar as well (which he got in a bar fight).
2. Khal Drogo (Game of Thrones)
He was the lead image for a reason. There are definitely a few people you could have pulled from Game of Thrones like Sandor Clegane, Jamie Lannister or Hodor (Hodor!), but Drogo would eat all their hearts for breakfast in open combat. I was shocked when he met his end so early in the show, and in such a meek way. I figured he’d be the villain for seasons to come, but that’s Game of Thrones for you.
1. Ragnar Lothbrok (Vikings)
The man that inspired this list. I know some would probably say Drogo beats him out, but I don’t know. First of all, he’s a viking. Second of all, he has an awesome beard, mohawk and tattoos. Third of all, those eyes. Vikings may be a slightly better than average show, but Ragnar Lothbrok is to me, the most badass looking guy on TV, with a name and occupation to match.
Bonus: Michonne, because that was a huge oversight. She’d probably be like #4.