I’m a soaps expert – this is why EastEnders’ Janine is the best TV villain

WALFORD’s own Queen of Evil Janine Butcher will be forced to end her reign of treachery later in 2022.

In just a handful of decades, the EastEnders character became a villain only a few can hope to compete with.

Janine Butcher made her first appearance on screens in 1989

Janine Butcher made her first appearance on screens in 1989Credit: BBC

She has become a force to be reckoned with as a villain over the years

She has become a force to be reckoned with as a villain over the yearsCredit: BBC/Triangle News

But what if she was the anti-hero we didn't know we actually needed?

But what if she was the anti-hero we didn’t know we actually needed?Credit: BBC

While many baddies have been roaming free around Albert Square, it’s safe to say viewers haven’t loved to hate them as much as they have Charlie Brooks‘ Janine.

The actress confirmed she’d be leaving the BBC One soap later in 2022, eighteen months after making a thunderous return following a seven year hiatus.

“I was only ever due back to EastEnders for a year, but when [exec producer] Chris Clenshaw presented me with his idea for the story, I couldn’t say no to staying a little longer”, she told The Sun.

And with her exit the works, Walford will be losing one of its biggest yet relatable villains.

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Appearing in the fictional borough in 1989, after her mother’s death from cancer, the young Janine was a stroppy and rebellious child, testing the limits put into place by her father Frank.

Abandoned and thrown out of her family home when her manipulative tactics cost Frank his marriage to his wife Peggy, Janine turned to Terry Raymond – who she also made life difficult for.

Soon enough, Janine fell into a drug spiral, owing her dealer Lee Vickers money and choosing prostitution under the pseudonym “Blonde Bombshell” to pay her debts – a now greatly accurate nickname.

This eventually cost her bond with Terry who left Walford and Janine behind despite her pleas.

It was then back to sleeping in the rough for Janine and she began her blackmailing career by targeting Ian Beale.

But while many may remember her for her scheming (which only got better throughout the decades), let it be known that Janine’s story is one of determination and survival.

Amid her many hardships, from dealing with agoraphobia and substance abuse to having boiled milk thrown in her face and being cheated on, Janine held her head high and continued to search for her own happiness, dreaming bigger and bigger.

That same perseverance has remained with her through her stints in the Square, particularly as she continues to fight to keep Mick Carter (departing soap star Danny Dyer) by her side.

The troublesome teen blossomed into a real femme fatale, willing to tie the knot with any man that could give her a secure future and starting off her own business to gain some independence.

Was Barry Evans’ murder cold-hearted? Only to those who forgot Janine wanted to survive in a bleak world she had been thrown into without warning by her primary caretaker, her father Frank.

Let’s not forget that, during that fateful stroll around the Scottish hills and cliffs, following their New Year’s Eve wedding, Janine tried to give Barry an escape by admitting she never really loved him.

How did Barry respond to her crisis of conscience?

By forcing a woman twenty-two years younger than him – who had also once worked for him, talk of abuse of power – into an embrace she didn’t want, startling her into pushing him to his death.

Selfish and seemingly cold-hearted, she made an enemy out of many women – while also making sure men dreaded to ever cross her path.

Janine may not be the perfect feminist icon but she can sure teach us a lesson or two about what not to settle for in a relationship.

When Michael Moon made it clear he was only interested in her for her money, Janine recognised her own shortcomings as a mother to their daughter… before handing her over to Michael and leaving him with no funds.

After spending time away from the Square and coming back to give Scarlett the life she deserved, Janine was rattled by the growing animosity from Michael.

This resulted in her taking out an injunction against him, proving boundaries should be asserted and honoured rather than trespassed.

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Let’s remember that Michael was also the first one to fathom the idea of killing Janine, forcing her and Alice Branning to retaliate accordingly.

She has loved many men in Walford over the years but no love has ever matched the one Janine has for her daughter Scarlett.

Since Scarlett’s birth in June, 2012, Janine has been adamant on being the most present she could for her, returning to Walford on multiple occasions to be a part of her life.

This even meant going up against one of her former nemeses, Kat Slater, and it takes some nerve for one to stand up to a Slater especially after Janine’s long feud with Stacey.

A scorned scheming woman and treacherous villain many would rather avoid, Janine is, first and foremost, a woman giving her daughter and herself the stable, secure and happy life she’s always wanted.

Survival instincts can make anyone run but only the bravest face adversity in an attempt to make the best out of a tough situation.

It’s women like Janine Butcher that, despite their hard shell, inspire us to fight for what we believe in, want and need as part of what is deemed “the weaker sex.”

This painfully resonates with worldwide events directly affecting women.

Three months have passed since the US Supreme Court shocked the world by overturning the Roe V. Wade abortion law and reproductive rights for women are nowhere near guaranteed.

Elsewhere, Iranian women have been galvanised by the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody to highlight violence against women in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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With fears for the future of women’s rights rising throughout the globe, many young women have been encouraged to embrace their “villain era” on social and mainstream media.

What if it was time we recognised Janine Butcher as one of the heroes we didn’t know we needed?

Headstrong and iconic Janine has had several stints in the BBC One soap

Headstrong and iconic Janine has had several stints in the BBC One soapCredit: BBC

She's most recently tried to keep her claws deep into Mick Carter as she fears he may run back to Linda Carter

She’s most recently tried to keep her claws deep into Mick Carter as she fears he may run back to Linda CarterCredit: BBC

Actress Charlie Brooks has confirmed she'd be leaving the show later in 2022

Actress Charlie Brooks has confirmed she’d be leaving the show later in 2022Credit: PA

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