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Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels)
With her wild sense of fashion, sociopathic willingness to kidnap, steal, blackmail — and run over people with her car, oh and her devotion to Gwyneth Paltrow — Nicole Julian was basically the prototype for all Ryan Murphy villains who came after. She was terrifying and so utterly campy that we couldn't stop watching her.
The Carver/Quentin Costa (Bruno Campos)
The tricky thing about this FX series, based on a couple of Miami plastic surgeon best frenemies, is that everyone is ultimately so despicable that it's difficult to decide who is a "villain." Okay, it's not difficult to name a serial rapist who slashes his victims' faces as a bad guy. Another signature Murphy villain trait appears here: A severely dark childhood, namely being the product of incest that caused him to be born without a penis and his sister to be born with facial disfigurement. Ugly stuff all around.
Ava Moore (Famke Janssen)
There's a lot that is problematic about this character. She starts off just being a creepy lady who, likes having sex with teenage boys, namely, Sean's (Dylan Walsh) son Matt (John Hensley). Then she blackmails Christian (Julian McMahon) into not running her out of town by threatening to reveal that he's Matt's real father. And all the while she has an incestuous relationship with her own teenage son, Adrian (Seth Gabel). What's most messed up here is that all of this is somehow explained by the fact that she turns out to be a transsexual woman who hasn't completed her sexual reassignment. Thankfully, Murphy's treatment of trans characters has evolved since then.
Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch)
We suggest rigorously studying this compilation of Sue clips if ever you feel that your arguments lack piercing, soul-crushing zingers. As the cheerleading coach points out to Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison), she's not just mean to kids, she's mean to everyone. Although her quest to destroy the Glee club is cartoonishly evil, the times when she reveals her soft spots (for her sister with Down Syndrome, for instance) give the show more heart than any Kurt storyline ever managed to do. But yeah, we like her better when she's hurling insults and plotting to take over, if not the world, at least her corner of Lima, Ohio.
Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera)
You can also substitute Quinn (Dianna Agron), Puck (Mark Salling), Karofsky (Max Adler), or Kitty (Becca Tobin) here. Simply because, like Santana, these are all kids who start off as popular high school bullies but are really just acting out because they don't think people will accept their true selves. They're also jealous of the kids who are totally okay with letting their freak flags fly. For Santana, it's the fact that she's gay. As stereotypical as these characters may seem, you can probably name at least two people you went to high school with who acted exactly like them.