Pierce: Dexter tops list of TV's greatest antiheroes
Television has never had an antihero quite like Dexter Morgan.
Police blood-splatter expert by day, avenging angel by night, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has killed dozens of people. If he were real, he'd be the worst mass murderer in history. Or the best mass murderer, as Dexter goes after unrepentant killers who have escaped the legal system.
Now in its seventh season, "Dexter" (Sundays, 10 p.m.) remains Showtime's most-watched series. And it continues to attract an audience of people "who are compelled to lean forward watching" while Dexter goes after his victims and tries to outwit his enemies, Hall said.
"We all have a shadow side," he said. "We all have secrets. We all have some kind of darkness that, in one way or another, we struggle to manage. And I think that's what compels people."
And it's what makes Dexter television's No. 1 antihero and there have been a lot of great TV antiheroes.
Here's the rest of the Top 10:
2. Walter White (Bryan Cranston), "Breaking Bad" • Walter has transformed from a mild-mannered, cancer-stricken schoolteacher into a ruthless drug lord and killer. His might just be the most fascinating character arc in TV history.
3. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), "The Shield" • Vic killed a fellow cop in the first episode and was always running some scam when he wasn't beating up bad guys and yet viewers found themselves rooting for him.
4. Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), "The Sopranos" • We hadn't loved a mob boss so much since "The Godfather" and this one was a flawed family man/murderer/adulterer.
5. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), "24" • Jack broke the rules, tortured people, killed people â¦ but he did save the United States time and again.
6. Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), "Revenge" • Emily is out for, ahem, revenge against the people who framed and killed her father. And she's happy to destroy anyone and everyone in her path.
7. Omar Little (Michael Kenneth Williams), "The Wire" • A modern day Robin Hood of sorts, Omar robbed and murdered drug dealers.
8. Jim Profit (Adrian Pasdar), "Profit" • This 1996 series was before its time (it was canceled after four episodes; there are nine on the DVD release), but Jim Profit was a compelling sociopath who would do anything to climb the corporate ladder.
9. Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), "Sons of Anarchy" • Jax is the relatively good guy in the middle of all the motorcycle gang bad guys, but he uses whatever means necessary to try to be the hero.
10. Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), "Weeds" • Widowed Nancy became a drug dealer to support her sons, but that didn't change the fact she was a narcissist always looking out for herself.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.