There have been so many bad TV characters that almost (or did) ruin the TV series that those characters were in. Whether he/she was annoying, poorly written, conflicting, or the actor was hard to watch, it’s undeniable that a bad TV character can ruin your favorite show quickly.
There’s nothing worse than when you’re enjoying a show, and then the writers introduce a new character that’s simply awful. We’ve seen this tragedy too many times to count, and it’s to the point where we just want to throw up our hands and find another hobby other than Netflix binge-watching TV shows. No, that’s just crazy talk. Sorry.
The people on this list are awful characters who were not intended to be awful, but one way or another, he/she ended up on our bad side. Of course, we can’t necessarily call them the worst TV characters because “worst” is a superlative adjective that has subjective undertones, but the characters on this list make us grit our teeth and shake our fists with anger.
So without further ado, here are 10 bad TV characters that ruined otherwise good shows:
Editors Note: While the majority of this list consists of female characters, we’d like to point out that it says a lot about the poorly written female characters in television.
Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother
While we enjoyed HIMYM, we’re glad it ended when it did because, after nine seasons, we were seriously ready to punch Ted in the face. Let’s start with his relentless pursuit of a woman who has turned him down numerous times. Follow that up with how he aggressively throws himself at every woman that crosses his path, treating them as potential romantic partners rather than people, and then whines to his friends when they don’t love him back.
I guess we’re supposed to ignore the fact that he cheated on one of them with the aforementioned woman. He should be locked in a room with Ross Geller so they can throw a gigantic pity party and commiserate with one another on their lack of romantic success, even though they’re such “nice” guys.
Why Ted Mosby is the Worst, A List
- Self-Centeredness: Throughout the series, Ted typically comes across as self-absorbed. His stories, which are meant to explain to his children how he met their mother, frequently veer off into tangents about his personal escapades (many of which have little to do with actually meeting their mother). This self-centeredness also manifests in his relationships, where he sometimes prioritizes his feelings and desires over those of his partners.
- Idealization of Relationships: Ted’s relentless pursuit of “the one” and his belief in grand romantic gestures often overshadow the realities of relationships. His idealization can be harmful, as it sets unrealistic expectations. This is evident in his relationships with women like Stella, where he rushes into an engagement without fully understanding her needs and circumstances.
- Inconsistency in Relationships: Ted’s fickleness in relationships is another point of contention. He goes back and forth with Robin, even though it’s clear they want different things. This inconsistency not only hurts Robin but also confuses his other partners and friends.
- Over-Romanticism: While being a romantic is not inherently bad, Ted’s over-romanticism often borders on obsession. His grand gestures, like stealing the blue French horn for Robin or buying a house for his future family, might seem sweet on the surface, but they also indicate a lack of boundaries and an impulsive nature.
- Lack of Growth: One of the significant criticisms of Ted is his lack of personal growth throughout the series. Despite the numerous relationships and experiences, he doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. This stagnation makes it hard for viewers to root for him, as he appears to be trapped in a loop of his own making.
- Misguided Morality: Ted often positions himself as the moral compass of the group. However, his actions don’t always align with his words. For instance, he judges Barney for his playboy ways but he, himself, engages in questionable behavior (you know, like cheating on Victoria with Robin).
- Narrative Reliability: As the narrator, Ted’s recollection of events is often biased. This unreliability makes it challenging to discern the truth from embellishment, leading to potential misrepresentations of situations and characters.
Andrea, The Walking Dead
I’m not sure if the Andrea hate factored into the showrunner’s decision to kill her off in Season 3 — in the comics, she is alive and well — but it’s safe to say that few mourned her passing. There was a great deal wrong with Andrea’s character. For one, actress Laurie Holden was a scene chewer (more than once, it’s safe to say that she overacted). In fact, when she said she was staying in the lab too, it was too dramatic for the show’s tone. Secondly, she made bad choices (like not finishing off her sister, Amy, before Amy actually turned into a zombie; Amy could have easily reanimated and quickly taken Andrea out).
And, the fatherly relationship developed between her and Dale just felt uneasy, and at the time, it was the storyline that viewers simply didn’t care about. Her relationship with the Governor also felt forced, and viewers were more annoyed by it than anything else. It also didn’t help that Andrea in the TV show was nothing like the badass Andrea from the comic book series. Here’s why TV show Andrea from The Walking Dead was the worst:
- Inconsistent Character Development: Andrea’s character arc was marked by inconsistencies. Initially portrayed as a strong-willed individual, her decisions later in the series, especially during her time in Woodbury, seemed out of character. This inconsistency made it difficult for viewers to understand or predict her motivations.
- Questionable Loyalties: Andrea’s relationship with The Governor, one of the primary antagonists, was a significant point of contention. Despite witnessing his questionable actions and being warned by her friends, she continued to align herself with him. This made her appear naive and, at times, disloyal to her original group.
- Missed Opportunities: The show often hinted at Andrea’s potential as a leader. However, this potential was never fully realized. Instead of exploring her leadership capabilities, the series focused on her romantic entanglements and personal dilemmas, which felt like a missed opportunity.
- Conflict Creation: Andrea’s decisions often led to unnecessary conflicts. Whether it was her choice to stay in Woodbury, her inability to see The Governor’s true nature, or her confrontations with Michonne, her actions often exacerbated tensions and put others at risk.
- Lack of Growth: While many characters in “The Walking Dead” showcased significant growth, adapting to the post-apocalyptic world, Andrea’s growth felt stunted. Her inability to learn from past mistakes and adapt to the changing dynamics of the world made her character frustrating for many viewers.
- Abrupt End: Andrea’s eventual fate in the series felt abrupt and unsatisfying. After investing in her character for several seasons, many fans felt that her exit did not do justice to her journey.
Don’t agree? See why everyone on Reddit hated Andrea here.
Miko (Katana Girl), Heroes Reborn
One could make the argument that Heroes Reborn isn’t that good of a show, to begin with, so this is a moot point. This storyline, however, really stood out as being particularly awful (which is saying something). Miko Otomo, also known as Katana Girl, was introduced in Heroes Reborn, and although the show aimed to bring back the magic of its predecessor, many fans and critics found certain characters, especially Miko, to be problematic.
It begins with a random guy bursting into her apartment, claiming he got her address from a popular MMO and noting that she looks like a character from the game. After promptly kicking him out, she notices a room in her apartment that she apparently didn’t know was there and thus discovers her superpower. There is a katana she inherited from her apparently missing father, which, when opened, transports her INTO the game’s world.
Naturally, said father is imprisoned in the game (surprise). And not only can she use the sword in the game, but apparently in real life as well. It seems like a cheesy storyline, and even if Tim Kring could have somehow wrapped it in a neat bow by the time the series was over, Katana Girl is forever going to be known as the worst character ever introduced on Heroes. Here’s a list of reasons why:
- Lack of Depth: One of the main issues with Miko was her lack of depth and development. She was primarily defined by her quest to find her father and her ability to jump between the real world and the digital world. Beyond this, there wasn’t much to her character, making her feel one-dimensional.
- Stereotyping: Miko’s character leaned heavily into the “mysterious Asian warrior” trope. Her entire identity revolved around being the “Katana Girl,” which not only pigeonholed her into a singular role but also perpetuated Asian stereotypes. The show missed an opportunity to delve deeper into her background and provide a more nuanced portrayal.
- Predictable Arc: Miko’s storyline was largely predictable. From the onset, it was evident that her journey would revolve around her father and her katana. The lack of twists or unexpected developments in her narrative made her segments of the show less engaging.
- Disconnect from Main Plot: While all characters in Heroes Reborn had their individual arcs, Miko’s story often felt disconnected from the main plot. This isolation made it hard for viewers to see her relevance to the overarching narrative.
- Over-Reliance on Action: While action sequences are essential for a show like Heroes Reborn, Miko’s scenes were disproportionately action-heavy. The constant battles, especially in the digital realm, often felt repetitive and overshadowed any potential character development.
- Unresolved Questions: Despite dedicating significant screen time to Miko, many questions about her origins, her powers, and her connection to the broader Heroes universe remained unanswered. This lack of closure was unsatisfying for viewers who invested in her story.
Kitty Winter, Elementary
Of course, someone had to fill the void when Joan left Sherlock’s side in Elementary, and when Kitty Winter (played by Ophelia Lovibond) was introduced, we almost immediately lost interest in the show entirely. Her introduction, itself, was borderline sexist: her first scene involves her fighting over Sherlock, a man, with Joan.
Kitty also took a too-evil-for-TV turn when she tortured someone for information in one of the episodes, adding to the idea that her story was too far-fetched to be enjoyed. It’s also unacceptable that Sherlock would have accepted her form of vigilante justice, although that’s exactly what he did in the show. Needless to say, we were glad to see Kitty leave, and we’re thankful that the showrunners had no intentions of bringing her back.
Here’s a complete list of why Kitty from Elementary was a bad character:
- Overshadowing Established Dynamics: Elementary had already established a strong bond between its main characters, Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. Kitty’s introduction disrupted this dynamic. Her intense mentor-mentee relationship with Sherlock often sidelined Joan, making it feel like the show was sidelining its co-lead.
- Inconsistent Character Arc: Kitty’s background as a trauma survivor gave her depth, but her character arc was inconsistent. At times, she was portrayed as fiercely independent, while at other moments, she seemed overly reliant on Sherlock. This inconsistency made it challenging to get a clear read on her character.
- Forced Conflict: Kitty’s presence often led to forced conflicts, especially between Sherlock and Joan. While conflict can drive a narrative, the tensions Kitty introduced often felt contrived and served to create unnecessary drama.
- Lack of Integration: Despite being a central character in the third season, Kitty often felt disconnected from the broader world of Elementary Her interactions were primarily limited to Sherlock, with minimal meaningful interactions with other main characters like Captain Gregson or Detective Bell.
- Abrupt Exit: Kitty’s departure from the show felt sudden and left many narrative threads unresolved. While her exit was emotionally charged, it also felt like the character was introduced and removed without a long-term plan.
- Overemphasis on Trauma: While addressing trauma can be powerful in character development, Kitty’s character often felt defined solely by her traumatic past. This overemphasis limited her growth and potential storylines outside of her trauma narrative.
Laurel Lance, Arrow
Laurel Lance is easily the most disliked character on Arrow. Her transition into Black Canary following her sister’s death doesn’t help; Sara was infinitely preferable and more believable as the masked vigilante. Her character was far too weak — she was poorly developed, one-dimensional, and inconsistent. Combined with her lack of training, her incompetent Black Canary is almost a mockery in the wake of Sara’s.
Here’s why Laurel Lance was so unpopular among fans:
- Inconsistent Character Development: Laurel’s evolution throughout the series was marked by inconsistencies. Initially introduced as a strong-willed lawyer with a clear moral compass, her descent into addiction and subsequent transformation into the Black Canary felt rushed and not entirely organic. This inconsistency made it hard for viewers to connect with her journey.
- Relationship Dynamics: Laurel’s relationships, particularly with Oliver Queen, were often tumultuous and lacked depth. The on-again, off-again nature of their relationship, combined with the love triangle involving her sister, Sara, made her character seem more like a plot device for drama than a well-rounded individual.
- Overshadowed by Sara Lance: The introduction of Sara Lance as the original Canary posed a challenge for Laurel’s character. Sara’s portrayal as a skilled fighter and complex character made Laurel’s subsequent transformation into the Black Canary feel less impactful and somewhat redundant.
- Forced Heroic Arc: While many characters in Arrow had organic transitions into their heroic personas, Laurel’s transformation felt forced. Her training and evolution into a vigilante lacked the depth and time that other characters received, making it less believable.
- Lack of Unique Identity: Despite being a central character, Laurel often struggled to have a unique identity outside of her relationships and her Black Canary persona. This lack of individuality made her character less compelling compared to others in the series.
- Abrupt End: Laurel’s eventual fate in the series was controversial and felt abrupt to many fans. After finally giving in and investing in her character for several seasons, her exit was seen by some as a disservice to Black Canary.
Dawn, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Dawn is suddenly introduced to us in Season 5 as Buffy’s younger sister. She simply felt thrown into the show just for the sake of having another character. Dawn was an annoying character, and her teen angst was so unbearable that we almost stopped watching Buffy entirely (don’t worry, everyone, we persevered). She all too frequently tried to take the spotlight from others (for example, her meltdowns on Buffy’s birthdays).
Dawn mostly felt like she was intended to be the “annoying little sister” who was always around, vying for everyone’s attention, and acting like a spoiled brat. She frequently sulked and complained to the point where every time she appeared on the television, we took a bathroom break. It also doesn’t help that Dawn was constantly overshadowed by her older sister, and pair that with the fact that actor Michelle Trachtenberg had some uncomfortably bad scenes in the series, and you’ve got yourself one bad TV character.
Meg was once a foe of the Winchester brothers, but after she died and came back as a new actress (Rachel Miner) in Season 5, she was entirely unwatchable. What makes her so unbearable is that she’s such an archetype: the sassy but good-looking tough-talking female. She quickly wore out her welcome, and eventually, she just felt like she was there to just, well, be there; she felt like a filler character.
We’ll admit that she’s a very polarizing character, but we fall on the side that doesn’t like her. The first Meg was easy enough to watch, but Meg 2.0 is ruining Supernatural. We’re patiently awaiting Meg 3.0.
Nikki and Paulo, Lost
Technically this is two characters, but Nikki and Paulo deserve to be lumped together. The infamous couple appeared at the beginning of Lost Season 3, and viewers were expected to believe that they had simply been hiding out on the island this whole time. They just decided to wait two whole months to make their presence known. Luckily, only 11 episodes after their debut, the incredibly obnoxious duo were buried alive — fan service at its finest. The duo were easily the least memorable characters of the Lost cast.
Skyler White, Breaking Bad
Anna Gunn is a great actress, so we’re not blaming our dislike of Skyler White on the acting. Instead, we’ll blame it on the poor choices made by the Breaking Bad writing team. She always played the role of the neurotic wife, and when she finds out about Walt’s drug gig, she acts out in the worst way possible, quickly cementing herself as one of the worst TV characters ever (with many calling her one of the most annoying characters in Breaking Bad altogether).
She always seemed to seethe with anger, at least after she stopped being the voice of morality for the show (which, we think is probably when we started to dislike her character). Of course, we realize marriages are complicated and it’s probably not easy to just one day find out your husband is a drug kingpin, so it’s probably not fair to say we dislike Skyler. But we never said this list was fair, did we?
Here’s why she was the absolute worst:
- Unsympathetic Portrayal: In a series where many characters engage in morally questionable actions, Skyler’s initial portrayal as a nagging wife made her stand out as unsympathetic. This characterization, especially in the early seasons, made it difficult for some viewers to connect with her, even when her concerns were valid.
- Inconsistent Reactions: Skyler’s reactions to Walter’s descent into the criminal underworld were inconsistent. At times, she was horrified by his actions, while at other moments, she seemed to accept or even benefit from the proceeds of his illegal activities. This inconsistency made her moral stance ambiguous.
- Relationship Dynamics: Skyler’s relationship with Walter was central to the show, but it often felt one-dimensional. While Walter’s character was explored in depth, showcasing his motivations and internal conflicts, Skyler’s character development was often secondary, focusing more on her reactions to Walter than her individual journey.
- Lack of Agency: For much of the series, Skyler seemed to lack agency. Her decisions were frequently reactive, driven by external circumstances rather than her own motivations. This reactive nature made her character feel less empowered compared to others in the series.
- Overshadowed by Strong Characters: Breaking Bad boasted a roster of compelling characters, from the enigmatic Walter White to the charismatic Jesse Pinkman. In such a strong ensemble, Skyler’s character often felt overshadowed, making it challenging for her to carve out a distinct identity.
- Audience Misinterpretation: Part of the criticism towards Skyler may stem from audience misinterpretation. While Walter’s actions were clearly more reprehensible, the show’s framing sometimes led viewers to be more critical of Skyler than of Walter.
Lori, The Walking Dead
Lori Grimes, as a character, was a heavily conflicted, wishy-washy and confusing person. Sarah Wayne Callies, the actress behind Lori, did an okay job in her portrayal of the complex character, but being “just okay” on a show filled with otherwise impressive actors made her just okayness too apparent. But, Callies was far from Lori’s biggest issue. Her crash scene in the “Nebraska” episode felt forced (she crashed while looking at a map and not paying attention to the road ahead), and her contradictory scenes surrounding Shane’s death were hard to be believed (first she wanted him dead, then when Rick did the deed, he was treated like a monster). Even though we disliked the direction her character was headed before she died, her death scene and goodbye to Carl was one of the most difficult TV scenes to watch.