What defines a man’s toughness on TV? Is it showing up to work with a severed thumb? Burning another man’s face off on a stove? Telling your wife you’ll pick up the dry cleaning and then making it a point to forget? Yes! Yes! And… probably? Here are five dudes that bring the word badass to a whole new level.
5. Ray Donovan, Ray Donovan
This Hollywood fix-it-man (Liev Schreiber) is new to the small screen, yet already has the makings of a legendary TV tough guy. Not only does he beat up L.A.’s bottom feeders for a living (not necessarily a bad thing), he even held a gun to his old man’s head and threatened to pull the trigger. If that’s not the definition of a dysfunctional family then I don’t know what is.
4. Detective Elliot Stabler, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
He’s a tough-as-nails Irish-American who will use whatever means necessary to put away bad guys. Stabler (Christopher Meloni) also has a tattoo of the Crucifixion of Christ on his bicep. Why? Because he can.
3. Jack Bauer, 24
If speaking at a low-pitch would quantify a TV character’s toughness than Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) of 24 would be off the charts! And how many people do you know that can stay up for an entire day without ever once using the bathroom? That’s just painful.
2. Paulie Walnuts, The Sopranos
Anyone with half-a-brain can argue that all mobsters are tough to some degree. But Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) retains a certain style of toughness for telling his friend-turned FBI information Big Pussy “You were like a brother to me” right before whacking him. With family like that, who needs enemies?
1. Andy Sipowicz, NYPD Blue
He’s a hot-headed, racist and homophobe with a big heart and even bigger appetite, yet everyone who works with Detective Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) at New York’s 15th Precinct will tell you that deep down he’s actually a softie. He may also be the only TV cop in history to have lost a son, a wife, and about a billion different partners and still not break a tear. Now that’s tough.