The Five Worst Characters Currently On Television

That awkward moment when you try to write a complicated, flawed character, and end up just creating a monster.

5. Franky Fitzgerald (Skins)

What a difference a year makes. If I’d been writing this list a year ago, it’s likely there would still have been a character from Skins‘ third generation on the list, but it would’ve been Alo, whose entire personality for the fifth series was “NUH! DON’T WANT TO GROW UP! NOW I’M GOING TO IGNORE MY FATHER’S OBVIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS AND DESTROY MY FAMILY’S ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME!” Yet here we are, a year later and (spoiler) Alo isn’t on my list, but the previously-likeable Franky is. So what happened? Well, she started out as an endearing androgynous outcast whose truckload of issues was relatable despite the slightly more try-hard aspects of her personality (an obsession with weird stick men and making stop-motion films out of them), and as characters of that type often do on television, she underwent an extreme personality transplant the second she actually made some friends. Sadly, it was a change for the worse, as somewhere between seasons she suddenly developed a death wish and a monstrous sense of her own importance. Her poor decision-making when it came to boys was one of the main catalysts for the drama between the group throughout the whole of the sixth series, and while most of the others became quieter and more reflective as a result, Franky decided to become the absolute worst version of herself imaginable and spent the rest of the series just behaving like an utter, utter self-righteous tit. Most of the others did stupid stuff as a result of their confusion and grief, but none of them decided to drive down the path of Total Irredeemable Cuntishness as Franky did. Frustratingly, even the moment in the finale when it looked like Liv (one of the few characters who was likeable in both series five and series six, well played Laya Lewis) was finally going to point out to Franky what an utter blowhard she was being ended up somehow working out in Franky’s favour, because Mini woke up and cut the speech short. Curses.

4. Lynette Scavo (Desperate Housewives)

I have mixed emotions about including Lynette on this list, and that’s largely thanks to Felicity Huffman. She’s arguably been saddled with some of the most unsympathetic storylines throughout all eight seasons of the show, since all of Lynette’s storylines were inevitably informed by the trait of “hypocritical shrew”, and yet managed to play the heck out of them, often making Lynette a far more likeable character than most of her more ostensibly-appealing neighbours. Ultimately, though, I doubt there’s an actor in the world who can play the exact same flaws for eight years without resentment eventually starting to bleed into my feelings towards the character, and the problem with Lynette is that she just follows the same pattern repeatedly: her obsessive need to be right about anything causes a fight with a loved one, she realises that she’s an awful person, she resolves to treat people better, she completely forgets in time for the next episode to begin so she can be awful in exactly the same way all over again. It’s pretty hard to have any respect for a character who’s so incapable of remembering making the exact same mistake all of two days ago. This much I will say in Lynette’s favour, though: the way season eight is going, the writers are doing their darnedest to make sure Susan has completely out-awfulled Lynette by the time we get to the series finale, so there may still be hope.

3. Nick Miller (New Girl)

During an online discussion about the relative strengths and weaknesses of US comedy’s various “hang out” shows, I noticed one commenter claiming that “Happy Endings is like New Girl without the likeable characters”. This absolutely floored me. I mean, I’m not going to pretend the characters in Happy Endings are warm, welcoming human beings, but that’s very much a deliberate decision on the part of the show’s writers. New Girl, on the other hand, is filled with awful people that I think we were actually supposed to love. The one who comes closest to tolerability is Schmidt, partly because he’s such a ridiculous caricature that we’re obviously not meant to take him remotely seriously, and partly because no one can articulate the word “chutney” or demand to know the whereabouts of an Irish walking cape like Max Greenfield. As for the rest, though, Zooey Deschanel’s forced zaniness is likely to give me diabetes before the season is out, Winston barely has any developed character traits beyond “just got back from Latvia” and “good with kids”…and then there’s Nick. The effort the show has put into teasing the romantic possibilities between him and Jess suggests that we’re expected to like him and want the two of them to get together, but it doesn’t work, because Nick is awful. He complains about everything in a horrid nasal whine. He blames everyone else for his own failings. He constantly draws people’s attention to how ashamed he feels of his own friends, conveniently ignoring the fact that he should be grateful to have any friends in the first place. Better writing, or better acting, could salvage the character, but at this point he feels like a lost cause. To bring this full circle, the characters in Happy Endings may all be intensely annoying, but I completely get why they like each other. In New Girl, on the other hand, I find myself considering how much better the show would be if Nick accidentally tripped and fell into the oven and then Jess accidentally turned it on in some sort of adorkakooky mix-up and the next episode began with Jess, Schmidt and Winston nonchalantly disposing of some charred bones and never speaking of this shitslice again.

2. Annie Wilson (90210)

Again, I’m sure we were supposed to like Annie, at least in the beginning. She was the new arrival, the out-of-towner, thrust into an unfamiliar world of rich high school bitches and cliques. She was supposed to be our generation’s Brinda Walsh (though to be fair, a lot of people didn’t like her either), and while she started out as a bit of an obnoxious goody-goody, there was rarely anything actively offensive about her. That is, until she killed a man while drunk-driving (underage, to boot) in the first season finale, drove away from the scene of the crime without telling anyone, spent pretty much the entirety of season two trying to cover this up, was ultimately punished for her transgressions by spending the summer under house arrest (conveniently all occurring off-screen during the break between seasons), whining about how unfair this was, being inexplicably given the hottest guy on the show as a love interest and dragging him into her net of tedium and self-obsession, befriending a lonely, aging and filthy rich actress who by the law of every soap opera ever then died and left everything to Annie, then WHINING ABOUT HOW UNFAIR IT WAS THAT THE ACTRESS’S FAMILY WERE CONTESTING THE WILL rather than anticipating this course of action or bothering to be gracious about it, becoming a hooker and expecting men to actually pay to put up with her, all the while snootily passing judgements on other people who didn’t live up to her stringent moral code, then selling the necklace the deceased actress gave her in order to cover her debts, behaving like it was in any way sneaky or underhanded for the actress’s family to buy the necklace from the pawn dealer to use as evidence that Annie didn’t give a shit about the old lady and was only interested in her for her money, and finally BREAKING INTO THE FAMILY’S HOME TO STEAL THE NECKLACE BACK AND ACTING LIKE SHE WAS THE WRONGED PARTY IN ALL OF THIS BECAUSE THEY WERE STANDING BETWEEN HER AND THE MONEY SHE TOTALLY DESERVED. Honestly, the only redeeming thing about the character at this point is spotting all those moments when even Shenae Grimes thinks Annie is being a total cow and can’t be bothered to pretend otherwise.

1. Will Schuester (Glee)

After that little tirade, you might be wondering who on Earth could possibly be worse than Annie. Well, here’s your answer. For all Annie’s faults, she at least has the excuse of being young and spoilt; Will Schuester is a grown man in a position of considerable responsibility and influence, and still behaves like an absolute dickhead. I remember being on his side to begin with, appreciating how his life hadn’t worked out quite as he’d hoped but that leading the school’s glee club full of losers was at least giving him some sort of direction and purpose. Then he started openly sneering at his own students (for all that some viewers complain about the preferential treatment he gives Rachel when it comes to handing out solos, he really does treat her like absolute shit quite a lot of the time), getting seriously creepy and proprietorial over on-off girlfriend Emma, to the extent of telling her boyfriend at the time that he would ALLOW HIM TO CONTINUE DATING HER like he had any fucking say in the matter, and also telling her that he planned to fix her OCD (which, incidentally, had significantly improved while she was seeing the aforementioned boyfriend, and suddenly went out of control when she had to cope with Will Schuester on a full-time basis – coincidence?) by singing Coldplay at her, sending his students to New York to compete in a National Showchoir Championships without actually having written the songs they were going to perform, and just generally being a really, really shitty teacher, to the point that when the show did an episode about how he was a Spanish teacher who spoke lousy Spanish, I actually considered that to be the least of his problems as an educator. Frustratingly, there are points where the show seems to realise what a hollow, pointless character Will Schuester has turned into, but because this is Glee, they think it’s enough to just crack a few meta-jokes about it rather than actually addressing the problem in any real sense. Oh well. He may never triumph at a showchoir contest, but at least he’s a winner tonight.

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28 thoughts on “The Five Worst Characters Currently On Television

  1. Cool detailed post. Kudos from one TV junkie to another.

  2. Seamoose says:

    Completely agree with your list from the shows I watch on it (desperate housewives, 90210 and glee). I do admire your restraint at not compiling the whole list with glee characters because I’d be tempted to. Totally agree that schu is the actual worst, though. Other grievances I have that you didn’t mention (to name but a few) include using karofsky’s suicide attempt to throw a pity party for himself. Plus, I hate the notion that he’s some saviour for Emma. The walking on water scene before he proposed to her was beyond gross.

    • Heh. I actually stopped watching Glee after that GODAWFUL retro Christmas special episode, which was hands-down the actual worst thing I have ever seen on television (and I watch Ringer), and I think those two scenes you mentioned came after that point in the series, didn’t they? Hence their omission from my list: I decided to stick to the awful things that I’d witnessed with my own eyes…

      • Seamoose says:

        You are right they happened after the awful Christmas episode. Fair play to you for giving up, I still watch against my better judgement. Although last week had Matt Bomer and he’s my fantasy tv boyfriend so I feel obliged to support his projects.

        Omg, I watch Ringer as well, we have the same taste in rubbish tv! I get a lot more entertainment out of that ridiculous mess than the ridiculous mess over on Glee though.

      • Matt Bomer is a ridiculously handsome man. I watched an entire season of White Collar (when it was actually being aired over here) just so I could see him looking ever so dapper in vintage suits every week and wish that I was him. I *almost* cracked when I heard he was going to be on Glee, but then I said to myself that nothing good in life is ever easy, so I forced myself to stay away. And I gather that the main purpose of his appearance was to make us all appreciate what an underrated special snowflake Blaine is, so I’m quite glad I did.

        I have a love/hate relationship with Ringer. It’s bonkers and nonsensical, but never as much fun as it should be. Just when I think it’s going to embrace its destiny a stupidly campy soap in the vein of the latter years of Melrose Place, they do an entire episode about corporate fraud and I start to think they just genuinely have no idea who their (incredibly tiny) audience is.

      • Seamoose says:

        Yeah, Matt Bomer’s character was *supposed* to be a douchey himbo actor who overshadowed poor woobie Blaine. But of course Blaine was the bigger douche in all their scenes by being passive aggressive, jealous, petty, immature and dressing in a way that makes your eyes bleed (like an anti-Neal Caffrey). You know, as per. And then they sang Gotye and it was every bit as inappropriate as it sounds. But on a positive note, Matt Bomer sounded good!

      • Ha, colour me entirely unsurprised. I think giving Blaine a more rounded personality is a great idea, because last I saw, the only real traits he had were “perfect example of teenage gaiety”, “likes singing”, “no dress sense”. But setting him up with a whole disadvantaged woobie arc isn’t the way to go about it – it’s cheap, and it’s lazy.

        I shall just have to imagine Matt Bomer’s part of it in my head. I might see if I can find some images of him in it, actually – I’m curious as to what he looks like in normal clothes.

  3. Judy says:

    The only show I watch out of these religiously is Desperates, the others I just dip in and out of (except Skins as it did my head in come season 2) – but even though I don’t know some of them well I totally agree. Great post!

    I do think Susan is worse than Lynette though… but I think you’re right in that my feelings are tainted by thinking Huffman is brilliant.

    • Also Susan’s just got much, much worse lately. That whole thing where she’s basically forcing Julie to have a baby she does not want just because Susan’s bored and wants a grandchild is probably one of the worst things a character’s ever done on that show – and you know as well as I do, that’s not a short list.

  4. monkseal says:

    Hold the phone, that one from 90210 is supposed to be YOUNG?

    Everyone in New Girl is an insufferable cunt, but Nick is the fittest soooooo…

  5. fused says:

    Franky was one of my favourite characters from the third generation of Skins last year, but this year she was such a horrible, selfish bitch, and her behaviour at the very least contributed to a lot of the bad things that happened to everyone in that series. I was glad when they had that scene where Liv called Franky out on her bullshit, but yeah they kind of ruined it by having Mini wake up and tell Liv off for it. I suppose Mini and Franky are the most interesting characters (if not always the most likeable) from the third generation. What I will say in Skins’ favour is while they have been known to ruin their characters (Franky), they do a much better job of ‘redeeming’ the Alpha Bitch character than I’ve seen in any other teen show I can think of. Katie ended up being the most likeable one in the last series of the second generation, and even more so with Mini, I thought they did well in making her such a sympathetic character in both series of the third generation, considering what it looked like she was going to be at the start.

    I can’t stand Mr. Schue. He’s so smarmy, self-righteous and full of himself. Having said that, I’ve never liked Glee much anyway apart from Sue Sylvester and Santana’s bitchyness, and Chord Overstreet looking pretty. I haven’t seen it since it left E4, but I can’t help wonder how bad it’s got, as people who actually used to like it are now saying how crap it is.

    • I was also disappointed that so much time was devoted to Franky’s search for her birth mother, and that finding her seemed to be some sort of solution to her problems. I’m not suggesting that Franky should’ve been used as some sort of poster child for gay parenting, but I felt like they presented the idea of her having two dads, and then never really did very much with it. That was a bit annoying.

      I think they did a great job with Mini in both series – she seemed awful in the first episode of series five, but as soon as her episode came around and you got to see what her life was like, the way she behaved made perfect sense. The scene where she’s just lying on her bed practising sexual positions (by herself) is one of my favourite scenes from any of the show’s series, because it was so sad and heartbreaking and made this tough mean girl seem like a little child all of a sudden. I definitely agree with you about the show’s ability to script an amazing comeback for their mean girls, though – Katie’s episode was easily the highlight of series four for me, and one of the very few things they got right that time around, amongst all the Naomily wangst and lesbian stalker suicides and killer therapists.

      I watched the first third of season three of Glee in Sky1, up to the Christmas episode, and then I just gave up. I never thought it was a perfect show, but I was happy with it as long as it was getting more things right than it was getting wrong. Season three, though, just demonstrated they were taking it in a direction I didn’t like, so I just stopped watching – and honestly, I don’t miss it at all.

  6. harman saini says:

    you suck. nick miller is awesome. you should trip over a stove and die u asshole.

  7. Kris S. says:

    I have to completely disagree about including Lynette Scavo. Mainly because I’m so sick of hearing about how supposedly awful she is. All I know is if she’s a nagging shrew of a wife I’ve never seen a bullied husband supposedly run so roughshod over get his way so often. Sure she’s a control freak. But I’ve never seen a control freak give up what she wants as often as Lynette has. I think her personality gives the impression she gets her way much more often than she does.

    • That’s an interesting point, but bear in mind I never said anything about Lynette always getting her own way, or indeed about Tom being a bullied husband. My reason for including her on this list, as I stated clearly, was her inability to learn from her own mistakes and the rut that her character has become stuck in as a result. And I stand by that assessment.

      • Kris says:

        I don’t necessarily disagree, but honestly I don’t see where most of the other DH characters do any better than Lynette when it comes to that. Just feel she’s judged the most harshly when I’m trying to see where the others have done much growing.

      • True, they’re all stuck in ruts to various degrees, I’ve just always found the cycle of Lynette’s mistake-to-realisation-to-attempted-improvement-and-back-again to be somewhat shorter than everyone else’s. Interestingly, the show’s willingness to call Lynette out on her mistakes perhaps works against her here – they like to show her being in the wrong and having to compromise, only to forget the lesson the following week, whereas Susan (for example) is usually left to continue with her vastly antisocial behavioural patterns because people are bizarrely accepting of her and always let her get away with it. Quite possibly if people pointed out to Susan what an awful person she is quite as often as they do to Lynette, Susan would’ve supplanted her on this list.

  8. Olivia says:

    I’m just curious why you spent so much time watching these shows if you don’t like them…? There are so many other things you could actually be enjoying! Go enjoy life! 🙂

  9. seminaranalyse says:

    Sometimes screaming at a character “Fucking die bitch” can be so relieving. That why such awful character can be good for a show.

  10. […] thought it was about time I made a list filled with positivity to balance out my Worst Characters On TV post – especially since, given a few of the reactions it prompted, some people appeared to […]

  11. […] source: stevenperkins Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  12. Lillian Rowles says:

    Completely Agree with your choices of Nick Miller and Annie Wilson, atleast 90210 is over and done with. I like New Girl for Schmidt, Winston( whose character has actually improved from the latvia basketball player), Daisy (Brenda Song is amazing) and CeCe and occasionally Jess when she is not being quirky for the sake of being quirky. However I cannot stand Nick Miller. He blames everyone else from the system to his friend for all his problems, He is completely self-centred and unnecessarily angry at the world. He owes Winston money but when winston asks him back, he just whines and screams. I would move as far away as possible from Nick Miller who have no sense of responsibility and a high sense of entitlement. That being said, Jake Johnson is cool and the kiss was hot!

  13. toconnell88 says:

    This is genius. Great writing. I blew in off the Google Highway after searching ‘Frankie Skins annoying’.

  14. Maja says:

    Haha I am so so late, both in watching skins season six and hating on Frankie, but I just needed to find someone who agreed with me. She is the worst character ever in Skins, so annoying and I don’t understand how everyone seems to love her or be in love with her.
    Side note, I disliked Alo so much in the fifth season that I skipped his episode.
    Thank you for this.

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