It takes a lot of effort to get the cast of a show just right. A single character can completely throw off the dynamic, and sometimes, one can be terrible enough that the quality of the series as a whole suffers.
That’s the case with all of these characters, who were so unintentionally irritating that they nearly derailed great shows. Most of the time, these characters joined the cast later. But other times, they were there right from the beginning.
Here’s a look at the worst characters who almost ruined great shows, including one of the most notoriously hated characters in the history of television (page 7).
1. Nikki and Paulo — Lost
In Season 3 of Lost, the show’s writers wanted to explore some of the other survivors on the island who were never really a part of the main adventures.
But the end result was that out of nowhere, two new people, Nikki and Paulo, just show up and start injecting themselves into the story. Their introduction is far too sudden, they don’t click with the rest of the cast, and the characters are fairly irritating and whiny right from the get-go.
About halfway through the season, the writers themselves realized they had made a terrible mistake. So they gave Nikki and Paulo the most brutal deaths in the show’s history, burying both characters alive in a classic example of fan service.
Next: This character was a terrible addition to a great sitcom.
2. Nellie Bertram — The Office
When Steve Carell announced he was leaving The Office, it was pretty obvious that the show just needed to end. But inexplicably, NBC kept it going for another two seasons, bringing in a series of new protagonists to fill Carell’s shoes.
All of these were fairly poor replacements. But the absolute worst addition was Nellie Bertram. Although played by a great actress, Catherine Tate, the character was just a total miss.
Granted, Nellie is often supposed to be irksome. But Michael Scott was annoying in a funny, believable way. Nellie was annoying in a way that we never believed, that very rarely made us laugh, and that always made us dislike the show as a whole.
Next: This character was written off of the show at the end of the first season.
3. Mandy Hampton — The West Wing
Oftentimes, a show’s worst characters join late in its run. But here’s one example of one who was there right from the pilot. During Season 1 of The West Wing, Mandy is the White House media consultant. From the start, she just didn’t mesh that well with the main cast.
She was typically at odds with the protagonists or getting them into trouble, which more often than not would just frustrate the audience. Plus, she didn’t have much chemistry with Josh, even though they’re supposed to be former lovers, and she was pretty cynical, as opposed to the usual optimism of the other characters.
Creator Aaron Sorkin agreed that Mandy wasn’t working out, and so she completely disappears between Season 1 and 2. Absolutely no explanation is given as to where she has gone. To this day, fans of The West Wing joke that whenever a character disappears without explanation, they’ve gone to “Mandyville.”
Next: Game of Thrones is a great show, but these characters represent its lowest point.
4. The Sand Snakes — Game of Thrones
Season 4 of Game of Thrones teed up Dorne to be incredible in Season 5. Viewers fell head over heels for Oberyn Martell and were gutted to see him die. So everyone wanted to root for his loved ones to get revenge.
But in Season 5, we were introduced to the Sand Snakes, Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters. They were meant to be cool renegades who made us pump our fists in the air like Daenerys often does.
The problem, though, was that most of their dialogue was fairly cringe-worthy, and it never elicited the intended reaction. The three Sand Snakes were also fairly one-dimensional to the point where they all blended together into one character. There was a lot of potential there, but in the end, the Sand Snakes were just killed off fairly unceremoniously before they had the chance to have much of an impact on the plot.
Next: This character joined one of the best sitcoms ever late in its run, but he wasn’t as funny as everyone else.
5. Craig Middlebrooks — Parks and Recreation
Among fans of Parks and Recreation, there’s some disagreement over the merits of Craig Middlebrooks. Played by Billy Eichner, this character joined the office in Season 6 and became a regular presence for the final two seasons.
There are a lot of people who love Craig. But to other fans, he was a fairly unnecessary addition who came at a time when we were pretty comfortable with the main crew and weren’t looking for anyone else to join them.
The biggest issue is that he’s a fairly one-note character; nearly every single joke of his involves him starting a sentence speaking normally and then shouting the end of it. He might have worked better as a recurring character like Perd Hapley, but not as a main cast member.
Next: We wish the first season of this great sitcom didn’t focus so heavily on this character.
6. Marcel — Friends
The biggest flaw of the first season of Friends is how much of it is focused on Ross’ pet monkey, Marcel. If you even count Marcel as a character, he’s definitely Friends‘ worst.
It might have been fine to have one single episode involve Ross getting a pet monkey, only for him to have to give it up at the end. But no, Marcel ends up being in many episodes and is a major part of Ross’ storyline for the entire first season. There’s some humor to be had in this, but it gets old fast.
The show itself seemed to figure out that this was a bad idea. Not only was Marcel written out at the end of Season 1, but in an episode in Season 6, Ross himself says in a somewhat meta line that having a pet monkey was a stupid idea. We totally agree.
Next: This is one of the most infamous hated characters in the history of television.
7. Scrappy-Doo — Scooby-Doo
One of the most famous examples in history of viewers absolutely hating a character is Scrappy-Doo from Scooby-Doo. Scooby’s nephew Scrappy joined Scooby-Doo in 1979 at the point when the show’s ratings were in serious decline; it was thought that bringing in a new character could turn things around and appeal more to younger viewers.
But Scrappy’s rambunctious attitude was not as cute or funny as it was supposed to be. Unfortunately, the show began to increasingly focus on him. So if you didn’t like Scrappy, you basically could not enjoy Scooby-Doo anymore. Although he did help save the show at the time, Scrappy became so hated that Scooby-Doo as a franchise would end up dropping him entirely, and the 2002 live-action movie played into the hatred by making him the villain.
Scrappy is such a notoriously hated character that on the website TV Tropes, characters who receive a major backlash from fans are known as The Scrappy.
Next: This character was good at first, only to become terrible, only to become good again.
8. Ben Chang — Community
Here’s an interesting example where a character started off great, quickly became terrible, and then went back to being great.
Ben Chang was the study group’s Spanish teacher for the first season of Community. But after the characters no longer took his class, the show’s writers struggled to keep giving him things to do. He became increasingly erratic, for a while being a sad sack who just wants to get into the study group and soon becoming a straight-up psychopath trying to take over the school with an army of children at his disposal. It was so ridiculously over the top that it stopped being funny. The lowest point was an awful Season 4 storyline in which he fakes having amnesia.
It wasn’t until Season 6 when Chang really became hilarious again; the writers decided to use him more sparingly as an out-of-it fool but one whose humor wasn’t quite as in your face. It was an impressive turnaround because for a while, Chang really did threaten to derail Community completely.
Next: This character was an infamous late addition to a sitcom, and almost everyone hated him.
9. Cousin Oliver — The Brady Bunch
As was the case with Scrappy-Doo, Cousin Oliver is another example of a character introduced late into a show’s run in an attempt to boost the ratings.
During the final season of The Brady Bunch, Oliver randomly shows up to live with the Bradys. Viewers were reluctant about the dynamic of the show changing so suddenly. And it didn’t help that in Oliver’s very first episode, he causes nothing but chaos around the house. The character is so obviously there just to be an adorable little kid, but that’s not how audiences felt about him.
Oliver was so negatively received that some have argued he actually did kill The Brady Bunch, although the show was already in decline before he came on board.
Next: This is the only character on this list who is actually his show’s main protagonist.
10. Ted Mosby — How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother is a rare case where a lot of viewers loved the show but hated the main character, Ted Mosby.Ted seemed to grow more deluded by the season, especially when it came to his relationship with Robin Scherbatsky, which he absolutely refused to move on from.
When the two did date, it was pretty clear why them being together would not work out. Yet after they broke up, Ted constantly went through cycles of getting over Robin, over to realize he’s not over Robin, only to get over her again, over and over.
This all led to the absolutely disastrous series finale, in which it is revealed that the mother has been dead the whole time and Ted was only telling his kids this story in order to get their permission to ask out Robin, several episodes after Ted had declared that he was finally over her. If you weren’t fed up with Ted throughout the series, chances are, you were by the end.
Next: Fans of this classic 1990s show didn’t love this character, who joined in Season 5.
11. Dawn Summers — Buffy the Vampire Slayer
There’s no character who Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatics hate more than Dawn Summers, who suddenly shows up as Buffy’s sister in Season 5.
Dawn is an angsty teen whose schtick viewers grew tired of pretty quickly, especially considering she’s often getting in the way or is in need of saving. After her sister’s death, Dawn spirals into a depression, and even when Buffy returns, she continues to act out.
Dawn does redeem herself a bit and becomes more worthwhile as the show progresses, though. Still, she goes down in history as one of those characters viewers just couldn’t stop complaining about.
Next: This character started off fine, but he quickly became one of the most annoying things about the show.
12. Brian Griffin — Family Guy
At the beginning of Family Guy, Brian Griffin was essentially a straight man; part of the joke was that he’s pretty reasonable, and this makes Peter’s shenanigans even funnier. He was a necessary part of the formula.
But as the show went on, Brian became increasingly obnoxious as he essentially became a stand-in for Seth MacFarlane and a way for him to espouse all of his opinions on politics and religion. He became pretentious, self-important, and by far the show’s worst character.
Thankfully, though, the series after a while began to lean into this; Brian would become more intentionally pretentious, and other characters would call him out for this. Although Brian is still often annoying, having other characters push back against him, such Quagmire in his infamous rant, made it a bit more tolerable.
Next: This new character on a recent season of a Netflix show was a real miss.
13. Kali Prasad — Stranger Things
Stranger Things‘ second season opens with an interesting glimpse of another girl with the same powers as Eleven. Although we’re intrigued by this prospect, by the time we finally get to learn more about Kali Prasad, it just doesn’t work.
The character ends up being fairly cliche, basically just a dark version for Eleven for her to reject in favor of returning to her friends. Even worse than Kali, though, are the other members of her gang. They are over the top in a way that’s actually unintentionally hilarious, and we never for a second believe them as real characters.
We can imagine a version of Stranger Things Season 2 in which Kali and her gang worked. But they ultimately just fell flat and really dragged down an otherwise excellent set of episodes.
Next: This show was a poor replacement for two characters who left the show.
14. Randy Pearson — That ’70s Show
With That ’70s Show, we have another example where a character came in explicitly to replace another character, and fans basically revolted. In this case, Randy joined the cast during the final season, largely to replace Eric and Kelso, as Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher both left at the end of the seventh season. So Randy is essentially what would happen if you combined both Grace’s and Kutcher’s characters into one.
But the result was off, and Randy didn’t really settle into the dynamic particularly well. Meyers’ performance was also not exactly up to snuff. Fans already weren’t into the idea of a season without Eric and Kelso; Randy did nothing to change their minds.
Next: This character comes from an untraditional TV show but has also been received quite negatively by fans.
15. Roman Reigns — Monday Night Raw
While Monday Night Raw isn’t a traditional TV show, it’s very much scripted, and Roman Reigns is very much a character. And for the past few years, he has threatened to completely ruin Raw as a whole.
Starting in 2014, Reigns started to rise up as the clear next big thing in the WWE, and Vince McMahon’s obvious pick to be the new face of the company. But Reigns’ character was incredibly boring, and the WWE pushed him to the top far too soon; he’d often unrealistically win just because that’s what the writers decided would happen.
The result was fans consistently rebelling against the WWE by loudly booing Reigns despite the fact that he is supposed to be the hero. There are few better examples in traditional television of audiences passionately hating a character they’re supposed to adore than Roman Reigns.
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