The Handmaid’s Tale is really the first show of its kind in a lot of ways. Although the series focuses on Gilead and all the ways in which it makes so many people suffer, the female characters take the front and center role at almost every turn. June is a heroine unlike any other, and Serena Joy Waterford, the wife of June’s Commander, is a villain unlike any other.
Horrible women have had their moments to shine in media many times, but no one has ever been quite as horrendous as Serena. She’s manipulative, narcissistic, cruel, and she doesn’t seem to even see anyone else on the planet as a human being with thoughts and feelings of their own. The laundry list of monstrous things that Serena has done is about a mile long, and she hasn’t even begun to pay for them. Here are the worst of the worst moments from Serena Joy Waterford.
10 You Don’t Put The Bruised Apples At The Top Of The Crate
Serena Joy Waterford always goes out of her way to present herself as elegant and well-mannered, probably because it’s the easiest way to mask the nightmare living underneath that veneer. One of Serena’s smaller but more repugnant moments comes in the episode where Gilead is negotiating with Mexico for a potential trade deal involving handmaids.
Gilead throws a lavish gala to “honor” the handmaids and make them more appealing to the Mexicans, but she wants to be sure that the handmaids are giving off the right image. Consequently, she asks Aunt Lydia to remove the “damaged” ones, a.k.a the girls who have been physically mutilated by Gilead.
9 Serena’s Meeting With Luke
Serena has repeatedly demonstrated that she is willing to do literally anything it takes to get a baby, and it seems like her decision to let Nichole go to Canada was a momentary lapse in judgment. Serena begs June to convince Luke into granting Serena and Fred one last visit with the baby to say goodbye, but Luke agrees with the caveat that only Serena come to see Nichole.
During their visit at the Toronto airport, Luke rightfully calls out Serena Joy for the monster that she is, and Serena replies as only she would, delusionally saying that she was one of the few people to help June and vaguely threatening withdrawal of that help in the same breath.
8 June & Nick Conceive Nichole At Serena’s Demand
When it comes to an intense desire for a baby, Serena is one bad day away from becoming one of those crazy women who abduct a random pregnant stranger and pseudo-surgically removing their baby. Once it becomes evident that the baby-making problem might originate with Fred, Serena starts looking for solutions in different places.
There are only a few people in the world who Serena can control and command, so she “asks” June and the Waterford’s driver Nick to conceive a child. Just to make sure they don’t fake her out, she stays in the room while they attempt to create a child.
7 Imprisoning June
You’d think that Serena of all people would be understanding of the fact that women can’t just make themselves pregnant on demand, but that would be underestimating her level of narcissism and cruelty. After a few months with the Waterford’s, it’s looking like June might possibly be pregnant, and Serena is clearly over the moon.
Until June realizes that it was just a false alarm. Serena is absolutely enraged at the revelation and, after giving June a few unnecessary wallops, banishes June to her room to think about “what she’s done.” The psychological damage isolation can cause is awful. After what happened to the first Offred, this seems like an especially sadistic move.
6 Threatening Hannah
From the moment Serena realized June was pregnant, she didn’t once think of that baby as June’s baby. Serena makes that clear in nearly every interaction she has with June, however, the most particularly horrifying moment that made this crystal clear is when Serena took June to see Hannah.
After June spent years desperately searching for Hannah to no success, Serena takes her on a surprise visit to see her from afar without Hannah even knowing her real mother is there. As June desperately begs Serena for one moment with Hannah, Serena tells June that as long as “her baby” is safe then so is June’s.
5 Serena Banishes June From The House
Serena’s possessiveness over baby Nichole is legitimately scary. Mrs. Waterford has repeatedly shown that she will stop at absolutely nothing to get what she believes is hers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that, once Nichole is born, Serena is nothing but a savage.
Serena never sees Nichole as June’s daughter (Holly!) but doesn’t want to risk any sort of mother-daughter bonding either. Immediately after June goes through the most harrowing labor a human can possibly experience, Serena banishes June from the house to ensure she never gets to see Nichole again.
4 Framing Commander Cushing
Realistically speaking, anyone who has managed to rise in the ranks of Gilead probably deserves to die. Commander Cushing seemed like a particularly awful weasel, so there’s no great loss in losing him.
But when Commander Cushing is investigating the bombing at the red center and makes it clear that he doesn’t believe that June was unwillingly abducted, it looks like the entire Waterford household might be in trouble. With Fred out of commission, it’s looking worse and worse. Therefore, Serena does what comes naturally to her and sets Cushing up to take the fall, which almost certainly resulted in his death.
3 Surrendering Fred To The Canadians
Sometimes people wind up doing the right thing for the wrong reason, as is the case with Serena forking Fred over to the Canadians and US government for prosecution. Seeing Fred get some justice is lovely, but Serena was more than happy to participate in or encourage his war crimes when it got her closer to having a baby.
Now she’s doing the exact same thing, except throwing Fred to the wolves is just her way of leveraging what she has so she can snake her way back into the life of the baby that she kidnapped.
2 Phyllis Schlafly On Steroids
Serena Joy has done plenty of things that are horrific, but it’s hard to top what she generally did to the world by promoting her misogynistic, religious fascism to the masses. As Moira so eloquently put it, Serena is the real gender traitor.
When the human population was on the verge of collapse, Serena promoted the ideologies that fueled the creation of Gilead and reduced the women of the world into nothing more than baby-makers. Once so many people began suffering under her ideas, she paid it no mind, only caring when those ideologies finally started making her suffer too.
1 The Last Ceremony
When you’re the Eva Braun of the new Nazi party, it’s kind of hard to get any worse, right? Well morally speaking, apparently not. When June doesn’t deliver what Serena thinks is her baby on her time schedule, she becomes angry and wants to punish June.
Serena and Fred devise the most horrific means of punishment possible. Under the guise of “helping” the baby come naturally, Fred and Serena arrange one last “ceremony.” However, this time, June isn’t just laying there waiting for it to be over. When June fights back, Serena holds her down for Fred.
NEXT: The Handmaid’s Tale Characters Sorted Into Their Hogwarts Houses