Television characters need to be relatable for audiences to enjoy spending time with them for hours on end (especially in the age of binge-watching). This is particularly true for main characters - men and women who lead the charge in the narratives that we love. Against all odds, sometimes a popular television series ends up with an unlikable main character.
This is never what the writers intend. Fortunately, shows where the main character is the worst are often redeemed by surrounding performances. However, we can’t help but wonder how great these good shows could’ve been had these central figures been just a little bit better.
More than a few characters have dropped the ball in this way; aspects of their personality or things they do detract from what makes the rest of the series beloved or successful. These are some of the worst main characters ever.
- Photo: HBO
Sex and the City follows sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw and her friends’ dating lives in Manhattan. At first, Carrie appears to be the type of independent woman most audiences can get on board with. Unfortunately, she begins to become the opposite of that as Sex and the City goes on.
The show wants to promote a lack of judgment and a free-spirited mentality, but Carrie judges her friends (e.g., slut-shaming Samantha) and believes herself to be above others. Think of all her affairs with Mr. Big and the way she treats her boyfriends deplorably. Calling that behavior "insufferable" is an understatement.
35980Bad main character?
- Actors: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth
- Premiered: June 6, 1998
- Photo: The WB
Is it called Dawson’s Creek because of the stream of tears running down the face of one Dawson Leery? The main character of this show is always crying! All Dawson seems to do is complain. Sure, this sort of thing was popular in teen dramas of the early 2000s, but it hasn’t aged well.
The best example of this is at the end of Season 1 when Dawson guilt-trips Joey for wanting to spend the summer away from him in France. Why can’t she go see the world, Dawson? Don’t have enough tissues?
We’re meant to side with Dawson often, but we don’t. Being sensitive doesn't make you morally superior.
23530Bad main character?
- Actors: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, Michelle Williams, Kerr Smith
- Premiered: January 20, 1998
- Photo: HBO
Girls’ Hannah Horvath is deliberately written to be self-indulgent, rude, and selfish. She grates on pretty much everyone and doesn’t care at all. Even though she constantly compares herself to other people, she openly admits to loving herself above all else.
When she starts working at the coffee shop, she acts as if serving people is beneath her. When her dad comes out as gay, she makes it about her rather than supporting him. In fact, she doesn’t appreciate her parents at all. Hannah is over-dramatic about everything, and not in an empathetic way but in a “the world doesn’t understand me" kind of way. No, Hannah, you are not the voice of a generation, but you are one of the worst main characters to ever grace the small screen.
21024Bad main character?
- Actors: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver
- Premiered: 2012
- Photo: Netflix
Piper Chapman is an entry point. Orange Is the New Black uses her and her “fish out of water” vibe to introduce us to Litchfield Penitentiary and its wide variety of interesting characters. That said, once she’s sentenced, the show grows beyond her almost immediately.
Every other inmate seems to have actual issues to deal with - like racism, oppression, and pregnancy - whereas Piper’s only problem is her privilege. All she worries about are her circumstances. From her desire to be in charge to manipulating Alex’s emotions, Piper doesn’t seem to care about others. She’s not an antihero or a villain per se, just an annoying and whiny rich girl.
Ultimately, the show kept going thanks to its ensemble, not Piper’s pop-star mentality.
27853Bad main character?
- Actors: Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Jackie Cruz
- Premiered: July 11, 2013