We’ve seen more than our fair share of powerful male TV villains—Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk, Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon, Breaking Bad’s Gustavo Fring—but very rarely does a rundown of female villains come onto our radar. How these women can manage to inspire fear while looking sexy in every frame is completely beyond us, and while some of these shows ended a while back, they’ve earned a permanent place in our Hall of Fame. In no particular order, here are TV’s most stunning female villains:
Melisandre/'The Red Woman' (Carice van Houten), Game of Thrones
Stannis Baratheon’s closest counselor—and nastiest sex partner (they literally had an undead baby who killed Stannis’ young brother, Renly)—was widely hated in the series’ second, third, and fourth seasons, seeing as her character trotted about with insane prophecies about the so-called “Lord of Light” and had innocent little Shireen Baratheon burned at the stake. Public opinion swayed majorly, though, when the Red Woman facilitated Jon Snow’s resurrection in the sixth season.
Sophie-Anne Leclerq (Evan Rachel Wood), True Blood
The Vampire Queen of Louisiana isn’t like all the other bloodsuckers—Sophie-Anne loves the beach so much that she had a replica built in her mansion. She kidnapped Sookie Stackhouse to reacquaint herself with the feeling of "sunlight on her skin," and she has a liking for mundane human activities (Yahtzee, anyone?). When a weapon is plunged into her heart in the fourth season, she screams, “You fucking traitor,” and we’ll be damned if that’s not the sexiest way we’ve ever heard it said.
Helen “Amanda” Collins (Melinda Clarke), Nikita
Rogue agent? Master manipulator? Boyfriend-murderer? This crazy chick was always off the rails in Nikita’s first four seasons, but it wasn’t until she was revealed to actually be Helen, Amanda’s twin sister, that we realized she was one of the most unnerving villains to ever grace network television. Ari Tasarov shouldn’t have stuck his dick in crazy.
Lila West, Dexter
You’ve heard of alcoholics, heroin junkies, and sex addicts...but Lila West, with her dark hair and even darker eyes, is nothing like those things. She’s a pyromaniac, which means she can’t stop setting things on fire. Including her sex life. In a bid to regain Dexter’s affection, she sets her own damn house on fire, and various iterations of this nervous breakdown occur several times throughout the series. She’s the only lover Dexter had to kill, if that’s any indication of how bonkers she was.
Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
The great Game of Thrones had to get a second mention—and next on this list is none other than Cersei of the House Lannister, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, Crazy-Ass Bitch. Because of her desperation to keep the Lannisters at numero uno, she lost her three children Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen, sent incestuous lover Jaime Lannister to the side of Daenerys Targaryen et al., and effectively ended her clan’s reign on King’s Landing. Worst. Mother. Ever.
Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Orphan Black
Helena’s childhood origins are actually pretty grim—her birth mother, Amelia, conceived her and her twin sister Sarah as part of a cloning project. Sarah was taken in, while Helena was shipped off to an orphanage in Ukraine. She became some kind of clone-killing machine, ending the lives of Janika Zingler, Aryanna Giordano, and Danielle Fournier, among many, many others. Even then, with her curly blonde hair a la Dakota Fanning and the lithe body of a high schooler, who would think she was a killer?
Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), Spartacus
This Roman slave driver-cum-dominatrix is no stranger to inflicting human suffering—it’s after the death of her husband, Quintus, that her dark side seems to awaken. She and her husband used to enjoy watching their slaves being raped and murdered...and she was particularly turned on at the sight of her spouse violating them. It was BDSM on Level 100, guys. Not cool. But also kind of hot.
Yvonne “Vee” Parker (Lorraine Toussaint), Orange Is The New Black
Everyone who’s seen Orange Is The New Black hates Vee with a burning passion. No printer, just fax. Before she was brought to Litchfield Prison, Yvonne ran a drug-dealing ring that used hapless young children as mules, particularly those who had come from abusive families and were therefore easy to manipulate. Once in prison, she wreaked havoc on the African-American group by taking advantage of Crazy Eyes’ trusting nature, evicting Poussey from the posse, and tormenting former drug mule Taystee all over again. The scene where she’s run over and killed by escaping inmate Rosa is one of the most satisfying clips on Netflix. Hands. Down.
Katerina Petrova (Nina Dobrev), The Vampire Diaries
Born in the late 1400s, Katerina brought shame to her Bulgarian family when she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. She was banished to England, where she turned herself into a vampire to avoid being used as a pawn in a sacrifice...and from there, her dark intentions snowballed, enough for her to be considered TVD’s most prominent antagonist. She died in hellfire like the badass she was.
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, Breaking Bad
Who could forget her trademark Stevia? As head of logistics at Madrigal Electromotive, the company that moonlighted as methamphetamine supplier for Walter White and Gustavo Fring’s drug empires, Lydia was a villain in her own right. Knowing that there were 11 men who could testify that she had ties with Gustavo, she has them all killed in cold blood. Her semi-brutal death punctuated the five-season series wonderfully, and because prequel Better Call Saul is still ongoing, we haven’t seen the last of her yet.