You can have a compelling plot, a distinctive visual style and a near-perfect cast. But get just one particular character wrong and you risk turning viewers away in their droves. Here’s a look at 20 who automatically inspired groans every time they entered the frame.
20. Joffrey (Game of Thrones)
Sure, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) was supposed to be the kind of loathsome character viewers loved to hate. But the smarmy, spoiled and self-entitled King’s Landing ruler took things to another level. In fact, we imagine his gruesome death was the only time any Game of Thrones fan enjoyed seeing him on screen.
19. Emily Waltham (Friends)
Of course, it was always going to be hard for an outsider to penetrate the close-knit sextet that made up Friends. But Emily Waltham (Helen Baxendale) made it doubly difficult by being humorless, demanding and rather obnoxious. So much so that even when husband-to-be Ross got her name wrong at the altar, it was still hard to drum up any sympathy.
18. Skyler White (Breaking Bad)
Skyler White (Anna Gunn) certainly wasn’t the most evil character in the dangerous, meth-dealing world of Breaking Bad. But manipulative, bossy and perhaps even most damaging of all, boring, she was the most difficult to warm to. And, towards the end of the show, her morals were almost as questionable as her husband Walt’s.
17. Marissa Cooper (The O.C.)
Mischa Barton once claimed that she regretted taking the role of Marissa Cooper on teen drama The O.C. Indeed, so did most of the audience. The spoiled, selfish and incessantly whiny character caused nothing but trouble for her fellow rich kids. The actress’ monotonous delivery didn’t exactly help to endear her, either.
16. Marnie (Girls)
It takes some doing to be the most unlikable character in a gang as self-absorbed as HBO’s Girls. Yet Marnie (Allison Williams) made the rest of her fellow New York 20-somethings appear quiet and unassuming in comparison. Selfish, shallow and hopelessly narcissistic, Marnie always made sure that all the hipster drama was all about Marnie.
15. Dana Brody (Homeland)
Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor) was so hated by Homeland viewers that many felt short-changed when her suicide attempt proved unsuccessful. The daughter of Sergeant Nicholas incurred full-on wrath when her moody, petulant behavior became the focal point of the early third season. Luckily for audiences, she was written out shortly after.
14. Kimmy Gibler (Full House)
Nearly every old-school sitcom had an irritating sidekick. But Full House’s wacky Kimmy Gibler (Andrea Barber) was more irritating than most. Renowned for her “Hola, Tanneritos!” catchphrase, D.J.’s best buddy was constantly told to go home by the rest of the Tanner household. Sadly, she remained ever-present, not only on the original show, but on its recent spin-off, too!
13. Kim Bauer (24)
Constantly distracting her hero father Jack from his day job, Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) was not only 24’s most annoying character, she was also its dumbest. None more so than in season two, when she was outsmarted by a cougar after falling into a trap intended for the animal. Despite this, she somehow managed to survive all eight original seasons.
12. Betty Draper (Mad Men)
Nothing ever satisfied Mad Men’s Betty Draper (January Jones). The spoiled housewife had a hefty allowance from husband Don and a nanny to look after her kids. Yet she always had a face like she’d just sucked on a lemon. Viewers were therefore relieved when she was granted a divorce at the end of season three and subsequently given much less screen time.
11. Dawson Leery (Dawson’s Creek)
Dawson Leery was such a wet fish that even the man who played him admitted that he’d avoid him in real life. Indeed, despite being the star of the show, James Van Der Beek’s incessantly mopey teen was by far the most unpopular. In fact, many fans believed the show should’ve been named after his cooler best friend, Pacey, instead.
10. Grace Florrick (The Good Wife)
The Good Wife viewers wished that Grace Florrick could have stayed away a little longer in the episode she briefly vanished. The devout Christian, played by Makenzie Vega, was renowned for regularly hassling her mother about her religious beliefs. Yet the self-righteous teen often let her adulterous father off the hook.
9. April Kepner (Grey’s Anatomy)
Grey’s Anatomy also had its own sanctimonious killjoy in the form of April Kepner (Sarah Drew). The trauma surgeon annoyed viewers with her shrill voice and goody two-shoes persona the moment she rocked up at Seattle Grace-Mercy West. Initially booked for only a two-episode stint, the character was then inexplicably upgraded to a regular fixture in season seven.
8. Wesley Crusher (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Kid-phobic Captain Picard instantly found Star Trek: The Next Generation’s youngest crew member highly annoying. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. In fact, the actor who played him also acknowledges how irritating his character’s constant meddling was. Yes, Wil Wheaton regularly shouts “Shut Up, Wesley,” while reviewing the show online.
7. April (Gilmore Girls)
Vanessa Marano also admits she understands why her most famous role, Gilmore Girls’ April Nardini, was so reviled. The 12-year-old character helped break up the show’s golden couple, Lorelei and Luke, when she discovered that the latter was her absent father. In 2015 Marano told E! News that, because of her constant pestering, she “kind of hated April, too.”
6. Henry Mills (Once Upon a Time)
Another pre-teen also found himself the subject of fan fury thanks to his role on Once Upon a Time. Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) was only ten when he first showed up on the hit fairy tale drama. But with his know-it-all behavior, the annoyingly precocious kid acted like someone three times his age.
5. Dawn Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Michelle Trachtenberg would later play one of Gossip Girl’s most-hated rich kids, Georgina Sparks. But she first discovered what it’s like to play a universally disliked character in the ’90s supernatural drama. Indeed, the whining, shoplifting Dawn Summers couldn’t have been further removed from her heroic, vampire-slaying sister.
4. Will Schuester (Glee)
Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) was supposed to be the nice guy you rooted for on the all-singing, all-dancing phenomenon. But while the William McKinley High School students treated him like the second coming, viewers were far less enamored. In fact, the glee club director was so downright creepy that you often took the side of his arch-nemesis Sue Sylvester instead.
3. Piper Chapman (Orange Is the New Black)
Orange Is the New Black’s viewers initially felt for Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as she first experienced the nightmare of life in Litchfield Penitentiary. But with her constant scheming and whining, not to mention inadvertently forming a white power group, any sympathy for her character soon evaporated. Let’s hope for her sake that the real life Piper isn’t as annoying!
2. Andrea (The Walking Dead)
The Walking Dead’s Andrea (Laurie Holden) was so unpopular that viewers rejoiced when she finally succumbed to the zombie apocalypse in season three. Indeed, her fondness for moralizing speeches, halting the action and changing personalities were just some of the things audiences took umbrage with. Ultimately, she ruined all the goodwill the character had built up in the original comic book.
1. Jenny Humphrey (Gossip Girl)
Best known for playing Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch, Taylor Momsen immediately distanced herself from her cutesy beginnings on Gossip Girl. As rich kid Jenny Humphrey, the star was at first nauseatingly naïve, and then a sullen, contrived punk. But whatever her personality, she never learned from her mistakes. Ultimately, her fifth season move to London didn’t come quick enough.