Typically, we love to watch shows and films with main characters we can root for. A relatable underdog who against all odds manages to save the world or an unlikely, awkward hero who uses their humor and charisma to perform incredible feats. Lots of us can’t help but crave a happy ending, and we don’t always see the point in dedicating hours to watching a show where we hate the main character. Yet somehow, annoying protagonists still manage to persist and star in some of the most popular shows of all time.
2 weeks ago, Reddit user Competitive_Owl7085 sparked a conversation by asking for the most unlikable main characters of TV shows, and people did not hold back in the replies. Below, we’ve gathered a list of some of the most insufferable protagonists that viewers have called out, so be sure to upvote the responses dragging characters you can’t stand either. Let us know in the comments if there are any other central characters you despise, despite the plots of their shows revolving around them, and then if you’re interested in checking out another Bored Panda article calling out hated characters from films and TV shows, look no further than right here.
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Carrie Bradshaw. Unbelievably entitled, shallow, spoiled and treated all of her friends like s**t. I don’t enjoy the show for what it is, it’s my favourite hate-watch just to see the new depths Carrie will sink to every episode.
Especially heinous was when she got herself into debt by tanking her relationship with the guy who bought and was renovating her apartment and turned down money offered by two of her best friends just so she could b***h out the one that didn’t offer. And for some reason that friend ended up giving her the money.
And she tried to cheat on her husband with a guy that she had previously cheated on.
And she replaced her old friend with a younger more diverse version when they fell out.
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Ross from Friends. I hate him so much. And, he doesn’t even eat the smaller friends to assert dominance, which makes him suck twice as much.
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Sometimes, we watch shows featuring characters we wish we could invite over for dinner and become best friends with. Other times, we watch shows revolving around people we would slap in the face if we had the opportunity. But it can be hard to determine whether script writers and creators of a show intended to make their main characters unlikable, or if the audience just collected decided that they hated them.
Certain shows, like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos were created to feature a villain in the main role. But when the audience gets to decide whether they love or loathe a protagonist, there are several factors that can make them much less likable. According to Chris Winkle at Mythcreants, one of the most common reasons audiences don’t feel the need to root for a main character is because they have “too much candy”. This “candy” refers to “anything that glorifies a character”, Chris explains. If everyone is constantly praising the character and everything seems to always work out for them, the audience won’t find them relatable and will likely begin to hate them.
That bald whiny little punk is the worst.
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Jerry on Tom and Jerry.
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Raymond on *Everybody Loves Raymond*, conceited little bastard.
Image credits: Deitaphobia
On the other hand, when a character has “spinach”, or anything that creates sympathy for them, audiences tend to like them more. Each character should have a balance of candy and spinach, so they are seen as capable and competent but also relatable and fallible. No matter how unrealistic a plotline is, audiences probably won’t accept a character who is glorified without seeming to earn or work hard for their accomplishments.
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Another trait that can quickly tank the approval rating of a protagonist is when they are too hard on other characters. Three common examples Chris notes of this are when they have arguments between other protagonists, when they tease, criticize or give another character a hard time, or when they try to convince another character to handle their personal problems differently or go about their life differently. “Problems in this area are especially likely if there is an imbalance of power,” Chris notes. “If one person is a leader and another a subordinate, then the leader will be held to a higher standard when they get in an argument.”
I cannot believe no one has said Rory Gilmore yet.
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Ally McBeal, she thought she was cute but she was insufferable.
Piper Chapman on Orange is the New Black.
Image credits: Alice_Van_Osbourne
We also tend to have zero sympathy for protagonists when it feels like they caused or are exacerbating their own struggles. For example, if a character is in debt and could easily ask their rich parents to help them out but they refuse to out of pride, audiences might roll their eyes. We won’t feel bad for them as they struggle to find another solution.
There is a fine line when it comes to creating hardships in a protagonist’s life, because if they got themselves into a difficult situation due to being selfish or incompetent, we probably won’t care. But if they ended up with more problems by trying to help or look out for someone else, audiences will usually allow that. Chris notes that protagonists often refuse obvious or simple solutions because it would eliminate the story’s conflict, but audiences will see right through plot holes like this.
What an annoying, obnoxious, narcissistic little brat
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How many ‘dead’ sisters can one b***h have?
And her saying ‘I’m a widow so I’ll just have to accept that I have had all the orgasms I ever will’ set feminism back like 5000 years.
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Emily from Emily in Paris.
Watched first episode of first season and NOPE.
Can’t believe there’s going to be a third season.
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There are some shows that masterfully depict an unlikeable protagonist. Dexter, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Barry are some of the most popular examples. As long as the audience can understand the motivation behind a main character’s morally questionable actions, we might still find a way to root for them, or at least stay invested in the show despite hating them. The team at Industrial Scripts breaks down how to create an unlikable protagonist without having your audience turn on you in this article they wrote examining how we manage to sit through some of these famous shows starring anti-heros.
Aside from making their motivation reasonable, anti-heros can also win an audience’s affection by being relatable to them. Characters like Tonya Harding in I, Tonya and Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network don’t necessarily act in the best interest of others at all times, but we might relate to the struggles they face in the world. Tonya has dealt with abuse from her mother and husband that make audiences want to root for her, and despite his arrogance and selfishness, Mark’s determination and lack of social awareness can be seen as redeemable traits by some audiences.
Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Went from a clueless socially awkward side character in the first couple of years to a self-centered narcissistic bully. I don’t know why they ever hung out with him.
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Alan from two and a half men
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Ted from himym is just the worst
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Do you prefer watching shows with anti-heros you hate or loveable heros? Regardless of your preference, I’m sure you can relate to despising some of the main characters on this list. Keep upvoting the responses you wholeheartedly agree with, and feel free to share any more protagonists that you can’t stand in the comments below. Then if you’re looking to rag on even more unlikable characters, don’t forget to check out this Bored Panda article next.
Lena Dunham’s character on Girls
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Tweety bird. I always feel sorry for Sylvester because that little bird is so obnoxious.
Susan Myers from *Desperate Housewives.* Whiny, childish, dramatic and never took responsibility for ANYTHING, to the point her teenage daughter has to balance the chequebooks and make doctor’s appointments for her. She repeatedly screws her friends over if she thinks it’ll help her win back Mike, burns Edie’s house down and doesn’t fess up for years, slutshames Edie while constantly jumping from relationship to relationship (oh, and she cheats on her boyfriend he’s in a coma), butts into situations that have nothing to do with her and when a trail guide calls her out on how she’s a selfish drama queen, she throws a tantrum and storms off into the woods and the only reason she doesn’t die of exposure is because Mike inexplicably manages to track her down. Oh, and she forced Gabby to go on a date with her mentally unstable stalker to try to persuade him to pay Mike’s bail and doesn’t give a s**t that this could seriously endanger Gabby.
Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton from GOT. Can’t decide which one I hated more.
Dawson from Dawson’s Creek
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Sabrina in the new show.
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Walter White. Every choice he makes puts his family at risk, he refuses help out of stupid pride, he’s arrogant, and he wound up getting at least 160 people [taken out]. He’s a brilliant chemist but he’s a s**ty businessman and an evil person.
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It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
All five of them are goddamn trash, and I couldn’t love them more.
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Eric from that 70s show. He’s an a*****e throughout the whole show but towards the end of the series it really ramps up. Wth did Donna see in him??
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Bojack Horseman, though I suppose that’s the point.
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Rachel Berry from glee. She was a b***h and never got what she deserved.
Damn near everyone on Shameless, but Frank or Debbie fight for the top spot
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Elena Gilbert – The Vampire Dairies.
I can’t stand her lol
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House. A person like that in real life would be unbearable.
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I can’t believe I haven’t seen Prue Halliwell yet!! She was awful. Eeeverything was about her. Anytime there was a big bad demon out and about it was “the demon is here for me and me alone and I have to be the one to stop it”. Like no girl. The power of 3 is not just you. She ruined Pipers wedding and that’s the ultimate sister foul. She was awful to Phoebe out of pure jealousy. Always bringing up the past like she was the only one capable of change when she was the one character who literally never grew. Even Daryl evolved somehow! Oh and crapping all over Phoebes relationship with Cole. Yeah he was a demon but she didn’t know that at first. She just couldn’t be happy for her younger sister because she spent so many years pushing Andy away. Damn I love that show.