From left: Cersei Lannister from "Game of Thrones," Petra Andel from "Jane the Virgin," The Countess from "American Horror Story," and The Evil Queen from "Once Upon a Time." From left: Cersei Lannister from "Game of Thrones," Petra Andel from "Jane the Virgin," The Countess from "American Horror Story," and The Evil Queen from "Once Upon a Time." From left: Cersei Lannister from "Game of Thrones," Petra Andel from "Jane the Virgin," The Countess from "American Horror Story," and The Evil Queen from "Once Upon a Time." (Photo: Coutesy HBO, CW, FX, ABC)

Who are our favorite female villains on TV today?

These modern-day mischief-makers have us singing their praises, albeit from a distance.

Ask an actress what their favorite role is and, more often than not, they'll say it's the opportunity to portray a villain. Such meaty roles usually allow real-life sweethearts to play against type and tap into a fun, darker side. And television today, rich and replete with complex anti-heroes and multi-layered storytelling, is ripe for such roles.

Below we offer up some of our favorites that you can catch on screen this season. Let the cackling commence...

Petra Andel, 'Jane the Virgin'

Petra, played by actress Yael Grobglas, is at the center of the storm on "Jane the Virgin."Petra, played by actress Yael Grobglas, is at the center of the storm on "Jane the Virgin." (Photo: The CW)

On the award-winning CW telenovela takeoff, Israeli actress Yael Grobglas embraces her role with scene-stealing enthusiasm. She plays the wife of a hotel magnate who, because of a medical mixup, is the surprise baby daddy to lead character Jane. And then he starts to fall in love with Jane. So it's no wonder Petra has some villainous tendencies. Oh and – spoiler alert! – as fans of the show can tell you, she might actually be hiding a double identity. The plot thickens! "I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m usually cast as the nice girl character," she told From The Grapevine. "This is my first opportunity to play a villain, a very complicated, interesting new kind of villain who has a softer side. She’s a vulnerable, real person." Off camera, Grobglas enjoys showing off a sweeter side. "I’m a giant foodie," said the self-described pescetarian. "I make a mean salmon."


The Evil Queen, 'Once Upon a Time'

Once known simply as "The Evil Queen," Regina has showcased a softer side in more recent seasons.Once known simply as "The Evil Queen," Regina has showcased a softer side in more recent seasons. (Photo: ABC)

All the characters on this popular fairytale drama on ABC are motivated by either love or revenge. While the Evil Queen started out squarely on the wrong side of the tracks, her vulnerability seeped through, and viewers were rewarded with one of the more fascinating evolutions of a modern-day TV thespian. Over the past couple of seasons, her character – portrayed by Brooklyn-born actress Lana Parrilla – has gracefully shifted from villain to hero. She's fallen in love with Robin Hood and has joined forces with Snow White and Prince Charming to fight off new villains together. Fans are hoping that turnabout leads her to a well-deserved happily ever after ending.


The Countess, 'American Horror Story'

Lady Gaga portrays The Countess in the new season of "American Horror Story."Lady Gaga portrays The Countess in the new season of "American Horror Story." (Photo: FX Networks)

For a show that panders in shock value, it's hard to come up with new scare tactics. Enter the inimitable Lady Gaga. In the current season of the campy show, the pop icon plays the vampire-esque innkeeper known simply as The Countess whose hotel is lined with bizarre sculptures. The New York native has no qualms about showing off her darker side. "I walked in my first day and I was like, ‘I am going to give all of myself'," she said of playing the blood-sucking villain. John Travolta, who was filming another TV show on a nearby soundstage, happened to walk on set, looked at Lady Gaga and proclaimed that she "writhes around on the bed like a famished animal." Sounds both spooky and spectacular to us.


Cersei Lannister, 'Game of Thrones'

Actress Lena Headey Headey received multiple Emmy Award nominations her role as Cersei Lannister on "Game of Thrones."Actress Lena Headey received multiple Emmy Award nominations her role as Cersei Lannister on "Game of Thrones." (Photo: HBO)

Take all your favorite villains and toss them in a blender and out would come Cersei Lannister, portrayed with aplomb by Lena Headey. The "Game of Thrones" queen is paranoid, unstable, manipulative, conniving, politically ambitious and a functioning alcoholic. Offscreen, the Bermuda-born actress tries to shed her villainous reputation to varying degrees of success, which can be difficult considering she's covered in tattoos. She once said she was "born wearing ink," but her character in the fictional realm of Westeros is tattoo-free. Covering them up for the show requires lots of makeup, although Headey told Esquire magazine that "you can usually get away with it by keeping your clothes on."

Who are your favorite female villains on TV this season? Let us know in the comments section below!

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