The Situation: I may, on occasion, be a bit ethically ambiguous. But, for the most part, I have a pretty strong moral compass and do have certain lines I won’t cross. That’s why you need to have the names of a few rogues and scoundrels in your address book. You just never know when a fast-talking, sniveling, conniving, back-stabbing son of a bitch may come in handy. Granted, you never know when they might turn around and stab you in the back…but that’s half of the fun, isn’t it?
The Criteria: There’s a little bit of give in the definition of the word scoundrel. For me, the four guys on this list (for the most part) are in it only for themselves. Certain folks who could be on this list–Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, Robin Hood, Bugs Bunny–may be roguish, but all of their duplicity and fisticuffs come from a need to do the “right thing.”
1. Edmund Blackadder
From the British Middle Ages through the First World War, no family has been more craven and power-hungry than the Blackadder line. Patricide, regicide, treason, sedition, insubordination–no act is too low for Blackadder, if it means improving his station or saving his neck.
2. Harry Flashman
The man who started life as the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays grew into the embodiment of roguish scalawagery. Ol’ Flashman is a self-described cad. A coward of the highest order who somehow manages to find himself lying, bullying, cowering, cheating and fornicating his way through some of the most important moments of the nineteenth century.
3. Jayne Cobb
He may be known as “The Hero of Canton”, but Jayne is far from heroic. Sure, he’s got your back in a fight, but only if he knows he’ll be getting paid at the end of it. He has been known to do “the right thing” from time to time, but it’s usually just a means to save his neck (or protect his good name, for whatever that’s worth).
4. Groucho Marx
It’s easy to forget that Groucho was such a scoundrel since he’s become a cultural icon, not to mention the spiritual father of Bugs Bunny. But, remember this: most of Groucho’s actions in the Marx Brothers movies were fueled by lust, greed, or wounded pride…and what could be more roguish than that?