Not every character can be a good one. Hell, there are entire TV series filled with terrible characters, and we’re all supposed to believe that it’s “brilliant, generation-defining television” (cough, “Girls,” cough). But while every show has its reviled characters we love to hate (Skyler White, Joffrey, Jim from “According to Jim”) some series make their marks by having main characters who are just so awful, everyone else around them shines brighter than the sun.
Ted Mosby In “How I Met Your Mother”
Far be it from me to speak ill of the cancelled, but Ted Mosby is such a terrible character that there’s even a website that exists called “TedMosbyIsAJerk.com.”
Okay, it’s a “viral” site set up by the show’s creators to tie in with a plot point from an episode of the show. Nevertheless, Ted is the classic example of a one-note, boring character who only exists to make everyone else around him better. Ted made us fall in love with the Robins in our lives, made us yearn for a best friend like Marshall, made Barney Stinson that much more legendary, and even made Lily slightly more bearable. His role was to be the eyes through which we saw our own friendships and lives.
But my God, could he have been any more boring? For nine seasons, his character arc was Step 1: Date Girl, Step 2: Fall In Love, Step 3: Get Dumped, Step 4: ???, Step 5: Profit–all in the name of finding a wife and kids. This happened 100 times in the series. Then when he finds his wife and kids, it turns out he’s been jonesing for Robin all along. So he consciously married a woman and fathered two children with her while he was still in love with his best friend’s ex-wife? Zero character growth from start to finish. What a dick.
Carrie Bradshaw In “Sex And The City”
Can a character who speaks mainly in puns be all that bad, or is Carrie Bradshaw a SHOE-in for this list? (HAHAHA. IT’S SO PUNNY.)
There’s a lot of good about Carrie Bradshaw, or at least that’s what my girlfriend tells me.* She’s independent, funny, talented, hardworking, openminded, and relentlessly chases her dreams. These are admirable qualities in anyone.
But if you take it a step further, you realize she’s just kind of annoying and awful, especially when you compare her to a character with so much range and depth as, oh, let’s say Samantha. Carrie screwed over Aidan a hundred thousand times–even though he’s pretty much the perfect guy–in order to chase Mr. Big, a man, who, for all intents and purposes, she stalked. She ignores all of her friends’ problems and uses them to talk about herself. When Samantha is diagnosed with breast cancer, Carrie moves to Paris and spends $45,000 on shoes, so she forces Charlotte to give her $30 grand. Also, how could she possibly spend that much on shoes? Do you know how much people who write one column a week make, even back in the ’90s and early 2000s? I ate lunch out of a dumpster today.
Basically, this show would have been 100 percent better if it was just Samantha being a badass publicist banging her way around New York City.
*Okay, fine, I’ve seen every episode of SATC. Sue me, it’s addicting.
Vincent Chase In “Entourage”
You’d think that in a show about a bunch of guys who mooch off of a movie star, the most interesting character might be the movie star. Those of you who think that have clearly never seen “Entourage.”
Think about it. Other than the 5,000 scenes of Vinne with a hot, naked chick on top of him, when was the last time you quoted something Vinnie Chase said? Probably never.
But you can instantly call to mind the episode where Drama and Turtle pick up a girl who’s into banging dudes wearing Bunny costumes, or when they stalk Mandy Moore, or when they’re in the hot tub with those two older women so Drama can sleep with a MILF played by Lisa Rinna. You think about when E was trapped in Bob Ryan’s mansion, root for him in his many memorable fights with Ari, and feel for him every time he gets his heart broken by Sloan. And I bet the readership of this site has quoted Ari Gold more than once, whether you’ve shouted, “LLLLLOYYYYYYYYYD!!!” at the top of your lungs or ran through a building shouting at people to get what you want. Power move.
Vinnie isn’t as much a “bad character” as he is a walking, talking set piece. That’s probably why while most of the show is about Vince, any Vince-centric character arcs are considered the weakest of the show. He’s the action, everyone else is the reaction, and the reaction is always much better and more compelling than the action.
Piper Chapman In “Orange Is The New Black”
Piper Chapman has her moments. Well, one moment: when she scares the shit out of the girl visiting with the “Scared Straight”-esque program, which in turn scares the shit out the other girls in the program, the rest of her fellow inmates, and even the prison guards. Poussey says, “Damn, you cold.” Piper’s deadpan response? “Bitches gots to learn.”
That, and any scene she’s making out with Laura Prepon, is about the best you get out of Piper. The rest of the time, she’s really just kind of the worst person on Earth, who makes the worst kinds of decisions. Much like Ted and the rest of the characters on this list, she’s a mouthpiece to the fantastic, wacky, and downright ridiculous characters on this show, such as Red, Yoga Jones (aka Patti Mayonnaise), Poussey, Taystee, Sophia, and, of course, Crazy Eyes. And, unfortunately, without Piper to play off of as the straight woman, they wouldn’t shine as brightly or as often.
Maybe the highly anticipated season two will feature better Piper moments, but my goodness, I’ve never seen a more bland character make more poor decisions in such a short period of time.
Jess Day In “New Girl”
I’ll give a no-prize to whoever watches “New Girl” for Jess and not Nick, Schmidt, Winston, or CeCe, who is played by the absolute masterpiece of a human being that is Hannah Simone.
Sure, you want to see Jess and Nick hook up, and I’ll readily admit that Zooey Deschanel is incredibly pleasant to look at, but once she starts singing or talking or complaining about her life, you immediately want to either watch the rest of the episode on mute or throw your remote through the screen. It’s incredibly hard to pinpoint what about her you hate so much, but you know you do.
Maybe it’s the fact that in three seasons and with more than 70 episodes, she’s shown absolutely no growth, whereas all of the other characters have grown and changed with the series. Maybe it’s the fact that while she’s the lead, Max Greenfield’s “Schmidt” character constantly outshines her. Maybe you just plain don’t like Zooey Deschanel, and this show is pretty much just her being her. Either way, Deschanel’s character is highly insignificant compared to her supporting ensemble cast, and we like it that way.
Ashton Kutcher’s Character In “Two And A Half Men”
Some people may accuse me of stretching the definition of “amazing” TV shows with this one, but my God, the addition of Ashton Kutcher’s character turned a good series into a trainwreck.
Charlie Sheen’s character, aptly named Charlie, was an incredibly funny character. For a shallow guy, he had tons of depth. He played off of the other characters so well–even though he was pretty much just playing himself–and made the other characters better for being around him: Jon Cryer, the kid who played the son until he went crazy, and the rest. It was a mindless sitcom, sure, but it was worth a laugh and eventually became a ratings juggernaut. It singlehandedly revived the three-camera sitcom. Charlie Sheen singlehandledly revived the three-camera sitcom.
Then, as I’m sure you remember, there was the big fallout between Charlie Sheen and series creator, Chuck Lorre. Things were said, Charlie quit/was fired, the studio paid him an inordinate sum of money, they killed off his character offscreen, end of story. It would have been a great place to end the show, right?
Wrong. They decided to replace Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher. That’s like replacing an Andy Warhol painting with an actual can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Not even chunky soup. Regular tomato soup. Ashton Kutcher plays an Internet tycoon who buys Charlie’s house after he dies, but for some reason still lets Jon Cryer and his son live there. Then the son leaves and is replaced by the incredibly attractive Amber Tamblyn, who plays Charlie’s long, lost lesbian alcoholic daughter, who, I’ll level with you, sounds like a pretty awesome character.
But it would have been cool five seasons ago when Charlie was still with the show. Hell, it would have been better if they brought her in as the main character when Charlie died. Instead, we got Ashton Kutcher buying a dead dude’s house and, for some reason, still letting the dead guy’s brother and adult son live there. Makes no sense.