Matilda Dixon-Smith: (Just Some Of) The Absolute Worst Characters on TV

Posted on March 11, 2013


Every story has its heroes and villains. Likewise, the TV world has its champions and its failures; there are the characters we root for unconditionally, and those who produce unadulterated hatred with every appearance. Sometimes, even to utter such a character’s name is to produce convulsions of loathing in a viewer who remembers the last time this spectre appeared on screen and sent a scene plummeting. Let’s talk about some of TV’s dud characters.

Leo, Smash


Thanks to the disaster that was season one of Smash, it’s difficult to pick just one worst character from the hefty ensemble cast of NBC’s musical series. Surely Ellis is just the worst; a caricature baddie who snoops from behind doors, gives bisexuality a bad name and actually poisons people—like a poorly-sketched Shakespearean villain. Or how about Julia, the lyricist from Brooklyn who has a loathsome affinity with earth-toned scarves, and who wears oversized silk pyjamas to secret late-night trysts? Ultimately, I had to go with Julia’s grumbling teenage son, Leo.

The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum said it best when she described Leo as the boy “who smokes pot, does not want pancakes, and repeatedly fails to run away for good”. Leo’s mere presence on Smash brings any scene to a shuddering halt; he’s the kid who decides that his recently reunited parents running into his mother’s ex-lover is hilarious; who speaks with the dulled, sluggish tone of a serial-killer-in-training. And even though the actor is gone (in season 2), I still shudder every time Debra Messing mentions “lunch with Leo”. And yes, HE DOES NOT WANT PANCAKES. Honestly, what teenage boy doesn’t want pancakes?

Dave, Happy Endings

Ugh, the facial hair.

It’s not simply the hair, or the revoltingly painstaking construction of Dave’s beard that makes him the worst friend in the Happy Endings gang (though those things are gross and annoying); it’s how little he contributes to the comedy when the others are trying so hard to make it work. Every comedy friendship group has its weak point. For Friends it was Ross—somehow concomitantly dull and over-the-top. on New Girl, it’s Winston—a character the writers were forced to create (when their first choice, Daman Wayans Jr., took a punt on a different series) and still don’t know what to do with.

If you watch the first season of Happy Endings again, you’ll be astonished to discover that Dave is the centrepiece of the pilot episode; in fact, his story of public humiliation is the driving force of season one. It’s astounding because Dave is so boring I sometimes forget he exists while I’m watching the show. His jokes—even when they’re well-written—fall flat because of his heinous delivery. I suppose we should be grateful, because Dave’s complete lack of allure often grounds the rest of the kooky Happy Endings gang in some semblance of reality. I just wish I didn’t have to look at his goatee for 20 minutes a week.

Declan, Revenge

Just your average “Declan Porter Is Clueless” facial expression.

This is another show with a few contenders, at least in its paltry second season. But, honestly, no one is worse than Jack Porter’s self-righteous wharf rat brother, Declan. His appearance in an episode will invariably herald the most boring storylines (Revenge needs to learn, we don’t care what goes on at the Stowaway), and he’s the kind of guy who will break the heart of his drug-addicted girlfriend simply because he’s disappointed in her, or because something Loud and Frizzy walks by. The kid dropped his I.D. at the house he was robbing; he’s useless.

From his drone-like delivery to his gross chin pubes (clearly I’ve got a facial hair thing), there’s just nothing good about Declan Porter.  I sincerely hope he is the flannel-shirted person at the bottom of the ocean whose identity has not yet been revealed (N.B.: I now know who it is, but I won’t spoil it!).

Ann, Parks and Recreation

“Ann Perkins!”

Look,  Rashida Jones is fantastic; but, God love her, she’s been saddled with the only weak link in one of the strongest television ensembles ever constructed. Ann Perkins is the dullest nurse in Pawnee, so dull that even a relationship with Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe or Aziz Ansari (three of the funniest people on that show) can’t save her. What’s worse, we’re constantly asked to believe that Leslie Knope—kick-ass goddess—adores Ann unconditionally. Ironically, the only time Ann works is when April is pointing out how awful she is. Try as they might, the writers just can’t make Ann worth it, and her jokes don’t land. I’d much rather see Leslie gab about waffles with the woefully underused Donna.

Bonnie, The Vampire Diaries

Ohhh, Bonnie.

Everything crap that happens on The Vampire Diaries happens when Bonnie is around. Bonnie is The Vampire Diaries’ resident Debbie Downer, a witch in serious need of a massive chill pill. When she’s not telling everyone how terrible they are, she’s ruining important spells or complaining about her dead grandmother. It’s not fair that she got to date Jeremy, and touch all his bulging biceps. In a show where people can’t even paint walls properly, Bonnie’s status as Worst Character Ever is like a badge of honour. (Hannah Warnaar would like to extend the hatred of Bonnie to a hatred of all witches in shows about vampires, especially Willow from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”.)

Jessa, Girls

I mean, she IS gorgeous!

I know, I know, everyone loves Jessa. Why, though? Of all the fabulous caricatures of Generation Y, Jessa is by far the most loathsome. Blasé, self-concerned, concertedly cool and determinedly bohemain, while Jemima Kirke is absolutely gorgeous, Jessa the character always feels underdeveloped, as if Dunham doesn’t quite know what to do with her. Jessa’s marriage to the yuppie Thomas-John was the plot line that almost made me give up on Girls in season one (though I’m glad I didn’t). I wished they’d just stayed on their honeymoon.

O’Brien, Downton Abbey

O’Brien’s curls are the stuff of my nightmares.

It was a very close race between O’Brien and Matthew’s mother, Isobel, who just won’t shut up. But it’s O’Brien, with her greasy curls and severe brow, who makes Downton at times unwatchable. Her scheming is the storyline that won’t quit; when she inadvertently caused Cora’s miscarriage in season one, we all prayed she had learned the error of her ways. But here she is, in Season 3, hiding Robert’s shirts and convincing Hot Jimmy to do something dastardly. To hurt Cora is one thing, but when O’Brien messed with Murder Eyes (who might be my secret favourite character) she lost me for good. I look forward to the extravagant party that will be thrown when the Crawley’s finally fire her.

Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones

Look, she’s hardcore, at least.

GOD, Catelyn. The most insufferable wife in all the seven kingdoms; she’s thick as two short planks and stubborn as an ox. There’s no doubt that the Starks get all their good genes from Ned. Lest we forget that her stupidity was the final nail in Ned’s coffin; though he’s probably better off beheaded if it means he’s free of Catelyn’s meddling.

Every Adult Male, Pretty Little Liars 

Well, sure, they don’t look threatening RIGHT now.

There’s something funny about all the men on Pretty Little Liars; namely, every male character that appears on the show is immediately presented as a possible threat until proven otherwise. And that’s all the guys (including the teenage love interests). In this excellent article by Morgan Glennon in The Huffington Post, Glennon points out that Caleb, the show’s most valiant and least-threatening male, “started his run by literally living in the vents at their high school like a homeless Phantom of the Opera. That was the most well-adjusted guy on the show”. But you can’t fault Caleb for being a beautiful homeless werewolf boy, he’s just a nutty teenager! No, it’s the adult men on the show who really irk me out. 

Let’s start with Ezra Fitz (UGH), a high school English teacher who “accidentally” slept with a small child before realising she was a student in his class…then just kept on doing it FOR THREE SEASONS. Or how about the predatory cop, (the late) Garrett Reynolds, who had an illicit affair with a blind teenager? Or Detective Wilden, the other predatory cop, who enjoys following around the teenage daughter of a woman he slept with once (under seriously nefarious circumstances)? WHAT ABOUT JASON DILAURENTIS, you guys; the ex-drug addict who takes extremely disturbing photos of his dead sister’s sleeping friends?? Or Wren, the professional doctor who makes out with ALL of the teenagers, and who uses their possible mental illness/serious injuries as an excuse to take them out on a hot date (under the guise of “treatment”)? Glennon asserts that ” if there is an older guy in Rosewood chances are he will either be dating or trying to date a teenage girl. If there was ever a town To Catch a Predator‘s Chris Hansen needed to visit, it’s Rosewood”, and by golly she’s right. It’s at the point now where I am suspicious and/or terrified of every character with a wang, simply because he has a wang. Enough with the predatory men, PLL; it’s super creepy!

Will Schuester, Glee

Gross. On so many levels.

UGH, Will Schuester. Was there a time when he was ever a good guy? I don’t remember always hating Will (in fact, I’m pretty sure I talked about his nice arms in this article about Glee), but now he is the greatest burden on a show that struggles beneath the weight of many problematic characters (cough, Finn Hudson, cough). Let’s start with the rapping. There was a time when Will Schuester would rap A LOT on Glee. It hasn’t happened in a while, but I live in fear of the day when he will try and rap, like, a Kanye West song. Or how about the fact that he has no adult friends, besides his beleaguered girlfriend and his sometimes-arch-nemesis? His best man at his wedding is a TEENAGER, and not just any teenager, HIS STUDENT. The man is a Spanish teacher who can’t even speak Spanish. Need I say more?

Matilda Dixon-Smith is You’re Dripping Egg’s editor-in-chief, and lover of all things snark. You can catch her column, Fantasise or Perish, about the wonderful world of the small screen, every Monday. 

These are some of Matilda’s most loathed TV characters, but who are yours? We want to hear about them in the comments!