Weekend Roundtable: Naughty Doctors

When we’re sick, we entrust them with our health, sometimes even with our lives. In real life, doctors swear an oath to Do No Harm. In TV and movies, such as this week’s release of ‘A Cure for Wellness’, that rule is often a little… shall we say, pliant. In today’s Roundtable, let’s take a look at some of the worst or even downright evil doctors Hollywood has scared us with.

Shannon Nutt

One could argue that he’s more smarmy and manipulative than actually evil, but my vote goes to Dr. Gaius Baltar, as played by James Callis in the ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ reboot. Our introduction to Baltar in the series began with actions that almost certainly made his character irredeemable: providing information to a Cylon that allowed his Colony’s defenses to drop, thus leading to the planet’s destruction. Never mind that Baltar thought he was just giving over some otherwise meaningless info to a leggy blonde who was going to use it in a contract negotiation, Baltar’s selfishness and narcissism (two traits that do not serve him well throughout the run of the series) were evident from the beginning. Perhaps the most deplorable thing about the character? While many of our heroes fall to the wayside during the show’s run, Baltar survives to the end – although I’m not sure he was ever able to find redemption.

Luke Hickman

Because I’m not a comic book reader, I hadn’t heard of Dr. Jonathan Crane until ‘Batman Begins‘ – but I immediately fell in love with him. As the villain Scarecrow, instead of helping heal minds, he breaks them. Although tasked by Ra’s al Ghul, he’s 100% diabolical on his own.

The puns from Batman variations of the past are mostly absent in Christopher Nolan’s darker ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, but Crane gets a few in without coming across quite as cheesy as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s evil doctor character from the oh-so-bad ‘Batman & Robin’ movie. Cillian Murphy is a smug menace with no regard for rules, threats or the establishment. The only thing that makes his better is when he gets a dose of his own “medicine,” which makes him even more psychotic and unpredictable. It was great seeing him cameo in ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ too.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

When I was growing up, I wasn’t exactly the sort of kid who went in for a dental checkup every six months. My parents would instead take me every couple of years, and the question wasn’t “Does Adam have any cavities?” so much as “How many?” A trip to the dentist was an assurance that at some point I’d be subjected to that high-pitch whirr as the drill inched closer and closer to my terrified face.

I think I was 17 or 18 when I made the inexplicable decision to rent ‘The Dentist‘ on VHS the night before one of those ill-fated visits. It’s a wildly over-the-top horror flick from the director of ‘Bride of Re-Animator’ and ‘Return of the Living Dead III’, and that’s probably all the picture you really need me to paint.

Anyway, you probably think you know where this story is going: I watched a blood-drenched splatterfest about dentistry, find myself sitting in a dental chair hours later, and am scared out of my wits… Actually, the exact opposite happened: I could not stop laughing. Every single thing I saw in my dentist’s office brought to mind the ridiculous imagery I’d subjected myself to the night before, and every last bit of it had me in stitches. Yes, even when they pulled out that stupid drill. I never had a problem going to the dentist again after that. So thank you, Dr. Alan Feinstone. You may be psychotic and irredeemably evil, but I legitimately think you changed my life.

Josh Zyber

Three words: “Is it safe?” If you’ve seen ‘Marathon Man‘, you may have decided to never go to a dentist again. I can’t blame you.

I fully expected when I sent this topic out to the staff that Hannibal Lecter would be everyone’s first choice. Perhaps that just seemed too obvious, and nobody picked him. Whether you’re partial to Brian Cox’s take on the character in ‘Manhunter‘, Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Silence of the Lambs‘, or Mads Mikkelsen in the ‘Hannibal‘ TV series, the evil psychiatrist with a taste for human flesh is a potent creation.

Based on an early screenplay penned by Aaron Sorkin, ‘Malice‘ is an overheated suspense thriller with a plot that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. However, Alec Baldwin’s turn as an arrogant surgeon with a raging god complex is a great deal of fun.

What are your favorite bad doctors from movies and TV? Tell us in the Comments.

The staff is going to take a long weekend for the President’s Day holiday. We’ll see you back here on Tuesday.


  1. Csm101

    Anthony Hopkins also played Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in The Road to Wellville with some crackpot methods of purifying one’s self. That was the first one that came to mind.

  2. EM

    Dr. Richard Vollin in The Raven (1935), as played by Béla Lugosi. Vollin’s a phenomenally gifted surgeon and researcher who not only has a God complex (“I am a law unto myself!”) but also is so fascinated by the dark œuvre of Poe that he built a torture chamber in the basement. You can tell that’s not going to turn out well. Somewhere along the way he also installed levers that make his house a prison—steel shutters on the windows, disconnected phone, that sort of thing. When Vollin becomes obsessed with a beautiful, affianced patient he can’t quite win (“There are no two ways—send her to me,” he tells her incredulous father), he makes a monster out of a criminal who was seeking plastic surgery, then inaugurates a night of terror under the theory that he can rid himself of the love that tortures him by torturing the object of his love and getting rid of her! This doc’s a great reason to eat an apple a day.

  3. When I was a kid I saw Rutger Hauer in the movie Bad Dreams. He plays a psychiatrist to the female lead and he is not a very nice guy. For some reason his horrifying turn has stuck with me.

      • Csm101

        I think the Rutger Hauer guy you’re referring to is Richard Lynch. He always reminded me of Hauer when I was a kid. He was actually a cult leader in the movie. If memory serves right, Bruce Abbott was not the evil doctor of that movie. I think he was the good guy.
        I’m glad you mentioned Bruce Abbott, because I can’t think of him in the role of a doctor without thinking of Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West of the Re-Animator movies. Now that is one mad doctor. I can’t mention Dr. Herbert West without mentioning one truly evil Doctor, Dr. Carl Hill played brilliantly by the late David Gale. See what you started here?!😄

        • My mom loved Re-Animator! She’s never been a movie buff, but RA and RA2 on tv would always mean the remote went down and she was done for a couple hours.

  4. In today’s Roundtable, let’s take a look at some of the worst or even downright evil doctors Hollywood has scared us with.

    Gotta go with Dr Evil. While it was implied, there were no rules posted that it HAD to be a medical doctor

  5. JERP

    Charles Coburn as the the sadistic surgeon in Kings Row. He amputates the legs from Ronald Reagan’s character for no reason other than he didn’t like the way that Ronnie treated his daughter. The scene where Ronnie wakes up from surgery and discovers his legs are gone is truly horrifying.

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