The Complete Bastard Hall of Fame

You have to be a bastard to make it, and that’s a fact. ~John Lennon

It used to be that being a bastard was, well, kind of a bad thing. Now it’s the kind of jocular passive-aggressive compliment we casually toss around, as in, “Aw, Ralph, you soft bastard, you shouldn’t have.” Where did bastardy change? Do we care? I for one am an actual bastard by the dictionary’s terms and it doesn’t bother me. Nearly half  of all American babies are now technically bastards. I’m not complaining and neither are Gerber, Pampers and Gymboree. Bastards’ money is as good as anybody else’s.

I for one prefer the more sinister side of bastards, as in, “Darling Fascist Bully-Boy, give me some more money, you bastard!” It’s a word I reserve for people, real or fictional, whom I really don’t like. There’s admittedly fewer of these in real life than fiction. And this post, as it turns out, is reserved for the fictional bastards. The ones we love to hate, the ones who’d gladly roast the hero’s puppy over a slow fire and then remark how good the little guy tastes. The ones who’d betray all their friends and laugh hysterically about it afterward. You know…the real bastards.

Some of my readers may agree or disagree with me on designating some of these characters as Utter Bastards. I’m sure some of them even have fangirls and X-rated fanfics with them as the star. I don’t care, because I can’t stand anyone on this list (and yet, I find every one of them strangely charismatic). Let’s see if you agree:

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds, 2009)

Why he’s a Complete Bastard: It’s hard not to include at least one guy from a movie with a title like this. I almost worry that Waltz might be getting typecast as an old-school slimy villain, which he does to Oscar-winning perfection here. Difficult indeed not to be a bastard when your nickname is “The Jew Hunter.”


Jason Isaacs as Col. Tavington (The Patriot, 2000)

Why he’s a Complete Bastard: First of all, he’s British in an historical epic, which means he’s immediately suspect. This character does everything except stomp on kittens for fun. He rapes, pillages, decapitates and sneers. Aside from the hair color, this is basically the same guy as Isaacs’ other famous Bastard, Lucius Malfoy. And I hear he’s a very sweet guy in real life.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1970)

Why he’s a Complete Bastard: Johnny Depp’s take on Wonka was merely creepy. Wilder’s is a wonderfully smug, malicious slice of bastard-ness. This is a guy who gets his jollies seeing kids get blown up to grotesque proportions, sailing down an acid-trip river at high speeds, relentlessly making fun of stupid people, and enslaving a race of very short people. My kind of guy. (After all, that’s why I always loved the book as a child.)

Sharlto Copley as Wikus van de Merwe(District 92009)

Why he’s a Complete Bastard: My faithful readers are surely wondering why I chose Wikus for this list. I’ll tell you why: he’s a selfish, xenophobic, condescending, snivelling twit at the start of the film. In the course of his job he sets an entire clutch of alien babies on fire…and laughs about it. It’s only through a well-developed character arc does he become sympathetic. Copley, who was mostly untrained as an actor, makes Wikus believable…but still a bastard (in more ways than one).


Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder (Blackadder the Third, 1987)

Why he’s a Complete Bastard: Atkinson, perhaps best known for the doltish Mr. Bean, also plays a bastard like nobody’s business. No sarcastic remark, kick to the backside, or sneaky thievery is below him. In this series, the wittiest of four Blackadders, he is the sly, put-upon butler of the idiotic Prince of Wales. He steals royal socks, murders innocent peasant folk, and squashes giant turnips upon his servant’s head…with glee.


Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter series, 2001-2011) and Jack Gleeson as  Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones, 2011-present)

Why both of them are Complete Bastards: I group them together simply because they are spoiled, blond, whiny, cowardly little psychopaths who would gladly eviscerate old women, little girls, and cute kittens. Other than that I’m sure they have very little in common. Like Jason Isaacs, it’s been said that both of these talented young actors are very kind in person.

Who’s your favorite fictional bastard? Why do you love to hate him (or her?) Let’s hear it!


~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on October 16, 2012.

10 Responses to “The Complete Bastard Hall of Fame”

  1. Blackadder! Just for the fact that throughout the series he is a complete, sniveling, conniving ass. But somehow he ends up redeeming himself towards the end of the series. I do like in the Christmas episode when he actually starts out as a well-meaning human being, but becomes a complete prick at the end.

  2. This is a great list! The best movies have the best villains!

  3. Great post! I actually use the term “bastard” frequently. It’s one of my favorite cuss words. However, I save the term “f***ing bastard” for my ex-husband who doesn’t pay child support. Completely justified, methinks.

    I love that you have so many geeky references in this post, too (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones). I’m obsessed with GoT. Tyrion is my favorite character. I have a special hatred for Joffrey and his mother.

    And Jason Isaacs… ahhhh…. no one plays a bad guy as well as he does. Or should I say plays a “bastard”.

    • Haha, good call, Melissa! I’m totally geeky, even when it comes to bastards. I’ve been really into GoT recently, and there are a LOT of bastards (including Littlefinger, Varys, and Walder Frey) in that series.

  4. Willie Wonka always freaked me right the eff out when I was a kid. The boat ride was the weirdest part- he starts screaming in prose, and then suddenly he’s all “welp, we’re here!” and wanders off. He still deserves a spot on this list because he turned a fat kid into chocolate, who then probably ate himself. Holy crap.

  5. FOOLS everyone knows the biggest bastards of all time are Lance Dior and Harold Boom

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