Evil organizations are a staple of spy dramas and many sci-fi shows.They kill, they torture, they abuse power and they are the ruthless faceless antagonists of our beloved characters. Destroying the evil organization is their reason of being… but should they?

First let’s take a look at the best evil organizations of all shapes and sizes on TV:

All good spies have a hub

And I am not talking about boring “official” spook organizations like the CIA or MI-5 [or even the KGB]; I am talking about good old-fashion SECRET [totally made up] spy hubs. And let’s face it; “spy” organizations are mostly evil [or at least morally ambiguous]. From Jack Bauer’s CTU to the whimsical Control [and evil Kaos] on Get Smart; many of these organizations have become part of our pop culture. But... let's face it... evil is better, and here are some of my favs:  

“Division” was the heart and soul of Nikita and La femme Nikita [not really sure what it was called in the original movie, anyone?]. This evil organization recruited runaway teens and turned them into the perfect assassins. Division was Nikita’s nemesis. The people on top could change, but the company was always there.

Sloane's "tastefully minimalist office" Alias
However, the mother of all evil spy organizations has got to be SD-6. The evil organization at the core of Alias, is one of the reasons this is my favourite spy show of all times. SD-6 stands for “Section Disparu” (the section which has disappeared) and, as the cool name suggests, it is a secret organization. The hook? It posed as a black-ops division of the CIA. They recruited the brightest and the best and convinced them they would be serving their country. So SD-6 was basically an evil organization with a lot of good people who thought they were the good guys when in fact they were the bad guys. And that… is cool… also very convoluted and one of the reasons a lot of people simply claimed “they didn't get the show”.

Makers become hunters

Manticore Dark Angel
What is even cooler than a spy evil organization? Evil organizations that experiment on people! These are definitely my favourite kind! OK… so some are less cool than others… For instance “Ultra” on The Tomorrow People was just not as evil as it could have been [and the show was just not as cool as it should have been]; but for the most part… they rock.

My all-time favourite is “Manticore” from Dark Angel. This evil organization didn’t just experiment on people, they created their own people. Basically they bred little perfect soldiers with altered DNA. They inseminated young women, disposed of them and then they proceeded to train [and adoctrinate] the  kids so they would grow up to become perfect killing machines. Of course some escaped and the rest is history…

The Dollhouse
…And that is what Muirfield on Beauty and the Beast had the potential to be, but never quite  got there [they were also missing a good front man like Dark Angel had Lydecker]. Muirfield didn’t experiment on kids, they experimented on American soldiers; but other than that they were very similar. They modified DNA to give the subjects animalistic abilities and make them supersoldiers. I guess what I am saying is that Muirfield had the potential to be a really cool evil organization, but was never given the chance. It is understandable to some extent because unlike Dark Angel, BatB is not a primarily sci-fi show [it has sci-fi elements, but I don’t think it is the predominant genre].

A close second to Manticore is “The Dollhouse” from Dollhouse. This organization combined evil experimental organization with an escort service. They erased the memories of people and rented them out as “dolls” for diverse “engagements” with wealthy clients. This is one seriously cool premise.

Finally, evil organizations don’t even need to be secret! A great one was even publicly traded. I am talking of 

Massive Dynamics - Fringe
“Massive Dynamics” from Fringe. Probably one of the coolest. Not only they had the slinkiest headquarters, but they sure were evil! Its founder was involved in experiments with children, messing up with the balance of the universe, creating an intergalactic war and all sorts of morally ambiguous stuff… I bet they cooked their books too. Another great example in this category is the Dyad institute on Orphan Black.

Evil organizations are the worst enemies… and “it is not about cutting an arm of the monster, it is about killing the monster!” but should they?

Kill the organization, kill the show?

Yes, stories have to move forward… but I am really against killing evil organizations. I understand the impulse to do it… the hero must prevail and all that… but I can’t think of one example where I was satisfied!

Muirfield - "M"
When Nikita brought down Division [and Percy] … it was awesome! But it also felt like a series finale… and it would have been a GREAT series finale, except Nikita went on for another 2 years. Not saying I didn’t want it to continue, but it was never as cool. Nikita’s best times were when she was infiltrating division and having a super-hot cat and mouse love affair with Michael. “New Division” just wasn’t as evil or cool and they struggled to create a strong opponent after that. [I still enjoyed S3 and S4… but it wasn’t the same].

Same with SD-6 on Alias… and they got rid of it pretty quickly! Alias still had some amazing moments after SD-6 went away [and that S/V kiss after the take-down was amazing!] but it lost some of the “underground” feel that made it so cool. And seriously? What the hell was APO?

Even worse was Max burning down Manticore and liberating all the transgenics. Again, the underground feel went away and suddenly it was a public affair…  And don’t even get me started on how BatB got rid of M! In a 2 second scene… that’s how. Not even a cool take down! And yes, I used to joke a lot about how M was the WORST EVIL ORGANIZATION EVER but when it turned out to be true… I was deeply disappointed. I am still hoping they bring back “the new M” or something.

Kudos to Massive Dynamics for surviving till the end, even with all the timeline, universe, and upper management changes.

So no… killing the big bad evil organization does not mean immediate cancellation or anything like that. And I am all for changing a premise and rebooting a show… but I do believe delaying the demise of the evil corp is advisable and you better have a damn good plan for what comes next when you decide to “kill the monster”.

So... which is your favorite evil org? Vote below:

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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. The only show worth watching is BATB but iI see exactly what you mean. If you puff up the importance and the power of the evil organization you had better make its downfall mighty impressive too. Not fob it off i a 2-second-scene. As a viewer ou feel cheated. We were manipulated to fear this awful evil power for months and then it is taken down in a single explosion? I feel kind of cheated.

    1. Eh.. I think all the shows on this list are worth watching... how many have you watched? How do you know they are not worth watching?


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