Blue Bloods Has Fumbled Its Villains & There’S Only One Solution


“Blue Bloods” is, at its heart, a show about family — defined by how important each member of the Reagan clan is to one another, and how much the pursuit of justice means to each of them. However, while those family dinners may be the raison d’etre of “Blue Bloods,” it’s also a series about police work, crime, and the complexities of working for a state agency. And while the standard “Blue Bloods” recipe makes for a pie that viewers clearly love to feast on week after week, there’s long been one important missing ingredient.

The big issue comes down to the villains, because “Blue Bloods” is seriously lacking in that department.

By this point in the series, “Blue Bloods” has gotten too comfortable in its routine of forgettable episodic bad guys. Nowadays, the majority of the show’s long-lasting drama either comes from inter-family conflict or season-long plot changes, like Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) running for the District Attorney of New York City. And while that’s all well and good — sometimes even enlightening, in the right hands — there’s just no substitute for a great villain uniting the whole Reagan family to oppose them. Nothing that “Blue Bloods” has tried over the past five seasons — not the whole family protecting newfound family member Joe Hill (Will Hochman), nor Jamie Reagan’s (Will Estes) battle with Danny Reagan (Mark Wahlberg) when the former is promoted in rank — could be as compelling as a bone-chilling foe.

There’s no denying that “Blue Bloods” has a villain problem, and it needs to fill that hole with a new, engaging, and menacing season-long antagonist.

Blue Bloods’ villains have not been the show’s strong suit

Don’t believe it? Okay, name a bigger villain from the show’s past, and then compare them to all the one-and-done turkeys who have infested the past two seasons. Either way, it’s pretty clear that “Blue Bloods” baddies have rarely been something to write home about. The villain problem in “Blue Bloods” is holding it back from reaching its fullest potential as a procedural that could stand alongside the classics.

The fact that there’s really only one villain who really deserves to be mentioned says something about “Blue Bloods,” as most crime dramas usually have a complete rogues gallery of bad guys to point to by thirteen seasons in. The show simply hasn’t had a memorable regular wicked face since Victor Lugo (Nick Cordero) – notorious mobster, the thorn in Danny Reagan’s side, and head of the Lugo crime family — disappeared back into prison during Season 8.

Of course, Lugo’s departure from the drama wasn’t the fault of the show’s writers or of any scheduling difficulties. It was due to Nick Cordero’s untimely death from COVID-19 in 2020. But the actor’s tragic passing in real-life doesn’t mean that the Lugo crime family should stay off-limits, even if the writers understandably avoid Victor himself. Going forward, for instance, why can’t another member of Victor’s family surface to claim revenge on Danny or the rest of the Reagan clan for Victor’s imprisonment? This is the sort of thinking “Blue Bloods” needs to do.

Instead of good villains, Blue Bloods has been wasting our time with melodrama

In the absence of an overarching plot involving a single nasty bad guy, “Blue Bloods” has leaned in some interesting directions. The problem is that those direction haven’t necessarily been popular ones.

The aforementioned introduction of Joe Hill as the heretofore unknown illegitimate son of the saintly and deceased Reagan brother, Joe (Will Hochman), has been a bizarre choice from the beginning. Joe’s presence divided fans in Season 12, and the fact that he’s introduced as a police officer — not an artist, fireman, or anything else — seemingly gave the writers a sense of freedom in wedging him and his overprotective mother right into the Reagan clan as if they’d always been there. This feels like sacrilege for many “Blue Bloods” fans, and no matter how hard they’ve worked to make him feel like a part of the family, it’s not convincing. It’s no wonder Joe hasn’t been seen in two years, since going deep into cover in Season 12.

Instead of forced plotlines like this, “Blue Bloods” could find compelling drama in a sinister, season-long antagonist, and it’s strange that the show keeps avoiding this to instead give us storylines like that of Joe Hill. And that isn’t the only time waster of a plotline fans of the show have been subjected to in recent years — everyone remembers “Legacy,” right? All of this ends up feeling like dead space that could so easily be filled with an ongoing villain plot, and proves that choosing to instead focus so strongly on the Reagan’s private lives doesn’t add much to the show at large.


A season-long Blue Bloods villain would emphasize the show’s themes of family unity

Recent events have kept the Reagan family close enough that the events in their lives overlap and touch — and that they can help each other out with the blowback — but far enough apart that they stand separately. This can be a positive for the show. After all, it allows fans to follow Danny’s dating life, Frank’s (Tom Selleck) work as police commissioner, and some foibles from the infrequently seen phalanx of grandkids. But it also results in uneven screen time for multiple members of the clan.

To wit, audiences have been begging for Jamie and Eddie Reagan (Vanessa Ray) to spend more time together as a married couple. This is a facet of the show that writers have been highly reluctant to pay off, much to their frustration. Though fans have been clamoring for them to have a baby, Eddie and Jamie barely share storylines, let alone any sense of intimacy these days.

Fighting a common foe, though, would accomplish this — because it would continually pull all these disparate threads together, get family members in the same room, and unify all of the Reagans in their efforts to stop the perp. Arguments could take place over how to respond to the bad guy’s actions. Family members could help each other out of jams involving the new villain. And Eddie and Jamie, then, could share time as a married couple as both of them work together to figure out the bad guy’s next move.

Here’s how Blue Bloods could weave a compelling villain plot together

To solve the bad guy doldrums “Blue Bloods” has been coping with over the past couple of seasons, the answer is simple: introduce an important, interesting villain — and quickly.

The villain should have a personal tie to the Reagan clan, to immediately up the drama. Let’s say that the baddie is a childhood enemy of one of Frank Reagan’s kids. Or take a different approach, by having him be one of Frank’s former force buddies gone wrong. Maybe it could even be someone connected to family patriarch Henry Reagan (Lou Cariou). The point is, having that close connection from the outset will mean the new villain can have an intense dynamic with the Reagan clan from the outset, before menacing them the rest of the season.

Getting the right actor is key, of course. But the main thing the new villain needs to do is project a sense of menace, be complex, and be compelling. If the baddie make audiences worry about the Reagans — and perhaps even question their points of view on the case in question — then the storyline will likely be quite a popular one with audiences. And if the new villain storyline were to bring back rarely seen characters like Nicky Reagan Boyle (Sami Gayle), well, that’s even better in the long run.

Fans of “Blue Bloods” only want one thing in the end: for the Reagans to be happy. To make that joy feel earned, though, they need to climb some terrifying mountains first. And “Blue Bloods” needs to give us a compelling evildoer who sticks around for a while, so the family’s collective happy ending (whenever it happens) will be all the sweeter for it.