Even the most beloved TV shows sometimes have characters we’re not fond of—whether they’re supposed to be annoying and end up a little too effective, or they just don’t click with audiences the way the creators intended. Either way, these deeply irritating personalities can quickly get under our skin, forcing us to grit our teeth through all their scenes—that is, if we’re not already fast-forwarding through them. In the direst cases, we might abandon their shows entirely. For a look back at some of the worst offenders, these are the most hated TV characters of all time. And for series that have provoked similar ire, check out The Most Hated Popular TV Shows.
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Ross Geller, Friends
Whether or not you believe they were on a break, Ross (David Schwimmer) was so consistently irritating on Friends that you could never actually be on his side. While all of the six main cast members were given quirks that proved irksome 10 seasons in, Ross’ persnickety behavior and endless victim complex made him the one you’d least like to hang out with. And to see how the other characters stack up, check out Every Major Friends Character, Ranked From Worst to Best.
Andy Bernard, The Office
TV characters don’t have to be likable for us to like them—take Breaking Bad‘s Walter White or The Sopranos‘ Tony Soprano, for example. The problem with Andy (Ed Helms) on The Office, however, is that he started off unlikable and then got progressively worse. By the end, he was just, well, awful. And if you’re a Dunder Mifflin diehard, check out Michael Scott Quotes That Every Office Fan Should Have Memorized.
Piper Chapman, Orange Is the New Black
Given that Orange Is the New Black was based on the memoir by Piper Kerman, it only made sense that the series would follow the character inspired by her, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). Thankfully, the show quickly realized that all of the side characters were far more interesting, and that Piper’s privilege and lack of self-awareness just made her a drag. And for real-life TV personalities viewers can’t stand, these are The Most Hated People in Reality TV History.
Cousin Oliver Tyler, The Brady Bunch
Poor Cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist). The plucky youngster was added to the cast of The Brady Bunch in the final season, and was so instantly loathed by viewers that he inspired the term “Cousin Oliver Syndrome,” which is when a show adds a new young character in an attempt to drive up ratings. It almost never goes well.
April Nardini, Gilmore Girls
Who could have imagined that fans would turn on a character who mostly served as an obvious ploy to keep Luke (Scott Patterson) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) apart on Gilmore Girls? To be fair, Luke’s long-lost daughter April (Vanessa Marano) was annoying in her own right, serving up the kind of precocious adolescent behavior that was barely tolerated from Rory (Alexis Bledel) in her younger years. And for more fun content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Will Schuester, Glee
Inspirational teachers are a genre unto themselves, but there’s very little inspirational about Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). His constant meddling, blatant favoritism, and boundary-violating relationships with students made him one of Glee‘s least likable characters. And that’s to say nothing of his rapping.
Mandy Hampton, The West Wing
In defense of Mandy Hampton (Moira Kelly), Aaron Sorkin dialogue can make any character a lot to deal with. But Mandy proved particularly irritating, so much so that she was written off the show between seasons—the writers didn’t even bother to kill her off in the shooting that ended Season 1 on a cliffhanger. And for characters who underwent similarly abrupt transitions, check out these TV Actors Who Were Replaced Like It Was No Big Deal.
Jack Shepherd, Lost
Like a few others on this list, Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) suffers from being the main character on a series with far more interesting supporting characters—so, he ends up looking bland in comparison. But Jack is also stubborn, bratty, and far too insistent on being right all the time, which would make any character obnoxious, lead or not.
Marnie Michaels, Girls
As the face of Girls and the show’s creator, Lena Dunham dealt with the brunt of online vitriol throughout the show’s six-season run. But as bothersome as her character, Hannah, could be, she was never as uniquely enraging as Marnie (Allison Williams), whose impromptu performance of Kanye West’s “Stronger” at a party for her ex was somehow not her most cringe-inducing moment. And for series that ended on a questionable note, revisit The Most Controversial TV Series Finales of All Time.
Riley Finn, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The debate over who Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) should have ended up with always comes down to Angel vs. Spike. No one ever mentions Riley (Marc Blucas), because… well, why would you? Riley’s whole schtick was that he was a boring Nice Guy, and once it was revealed that he wasn’t, he had way too much baggage, including that he couldn’t handle being weaker than his Slayer girlfriend. Pass.
Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother
Ah, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), the Ross of his day. The characters are often compared, which makes sense since they were the romantic leads of TV shows that never fully grasped how awful they were. Ted’s obsession with finding “The One” while treating all the women he encountered like garbage was bad enough, but his long-winded storytelling was truly unforgivable.
Julie Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Julie Taylor’s (Aimee Teegarden) biggest crime? Being a teenager. Unfortunately, if you’re a bratty, rebellious teen and your parents are Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, viewers aren’t going to like it. Then, of course, there was her treatment of fan favorite Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), which was simply too much for Friday Night Lights enthusiasts to forgive.
Oliver Trask, The O.C.
Listen, Oliver (Taylor Handley) was meant to be a villain, and not just because he kept Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and Marissa (Mischa Barton) apart. He was volatile, manipulative, and dangerous, which are all legitimate qualities for an antagonist to have—but that just wasn’t the kind of antagonist The O.C. viewers were looking for.
Ezra Fitz, Pretty Little Liars
There’s really no defending the relationship between Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding) and Aria (Lucy Hale), who is his student. But it’s made all the worse when flashbacks reveal he’s also a creep and a bit of a stalker, who was well aware of who Aria was—and her age!—before they hooked up. Of all the bad behavior Pretty Little Liars put on display, Ezra’s was some of the most repugnant, if only because the show kept insisting he was a good guy.
Remember Cousin Oliver Syndrome? It happens on animated series as well, and sometimes it flops just as hard. Scrappy-Doo (Lennie Weinrib) was not an instantly beloved addition to the Scooby-Doo universe so much as a deeply unpleasant intruder to the team. No one likes Scrappy-Doo, whose only redeeming appearance was—spoiler alert—when he turned out to be the villain in the 2002 live-action Scooby-Doo.
Ellis Boyd, Smash
The first season of NBC’s musical drama Smash was a mess for so many reasons, but if you asked viewers what the biggest problem was, there’s a good chance you’d hear Ellis’ (Jaime Cepero) name. A lurker with homicidal tendencies—yes, putting peanuts in Uma Thurman’s smoothie counts as attempted murder—Ellis was clearly meant to be a villain you love to hate, but instead just ended up being one of Smash‘s countless baffling choices.
Poor Vincent Kartheiser. It’s not his fault he gets stuck playing unlikable characters. Before he took on the role of Pete Campbell on Mad Men, Kartheiser played the teenage version of Angel’s (David Boreanaz) son Connor on Angel. Yes, another rebellious, sneering kid who shows up and instantly ruins everything. Think Cousin Oliver, if Cousin Oliver had been raised in a hell dimension.
Dana Brody, Homeland
Surprise, it’s yet another moody teenager who viewers hated—perhaps people just don’t like teens? But Dana (Morgan Saylor) really was irritating, if only because her angsty teen behavior felt especially out of place on a show with such high stakes. When Dana and Finn (Timothée Chalamet) accidentally hit a woman with his car, it was truly a jump-the-shark moment for the ages.
Tess Harding, Roswell
Tess (Emilie de Ravin) felt engineered to make fans angry, showing up out of nowhere to throw a wrench in the Max (Jason Behr) and Liz (Shiri Appleby) romance. Those star-crossed kids worked it out eventually, so maybe fans would have come around on Tess—if she hadn’t also killed Alex (Colin Hanks), everyone’s favorite. And for more current stinkers, check out The Worst TV Show of 2020, According to Critics.