On TV everyone has their reason for going to the dark side: revenge, love, betrayal — not to mention the albatross of carrying on life as a brunette in Beverly Hills. We’ve seen just about every motive, and the villains we empathize with most are usually the ones who have human qualities we can relate to. If they’re really convincing, they might even have us believing we too could break bad one day. Enter Walter White, the high school chemistry teacher turned meth lord whose moral descent has won us over the past four years — or weeks if you’re a latecomer who just finished one helluva summer TV marathon in time for the new season, which debuts Sunday. In anticipation of the premiere — or, as declared by those foreboding trailers, the rise of the “new king” — we’re taking a look at other TV characters who memorably crossed into dark territory. Their transformations certainly pale in comparison to Walt’s, but we have to give them credit, because let’s face it: good is not only boring, it’s unrealistic.
Battlestar Galactica: Felix Gaeta
We feel for Gaeta, and it’s not just because he had the singing voice of an angel. At the beginning he was just an idealistic CIC guy with unwavering loyalty to his commander and the old ways of democracy — as was made evident when he refused to let Roslin get away with rigging the presidential election at the end of Season 2. But after a betrayal on New Caprica by a Number Eight, he revoked any trust he put in the Cylons, while his own people — the humans — moved closer to an alliance with them. Determined to turn the world “right-side-up” again, Gaeta led a coup against his own ship, and all but ejected himself from the airlock when he ordered the execution of Adama, the man he once would have died serving.
When the assumptions of “good” and “bad” are completely undone — or, in the world of BSG, when your once sworn enemy suddenly becomes your ally, spouse, or even yourself (see: Boomer) — this can really mess with a person. Not unlike the very war the show allegorizes, some people were destined to become collateral damage when boundaries blurred, and Gaeta was one of them.