“House of Cards” might be dominating the politician-as-villian conversation these days, but the evil, corrupt, or simply shady politico has long been a television staple.
While watching the darker side of politics play out in real life isn’t exactly entertaining, the same can’t be said for witnessing it on-screen. What TV lover could possibly resist Kevin Spacey‘s gloriously cunning turn as Senator Frank Underwood in “House of Cards,” the evil incompetence of “24” POTUS Logan, or even “The Simpsons” animated creep of a Mayor, Joe Quimby?
Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 shadiest TV politicians in recent memory, so click through and let us know if you agree with our picks!
Nicholas Brody, "Homeland"
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Nicholas Brody found himself as a sitting congressman in the U.S. House of Representitives after being held as a prisoner of war by Al-Qaeda terrorists for eight years. The problem? The motives behind his political rise are fascinatingly murky.
Nadav Kander/Photograph: Nadav Kander/Showtim
Frank Underwood, "House of Cards"
In order to further his own political career, this cunning congressman from South Carolina—brilliantly played by Kevin Spacey—will do anything to extricate people that stand in his way. And we do mean anything. It's hard to truly hate him though, as HOC breaks the fourth wall—meaning Underwood speaks directly to the audience—which automatically draws us into his brilliant, if twisted, mind.
Darren Richmond, "The Killing"
Every character was more suspicious than the next on Season 1 of AMC's "The Killing"—which focused largely on the murder of teenager Rosie Larsen—including Richmond, president of the Seattle City Council, campaigning for Mayor. Not helping his cause? When the missing dead girl is found in the truck of a stolen campaign car. Things might not be exactly what they seem, but they are shady as hell.
Tom Kane, "Boss"
Some critics have noted that, in many ways, "House of Cards" is what this short-lived Starz drama aimed to be. There certainly are similarities, namely that the show's star—Kelsey Grammer as chillingly corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kane—takes people under his wing, though as soon as they prove to be of little use, they become expendable—much like HOC's Frank Underwood.
Photographer: Chuck Hodes/A Starz Original Series
Clay Davis, "The Wire"
Among other infractions, this Maryland State Senator (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) regularly pocketed bribes, payed off the cops, and laundered money.
Bill Kelly, "Sex and the City"
Okay, maybe aspiring City Comptroller Kelly—perfectly played by John Slattery—wasn't as corrupt as some other politicians on the list, but he definitely was shady. After dating Carrie Bradshaw and clearly adoring her, he briskly dumped her after she refused to indulge his urination-during-sex fetish.
President Charles Logan, "24"
Apart from being incredibly weak in character and incapable of making the tiniest decision, Logan—who ended up in office after the real POTUS was injured—organized a massive conspiracy that led to the multiple deaths.
Nucky Thompson, "Boardwalk Empire"
Prohibition is the name of the game, and Atlantic City Treasurer Thompson—based on former Prohibition-era political figure and racketeer Enoch Johnson—is adept at playing both the political world and the criminal world thanks to well-placed mob connections and everything that comes with it.
Mayor Joe Quimby, "The Simpsons"
Accepting bribes, cavorting with a beauty queen mistress, and being generally self-serving, Quimby proves corrupt politicians aren't limited to the third dimension.