Illustration by Dave van Patten

Evil is Three-Dimensional

And everything else we learned about unsavory characters and true crime this year

If 2016 was indeed all bad, we can’t say we didn’t do our part.

The bad guys we covered, however, weren’t only shitheads — they were a little more complicated than that. No one more so than Bradley A. Birkenfeld, the UBS director-turned-whistleblower who did time — more than three years in federal prison — for exposing the ways in which UBS aided and abetted tax evasion. Or our anonymous Uber pirate, who went off-app to skirt the system in an attempt to make a little more cash than it would allow, and almost killed a man in the process. The same for the reformed Chicago coke dealer who took a tour of his old stomping grounds on the city’s Southwest Side — more out of guilt than curiosity — to see how he might have contributed to the violence that’s overwhelmed many of the neighborhoods there.

We even found that Freddy Krueger could be a swell guy — and a hell of a water skier. (And no, it wasn’t just a dream.)

Sometimes, too, anger and the other emotions that can lead to bad shit are more of a temporary state of mind (or chemically influenced) than a true reflection of someone’s personality. And sometimes bad shit just happens — like in the case of the Ohio State medical student who walked into a campus bar one night in 2006 and was never seen again, or the 20something guest at a coastal Washington hotel whose mysterious death internet sleuths have been attempting to solve for a decade.

That’s not to say every bad boy we profiled in 2016 was three-dimensional. Joey Salads, the Johnny Knoxville of the Alt-Right, is mainly just a giant cock who’s a little confused as to the point he’s trying to make. Definite troll, maybe terrorist Joshua Ryne Goldberg also falls into this category — despite his lawyer’s claims to the contrary.

Here’s the good news, though: It’s almost certain that there will be a lot fewer Dicks in the future.

The Best of Our 2016 Bad Boys and True Crime Coverage: