40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time

From serial killers to cylons, mobsters to murderous moms — counting down the TV characters you love to hate

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11. J.R. Ewing, 'Dallas'

"Who shot J.R.?" That was the question that commanded the pop-culture zeitgeist of a nation, after the oil-magnate patriarch of primetime got popped. A better question: Given the opportunity, who wouldn't have? As played by Larry Hagman, Ewing was proof of Hamlet's lament "that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain"; no matter how dirty his deeds, he looked like he was having the time of his life. And given the subsequent ascendency of Ronald Reagan's big-business, greed-is-good conservatism, the Dallas villain ended up being as much a prophet as he was a profiteer.

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