As Being Human zeroes in on its last ever episode (sob) it looks like Hal’s going Dark Side. Again. But then, that is a hazard of the job when you’re a vampire in a TV show. Those bitey little buggers just can’t seem to keep their teeth in their gums.
But it’s not just a danger for TV vampires. Sci-fi and fantasy love turning characters evil from time to time. They’re not hampered by taking characters on a believable emotional journey. Fantasy characters can just get possessed or lose their soul or turn out to have been secretly evil all along. And when it’s that easy, who can resist the urge to let their actors camp it up with a good old tried-and-tested bout of evil?
Here are my top five characters who ‘went evil’ – some more permanently than others.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
The mack daddy of all ‘characters who went evil’, Angel’s pesky soul was trickier to keep hold of than a greased ferret. Angelus, Angel’s soulless, puppy-murdering counterpart, made a number of memorable appearances on Buffy and Angel over the years, but there’s no topping Angelus’ rampage across series two of Buffy.
Some great scripting and a powerful performance from David Boreanaz – mixing hilarity with horror like all the best Buffy villains – set the template for all future ‘so-and-so goes evil’ stories. Innocence and Passion remain two of the most disturbing and memorable Buffy episodes of all time, chiefly because there was no magic retcon switch for all the evil that Angelus did. Often characters go temporarily evil without leaving any lasting damage – the status quo is restored in time for the next episode. But Angel had to deal with his evil for the eight long years that he was on our screens.
4. Sam Winchester
Poor Sam. He’s always going evil over something. Possessed-by-demon evil. Addicted-to-demon-blood evil Vessel-of-Lucifer evil. No-soul evil. It became clear around series two that the show was heading towards some sort of brother vs brother showdown, and that good boy Sam wasn’t going to be in the white hat (although, as it turned out, he was in the snazzy white suit). Ever since then Sam has been pinballing all over the place, trying to be the good guy while fate has very different plans for him. Everyone in Supernatural has had their moment in the villainous spotlight, but Sam’s practically set up a camp bed there.
The Sam-goes-evil moment that always sticks in my mind was the first one, when he was possessed by a demon in series two. I’d picked up the hints that Sam was going to go Dark Side, but I just couldn’t see how Jared Padalecki was going to pull it off. Then Sam attacked Jo in a bar and I wondered how I’d never noticed how frickin’ huge he was, and how scary he could make his size when he had to. That scene is one of the most genuinely unsettling five minutes in Supernatural’s eight years.