A number of dark male lead characters have hit the radar, confounding our unsuspecting little hearts. From bad boys to spies, and shamans to otherworldly characters, here are some of TV’s most shadowy swoonworthies.
#1 James Delaney, Taboo
He’s hard, muscled, tattooed and skilled with the blade. Played by Tom Hardy, Taboo’s lead character never fails to surprise.
The gist: James Keziah Delaney seemingly returns from the dead in 1814 to inherit his late father’s shipping empire. He discovers that in his father’s estate is Nootka Sound, a strategic piece of land on the Canadian/American border, which is much sought after by both the Americans and the British, and the East India Company, which happens to also be fighting with The Crown. Delaney plans to use the land to negotiate for a monopoly on the tea trade, but a lot of conspiracy, betrayal and underhand dealings come to light, forcing the savage side of him to surface. But wit never leaves his side, and he always remains ahead of the game in a Ragnar Lothbrok (Vikings) meets Peaky Blinders kind of way.
Strengths: Wit, brawn, skilled in combat, does a mean “fillet”, can communicate with the dead and visit you in your dreams (shudder!), gives to the poor and champions the downtrodden, can take a LOT of pain, has nice handwriting (what?)
Weaknesses: His sister (oops!), grunts more than he speaks, swills liquor like it’s water, haunted by the ghost of his mother, will steal away without telling you to communicate with the spirits, never forgives a grudge, favours violence too much
Hot Factor: Nasi Lemak with Ayam Goreng Berhantu and Extra Spicy Sambal
#2 Naz Khan, The Night Of
He faced up to Bor Gullet without breaking and gave the movie its name in Rogue One. But before that, we had of course, fallen in love with his innocence in The Night Of, only to watch him gradually turn into a jaded (but buff AF) prison thug.
The gist: Played by Riz Ahmed, Nasir “Naz” Khan, a college student living in Queens, New York sneaks out with his father’s cab one night to attend a party. On the way he inadvertently picks up a gorgeous young woman. After a night of sex and drugs Naz wakes to find her stabbed to death. He has no recollection of what happened. A lot happens in between, but Naz is arrested and imprisoned. While his trial is ongoing, he befriends Freddy Knight, an influential prisoner with access to anything from fillet mignons to crystal meth. Under Freddy’s protection, Naz starts to beef up and stand up to the other prisoners who rag on him, plus he also gets involved in drug smuggling. In short, he went from innocent to shaven, buff AF bad boy in zero to about five episodes.
On the Flip Side: Riz Ahmed debuts as a new unexpected romantic lead in Lena Dunham’s Girls as the oh-so-sweet surf instructor, Paul-Louis. Though it was meant to be a Hamptons fling, Paul-Louis is one of the most considerate and sweet dates a girl can have. He’s the kind who doesn’t care about your wobbly bits or that you puked all over his floor. Plus, he does a mean rap. A massive twist in Episode 4 suggests that Paul Louis is about to be much more than just a fling.
It’s clear that with Riz Ahmed, it’s not so much about the characters he plays as much as it is about the man himself.
Strengths: Those large puppy dog eyes, that Wembley accent (as a matter of fact, his Queens accent in The Night Of and LA accent in Nightcrawler were highly commendable as well), sheer versatile talent (he makes us laugh, he makes us scared, he makes us want to rescue him), does a mean rap, is an activist championing Syrian refugees, took his mum to the Oscars, have we mentioned buff AF?
Weaknesses: We can’t think of any, oh – maybe the fact that he hangs out with models a lot, but then, who are we to judge?
Hot Factor: Roti Cheese with Sardine Curry and Teh Tarik Sangat Manis
#3 Kim Shin, Goblin
He won us over in the zombie flick Train to Busan saving young girls and fighting zombies in a business suit. In Goblin, actor Gong Yoo lays on more of the charm as a tortured immortal warrior in designer gear.
The gist: Kim Shin was once a war hero in Goryeo but was murdered by the jealous King he was protecting. The “Gods” saw fit to turn him into a ‘goblin’ (bit of Korean mythology in action – something to do with his sword and his blood).
As a goblin, Kim Shin is now 939 years old and over the years has amassed a vast fortune. His role is as a protector of souls forever destined to search for his ‘bride’, the only one who can remove the sword he was killed with, still impaled in his chest. It is only when the sword is removed that he can finally move to the after-life and rest in peace.
Strengths: Killer dress sense, that deadpan stare, he can teleport, freeze time and see into the future of anyone he meets. When he is sad it rains and when he is happy flowers bloom, even in the winter. He will protect his loved ones no matter the consequence and is kind-hearted and impossibly romantic. Will take you shopping and respect your chastity. Plus, he cooks!
Weaknesses: His teen “goblin bride” – getting totes silly or jealous around her, the “Gods”, his arch-nemesis Wang Yeo.
Hot Factor: Nasi Goreng Kim Chi with Tom Yum ‘Gong Yoo’
#4 Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer, SS GB
We watched him slay (literally) as the brooding, tortured Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. And of course, there was that Burberry campaign. Sam Riley now takes on the perfectly noir role (replete with upturned trench and slanty hat); the thinking girl’s choice.
The gist: Based on the novel SS-GB by Len Deighton, the story is set in a 1941 alternative timeline in which Nazi Germany has won the Battle of Britain and is now occupying the United Kingdom. Sam Riley plays Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer, who is forced to work with the Nazis while investigating a homicide with deeper ties to political Nazi infighting. Though the TV show has been slammed by critics for mumbled audio amongst other things, we, who have subtitles available to us, recognise what’s important – the man is ice!
Strengths: That voice – like whisky and fire, the impeccable dressing and rakish fop, intelligence, not afraid to cry (when a young police recruit he sends on a mission is totalled by the Resistance), loyalty to his country, moves in the bedroom and the dancefloor, is a baby daddy who loves his son (bonus “aww” points: wife killed in the war).
Weaknesses: Chain smokes (but then again this is the 1940s, the guy’s just been through a war and Nazis are all over the place), trusts strange American women a bit too much.
Hot Factor: Ais Kacang with Whisky and Chilli Api
#5 Shadow Moon, American Gods
Tall, ripped and mysterious, Ricky Whittle got us hot and bothered as Captain George East in Austenland. And of course there was that Peta ad…
Then he played a Woods Clan warrior in The 100, where he was subsequently bullied off the show, his character killed off prematurely. Nevertheless, his next show is probably set to be more of a cult series than The 100 will ever be, with Ricky playing Shadow Moon in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, premiering in April 2017.
The gist: If you’ve read the book, this won’t come as a surprise. Shadow Moon is an ex-convict who is hired as a bodyguard by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday and gets caught up in the war between the Old Gods (the likes of Odin and Thor) and the New Gods (Technology and Media).
Shadow was a small, bookish child, often bullied by his classmates. At 13, he went through a growth spurt, joining the swim and weightlifting teams. He met and married Laura McCabe and worked with his friend Robbie Burton at a gym called the Muscle Farm where he was arrested and imprisoned for assaulting somebody who stole from him.
He is released from prison early due to the fact that his wife has died in a car crash while engaging in shady car sex with her lover, none other than his best friend Robbie. In the books, Shadow is pegged as an average, somewhat uninteresting guy. However, as the plot unfurls, his character becomes more complex.
Strengths: Super hot, (it is rumoured he piled on close to 30 kgs in muscle for the role), and can take bad guys out like he’s changing a light bulb. It is alluded that he is a Shaman, can make it snow, can track people who are far away (in his mind) to see what they are doing, and can converse with mythical creatures in his dreams. People often underestimate him at first, which is an advantage.
Weaknesses: Shadow is too willing in giving his loyalty, even when it is no longer a matter of the obligation. (Oh wait, that’s a plus for us!)
Hot Factor: Nasi Beriani with Daging Kicap Extra Berlada
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