Five Strange Addictions in Genre Television


You don’t need to consult the statistics, watch re-runs of Breaking Bad (or a cheesy Lifetime special) or tune into Sally-Jessie (or any barrel-bottom-scraping talk show) to know that addiction is one of the most destructive real-life horrors a person is likely to confront.  And within the realm of genre television, addiction can be even deadlier. Listed below are five characters whose addictive personalities got them in all kinds of trouble: pillaging, alien child snatchers, train massacres, apocalyptic phases and cannibalistic fine dining. Not even cognitive behavioral therapy could help these guys....

Willow Rosenberg in Buffy The Vampire Slayer – (black magic)

“Bored now,” – Willow Rosenberg

It’s no easy feat kicking every square inch of vampire slayer Buffy Summer’s ass. The cutesy  superheroine you’ve shadowed for five consecutive seasons of Joss Whedon’s pop cultural phenomenon Buffy The Vampire Slayer did. Mainlining some seriously bad-ass black magic is exactly what happened with the loveably geeky Willow. In Buffy’s sixth season episode “Seeing Red,” Willow Rosenberg’s (Alyson Hannigan) lover Tara (Amber Benson) took a fatal bullet meant for the slayer (who took one too, just not the fatal kind) from creep Warren, cumulating in Willow’s compulsion for the dark arts intensifying. Even in a monster-magnet place like Sunnydale, if you’re “the most powerful witch in the western hemisphere”, an emergency psychiatric assessment for your addiction issues simply isn’t going to cut it. 

John Mitchell in Being Human (UK) – (bloodlust)

“For years I protected humanity. I wanted to join them and they do this? You're right Daisy. We're under attack. You want retaliation? I'll show you retaliation.” – John Mitchell

In BBC THREE’s monster house-share supernatural dramedy Being Human, day-walking rogue vampire Mitchell (Aidan Turner) has battled bloodlust for decades and for the most part, succeeded. Admirable willpower, particularly if you’re an immortal fanger whose drug of choice is the red stuff pumping those veins of yours. In the uber-dark second season of Toby Whithouse’s excellent Being Human, he falls off the wagon in a huge slaughter-an-entire-train way, which is what happens when you fall for a pretty God-fearing scientist, who incidentally, is conducting gruesomely unethical experiments on your spooky friends. The consequences of this new crush is letting those mandatory appointments in undead AA slide, and all of this because a doctor suspiciously shows a little romantic interest. (Come on: you’re a shady-looking janitor clutching a perma-greasy mop-top with a homicidal rap sheet bigger than John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz combined.) Love couldn’t save this puppy...I mean it wasn’t like letting go and letting God in was even an option...

Callisto in Xena: Warrior Princess – (homicide)

“What a beautiful day for a bloodbath...” Callisto

Once upon a time in New Zealand, doubling as a time of myth and legend; wonder bras and Colgate smiles, there was a bad-tempered girl called Callisto (Hudson Leick) who enjoyed a good kill a bit too much. She is a revenge-driven woman who loved to experience life in “all of its agonizing glory” and inflicting that agonizing glory on as many innocent schmucks as possible in Robert G. Tapert and John Schulian’s six-season fantasy camp-a-thon Xena: Warrior Princess. Of course watching your whole family barbecued in your formative years is hardly something one can openly discuss in her 12-Step-Recovery Plan, now is it?  So exacting revenge, hacking her way through Ancient Greece and butchering as many hammy-acting villagers as possible must’ve seemed like the only feasible choice, given her situation and of course, the script. That leather bikini-clad beast was a slave to her own murderous impulses.

The 456 in Torchwood: Children of Earth  (human children)

“You yielded in the past.” – The 456

The intergalactic octopus-y, projectile-vomiting antagonists in cahoots with the government of the United Kingdom, The 456 have a scheme involving corralling and intravenously hooking themselves to a large percentage of earth’s kids because it makes them “feel good” has to be the creepiest allegory for addiction to make this list. And how does an off-worlder addict like The 456 convey its request?  These guys hold the world to ransom, forcing essentially decent “middle-man” John Frobisher (the new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi) to make a hard decision: offer up the children of earth to the outer space junkies, or face extinction - and when one of its withdrawal symptoms is global genocide, that’s a tough call to make.  After a weak start (well, two mixed-bag seasons) Russell T. Davie’s Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood was redefined with “Children of Earth,” which unfolded at a breakneck pace back in 2009 on BBC 1 and was followed in 2011 by the STARZ/BBC co-production Miracle Day. 

Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal – fine dining

“I never feel guilty about eating anything.” – Doctor Lecter

It took a while for NBC’s television prequel variation of Thomas Harris’ novels to capture the hostile and menacing atmosphere of its literary and cinematic precursors, and in its second season, the show is giving the fans something to really savor. When you’re a brilliant psychiatrist like Doctor Lecter (a nuanced, sinister, subtle depiction of the famous character by Mads Mikkelsen), Lecter moonlights as the perfect psychopath with a baroque flair for fine dining and tormenting puppy-eyed FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Lecter’s cannibalistic compulsion often has the dapper loon hosting extravagant dinner parties for his high-falutin’ friends and colleagues. Now, what these nice folks don’t know is that that meat melting in their mouth wasn’t carved from any lamb. Yep, Lecter is hooked on human meat and just loves to slyly feed his victims to guests he has over regularly! So they next time you’re invited to a swanky dinner-party, checking the menu would be advisable before RSVPing!