The greatest TV villains of all time - as chosen by you

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Every great TV show needs a worthy antagonist for its hero. And over the years, some of the most memorable (and beloved) characters on the box have been notorious adversaries.

We asked members of our Screen Babble discussion group on Facebook to name their favourite bad guys.

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Here, according to their responses, are the greatest TV villains of all time.

Game of Thrones has people we love to hate

One show that immediately sprang to viewers' minds was fantasy sensation Game of Thrones - which has a whole host of stomach-turning antagonists to choose from.

Sadistic boy-king Joffrey is right at the top of the vicious pecking order.

"Just totally horrendous," notes Sam Bagshaw, while Keely Davison sums him up as "cruel for the sake of being cruel".

Mark Dunford, meanwhile, believes that Ramsay Bolton overshadows even Joffrey in the villain stakes ("pure evil").

Ramsay Bolton, nee Snow, striking fear into the hearts of the North on Game Of Thrones (Photo: HBO)

But Linsey McQueen Carson argues that it is Cersei Lannister who deserves to be credited as the real force for bad in Westeros.

Among the litany of crimes Carson points to are "murder", "incest", "helping evil get into power", being partly responsible for a very tragic suicide and: "Oh yes, she also raised Joffrey. Need I go on...."

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Anti-heroes abound

One of the most interesting developments in modern TV has been the emergence of anti-heroes as the protagonists of many popular, high-profile shows.

"I tend to watch series where you root for the villain anyway," says Sam Bagshaw. "Anti-heroes like Tony Soprano or Walter White."

Screen Babble suggestions on this front included Dexter (highlighted by Deb Aldred and Fiona Michelle), Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson (picked by Jessica Russ) and Omar Little from The Wire (Matt Healey).

Tommy Shelby is one of recent years' most compelling anti-heroes (Photo: BBC)

"Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod both give great villain and anti-hero duty in the superb Billions," notes Stuart Chandler.

Chris Slinn also salutes Babylon 5's complex character arcs, "with Londo and G'Kar changing positions between good and bad over 4-5 seasons".

As for Keely Davison, the choice is clear: "Lets not forget Thomas Shelby from Peaky Blinders. The villain that you cannot help but love and root for!"

Antagonists that make our skin crawl

When it comes to TV nemesi that leave us feeling truly uneasy, Steve Wilkins believes two in particular stand out.

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"Mads Mikkelsen as the TV version of Hannibal Lecter. Arguably a better portrayal than Anthony Hopkins. Cold, calculated, charming and deadly."

Over on the family sci-fi front, meanwhile, he also suggests Doctor Who's Dalek mastermind Davros:

"Megalomania personified. Anyone that can create an army of emotionless tanks that’s sole purpose is to rid the universe of every other kind of life, has to be up there with the best."

Steel beneath the smile: Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul's Gus Fring (Photo: Netflix)

Caryl Gibbs is a big fan of Gus Fring's dual-persona on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

"I personally loved his stoic act and the juxtaposition of this extremely cultured individual at home vs the cold hearted killer."

Daniel Marko believes that the slimy Varga from Fargo season three was "quite the villain", and Yvonne McCue seconds this ("he was fantastic").

Meanwhile, in the world of Soap, Darren Carson suggests that Trevor from Eastenders was "an absolute lying, domestic violence committing, two timing git with zero redeeming qualities".

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The baddest of them all?

Despite pointing to Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie as a possible contender ("what a cow!"), Karen Dunn ultimately suggests that another is the undisputed greatest TV villain.

"Mr Burns from The Simpsons. Money is his god, he treats people like objects, lets his nuclear power plant leak all over the place and has absolutely no redeeming qualities.

"This is the man who actually tried to take candy from a baby! His evil knows no bounds..."

Other villains picked by our readers:

Gyp Rosetti from Boardwalk Empire

Bob from Twin Peaks

Negan from The Walking Dead

Skeletor from He-Man

Frank Underwood from House Of Cards

Al Swearengen from Deadwood

Thomas Eichorst from The Strain

Stringer Bell from The Wire

• Join the discussion now on Screen Babble, the TV chat group on Facebook.

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