Who doesn’t love a good rogue? I know several movies would’ve been lost to the wayside without that fascinating and selfish character you can’t quite trust, but deep down, know might have some good there…
Just imagine Star Wars without Han Solo or Pirates of the Caribbean without Captain Jack Sparrow. These films would have been only about Luke Skywalker and Will Turner. They’re great characters and all…but they definitely need their spicier foil.
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So why not compile a list of some of the best lovable rogues in film and television ever? (Sorry, no video games or books this time!)
LOVABLE ROGUE MEANING
Before I get into the actual list of famous rogues, what constitutes a lovable rogue? According to Wikipedia (which I think describes a lovable rogue quite perfectly), a lovable rogue is:
“…a literary trope in the form of a character, often from a dysfunctional or working-class upbringing, who tends to recklessly defy norms and social conventions but who still evokes empathy from the audience or other characters. The lovable rogue is generally male and is often trying to “beat the system” and better himself, though not by ordinary or widely accepted means. If the protagonist of a story is also a lovable rogue, he is frequently deemed an antihero.
Lovable rogues are not the standard paragons of virtue because they frequently break the law or seem to act for their own personal profit; however, they are charming or sympathetic enough to convince the audience to root for them. Although they appear at first to act only for personal gain or to break the law needlessly, lovable rogues are often justified in these actions later on due to some ethical motivation that had not yet been revealed at the time or, at least, have the capacity to atone for their wrongdoings.
Even when a rogue makes terrible choices, there’s that touch of humanity in them that makes us root and sympathize with their actions. Plus, they can be downright charismatic, and their clever witticisms tend to bring a smile to the audience.
Whether an antihero, a would-be King who shirks his responsibilities, a likable lawbreaker, or even a villain with redeemable qualities, I know I can’t help but always love the rogue character best. Here are just some of my personal favorites.
Note: I left off female lovable rogues like Lara Croft for this particular list.
THE TOP 50 LOVABLE ROGUES
(In Descending Order)
#50: LORD NARCISSE FROM REIGN
I am on no one’s side, but my own.
You never know what side Narcisse is on (other than his own), but that’s what makes him so alluring in the first place.
#49: DETECTIVE JOHN KENNEX FROM ALMOST HUMAN
Dorian: When I was decommissioned, the second before it happened I just kept thinking “I really hope there’s someone there to wake me up again.” I just want to be a cop, man. I just want to be here. And then you woke me up. It was you. You were that person for me, John.
John: Well, we all make mistakes.
A show that was canceled too soon! It’s a pity because Karl Urban as the main character, a rogue detective, in this sci-fi series was brilliant.
#48: JACK COLTON FROM ROMANCING THE STONE
The cops? What do they want? I haven’t done anything lately!
Because every now and then, we need a romantic adventure with a rogue as our leading man…He’s a popular choice amongst famous rogue characters.
#47: REMINGTON STEELE FROM REMINGTON STEELE
Irresponsibility isn’t a sickness – it’s an art.
Go back and do yourself a favor by watching the romantic TV series Remington Steele. It’s easy to see why Pierce Brosnan would later play the iconic James Bond.
#46: GARRETT FROM THE TWILIGHT FRANCHISE (BREAKING DAWN PART 2)
I came this close to biting Custer. The Indians got him first.
Lee Pace is both a vampire and a lovable rogue. Enough said.
#45: GWAINE FROM MERLIN
Your chances looked between slim and none. I, er…I guess I just kind of like the look of those odds.
While I loved the entire cast of Merlin characters, Gwaine always stood out because he was just plain fun and adorably roguish.
#44: SAM/OWEN FROM NIKITA
I’m new at this hero stuff, you’ve been doing it a lot longer.
Every spy show needs a rogue! And played by Casper (Devon Sawa) himself.
#43: SIMON TEMPLAR FROM THE SAINT
My name is Buro Houtenfaust. I was named for a Saint who was a very wealthy man. He had the wine, the women, the songs, the whole bit, and then inexplicably, took a vow of poverty and became a hermit. Ran off to live in the forest, in the nude.
Simon as played by Val Kilmer is the epitome of a good rogue. He’s charming, a criminal, and romantic all at the same time.
#42: JOSEF FROM MOONLIGHT
Josef: It’s a threat to our secrecy, what is this the 1720’s? We’re discreet, we don’t leave bodies lying around! We have to be extra-vigilant, we live in the age of fingerprint scans, DNA tests, genome mapping.
Mick: Josef! Relax.
Josef: I am relaxed. This is relaxed. You’re only ninety, you’ve never been chased by a torch-bearing mob, hungry!
While Moonlight is always worth watching for the epic romance between Mick and Beth, I also recommend it for Josef’s witty and roguish one-liners.
#41: ALEC FROM DARK ANGEL
I mean, why consummate two years of unbridled passion when we can have pasta?
Alec arrives in season 2 with wit and snark. Dark Angel needed one of those lovable rogues to shake things up! Extra points for a young Jensen Ackles (pre-Dean Winchester) in the role.
#40: SEO JUNG-HOO FROM HEALER
When two predators meet, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t fear. Everyone is afraid. However, it is the one who shows fear first that will lose their life first. Therefore, if someone is coming after you … before your weaknesses are revealed, attack them first. That is how you survive in the Animal Kingdom.
Seo Jung-Hoo is known as Healer, an illegal night courier, equipped with fighting skills and a hacker sidekick.
But then he meets a girl in this almost perfect Korean Drama. He will do anything to protect her making us love him even more. See their unexpected kiss in the snow!
#39: LANCELOT FROM KING ARTHUR
Lancelot: Well, if this woman of Gawain’s is as beautiful as he claims, I expect to be spending a lot of time at Gawain’s house. His wife will welcome the company.
Gawain: I see. And what will I be doing?
Lancelot: Wondering at your good fortune that all your children look like me.
While King Arthur has plotting issues, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot works like a charm because he’s so darn charming. He was just meant to play a rogue.
#38: LEONARD SNART & MICK RORY FROM LEGENDS OF TOMORROW AND THE FLASH
Mick: I can’t believe you’re hooking up with the Englishman. We’re thieves. Crooks. Criminals. I have no desire to save the world. Especially 100 years after I’m dead.
Snart: He said across time, Mick. What about the years before? Before fingerprints and surveillance cameras and DNA analysis. Why did we become criminals?
Mick: Because we hate working and we love money.
These two are always the best when they work together. Sometimes, they’re villains, and sometimes, they’re there to save the day. The guesswork makes their time onscreen so much fun.
#37: NEAL CAFFREY FROM WHITE COLLAR
Neal: You only know the guys that get caught. They’re the second best criminals.
Peter: What’s that say about you?
Neal: It says that there’s an exception to every rule.
Neal Caffrey is a thief and a con man. But he’s also helping the good guys out. How can you not love that handsome face?
#36: DOYLE FROM ANGEL
Angel: It’s all the same thing. Fight the good fight, whichever way you can.
Doyle: Tell you what. You fight, and I’ll keep score.
Doyle’s one of my personal favorite characters gone from the show too soon. Still, while he was on Angel, Doyle was a rare but also lovable geeky rogue!
#35: THE OLIVER QUEENS FROM SMALLVILLE & ARROW
Oliver Queen (Smallville): They say being a wanted man is supposed to be a bad thing.
How could I choose from these two vigilantes? One is snarky while the other can’t take a joke, but both are lovable rogues we can’t help but root for even when they’re breaking the law. They’re trying to save people after all!
#34: SIR PERCY FROM THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Sir Percy: My dear chap, I never would have dreamt of depriving you of your moment of triumph. Alas, a moment was all I could spare.
Sir Percy’s mocking and swoony in this romantic adaptation of the classic novel.
#33: DON WEST FROM LOST IN SPACE
Judy: But you were…How did you?
Don: Because I’m a badass [insert pause], princess.
Judy: You’re a badass princess.
Don: What? No, no. No. There’s a comma. ‘I’m a badass,’ comma, ‘princess.’
I’m so glad Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space didn’t forget to include a lovable rogue. Action-Adventure Sci-Fi just isn’t any good without that antihero who somehow does the right thing in the end.
#32: LANDO FROM STAR WARS
Lando: What are you doing here?
Han Solo: Ah, repairs. I was hoping you could help me out.
Lando: What have you done to my ship?
Han Solo: YOUR ship? Hey, remember you lost her to me, fair and square.
What I loved about the original Star Wars films is that not only did we get one rogue, but two of the best rogues and scoundrels!
Does anyone have thoughts on Donald Glover as the younger Lando in the Solo film?
#31: ERIC NORTHMAN FROM TRUE BLOOD
Sookie: I’m scared.
Eric: Death is scary. I’ve been avoiding it for a thousand years.
Eric has an infectious love of life that involves criminal vampire activity, but he also has a weakness for a particular blond that helps him do the right thing every once in a blue moon.
(Note: True Blood is an extremely explicit show so you’re warned, but the list just didn’t feel complete without him.)
#30: SON O-GONG AND WOO HWI-CHUL FROM HWAYUGI (AKA A KOREAN ODYSSEY)
Son O-Gong: You’re going to be so bored without me. What are you going to do?
One’s a demon trying to become a god and the other’s a god who causes endless mischief. Together, their bromance is hilarious and endearing. This is one K-Drama that needs a season 2!
#29: KILLIAN JONES/ CAPTAIN HOOK FROM ONCE UPON A TIME
Hook: Alternate reality? What happened to you? What happened to me?
Emma: We’re all going to be fine. We’re going to switch to water.
Hook: Water? For drinking?
Is he a villain? A romantic hero? Hook always likes to play on the edge with his Irish charm. But he definitely steps up to the plate to give Emma a happy ending.
#28: DAMON SALVATORE FROM THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
Damon: It`s very Emerson how you reveal your soul. So many adjectives.
Damon’s a villainous, seductive, womanizing vampire with comical side quips, but he will also do anything for love and redeems himself by the story’s end.
#27: HATTER FROM ALICE
Hatter: I know a thing or two about liking people, and in time, after much chocolate and cream cake, “like” turns into “what was his name again?”
The Mad Hatter = Lovable Rogue = Perfection.
#26: STAR LORD
Star-Lord: I found something inside myself, incredibly heroic…not to brag.
I think this picture pretty much says everything.
#25: TONY STARK FROM IRON MAN
Christine Everheart: You’ve been called the Da Vinci of our time. What do you say to that?
Tony Stark: Absolutely ridiculous. I don’t paint.
I miss the old Tony Stark, the Tony who defied the rules all while falling in love with Pepper Potts at the same time. All in all, Iron Man and Captain America helped make the Marvel movies a success.
#24: JAMES BOND
Domino: “So… what sharp little eyes you’ve got.”
James Bond: “Wait ’til you get to my teeth.”
Okay, so I’m not the biggest Bond fan, but this list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the several Bonds. The most current actor playing the famous rogue character is Daniel Craig.
#23: ALEJANDRO MURRIETA / ZORRO FROM THE MASK OF ZORRO
Alejandro Murrieta: Do you surrender?
Elena: Never, but I may scream.
Alejandro Murrieta: I understand. Sometimes I have that effect.
Antonio Banderas is my favorite take on the masked thief and hero.
#22: ARAMIS FROM THE MUSKETEERS
Aramis: If by romantic you mean a man who gladly acknowledges the superiority of the female sex, then…I accept the description.
Aramis is our handsome and intellectual rogue! He also prefers to be called a romantic hero.
#21: FLYNN RIDER FROM TANGLED
Flynn Rider: All right, listen! I didn’t want to have to do this, but you leave me no choice. Here comes the smolder.
Even animated rogues can give us that smolder…Plus, he’s voiced by the adorable Zachary Levi.
#20: JOE (OR MAN WITH NO NAME) FROM SERGIO LEONE’S DOLLARS TRILOGY
Joe: When a man’s got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace.
He’s mysterious, the silent sarcastic type, and Clint Eastwood!
#19: SPIKE FROM BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Spike: We like to talk big… vampires do. “I’m going to destroy the world.” That’s just tough-guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I _like_ this world. You’ve got…dog racing, Manchester United. And you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real… passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Good-bye, Picadilly. Farewell, Leicester-bloody-Square.
What would Buffy the Vampire Slayer be without Spike’s sarcastic one-liners? Some of the show’s best moments were guessing which side Spike was on.
#18: ROSS POLDARK FROM POLDARK
George: Well, I thought so, but your recent nuptials have made everything clear. It delights you to thumb your nose at society; that you consider yourself above the niceties by which it operates.
Ross: Not above… just indifferent.
Ross is our Cornish rogue with questionable morals, but he always sticks up for the underdogs and fights for what’s right. So we love him anyway. Even after cheating on Demelza…
#17: ARAGORN FROM THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY
Frodo: What do you want?
Aragorn: A little more caution from you; that is no trinket you carry.
Frodo: I carry nothing.
Aragorn: Indeed. I can avoid being seen if I wish, but to disappear entirely, that is a rare gift.
Aragorn isn’t your typical rogue. He’s not snarky, selfish, or a villain. But I included him because this list just didn’t feel right without our ranger rogue on the outskirts of society.
While the hobbits didn’t know if Strider could be trusted, he saved them countless times, and by the end, he was a hero and a King who accepts his destiny.
#16: RICK O’CONNELL FROM THE MUMMY FILMS
Evelyn: Um… By the way… why did you kiss me?
Rick: I was about to be hanged. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
My favorite moment of roguishness in the Mummy films is when he first kisses Evie. It’s so classic!
#15: ROBIN HOOD FROM ROBIN HOOD
Much: We have a problem.
Robin Hood: We have many problems. Most of them guard-shaped.
I can’t talk about lovable rogues and ignore Robin Hood, our lovable thief who steals for the poor. The 2006 BBC TV series is by far my personal favorite interpretation.
#14: ERROL FLYNN AS CAPTAIN BLOOD
Levasseur: You’ll not take her while I live.
Dr. Peter Blood: Then I’ll take her when you’re dead.
Captain Blood is another classic rogue that can’t be ignored. Pirates really make the best lovable rogues.
#13: WOLVERINE FROM THE X-MEN FRANCHISE
Storm: Help us! Fight with us!
Logan: Fight with you! Join the team? Be an X-Man? Who the hell do you think you are? You’re a mutant. The whole world out there is full of people who hate and fear you and you’re wasting your time trying to protect them? I’ve got better things to do!
Our roguish Wolverine steals the show from the rest of the X-Men because lovable rogues are always the most compelling!
#12: CAPTAIN LOUIS RENAULT FROM CASABLANCA
Captain Renault: Ricky, I’m going to miss you. Apparently, you’re the only one in Casablanca with less scruples than I.
Without Captain Renault’s humor and friendship with Rick, Casablanca wouldn’t still be one of the best films of all time. He gets almost all the best lines.
#11: LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR FROM LUCIFER
Lucifer Morningstar: I’m like walking heroin, very habit forming. It never ends well.
Lucifer even calls himself a rogue. This womanizing devil might as well have his picture under the dictionary’s definition of lovable rogues.
#10: LOKI FROM THOR AND THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
Thor: I wish I could trust you.
Loki: Trust my rage.
Love him or hate him (I choose the first), Loki’s loyalty is always fun to guess. He may be a villain and mischievous trickster, but sometimes he does the right thing so we love him for it!
#9 (TIE): JAYNE AND CAPTAIN MAL FROM FIREFLY
Mal: How come you didn’t turn me in, Jayne?
Jayne: Money wasn’t good enough.
Mal: What happens when it is?
Jayne: Well, that’ll be an interesting day.
Firefly was all too brief, but it was enough time to introduce not one but two lovable rogues! They may be criminals but their wit and selfish traits made for an enjoyable show full of loyal fans.
#8: DEAN WINCHESTER FROM SUPERNATURAL
Dean Winchester: My name is Dean Winchester. I’m an Aquarius, I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach and frisky women.
No list is complete without Dean Winchester!
#7: SAWYER FROM LOST
[Sawyer asks Kate for a kiss]
Kate: Are you serious?
Sawyer: Baby, I am tied to a tree in the jungle of mystery. I just got tortured by a damn spinal surgeon and a genuine Iraqi. Of course, I’m serious. Hell, it’s only first base.
Oh, Sawyer. I miss your rude nicknames and ambiguous loyalty! And your sizzling chemistry with Kate. TV Shows are in dire need of more Sawyers and more lovable rogues.
#6: CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS FROM DOCTOR WHO AND TORCHWOOD
Jack: Funny thing…last time I was sentenced to death, I ordered four Hyper Vodkas for breakfast. All a bit of a blur after that. Woke up in bed with both my executioners. Lovely couple. They stayed in touch. Can’t say that about most executioners…
Every Sci-Fi needs a good rogue and Doctor Who was no exception. Here’s to hoping he returns one day in all his epic, flirtatious glory! His story is far from finished…
#5: RHETT BUTLER FROM GONE WITH THE WIND
Scarlett: But you are a blockade runner.
Rhett Butler: For profit, and profit only.
Scarlett: Are you tryin’ to tell me you don’t believe in the cause?
Rhett Butler: I believe in Rhett Butler, he’s the only cause I know.
Rhett Butler is Rhett Butler. His sarcastic smiles speak for themselves.
#4: THE DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS (WESTLEY) FROM THE PRINCESS BRIDE
Buttercup: We’ll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.
As I said, pirates make the best lovable rogues because they get the best lines! And sometimes, the swooniest romantic moments as well!
#3: CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW FROM THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN FRANCHISE
Jack Sparrow: Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.
Captain Jack Sparrow is our iconic pirate with questionable morals – always the smartest person in the room. And I think we’ve all heard of him by now.
#2: INDIANA JONES
Willie: You’re gonna get killed chasing after your damn fortune and glory!
Indiana Jones: Maybe. But not today.
Down to the final two, what would this list be without two of Harrison Ford’s most famous characters? Indiana Jones has been iconic for a long time and for good reasons.
#1: HAN SOLO FROM STAR WARS
“Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.”
Han Solo is THE lovable rogue of lovable rogues. He’s charming, selfish, and full of quick wit, but he’s also a hero who always comes through in the end for the good guys. Star Wars wouldn’t be a billion-dollar-plus franchise without Han Solo.
You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.
Who are your favorite lovable rogues? Sound off below…
We have written numerous articles about rogues, Byronic heroes, and romantic heroes. Here are a few of them below: