The greatest TV shows have casts full of characters that we all enjoy spending countless hours getting to know. Even the villains in the best series are charming and engaging in their own ways, which keeps us watching through the last episode.
However, even some of the best shows had characters that annoyed viewers to no end, whether because of how they were written, how they were played by an actor or the conditions under which they joined the action.
These are the characters that have annoyed fans of popular shows more than any others over the years, with many viewers even celebrating their untimely deaths in some cases.
Be warned: there will be spoilers ahead for many of the shows we mention.
Lisa Fisher — ‘Six Feet Under’
The cast of HBO’s “Six Feet Under” was full of deeply flawed but memorable characters. Plenty of viewers didn’t even like the series lead, Nate, all that much and don’t even get me started on Gabe Dimas. But the character that probably drew more ire than any other was Lisa Fisher, who was played by the great Lili Taylor
It wasn’t Taylor’s fault that Lisa, who joined the show in season two, was written as a jealous nag who constantly gets on Nate’s case and keeps him from being with the infinitely more interesting Brenda for a frustrating season (when she isn’t busy eating organic granola). You know you have a hated character when their death is the most memorable part of their entire existence.
Billy Hargrove — ‘Stranger Things’
Yes, Billy finally redeemed himself at the end of season three of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” but it was far too late for most fans. For his entire run, which lasted through seasons two and three, Billy was written as a flat-out jerk and embodied plenty of the stereotypes of a bully character. He was a meathead who abused his stepsister Max, drove like a reckless moron and led so many of the lonely housewives of Hawkins on with his shirtless strutting as a lifeguard at the community pool.
Yes, we know he was a victim of abuse at the hands of his father, but that doesn’t make the character less of a dirt bag, no matter how good Dacre Montgomery was in the part. Plus, he was a racist!
Max Mayfield — ‘Stranger Things’
It’s tough to join a beloved group of characters as the new kid in town and that’s exactly what Max had to do in season two of “Stranger Things.” I happen to like her a lot for the hard-rock attitude Sadie Sink’s Max brings to the cast, but a lot of fans apparently hate her guts. The detractors find her to be whiny and melodramatic, and she didn’t gain any new fans during season three, when she split the core heroes up by pulling Eleven away from the boys after helping her realize Mike isn’t a great boyfriend.
Apparently, fans either love Max or they hate her, with many falling in that latter group.
Elena Gilbert — ‘The Vampire Diaries’
When “The Vampire Diaries” debuted on The CW in 2009, Elena Gilbert was arguably the lead character, but fans grew to deeply dislike her as the years rolled on. If you simply search the character’s name online, you’ll quickly find countless diatribes written on Reddit and various websites from fans of the show decrying how annoying they find Elena to be. Common complaints are that she’s boring, whiny, manipulative and not held accountable by the show’s writer or supporting characters for her bad actions.
When actor Nina Dobrev left the series after the sixth season, many fans were excited to see the show move on without her.
Dylan Marshall — ‘Modern Family’
ABC’s “Modern Family” is full of ridiculous characters — “Pepper” Saltzman, anyone? — but most of them are kept on the outside of the main family and limited to a couple appearances each season. That wasn’t the case with Dylan Marshall, who was introduced in the pilot and has been a steady part of the action ever since, eventually marrying series lead Haley Dunphy.
The problem with Dylan, played by Reid Ewing, is that’s he’s always been written as a complete moron and that’s basically the extent of his depth. The schtick of his immense stupidity, which makes Haley look like a Rhodes Scholar in comparison, got old fast but has been a go-to gag from the writers for 11 seasons.
Jack Shephard — ‘Lost’
The ABC series “Lost” is regularly hailed as one of the landmark shows of the past 20 years in TV, which is pretty impressive when it had a lead character that many fans couldn’t stand. The cast of the show was large and varied, but there was no question that Jack Shephard, played by Matthew Fox, was held above the others as the designated “good guy” by the show’s writers. He was a handsome doctor with a troubled past, but viewers quickly got bored with Jack’s predictable heroics, preferring the adventures of more mysterious figures like Locke and Sayid.
Jack was pretty much a stock hero character with a hefty dose of whiny jerk thrown into his writing, making him the weak link in a series full of juicy parts.
María LaGuerta — ‘Dexter’
Miami Police Lt. María LaGuerta was written as a hero in “Dexter” but there weren’t many tears when she was killed in a shocking moment during the seventh season of the Showtime series. On paper, LaGuerta’s death suddenly made another protagonist into a villain, but fans were mostly just celebrating her demise. Veteran actor Lauren Vélez was so good at making LaGuerta into a hardcore by-the-books cop that it made the entire character unlikable when you consider that many viewers were firmly rooting for the show’s lead character, who happened to be a vigilante serial killer.
Throw in the fact that she routinely sexually harassed Dexter with unwelcome advances on the job and you’ve got a recipe for a hated character.
Kara DioGuardi — ‘American Idol’
Perhaps calling Kara DioGuardi a TV character is unfair, but if you ask longtime fans of “American Idol” to name their least favorite judge from the entire series, her name would likely come up many times. DioGuardi had written hit songs for Kelly Clarkson and Jesse McCartney, among others, but didn’t have a ton of name recognition when she joined the hit reality show’s judging panel during the eighth season. In her two seasons on the show, DioGuardi just came off as a pointless addition to the team of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, which had developed great chemistry over the years.
When she was fired from the series, she called the entire endeavor “pretty hellish.” Fans agreed.
Randy Pearson — ‘That ’70s Show’
Another character who was shoehorned into a beloved cast of characters was Randy Pearson. This poor character, played by Josh Meyers, was doomed to be hated from the start. After series leads Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher had all but left the show before what would be the final season, Randy was brought in to essentially replace them both. He became a surrogate son for Eric’s dad and even started dating Donna, further making him a villain to longtime fans.
Thankfully, Donna ditched Randy when Eric reappeared in the series finale, which was a fittingly depressing end to this Johnny-come-lately.
Pete Campbell — ‘Mad Men’
Has there been a more smarmy central character on TV in the past 20 years than Pete from AMC’s “Mad Men”? The guy just oozed insincerity and insecurity, which was a testament to the work of actor Vincent Kartheiser, who played him in all seven seasons of the acclaimed period drama. Whether it was his awful secret relationship with Peggy, his constant disrespect for his charming wife, Trudy, or his eventual estrangement from his children, Pete was just a sleaze.
Sure, series lead Don Draper did many of the same things, but there was a vulnerable humanity visible in him that never seemed to be there in Pete, making him even more irritating.
Ryan Howard — ‘The Office’
For being such a beloved show, NBC’s “The Office” had a ton of characters that many fans hated outright. Take your pick from Angela, Andy, Todd Packer or Deangelo Vickers and you’ll find plenty of fellow haters, but Ryan Howard has to be the most loathed figure on the series. Virtually everything Ryan did during his long run on the show was irritating, including his gag-worthy relationship with Kelly, his quick rise through the Dunder Mifflin ranks and his blond highlights.
B.J. Novak, who played Ryan, also worked as a writer and producer on the series, so he deserves even more blame for this hated character than other actors on the list.
Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa Saperstein — ‘Parks and Recreation’
You get two hated characters for the price of one in this entry from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” We lumped Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa together because they are twins and, while each is annoying on their own, they are incredibly bothersome when together. The siblings are good-for-nothing leeches on their doctor father and on society in general, and their antics were even ridiculous by typical Pawnee standards. By comparison, Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) and Mona-Lisa (Jenny Slate) made mutual acquaintance Tom Haverford seem down to earth.
Ross Geller — ‘Friends’
With the cost of its streaming rights going through the roof lately, NBC’s “Friends” has only gotten more popular since it ended in 2004, with the exception of one of the show’s main characters. Ross Gellar, who was played by David Schwimmer for all 10 seasons of the hit series, has come under heavy scrutiny from viewers in recent years. A quick search online will bring you countless articles that run down dozens of examples from the series that prove Ross was a toxic, self-centered guy who treated his sister and his various love interests poorly at nearly every turn.
Ross’s backward, often misogynistic views on life got a pass from viewers in the ’90s but have made him a target for fan hatred today.
April Nardini — ‘Gilmore Girls’
The WB’s “Gilmore Girls” is another show that’s become even more popular in the years since it went off the air, but there’s still one character that virtually all fans dislike. April Nardini was shoved into the cast during the show’s sixth season and was essentially the worst definition of a new character who dropped in out of nowhere only to create roadblocks for the existing characters and storylines that fans had been watching develop for years.
April was introduced as the estranged teenage daughter of Luke, whom he had no idea existed until she showed up in Stars Hollow and drove a wedge into the budding relationship between him and Lorelai. The character, played by Vanessa Marano, was also written as a snotty know-it-all, which didn’t help endear her to fans.
Joffrey Baratheon — ‘Game of Thrones’
A good argument can be made that Joffrey from “Game of Thrones” is the most hated character in TV history. When Ranker asked its readers that exact question, the boy king of Westeros was voted first by a mile. It’s easy to see why when you consider that the writers seemed to go out of their way to make him more awful every week, giving him absolutely no sympathetic quality in a series that was full of flawed but three-dimensional characters. Joffrey was a spoiled brat who degraded everyone he came in contact with just for his own enjoyment, and even his own family members on the show weren’t too upset when he was killed in season four.
The sheer hatred earned by Joffrey is a credit to actor Jack Gleeson, who is apparently a really nice guy off the set.
Ramsay Bolton — ‘Game of Thrones’
While Joffrey was indeed an irredeemable jerk, Ramsay Bolton may have been even worse. The principal villain of season six, Ramsay, played by Welsh actor Iwan Rheon, enjoyed torturing and maiming people for sport and even murdered his own infant brother in a fit of jealousy. In a show that prided itself on having a wide cast of characters whose morality could best be described as gray, Ramsay was a stock villain who was called “the most hated man on TV” by The New York Times.
It’s probably no coincidence that the seasons in which Ramsay became a major player are the seasons when many fans feel the show started to rapidly decline in quality.
Skyler White — ‘Breaking Bad’
The landmark AMC series “Breaking Bad” makes a strong case as one of the best TV shows in history, but most fans would agree that they could’ve used less Skyler during its run. One of the main characters on the show, Skyler was the wife of series lead Walter White, who turned from a mild-mannered science teacher to an egomaniacal drug kingpin in five seasons. In real life, nobody could blame a woman for wanting to distance herself as much as possible from a toxic guy like Walt, but in the context of the show, she came off as a constant nag who simply got in the way of the most thrilling moments of the plot, and her affair with her dorky boss didn’t make her more likable to fans who were firmly on Walt’s side.
Actor Anna Gunn won two Emmy Awards for her powerful work as the long-suffering woman, but her character could never be described as a fan favorite.
Jesse Pinkman — ‘Breaking Bad’
Skyler wasn’t the only partner of Walter White’s who earned a lot of hate from fans of “Breaking Bad.” The co-lead of the series, Jesse Pinkman, became a constant source of annoyance for lovers of the show who simply wanted to see Walt succeed. Whether it was his skeezy looks, his constant use of the B-word or his overall immaturity, Jesse simply grated on many fans’ nerves as the show progressed, especially when he became more of an adversary than a teammate for Walt.
Actor Aaron Paul won a remarkable three Emmys for his portrayal of Jesse, which was spot-on, but that didn’t make him a character many viewers loved.
A.J. Soprano — ‘The Sopranos’
HBO’s landmark series “The Sopranos” had a large cast full of characters who weren’t exactly good people but were still engaging and likable. However, among that cast was A.J. Soprano (Robert Iler), the adolescent son of mob boss Tony Soprano, whom The Ringer would eventually call “the quintessential annoying TV kid.” It’s tough to disagree with that sentiment, because all A.J. ever did was whine, act like a brat, listen to terrible music and mope around like a sad sack.
You can also make a strong case for Tony’s leech sister, Janice, as the show’s most hated character, but the fact that A.J. was such a huge part of the show from start to finish makes him the worst.
Debbie Gallagher — ‘Shameless’
When Showtime’s black comedy “Shameless” debuted in 2011, little Debbie Gallagher, played by Emma Kenney, was a sweet, cute and rambunctious kid in the show’s central family. But as the show has continued and Debbie has gotten older, the show’s writers have made her arguably the biggest jerk in a series full of them. As the character aged, Debbie became more manipulative and evil, culminating in her actions in season five, where she tricks a guy into getting her pregnant at the age of 14.
Readers at Ranker easily voted her the top choice in a poll of “obnoxious TV characters who ruin your favorite shows.”
Kate Pearson — ‘This Is Us’
The NBC drama “This Is Us” is one of the most popular and beloved shows on TV today, but many fans feel one of the lead characters has been done a disservice by the writers. Kate, played by Chrissy Metz, started the show as the likable underdog of the Pearson triplets but has become increasingly irritating as the show has progressed. Many fans find her depiction to be far less complex than her two brothers and feel her character routinely comes off as whiny, weak and needy.
Kate’s life seems to go from one dramatic emergency to the next, and while Metz has proven her skill as an actor in the role, the show’s writers have made her character an often joyless part in an otherwise lively series.
Lori Grimes — ‘The Walking Dead’
As another show with a large cast, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has had its fair share of characters that viewers couldn’t wait to see fall victim to the zombie apocalypse. While many hate Andrea, and Forbes went far enough to say that Negan ruined the whole show, Lori Grimes seems to be the most widely hated character of them all. As the wife of beloved series lead Rick Grimes, Lori was often depicted as immature and judgmental, which didn’t earn her many fans. Her long-running affair with Shane and her inability to move on from him after reconnecting with Rick also made her a target for ire.
Even actor Sarah Wayne Callies once said Lori “has to die,” and that’s exactly what happened in the third season.
Mason Verger — ‘Hannibal’
The NBC show “Hannibal,” based on the series of novels about serial killer Hannibal Lecter, earned a ton of acclaim from critics and fans despite only being on the air for three seasons. While many of the show’s characters were morally bankrupt, Mason Verger was the most flat-out hated. He was a principal villain in the show’s final two seasons and was simply a repulsive person in every way. Whether it was his status as the heir to a massive family fortune, his behavior with vulnerable children, his degradation of his sister or his fantasy of feeding Dr. Lecter to his pigs, Mason was just the worst.
The fact that he was played by two different actors, Michael Pitt (pictured) and Joe Anderson, also makes his character one of the few noticeable weak points of a mostly flawless show.
Vanessa Abrams — ‘Gossip Girl’
The CW’s hit show “Gossip Girl” had plenty of characters that viewers loved to hate, but Vanessa Abrams seemed to be one that many people simply hated. Like other characters on the show, Vanessa found herself getting sucked into the toxic world of teen high society, but she was criticized for coming off as a preachy jerk. A consistent criticism of Vanessa, who was played by Jessica Szohr, is that she was one-dimensional.
The Gamer put it well when they asked the rhetorical question, “Why was Vanessa Abrams one of the least likable characters in a show full of unlikable characters?”
Maya Herrera — ‘Heroes’
Before superheroes completely took over the Hollywood box office, NBC’s “Heroes” brought viewers into a world full of them in 2006. Of all the heroes in the series, Maya Herrera, played by Dania Ramirez, was easily the most disliked by viewers. Her power of being able to quickly infect people with a deadly poison, even by accident, often made her more of a liability than an asset, and it didn’t help that she was often written as helpless and not very bright. Fans were pretty glad to see her gone after only two seasons.
John Doggett — ‘The X-Files’
When beloved series lead David Duchovny left Fox’s “The X-Files” as a regular star before the eighth season, the show’s producers hired “Terminator 2” star Robert Patrick to replace him. It was always going to be an uphill battle, but Patrick’s character, John Doggett, was such a one-dimensional bore that there was no way he’d ever be as liked as Duchovny’s Fox Mulder. Written as a stock hero with a background as a Marine and police officer, Doggett was basically the antithesis of the rebellious spirit that Mulder brought to the show, which was probably the point.
Unsurprisingly, when the series was brought back in 2016, Doggett was nowhere to be found.
Wesley Crusher — ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” managed to surpass the beloved original series in many ways, including with its new cast of characters, but fans were pretty much united in their loathing of Wesley Crusher. The teen son of medical officer Dr. Beverly Crusher, Wesley was written as a total dork and know-it-all onboard a ship full of brilliant, battle-tested characters. Actor Wil Wheaton brought plenty of spirit to the role, but fans were just tired of seeing a snotty kid outsmart the show’s adult characters, so his role was severely limited after the fifth season.
Caillou — ‘Caillou’
How can a 4-year-old boy be so reviled? Just ask parents who had to sit through episodes of “Caillou” and they’ll likely have a few answers. This Canadian series was praised by critics and academics for teaching children valuable lessons but panned by many viewers for the awful behavior exhibited by its main character. Caillou was the definition of a selfish brat during many episodes of the show, with many detractors fearing their kids would pick up his worst attributes just by watching.
The hate for this character was so real that numerous Change.org petitions made the rounds when it was on the air in an attempt to get it axed, which finally happened in 2010.
Mandy Hampton — ‘The West Wing’
The NBC drama “The West Wing” was widely praised for its magnetic characters and was acclaimed right from the start. In fact, the only part of the show that didn’t work from the very beginning was the character of Mandy Hampton, who was played by Moira Kelly. Mandy was a media adviser to the White House and came off as a total jerk because she was obsessed with spinning stories for public relations purposes, which caused her to get in the way when other characters wanted to do the right thing.
Show creator Aaron Sorkin quickly realized the character was a dud and wrote her off after just a single season, but you can spot her on the cover of the first season’s box set, standing on the far left. When The Atlantic ranked all 114 characters from the series, in order of greatness, she was second to last.
Priya Koothrappali — ‘The Big Bang Theory’
If you want to be sure you’ll land on a list of hated TV characters, just treat one of the show’s most beloved characters like garbage. That was the case with Priya from CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” who joined the series during the fourth season. The sister of Raj, Priya ended up in a relationship with series lead Leonard that lasted more than a season. During that time, Priya wasn’t exactly an ideal mate, seeming to be embarrassed to date Leonard at first and eventually cheating on him when they were dating long-distance while she lived in India.
Fans of the hit show simply viewed Priya as an annoyance who caused divisions among the core characters and didn’t bring much else to the party. When she was written off in the fifth season, nobody was too upset, except possibly for actor Aarti Mann.