The Anatomy of A Reality TV Villain

You know them, you love them, you love to hate them. They’re not here to make friends, but they are here to make love to the camera, and for that, we salute them. 

The reality shows we cherish simply would not be watchable without villains. Even canonically nice shows, like The Great British Bake Off, have benefited from a rogue villain now and then — remember when Diana “accidentally” took Iain’s ice cream cake out of the freezer? The world shifted on its axis.

In many ways, reality villains provide us with a hefty dose of catharsis. They actually say the type of offensive, out of line comments that we mutter to ourselves in the shower when we think about confronting our toxic ex-boyfriend from sophomore year of college — but if ever given the opportunity, we’d be like, “I hope your mom is well!” 

Sometimes, we wish we were them. They look great, seemingly never get sore from wearing heels, and mask their insecurities with the confidence of a thousand suns. Other times, their repulsiveness creates a satisfying foe for our hero, giving the nation a common enemy to tweet about. 

In this chapter of our Reality TV Textbook, we’ll explore 10 of the most chaotic villains in reality TV history. We’ll discuss the value they bring to our screens, honor their contributions to history, and psychoanalyze WTF is going on in their disturbing little brains. 

Section 1: Shit-Stirrers 

Shit Stirrer villains aren’t exactly evil. They just know what it takes to make good TV and get off on provoking people. Leaking to TMZ that your dog has gonorrhea? Maybe below the belt, but it was just for the show — no hard feelings, babes!   

Johnny Bananas, The Real World: Key West, The Challenge

Villain Origin Story: Johnny earned his money-making “Bananas” nickname after attempting to put sliced bananas in his mom’s tailpipe — an homage to Beverly Hills Cop — to avoid going to school that day. 

Most Villainous Moment: After a grueling, multi-day final challenge, Johnny Bananas was given the opportunity to steal his partner Sarah Rice’s share of the prize money and took it with gay abandon, officially cementing his legacy as one of the most ruthless Challengers to ever challenge. 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I’m gonna take the money and run, Teej.” Something I quote all the time, and no one ever knows what I’m talking about.

Christine Quinn, Selling Sunset

Villain Origin Story: Spending four days in jail for marijuana possession in high school, before dropping out completely and moving to LA to become a big Hollywood star. 

Most Villainous Moment: Christine’s villain arc comes to a head when she attempts to sabotage her coworker Emma, bribing one of her clients not to work with her. She villained so hard she got fired, AKA girlbossing too close to the sun.  

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I was wondering why I wasn’t getting listings for a while and then I was like, ‘Oh yeah, because I’m not fucking my boss.’”


Kristin Cavallari, Laguna Beach, The Hills, Very Cavallari

Villain Origin Story: The only girl to wear white to the infamous Black and White Party that launched Laguna Beach, Kristin made her mark as a rich girl baddie from the moment she first graced our screens. 

Most Villainous Moment: Making out with Sam at a bar in Cabo in front of her ex, Stephen. 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I have no sympathy for you because you let it happen to yourself.” 


Section 2: Blatant Misogynists 

Blatant Misogynist villains cross a line, where it becomes clear that their antics aren’t just for the cameras — they’re actually terrible people with problematic ideologies. 

Luke P., The Bachelorette

Villain Origin Story: The day he heard God speak to him in the shower. His “religious awakening” was less “love thy neighbor” and more “shame thy slut.” 

Most Villainous Moment: Telling Hannah Brown during fantasy suite week that she shouldn’t have sex with any of her other Bachelorette suitors, because it would invalidate her faith in his eyes. The guy’s been Christian for two seconds, and now he’s the arbiter of which sex acts are “slip-ups?” 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I’ve been nothing but truthful with Hannah, and YOU ARE NOT GONNA MESS IT UP.” *Drops six slices of bologna in Garrett’s lap.* 

Russell Hantz, Survivor

Villain Origin Story: Getting into the family oil business. 

Most Villainous Moment: Lying to his tribe about surviving Hurricane Katrina to earn sympathy. 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I’m telling you, you plant that little seed in their head and their little brain and then it grows, and it’s called the Russell seed. It takes over the whole mind, so that makes it easy for me to manipulate every single one of them.”


Shake Chatterjee, Love Is Blind

Villain Origin Story: Thinking he could be a DJ. 

Most Villainous Moment: Backtracking all his affection for his fiancée after seeing her in a bikini for the first time, then comparing her to his aunt when discussing his lack of attraction with another contestant. You know you are mic’d up, right?? 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “Will I have trouble picking you up?” 


Section 3: Crazed Narcissists 

Crazed Narcissists are incapable of seeing anyone’s view point except their own. They can lovebomb or be exceptionally cruel, it all depends on what they stand to gain from your acquaintanceship. 

Abby Lee Miller, Dance Moms

Villain Origin Story: Allegedly starting Abby Lee Dance Company when she was 14. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s too young to run a company! 

Most Villainous Moment: Making JoJo stand in front of all the other dancers while they each went down the line and told her why they didn’t think she should be on their dance team. I guess bullying works???

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I told her her daughter looked like roadkill.” 


Tom Sandoval, Vanderpump Rules

Villain Origin Story: When Jax told him, “Stop acting like you’re the number one fucking guy in this group. I’m the number one guy in this group.” The rest was herstory.  

Most Villainous Moment: A seven-month affair with his girlfriend of nine years’ colleague and friend. NBD. 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “She kept her t-shirt on, it was really hot.” 


Section 4: Ruthless Gamebots

Once the cameras start rolling, Ruthless Gamebots evict all warm and fuzzy feelings from their hearts. Whether it’s throwing their teammates under the bus to win a competition, or breaking necks to insert themselves as HBIC of a social circle, no shot is too cheap to take. 

Danielle Staub, The Real Housewives of New Jersey  

Villain Origin Story: Getting engaged 19 times. How do you even know that many people??? 

Most Villainous Moment: Instigating the iconic “prostitution whore!” table flip. 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “Is ‘bye’ a threat?” 

Omarosa Manigault Newman, The Apprentice 

Villain Origin Story: Being dubbed “the worst hire ever made” in the Gore office, leading her to transition into reality TV, where no skills are needed. 

Most Villainous Moment: Working at the Trump White House. 

Most Villainous One-Liner: “I’d rather be a has-been than a never-was.” *Pours drink on Piers Morgan’s head.* 


Emma Sharpe
Emma Sharpe
Emma Sharpe is a New York based writer and marketer. She's a Kardashian apologist and finds a Survivor metaphor for every life situation. You can find more of her pop culture ramblings at