Even in sitcoms, you need drama. And when you have drama, you have villains.
The Golden Girls featured all sorts of dark and dramatic themes over its seven-year run, which brought more than a handful of harassers, bigamists, robbers, scammers, and abusers out of the woodwork.
But are the burglars who stole Dorothy’s stole better or worse than the thieves who shot George Clooney? Is a neighbor who doesn’t clear up a tree on your property better or worse than a neighbor who goes to court to destroy one? Is Harry the bigamist better or worse than Patrick Vaughn who bonged every woman in town?
Well, here are your answers!
This list covers all matters of antagonists on The Golden Girls outside of the Big Four of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia (even though each of them, of course, have a handful of villainous personality traits themselves). It doesn't include minor "bad" characters who don't particularly move the plot (like Johnny No Thumbs, or literally every member of the Daughters of the Old South) or major villains like "Reagan's America," but all of your favorites you love to hate are here.
As Rose says, "Evil is as evil does." Here's your complete ranking of the worst people on The Golden Girls.
IN RANKING ORDER, FROM ‘NICEST’ VILLAIN TO ABSOLUTE WORST:
The city inspector that’s threatening to break up the girls over one too many roommates
Don is indeed just doing his legal duty to report that Blanche’s house is only zoned for two tenants. But would it have killed him to look the other way? I mean, he is invited to the hot tub.
The General Manager of the Island Resort
The guy who runs the hotel on the unnamed island in Vacation
Another skeeze who is “just doing his job,” this guy knows he’s scamming guests. Technically, though, he’s not lying. It really doesn’t say “GREAT ocean view.”
Stephanie & Liz
Rose’s new roommates who don’t socialize
There’s no problem being just roommates and not friends. But Stephanie’s mom — I mean, Rhonda — I mean Rose — deserves at least a little more pleasantry. Take a valium and chill out, for pete’s sake.
Rick, Dwayne, and Winston Hardwick III
The three dudes who end up sharing the same bathroom as the girls on vacation
It’s not nice to make Grandma Moses jokes to old ladies in your hotel or pray to god that they die instead of you when the boat you’re on is sinking.
The coach of the football team, whose star Dorothy is flunking
His negotiation skills leave much to be desired, he puts football over education, he’s kind of an idiot, AND he has a wildly unrealistic sense of self. Describes a large portion of the population, actually.
The Security System Salesman
The guy who tries to get the girls to buy the most expensive alarm system in The Break-In
Sure, we only see this guy do it one time, but it seems like he’s made a career out of manipulating frightened people into spending money they don’t have. If we could put “unregulated capitalism” on this list, we would. It’s going to come up a lot.
Sophia's husband, Dorothy's father, and irresponsible gambler
A lovable baciagaloop most days, hiding your horse bet losses from your wife, putting your business and livelihood in jeopardy, and abandoning your daughter while she's sick in the hospital — enough to traumatize her well into adulthood — gets you a few strikes.
Ray’s ex-wife who threatens Rose with a lobster
This poor lady really just needs a couple of Nyquil shooters to shake off her divorce, but acting out at innocent parties (with innocent shellfish!) isn’t cool.
The girls’ housekeeper who is actually studying to be a lawyer instead of cleaning
Sure, she eventually came clean, but she also didn’t really do the job and made shit up about love potions. Points off, too, for pursuing a career track solely based on a natural ability to lie.
The front desk attendant in the episode Grab that Dough
Opportunistic survival capitalism for service industry workers aside, it really is shitty that the concierge gives the girls’ hotel rooms away and charges them money to sleep in the lobby. I guess we’ll never know if she was in cahoots with the purse stealers.
Jerry the TV anchor’s mother who tries to sabotage his relationship with Blanche
An overprotective mother is never gonna have a great end result, so Blanche is better off finding ways to get her exercise (and I mean plenty of exercise) elsewhere.
Kate’s husband who cheats on her
Even being a gorgeous podiatrist can’t save you from effing up your marriage or the self-referential wrath of Stan Zbornak.
The Sunshine Cadet that holds Rose’s teddy bear hostage
Get this kid some therapy.
Miles’ daughter who tries to break him and Rose up
Girl, even if you were acting in the best interests of the Witness Protection Program, don’t mess with your dad’s lovely new girlfriend. You’re a grown-ass woman.
Dorothy’s sister who sleeps with Stan
Sibling relationships are complex, but you deem yourself villainous when you sleep with your sister’s ex — no matter how much your mother insists.
Sophia’s boyfriend and Angela’s roommate
Don’t be two-timing Sophia. Just don’t.
The married man who dies in Rose’s bed
He did seem to have tacit permission from his wife, but he sure didn’t tell Rose that she existed — and therefore left her with a hell of a mess to clean up because he ate meat for dessert.
Stan’s brother who dates Dorothy
Impotent skeezes who woo ex-sisters-in-law just to get a babysitter for a date abroad with a ‘stewardess’ make the damn list.
The man in a wheelchair that Blanche picks up in a library
Jerks are jerks, regardless of physical limitations.
The misogynistic plumber
No Dolan Standard Lowboy is worth the Red Pill bullshit of a plumber harassing old ladies. Just carry the damn toilet to the bathroom, asshole. You deliver toilets. It’s your job.
The jerkoff painter who is close to death
This old pompous dude paints his schlong long and gets mad at art galleries for hanging it upside down? Even the gallery owner knows your dick isn’t that big, dude. Get over yourself.
Sophia's burgeoning capitalist boss at Peco Pete's Chow Wagon
He’s gonna fire his grandmother. Who does that?
The actor that stars in a local musical and secretly dates Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche
His stamina is something to behold, but all he had to do was be honest with the entire performance company of his play and it would have been kosher.
The head of Cypress Grove, where Sophia thinks she’s the activities director
A change in career might be in order for Mr. Porter, who reneges on his deal with Dorothy and generally just needs to learn how to treat older people like human beings.
The cantankerous neighbor who Rose kills
People are allowed to keep themselves to themselves and do whatever it is they do (like eat prune danish) in the privacy of their own lives, but the line is crossed when you act like an asshole, habitually spy on your neighbors, and advocate for killing trees!
The crabby neighbor who doesn’t want to pay for fallen tree removal
Speaking of being a bad neighbor: Even if you don’t want to play nice, you still have to respect property lines. Thank god your poor wife knows you’re a dick.
St. Sebastian’s Dean of Boys, who puts pressure on Dorothy to let the quarterback play
There are an awful lot of irreverent priests in this series, but this one both threatens Dorothy and directs lewd sexual confession innuendo at Blanche.
Blanche’s father who cheated on his wife, among other issues
This ‘esteemed father figure’ had all sorts of problematic antebellum-style issues, including showing his kinfolk the most efficient way to burn books, and carried on a years-long secret affair with Blanche’s ‘mammy’. And he was a Republican! Three strikes.
Dorothy’s old teacher who copies her work
It would appear that Dorothy’s old teacher has been skating by on scamming other people for their valuable work his whole life, even though we only see this instance. Blanche is a better match for her, surely.
Rose’s old beau who puts pressure on her
There’s something about Buzz that’s different from other male jerkoffs, and it’s of the ‘can’t put your finger on it but you know it’s bad’ variety. His manipulation of Rose and self-importance when it comes to her feelings about Miles — and her feelings in general — is so gross as to rank him higher in villainy than several adulterers.
The Purse Stealers
The unseen folks who steal the old ladies purses out of the lobby on the eve of Grab That Dough
Again, capitalism sucks and we all gotta make due. But the hubris of stealing the purses of old ladies as they sleep on hotel lobby couches? Couldn’t you have just taken the money out of their wallets and left the rain bonnets and Feen-A-Mint behind?
Jackie and Marla
The teen girls who steal clothes at the mall and let Blanche and Rose take the fall for it
Not only are these gals manipulating senior citizens, they’re also taking advantage of a local charity program. And I guess the mall stores, too, but they have shrinkage built into their budgets.
Blanche’s husband who cheated on her at least once
Boy, howdy. If you’re gonna cheat on a woman who LOVES to sleep with other men but somehow you’re so amazing she remains monogamous for their entirety of your marriage, you really don’t want to have the kind of affair that leaves behind an illegitimate child who shows up on her doorstep decades later.
The married man with whom Dorothy has an affair
Glen, man, you gotta learn — among other things — how to let go of the past and do your own laundry. Grow the fuck up.
Rose’s sister who is a sneaky manipulator
Much like Rose’s one-time boyfriend Buzz, Holly has that je ne sais quoi of villainy where there's just enough gray area that certain ill-seeming scenarios could be explained away, but you eventually understand that, ultimately, she’s a master manipulator and gaslighter. As Rose puts it so well, Holly is a stupid jerk.
The bigamist who nearly married Blanche in the pilot episode
It’s not enough to lie to and cheat on and manipulate a bunch of women simultaneously, you have to be married to them, too?
Dorothy’s ex-husband and first-class yutz
At first you think that Stan just had a mid-life crisis and ran off with a younger woman as part of a one-time cliché. But then you realize that he’s caused real trauma for Dorothy and so many others throughout the years, through copious amounts of cheating, lying, scamming, and just being a selfish prick. Lest we forget, his mother even knew he was a yutz and tried her damnedest to keep him away from her.
The unseen burglars who ransack the girls’ house while they’re at a Madonna concert
We don’t know the circumstances behind this robbery — the burglars could have been looking for Maalox and Estrogen, we don’t know! — but it is a huge violation, and clearly traumatizing. Plus, it set off a chain of events that almost cost Lester his life.
The Doctor Who Prescribed Rose’s Pills
The doctor who prescribed Rose’s pills that she became addicted to over 30 years ago
St. Olaf was a small enough town that this doc surely could have checked up on Rose, or at least heard about how she was doing, in order to help her with this addiction. She does kick it in 24 hours, though, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The English thief who steals Blanche’s necklace at the Moonlight Madness party
How did this guy crash this party, anyway?
Gunpoint Santa Claus
The dude who tries to force everyone to spend Christmas with him
This lonely dude would be but the lightest of villains had he not made several folks fear for their life at gunpoint in the lobby of a counseling center at Christmas. It doesn’t matter that it’s not a real piece.
The old pension office worker who tries to scam Rose
When your retirement plan after working at a pension office your entire life involves scamming old widows out of their money, that says a hell of a lot about both you and what your pension from a pension office looks like.
The Dean of Blanche’s community college
The stressed-out man with a short-sleeve button down would be less pathetic if he had actually tried to intervene in a sexual harassment allegation from his position of authority. But he literally whines about his sex life to the victim.
The Nun & The Guy
The duo running the wallet scam at the mall who trick Blanche and Sophia
Yet another pair of scammers at a mall (oh, the 1980s!), but this time the duo is two full-blown adults who are definitely repeat offenders, and who really fuck with your head in terms of how you assess the innocence of women dressed in nun habits.
The doctor who dismisses the fact that Dorothy is really sick with CFS
Luckily Dr. Budd got what was coming to him in a nice dish served hella cold by Dorothy at a fancy restaurant, speaking for all of the women who have been and continue to be dismissed in a misogynistic medical setting. And his wife tells him to shut up, too, which is nice.
The doctor who dates Dorothy but hits on Blanche
Dude. If you’re gonna double-dip or whatever, don’t do it between two best friends and roommates, dummy. Get a sidepiece somewhere else.
The author who tolerates anti-Semitic policies at her club
This snooty motherfucker is a rat who doesn’t care that she runs over other rats, as long as she gets the slice of pizza at the top of the subway stairs (that’s a metaphor).
The professor who tells blanche he can pass her if she sleeps with him
Way to be a gross cliché, man. Happily, Professor Cooper was so gross, Blanche studied her ass off so she could pass without having to get anywhere near this d bag.
The recently incarcerated man who ties up Sophia
Merrill would have been in the clear if he had just served his time and been horny, but he had to go tie up Sophia like eight seconds after he got out of prison, so… yeah, he blew it. Not to mention the fact that he made a mockery of the love affair between his cellmate and Harley the night guard!
Rose’s dentist who gropes her
This guy is such a doof in so many ways, but sexual assault — particularly when you’re a professional and your client is unconscious — is reprehensible and deserves more punishment than squirting his shoes with the little dental waterpik.
The next-door neighbor jewel thieves
This pair of dinner party guests would have shown up way further down the list — except they shot George Clooney.
A wanted gangster who nearly murders Miles and the girls
It’s pretty obvious that being the star of America’s Most Wanted’s most highly rated episode ever (ever!) is probably enough to make you a supreme villain. But sidling up to Rose to try to murder the man she loves, and then nearly doing it if not for an Empty Nest cop, makes you one of the very worst.
Blanche’s daughter Becky’s awful boyfriend
The only reason this scum bag isn’t in first place is because we don’t actually see him being physically abusive. But a body-shaming loser whose insecurities are so debilitating that he feels compelled to degrade the woman he says he loves in front of her mother and her friends? Toxic masculinity at its worst. Au revoir Jeremy!
Blanche’s awful boyfriend
Here it is: The pinnacle The Golden Girls villain. An emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive boyfriend that doesn’t even deserve that endearing term. Blanche nearly doesn’t escape from his terrifying grasp. Thank goodness for the rest of the girls, who do a hell of a lot more to support their friends than just bring the biggest gift at the party with everyone you know.
You might disagree with the ranking of this list, but if you do, who cares? All of these fools are still worse than Burt Reynolds <3
Big thanks to the incredible artwork and list collaboration from Wicker Good Memes, all original content and a visual interpretation of The Golden Girls through their jokes and pop culture references.
Special thanks also to The Clothes of Blanche's Boudoir for additional list contributions.