Who joins Downton's Lady Mary on our list of the 6 most evil women on TV?

They’re duplicitous, saying one thing to your face then stabbing you in the back. They’re egotistical and ambitious and will trample all over you to achieve their objectives.

Do you recognize these traits in anyone around you? At your work space, where they make your life miserable? Or at a family gathering, where you have to just put up and shut up?

Personally, I can’t decide if it’s better to run a mile from them or keep them close.

TV boxed sets are embracing the most wicked, jaw-dropping behaviour from women you can imagine – and I’m very afraid the most fertile ground for inspiration for the scriptwriters is most likely life itself. Here are my top 6 ultimate evil female characters:

1. Claire Underwood on House of Cards.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood.

Arguably the most evil of all female characters on TV although some would contend a close second to No 2. She makes Machiavelli look positively cherubic. She wears exclusively beige, grey and navy, though she will condescend to wear black while running. Talk about discipline.

She’s ruthless and pities noone including her lover, employees and, at times, her husband. The House of Cards writer says his aim for Claire is a mix of entrancement and horror.

She’s also reed thin. Given they say television adds 5kgs I’m wondering whether she is indeed really evil and not just hungry!

2. Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones.

Lena Headley as Cersei Lannister.

If you're still wondering about the nature vs nurture debate, Cersei is evidence that evil breeds evil - she birthed the most revolting progeny ever in Joffrey. Thank god they killed him off early.

GoT is not for the faint-hearted and Cersei delivers handsomely by getting it on with her brother - ick! Jamie is gorgeous, but ...

She wants her other brother dead and has put a price on his head, literally. So stop complaining about your siblings and say a prayer you don’t have Cersei to deal with it at Christmas.


3. Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley.

She's beautiful in a regal sort of way, cold and nasty to her homely younger sister. Every man she sets eyes upon seemingly falls in love with her and she discards them as casually as you would the dried up herbs in your refrigerator. She has no qualms poaching men from the arms of a girlfriend either.

Beware of women like Mary because if she sets her sights on your man you're done for!

4. Sue Sylvester on Glee.

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester.

Owning every colour of Adidas tracksuit known to man, Sue Sylvester's mission is to make life miserable for anyone that’s either not on her cheerleading team or supporting her causes. To her nemesis Will, when competing for scarce school resources she snarled: ''I'm going to ask you to smell your armpits. That's the smell of failure, and it's stinking up my office.''

Stay away, very far away.

5. Patty Hewes in Damages.

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes.

Not averse to blackmail, and possibly murder, to achieve her ends, lawyer Patty Hewes takes both 'ruthless' and 'servicing your client' to a whole new level. She treats her colleagues and opponents with disdain, memorably saying to her fellow partner: “There a huge difference being number one and being number two. You’re a number two, Tom. That’s your talent. That’s your limit.”

Feel emasculated by your boss? They may be channelling Patty Hewes – get out fast!

6. Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans.

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings.

Listed as one of TV’s worst mothers, she prioritises her commitment to her employer (the KGB) over her kids, running off at a moment’s notice to the next mission. She even contemplates the KGB as a career choice for her daughter – after all, her daughter belongs to the cause. She’s skilled at deception, driven, merciless and determined to excel – aren’t these criterion for every CEO? But do you really want to be the carcass they step over on the way to the top?

So there you have it, evil incarnate - I challenge you to come up with worse!

Liora Miller is a Program Manager at a private school in Melbourne who also loves to read and watch fabulous TV boxed sets. She will occasionally tolerate interruptions from her husband and three children when the fridge empties, stomachs are growling and motherly advice is sought.