10 Deadliest Recurring Antagonists Of The Shield

There is little room for heroes in this Emmy Award winning FX cop drama.
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The original marquee series of the FX television network, Shawn Ryan's Emmy Award-winning The Shield (2002-2007) targets the influx of police and legislative corruption within the Los Angeles Police Department. At the center of this inherent corruption is Detective Vic Mackey (played by Michael Chiklis), who constantly borders the line between villain and savior. With an "antihero" as the star, The Shield along with HBO's The Sopranos helped pave the way for future TV offenders Walter White and Dexter Morgan. Throughout its 88 episode run, Vic and his morally flexible Strike team must encounter individuals who are either worse than even themselves or ideal citizens with a darker edge. 

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10. Margos Dezerian (Kurt Sutter)

When Vic and his Strike Team perform a heist of an Armenian Money Train, the Armenian Mafia respond in kind by deploying their gifted assassin Margos Dezerian. A highly skilled hitman with a reputation reaching across the world to Interpol's own wanted list, Margos is ordered by his Armenian bosses to track down Vic and his injudicious cohorts. As Margos enters Farmington for his targets, it's only a matter of time before the world-class criminal collides with the police, who prove incapable of containing Dezerian. It's only when this dangerous Armenian comes head to head with Mackey that Margos ultimately meets his end. Though the unhinged specimen never utters a single word, it was Margos' violent actions and career which did the talking for the character. 


9. Mara Sewell (Michele Hicks)

Mara begins the series far from a criminal, operating as an innocent real estate agent. Mara may not be a police officer or even a criminal, but her association with Vic Mackey's best friend Detective Shane Vendrell makes the formerly innocent woman a serious threat. Mara's unfounded love for Shane warps her mind to the point that she gradually becomes Vendrell's accomplice in his own criminal endeavors. Though Mara and Shane had far from the model marriage, the two were a pair and worked together to upend the life of Vic and his family. No matter how far her husband's antics may reach, Mara continually stands by Shane's side and remains a faithful wife until the very end.


8. Cruz Pezuela (FJ Rio)

Though he may come across as a seemingly hapless real estate developer, Cruz Pezuela is one of the most dangerous entities within Farmington. Allying himself with the Guerrero Cartel and their security representative Guillermo Beltran, Pezuela and his superiors look to invest in the worth of housing and construction regions as a bid to effectively gain control of the Farmington District. While Cruz himself may not pose a serious threat, Pezuela is backed by an assortment of Mexico's wealthiest families and government officials. Cruz would gain even more ammunition to his arsenal when he began to employ Vic Mackey under his payroll. With an arrangement of blackmail files collected, on not only Mackey but various LA city representatives, Pezuela proved himself virtually untouchable for the longest time. 


7. Armadillo Quintero (Danny Pino)

A villainous new player in Los Angeles, Armadillo Quintero enters the series with the goal of gaining control of the Farmington District's drug trade by any means necessary. In an effort to achieve the daunting task ahead, Armadillo sought to unify the entirety of Latino gangs within the district. Eventually, the vicious Quintero's activities caught the attention of the police and Vic Mackey. Following a violent encounter with Mackey, Armadillo's next move was aimed at the cops in the Farmington District. However, Quintero is eliminated from an unforeseen source before his vengeance against Vic is completely fulfilled. 

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6. Ben Gilroy (John Diehl)

The architect of Farmington District's Barn base, Assitant Chief Ben Gilroy is responsible for not only assembling the show's main hub but the construction of the Strike Team. Sharing a close friendship with Vic, Ben acts as a trusted confidante when push often comes to shove in the form of Captain Acedeva or other suspicious parties. However, Gilroy has his own personal demons to bear, which come to a head when the chief dabbles in the world of fraud with a fellow mistress. Gilroy's criminal activities completely sever his friendship with Vic, who is used as a scapegoat to keep himself in office. Gilroy's reckless actions force the disgraced police chief to flee to Mexico and begin his life anew, before ending up back in Farmington as a corpse months later. 

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5. David Aceveda (Benito Martinez)

The Captain of the Farmington District for the early half of the series, David Aceveda begins his arc by becoming the ideal man for the job in combating the threat of Vic Mackey. Unlike his peers, Aceveda directly targets Mackey and actively wishes to see the man behind bars. Unfortunately, Mackey's extreme methods lead to results and those results are what the Farmington District and Aceveda's careers need to stay afloat. Though Aceveda isn't completely malicious, the policies and procedures that the man approves under his oversight are tearing Farmington apart. Rather than use all of his energy and resources to see Vic behind bars, Aceveda would rather use Vic and his Strike Team to benefit his own political campaign. 


4. Antwon Mitchell (Anthony Anderson)

Introduced in the fourth season of the series, Antwon Mitchell was the foremost Kingpin of Farmington before his eventual arrest. Once Mitchell was released, the "reformed" Antwon had seemingly adopted a key role as the spokesman for Farmington's African American community targeted by police, as a ploy to throw the cops off his trail and fully commit to his illicit businesses. Behind closed doors, Antwon is just as cold and calculating a criminal as before his original prison sentence. Employing Vic Mackey's own partner Shane Vendrell as the eyes and ears of the police force, Mitchell wishes to save himself another swift trip to prison. Though Antwon must contend with another quick-witted criminal in Vic, Mitchell is the one greatest obstacle that Farmington has ever had in its corner. 


3. Jon Kavanaugh (Forest Whitaker)

While he may be on the side of the law, Internal Affairs Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh is just as frightening as the criminals he aims to stop. The foil to Vic Mackey, in both intelligence and physical prowess, Kavanaugh immediately makes it his mission to terminate Mackey and his entire operation. Unlike Mackey, Jon begins as a completely moral yet extreme cop who is as straight-laced as an individual can be; always performing his duties by the book. Kavanaugh's downfall proves to be sinking to Mackey's own level in an attempt to bring the corrupt cop down, proving that he can be just as dirty and conniving as Vic if need be. Though Kavanaugh's run on The Shield only lasts for a season and a half, the character leaves irrevocable damage on Vic and the Strike Team. 

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2. Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins)

Serving as the right-hand man to Vic Mackey for the duration of the series, Shane Vendrell is another undisclosed corrupt cop within the Farmington District of Los Angeles. Like Vic, Shane has no qualms in killing innocents or fellow cops if it means he lives to see another day. It's Shane's willingness to live that sees Vendrell make some morally questionable decisions throughout the course of the show. It is these same decisions that come to clash with Vic, who can stand Shane's reckless behavior up to a point.  At the end of the day, it's Shane who is in it for himself and it's Shane who exits the show the way he chooses to go. 


1. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis)

The leader of Farmington's Strike Team, Vic Mackey is a highly experienced criminal in the guise of a police detective, initially respected and feared by both cops and criminals for his brutal methods of police work. Struggling to attain the role of the archetypal family man, it's the job of either combating or partnering with other criminals to keep Farmington safe, where Vic truly feels at home. While Vic may act as the central protagonist of The Shield, Mackey is the most unscrupulous of the series' main characters. Willing to kill fellow officers without any hesitation, Vic ran several illegal operations right under the noses of his brothers in arms for years, with the defense of a badge. Even when the world around him begins to crumble and give way, Mackey continues to hold onto what he does best all in the name of the law. 

Once the dust is settled and the credits roll, the role of the villains in The Shield is clear. Rather than have Vic and his trusted men solely battling rival drug dealers and international hitmen, showrunner Shawn Ryan, and his creative team was wise in having a solid balance of morally flexible opposing forces. While Vic may have been the ultimate driving force to get the ball rolling and return to him the same, Mackey remains as villainous as ever after dispatching each of his obstacles. Each and every antagonist that Vic and the Strike team come across on the show only puts into perspective the evil nature of the characters.

Current junior Writing Arts major attending Rowan University. I am an avid writer, comic book reader, and film enthusiast.

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