A morally bankrupt Pope presides over Showtime’s new series The Borgias, premiering Sunday. It’s a true story, but it fits neatly into a cinematic archetype that goes back to a tattooed Robert Mitchum: the corrupt man of God. At this point, the priest with a dark side has become such a cliche that the clerical collar often seems like a Break in Case of Emergency plot device for a screenwriter who needs to make a villain extra-villainous on a tight deadline. But to give a Bible-thumping baddie real credibility as a heretical holy man, the writer needs to slow down and take the time to study his or her Good Book. Because to create a truly morally bankrupt preacher, you’ve got to have the perfect hypocritical verse for him to recite while killing widows, swindling mob bosses, and knocking up teenagers. Check out our list of the nine baddest Good Bookers, and don’t worry: The wicked never prosper in the end.
Photo: Jonathan Hession/Copyright: Showtime 2011