1. Batman, “The Dark Knight Trilogy”
Protip for all you aspiring vigilantes: if you really want to keep your identity a secret from the thug whose trachea your currently traipsing on, take a page from Bruce Wayne’s playbook and strain your vocal chords into an unintelligible, guttural growl. The only thing scarier than a grown-ass man in a bat costume? A grown-ass man in a bat costume that sounds like the Cookie Monster.
2. Harry Callahan, “Dirty Harry”
We can only assume that “Dirty” Harry Callahan popped out of the womb with a permanent sneer scrawled across his mug, loaded .44 magnum gripped in hand and half-smoked cigarette dangling from his lips. What else could explain this raspy-voiced vigilante cop’s consistently incensed attitude? He was either born angry or his family was killed by a tragic overdose of fun.
3. Trent Hauser, “NTSF:SD:SUV::”
Whether he’s shouting down a dolphin serial killer or preaching the socialist evils of organic produce, every word out of NTSF pointman Trent Hauser’s mouth is like a rust-covered bullet fired directly at crime. Catch the continuing adventure of Trent and the rest of the National Terrorist Strike Force when the new season of NTSF:SD:SUV:: debuts, Thursday at 12:15, only on Adult Swim.
4. Snake Plissken, “Escape From New York”
Gruff, gravel-voiced war hero-turned-convict Snake Plissken is like a Frankenstenian hodgepodge of badass character traits. Eye-patch? Check. Leather trenchcoat? Check. Unchecked chain-smoking cynicism? Check. Surfed after Steve Buscemi through the ruin and rubble of downtown Los Angeles, just because? Check, check, and double check.
5. Richard B. Riddick, “The Chronicles of Riddick”
Real talk: would-be sci-fi icon Riddick probably wouldn’t have left the faintest impression on us without his trademark booming baritone. What’s left if you strip away this cold-blooded convict’s abrasive inflection? He can see in the dark and stab people. So he has all the special abilities of a house cat in a wifebeater. Neat.
6. Jack Bauer, “24”
Of all the special ops action heroes that run around waterboarding terrorists and demanding their wives/sons/daughters back — you know who you are — ex-CIA agent Jack Bauer has to be pretty jaded by his family’s daily disappearances. We imagine his schedule looks something like this:
“Walk the dog, grab milk from the corner store, mow the lawn, rescue family from sinister mercenary organization and/or disarm nuclear bomb, remember to DVR Conan.”
7. Horatio Caine, “CSI: Miami”
The reigning king of primetime one-liners, Miami’s smarmiest crime-scene investigator certainly has a way with words. Sure, you might call cracking wise next to the corpse of a newly flayed murder victim somewhat insensitive, but just listen to this walking pair of shades’ smokey baritone and resist the urge to shout a heartfelt “YEAHHHHH!”
8. Lt. Columbo, “Columbo”
You have to hand it to Lt. Columbo — few cops can crack their cases by annoying their suspects into admission. He’s no Harry or Horatio, but this disheveled detective has an unmatched talent for haranguing potential murderers into police cells with his smoke-stained vocals. He’s like your neurotic old uncle, but with a badge.
9. Rorschach, “Watchmen”
For all the good he does cleaning up the seedy streets of NYC, we’d kind of prefer that this half-cooked crimefighter not swoop down and save us. With a voice that sounds like it’s been doused in vinegar, puréed in a high-end blender, then left for dead in a grime-crusted gutter, this unhinged (and unbathed) enforcer has more in common with a subway wino than he does the Justice League. (That said, we’d love to see him go toe-to-toe with Aquaman.)
10. Mike Ehrmantraut, “Breaking Bad”
Breaking Bad’s ever-annoyed operator has long been the only voice of reason in a series populated by increasingly poor decisions. He’s like that cucumber-cool grandpa that we’ve always wanted to share a few brews with while he regales us with tales of drug-trafficking and deep-fried fast food.