This year’s break-out primetime soap Revenge is yet another testament to our fascination with the rich and awful, in this case the Graysons — the family Emily Thorne (who is really Amanda Clarke) believes to be responsible for her father’s death. As we approach tonight’s finale, we’re looking forward to the big reveals (namely, who will die?), as well as the simple things: some Nolan and Ems hostage banter, a few classic Victoria zingers to send us on our way for the summer, and Daniel slipping further into the dark side (and, in turn, ratcheting up the tension between him and his possibly sociopathic bride-to-be).
The Grayson family’s hand in the David Clarke cover-up is far from clear at this point, but we’ve spent enough time in the Hamptons this year to know the scope of their power leaves nothing out of the realm of possibility. If you’re a Grayson and you want something done, it generally happens. Which of course got us thinking about the history of awful rich people on TV — from the lovably conniving (think Victoria) to the plain awful (think Conrad). Click through for our roundup of the most indelible characters, and as always we invite you to make your own additions in the comments.
Dallas: J.R. Ewing, oil magnate
There’s no better way to begin this list than with Dallas — the torchbearer of primetime dramas about greedy rich people. According to show creatorDavid Jacobs: “[J.R.’s] attitude was you have to screw them before they screw you… one actor offered the role (Robert Foxworth) wanted to know how we would be sympathetic with J.R. or at least understand him. I said I don’t think we are going to, this guy just likes it, and the actor passed.” Larry Hagman ended up winning the role, and quickly took the character from supporting cast member to star, proving that America had more than enough room in its heart for an unapologetic oil tycoon. In fact, 76% of our nation’s TV viewers tuned in on the night of November 21, 1980 to find out “Who shot J.R.?” (the culprit, for the 24% of you who were on another channel or not yet born, was his mistress/sister-in-law Kristin Shepard). J.R., of course, rehabilitated and lived on for the show’s 14-season run (including the initial miniseries), two reunion movies, five Knots Landing appearances, and now TNT’s revival — in which the Ewing family feud will live on through J.R. and Bobby’s sons J.R. III and Christopher (played by Desperate Housewives alum Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe ).