Over the last decade, there’s been a steady shift toward more cinematic storytelling on the small screen. TV has dug its heels into the consciousness of the viewer like it never has before. While the television medium has become a juggernaut of long-form storytelling, it is not without its cast of disposable, irritating characters.
Everyone has that one character they wouldn’t mind seeing buried alive on a beach, mauled to death by a female goat or drowned in a creek filled with tears of their own narcissistic self-pity. Below you’ll find some of the characters whose appearances will have me checking my twitter feed, updating my Facebook or biding my time contemplating why I would even watch a show with such an irritating character.
Fair warning, there are some SPOILERS throughout this list so read sections at your own discretion…
If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know I’ve been watching Dawson’s Creek lately.
After finishing Friday Night Lights, I felt a void in my viewing habits. In my review, I remarked that FNL was “like Dawson’s Creek if Dawson played football and wasn’t completely annoying.” Ever since then, I’ve been curious if my vague memories of the WB teen soap opera (yeah, I watched for a little bit when it aired, no shame in that) were spot on or if I could maybe appreciate the show more as an adult.
Lucky for me, Netflix has the entire series available to stream. Unlucky for me, my memories were indeed accurate. Dawson Leery is one of the biggest douchebags in television history. In the season and a half that I’ve watched of the show, I’ve felt my slight annoyance grow into outright anger at a title character that’s intended to garner the audience’s sympathy. No way is that happening here.
Dawson is still a slightly fascinating character, though. For a teen soap opera, they really did nail the narcissistic, naive and oblivious teenager right on the head. Dawson’s obsession with movies gives an additional layer to his growth as a character. Unfortunately, there’s a reason teenagers aren’t taken seriously and why, for a large number of people, memories of your past teen angst is equal parts cringe worthy and comical.
In the beginning, Dawson’s skewed “Spielberg perspective” is compelling at best. It works to distract the viewer from the pretentious dialogue written by people who have never heard a teenager speak. But the charade doesn’t last long because Dawson quickly becomes, for lack of a better word, a dick.
He dates Jen (Michelle Williams) and treats her like repulsive trash when he finds out she’s not a virgin. He vilifies Joey (Katie Holmes) after he reads, without permission, something negative about him in her diary. When Jen is grieving after the death of a relative, Dawson talks to her about his date with Joey while he wears a stupid grin on his face. He forgets Pacey’s (Joshua Jackson) birthday and is too wrapped up in his relationship to realize it. By early season two he does all this and manages to belittle his girlfriend’s artistic pursuits as he espouses his pretentious filmmaking dreams.
I don’t yet know how the character changes throughout the series’ run. As of season two, Dawson is teetering on the line between douchebag teenager and psychopath. After watching the first season of Bates Motel, I have taken to imagining Dawson is a budding serial killer. It makes for a much more watchable series. I mean, as far as seasons one and two are concerned.
It pains me to put Ted Mosby on this list. I hate being annoyed by a character whose story is the driving force of a series I love. And I do love it. I admit, it isn’t as good as it used to be, but the series has a truly great run. I hope its final season is up to snuff.
I’m not as annoyed with Ted Mosby as much as the rest of the HIMYM fan base seems to be. His pursuit of the future mother of his children has had its highs and lows. I think, for me, my tolerance of Ted’s pretentious and more annoying qualities correlates more with the place he’s at in his personal life. He can be a snob but his romantic storyline should make up for it. If the writers aren’t bringing their A-game to his present relationship, his whining and bitterness takes center stage and he becomes annoying.
At least the other characters are quick to call attention to his annoying and pretentious habits.
In its sixth season, The Office aired arguably its worst episode. Well, one of their worst. It was a clip show that, instead of taking the opportunity to have fun with the mockumentary format, the series decided a traditional clip show was needed. It was sloppy and lazy.
It’s no surprise that the next episode included the introduction of Sabre and the character of Gabe Lewis. Gabe, played by Zach Woods, was off-putting from the start. In the beginning, and middle, the character was too weird for my tastes. It was to the point that anytime he was onscreen, I would pine for the days when the series was great.
It wasn’t until Andy won Erin back from Gabe that I warmed up to him a little. Gabe pursuing Erin and vowing to win her back was the best that the character was ever given. But, eventually, that plot wore itself thin and Gabe became someone I tolerated until the end. I’d count him as less annoying than most on this list but, overall, he still earned his spot here.
Senor Chang was a really fun character in the incredible first season of Community. By the end of that first season, though, there was a trade off. The writers found a spectacular voice for the show but, in the process, they failed to find a voice for Chang.
In season two he was a student. In season three he was a security guard. In season four he was the central part of the worst thing that’s ever been in the show. Changnesia stretched the bounds of a season that was going to be under heavy scrutiny. I honestly don’t remember if this horrible plot was ever resolved. If it was, it wasn’t memorable. If it wasn’t, I hope Dan Harmon can reverse the damage one abbreviated season has done to his series.
I watched three seasons of True Blood before I called it quits and decided it just wasn’t a show for me. Admittedly, it has been a while since it’s even been on my radar. But I distinctly remember Russell Edgington being part of the reason I stopped watching the show. He was a vampire king but he was played a cartoonish super villain, if memory serves.
I vaguely remember him appearing on television with a list of demands or something. He declared war on humans I guess but his demeanor was too comical. He didn’t seem like a formidable enough villain in a series that was already rapidly losing my interest. However, he was only one reason I quit the show. Fairies and many faux-cliffhanger episode endings (rampant in season 2) proved to be the show’s downfall for me.
I had many problems with the first season of this show everyone seems to go nuts over. Besides the “weird for the sake of being weird” quick cuts of horror nonsense, relentlessly preposterous plot holes and laughable dialogue, there was Tate Langdon.
Tate was a disturbed patient of psychiatrist Dylan McDermott. The writers decided to spend every frame he was on screen beating us over the head with indicators of his homicidal tendencies. When he starts hanging out with McDermott’s daughter, the psychiatrist sees it as the kid playing mind games. But the disturbing truth of the show is that all of these characters are trapped in a flashy horror show with no real substance.
Tate is a crucial element in the season’s highest point and lowest point. I’m about to spoiler season one of American Horror Story. So if you haven’t seen it yet, or are in the process of watching it and insist on not ending your suffering, then skip down to T-Dog.
As it turns out, the creepy homicidal kid that’s such a central figure in the early episodes of one of the most annoyingly overrated horror series on TV is a ghost. Neat. The high point of the season comes toward the end when it’s revealed that McDermott’s daughter has spent a few episodes decomposing in the haunted house’s crawl space while Tate hangs out with her spirit. I’m not above admitting it was a good twist, even if I had it pegged when the show put way too much attention on the weird fruit flies littering the house.
The low point of the season was Tate’s backstory. The flashback sequence where the living Tate strolls through his high school murdering students is one of the worst sequences I’ve ever seen in a TV show. Seriously. It starts with the whistling melody they borrowed (under the guise of paying homage, I guess) from Kill Bill and ends with a gaping plot hole.
First, Tate wanders into a library full of students who clearly haven’t had much acting experience. One jock in a letter jacket plays hero and approaches Tate. The jock freezes up, leading to the whole library becoming a massacre. It’s so hacky and poorly executed (no tasteless pun intended) that I was laughing the entire time.
The sequence ends with Tate killing himself in his bedroom as the police surround him. I think he commits suicide by cop, actually. In either case, there’s zero logic here. When he killed the kids in the library, it was staffed. It was most likely a school day. He shot up the school long enough for people to know to seek refuge.
Yet, he somehow managed to slip past the hundreds of police officers that most likely surrounded the building in minutes while being armed to the teeth and dressed in all black with a trench coat. Not only that, he made it home in time to be sitting on his bed waiting for the police to arrive. It made zero sense and was the last straw that made me decide I wouldn’t bother watching any other seasons.
And I say that after a character in one of the first couple episodes told McDermott that he “murdered his kids and got life in prison” only to be released because he has a brain tumor. It ended up being bullshit, but you would think a psychiatrist would call his bluff. Instead, the audience is just expected to roll with it.
Oh, T-Dog. That poor bastard. He was given nothing to work with for so long. In his final episode he uses his last ounce of strength guiding another character to safety. While they chitchat, T-Dog quells his friend’s fears by saying it’s “God’s plan for him to save her.”
All I thought after that line was, “Hmm, T-Dog’s religious. Okay.”
IronE Singleton did the best he could with what little he was given. T-Dog was a writer’s issue from the start. Even the name T-Dog is such a generic, depthless name for a character that, sadly, never grew out of it.
My feelings toward JD are similar to my feelings toward Dawson except not as extreme. JD is whiny, narcissistic and over-sensitive to the point that, like Dawson, it’s really hard to root for him. That causes some trouble, considering that he is the narrator of the series.
There are a lot of examples but the one that really shoots out to me is at the end of season three, JD finally gets her back. JD suddenly realizes that he doesn’t love her and chooses to tell her, unless I’m mistaken, at Turk and Carla’s rehearsal dinner. It made me dislike JD, not necessarily for his tactless treatment of Elliot, but for his timing.
It was for dramatic purposes that he did it at that time, sure. But when I watch a sitcom, I want the characters to feel like they’re my friends. I wouldn’t want JD to be my friend.
Ugh. Nikki and Paolo were a given for this list. They were a failed experiment from the writers’ room. As a concept, Nikki and Paolo weren’t a disaster. The writers were responding to internet chatter complaining about how we never see what any of the other survivors are up to. To that I ask, why would we have cared?
But I digress. Nikki and Paolo were introduced and put into old scenes as if they were there the whole time. Like I said, it was a failed experiment. I didn’t care about the characters. In fact, I didn’t want to care about the characters.
I’m glad they didn’t stick around for long. But I will say that their flashback episode, Expose, was actually pretty good as a standalone island-mystery story.
Kim Bauer is another easy target for this list (and in the show, now that I think of it). While I do enjoy watching Elisha Cuthbert frolicking through the wilderness in season two, it seriously detracted from the main plot of the day. When you have a nuke in Los Angeles, the last thing the viewers want to see is Jack Bauer’s daughter getting trapped in a scenario that has absolutely nothing to do with the central plot of the show.
Things did get better for Kim Bauer, in a far-fetched way. In season three she was snagged a job at CTU and had a clandestine relationship with her dad’s partner in the field. It still managed to be annoying, however, as Kim was adamant about telling her dad about the relationship on a crisis-filled day.
I had an interesting conversation with someone in the comments for my “Should 24 Live Another Day?” post a couple weeks ago. “Frank” was all for Jack’s mental breakdown in the final season of the show. I wasn’t. To each their own. But I do believe I would have been more into it if his daughter’s death had been the catalyst that made him go crazy. But that wasn’t the case.
At least 24: Live Another Day will only be 12-episodes. Hopefully it will make it harder for the writers to write filler storylines.
I picked up The Big Bang Theory solely because I wanted a nice, low-maintenance sitcom with characters I wouldn’t grow too attached to and a plot I can have playing in the background while I pretended to be productive. I watched five seasons of it before I gave up on it. It was entertaining but after five seasons of watching “Jim Parsons with aspergers” I just grew tired of it.
Leonard is the “normal one” in the group of extreme stereotypical “nerd characters” that steer the show. But something just never rings true for me with Johnny Galecki’s performance. I can’t really put my finger on it. I feel like maybe he’s trying too hard to be this ultra-nerd. Instead of going with it, I become fixated on the way he distorts his voice and squints his eyes as he recites his lines. It becomes a distraction and my annoyance grows out of that distraction.
I conferred with Tiny (Obsessive Friend who you can also now follow on Twitter @ObsessiveTiny) about Leonard’s inclusion on this list. He thinks I let mannerisms and unique voices get under my skin too easily. He’s absolutely right. Usually he can appreciate my annoyance with a character on those grounds, but he doesn’t see my disapproval of Leonard. It’s just something my mind fixated on when I got bored with the series.
I want to throw an Honorable Mention at Laurie Metcalf’s portrayal as Sheldon’s mom Mary Cooper in four episodes of The Big Bang Theory. I don’t have the exact data but I would wager that a good 90% of her dialogue on the show makes some mention of the fact that the character is a hardcore Christian. After a couple of scenes with her I want to tell Chuck Lorre & Co.: “We get it. That’s enough.”
Like Sheldon’s mother in The Big Bang Theory, Jessie Spano was Saved by the Bell’s caricature gone mad. Every time she would get preachy or offended at Slater for addressing her with an offensive moniker, I felt like she moved women’s rights back a year. And when she was addicted to caffeine pills, I desperately wanted her to OD and make it an even more special episode.
Brenda Chenowith was a character I hated from the start of my stint with Six Feet Under. We were supposed to hate her, I guess. She was batshit crazy and a horrible fit for Nate. She treated him horribly, cheated on him, blamed him for her cheating (if memory serves) and generally made his life miserable. It reached the point that I actually applauded Nate when he called her the “C-word” in an episode.
But you can hate a character without being annoyed by them. In fact, that’s a pretty big sign of great writing. She annoyed me, though. She annoyed me so much that I refused to accept that we should be okay with her and Nate getting back together.
In fact, I had a lot of problems with the series. So I’ll add to this list…
I watched every episode of Six Feet Under and think it’s just about the most overrated series I’ve seen. People throw around the phrase “best TV show ever” a lot when discussing Alan Ball’s pretentious and plotless character study of really shitty people. I don’t mind character-driven dramas in the least bit. I encourage them. But if you’re going to follow characters and their growth, they have to at least be somewhat likeable people.
Maybe that was the point of the series finale’s final (and highly acclaimed) montage. Were we supposed to relish seeing these people dying? And am I the only one a little disturbed that the show’s only black main character was the only one who died as a victim in a violent crime? It suited the character’s police past, yes, but it still made me a little uncomfortable.
I still watched every episode. I thought Nate was the only really likeable character in the entire cast. But he even got to me a few times. I will admit the writing was good, maybe even great. But you just can’t expect me to applaud a show that’s driven by character I’ve grown to hate.
“Douchebags try to get rich. A deal falls through. Oh wait, never mind, they’re rich again.” – Plot synopsis of every Entourage episode.
The novelty of a fictionalized look into the inner workings of the entertainment industry wore off about midway through season one of Entourage. From there, I was just watching douchebags being douchebags while Jeremy Piven yelled a lot.
Ari’s constant and tired metaphor of “waging war” on the people who wrong him got under my skin every damn time. You’re an overpaid agent in an air-conditioned office with minions who are terrified of you while there are literally soldiers overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shut the hell up.
That does it for my Most Annoying TV Characters list. Leave me a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @ObsessiveViewer for live-tweets about movies and shows I’m watching and keep up with the blog on Facebook for all the latest posts and blog news. Also make sure you follow my Obsessive Friend Tiny on Twitter @ObsessiveTiny. We have some big things planned in the near future.