10 of the Most Narcissistic Characters In Television History

Characters with narcissistic and psychopathic traits grace our television screens every day, but we may feel hesitant to call these traits and behaviors out because they are idolized as charming, successful, or even humorous. In other words, we may even enjoy their plotlines so long as we don’t have to handle them in real life. Here are ten of the most narcissistic and psychopathic characters in television history.  

House, M.D.

The show House is superbly entertaining and witty because its titular character, Gregory House played by the unbeatable Hugh Laurie, is quick-quitted and sarcastic, and he has a team of complex, rich fellow doctors with intriguing backstories. On television, he’s a delight to watch for many viewers. But in real life, Gregory House would inevitably be someone called out for having narcissistic traits and behaviors. He is overbearingly arrogant, condescending, and contemptuous to others, self-absorbed, and seems to lack empathy. We love House precisely because we don’t actually have to deal with him in real life – he’s much better enjoyed from the safety of our screen!

Nate Jacobs from Euphoria

In Euphoria, Jacob Elordi plays Nate Jacobs, a popular star quarterback and one of the most toxic and abusive boyfriends depicted in television history. He violently abuses his girlfriend Maddy multiple times with little remorse after love bombing her into a relationship by giving her flowers every day and telling her he loves her, while being violently possessive and overprotective. He often manipulates those around him, blackmailing people who have access to his family’s secrets to stay quiet, and framing others for his misdeeds and crimes to avoid jail. He also cheats on Maddy with her best friend, Cassie Howard.

Joe Goldberg from You

In You, Penn Badgley stars as the chillingly narcissistic and sociopathic character Joe Goldberg, a man who stalks and murders the women he claims to love. What makes Joe particularly narcissistic is that he often places the women he stalks on a pedestal, love bombing them into believing his innocent, mild-mannered, “nice guy” charming façade, only to retaliate when they do not love him back the way he likes or fall short of the image he’s created of them – for example (spoilers ahead), burying his girlfriend Candace alive because she was cheating on him, or killing Beck because she called out his true character. Talk about the ultimate devalue and discard. At the end of Season 4, he even frames an innocent victim for his murders, showing his escalating descent into cruelty. Throughout all his murders, Joe is an unreliable narrator, justifying his crimes and revealing his sense of entitlement to control and micromanage the lives and fates of others for the “greater good” or for the sake of self-defense and protection. A similar character who is narcissistic and sociopathic to Joe is Dexter Morgan from the show Dexter.

Maddie Jonson from Imposters

Cece. Saffron. Alice. Ava. Will the real Maddie Jonson please stand up? In Imposters, Maddie Jonson is your typical female narcissistic sociopath, infiltrating the lives of her victims with her beauty and charm to scam them into a meaningless marriage where she runs off with their money. To do so, Maddie takes on many different identities and morphs into the “best” personality to get her victims hooked, much like real-life narcissists and psychopaths who love bomb their victims with flattery, a false mask, and false promises to get them invested for a hidden agenda. At the end, Maddie always puts herself first and while she does appear to show remorse from time to time, she seems incapable of long-lasting empathy.

Don Draper from Mad Men

In Mad Men, Don Draper is a charismatic and successful advertising executive with a history of cheating on and emotionally abusing his wife Betty Draper, as well his second wife, Megan. People who are serial cheaters and pathological liars, with a propensity for issuing violent threats, often have dark personality traits such as narcissism and psychopathy, but these behaviors are rarely called out by viewers of Mad Men due to the romanticization of Don Draper’s character and his lifestyle. Some also attribute Don’s behaviors to his history of childhood trauma, but it must be said that Don had the choice to go and heal rather than take out his issues on others. Draper keeps his double life of infidelity hidden and under wraps from his wife, and subjects her to double standards when she finally cheats on him, verbally abusing her rather than looking at his own history of cheating. He also issues violent threats, pushes her aggressively and throws things at her if she dares to call out his distant and emotionally negligent behavior. Through his explosive outbursts and affairs, he also subjects his young daughter to a hostile environment, exposing her to the abuse and having her witness him getting intimate with other women, only to swear her to secrecy.

Villanelle from Killing Eve

Villanelle, an assassin for the group The Twelve, is more of a psychopathic than narcissistic character, but she certainly deserves to be on this list due to her narcissistic lack of empathy. In Killing Eve, she throws ice cream at young children, castrates the husband of a French teacher she’s obsessed with, and dons different identities and masks to charm and lure her targets before she kills them.

Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond

Marie is a milder case of narcissism than the other characters on this list, but she still fits the bill of the narcissistic mother to a tee. She is extremely antagonistic, self-absorbed, unempathic, and pits her children against one another and bullies her daughter-in-law, Debra. She meddles excessively in the lives of others and shows an unhealthy enmeshment and obsession with her children, making Ray her “golden child” and Robert the scapegoat.

Frank Underwood from House of Cards

In House of Cards, Frank Underwood plays a connivingly ruthless narcissistic politician who murders his perceived enemies to rise in the ranks from the United States House of Representatives all the way to U.S president. Underwood manipulates and deceives many people including his own friends, and even signs off on the deaths of his employees. House of Cards is a chilling portrait of a Machiavellian narcissistic psychopath who is willing to do anything for power.

Ramsay Bolton + Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones

Plenty of characters on Game of Thrones fit the bill of narcissistic and psychopathic traits, including Cersei Lannister, but if we had to pick just one or two, we’d go with Ramsay and Joffrey for being the most sadistic and psychopathic of the crew. Ramsay is sadistic and violent beyond words, taking pleasure in preying on women and violating them (literary feeding one to the dogs) and dehumanizing Theon Greyjoy. Joffrey is also deeply narcissistic and psychopathic, abusing his power as king to execute Ned Stark in front of his children, and often tormenting his wife Sansa and showing cruelty to animals.

 

Shahida is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a published researcher and author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking Trauma Bonds with Narcissists and Psychopaths. Her books have been translated into 16+ languages all over the world. Her work has been featured on Salon, HuffPost, Inc., Bustle, Psychology Today, Healthline, VICE, NYDaily News and more. For more inspiration and insight on manipulation and red flags, follow her on Instagram here.

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