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The 19 most hated movie and TV characters ever, ranked

Louis Chilton ranks 19 characters who drove fans up the wall

Saturday 02 December 2023 10:49 GMT
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Not for everyone: Mutt Williams, Skylar White and Mr Big are among the characters to get backlash from fans
Not for everyone: Mutt Williams, Skylar White and Mr Big are among the characters to get backlash from fans (Paramount/AMC/HBO)

Not every character can be a winner.

Film and TV are littered with examples of lovable characters, figures who endear themselves to viewers and become thought of almost as close friends. But for others, it’s a very different story.

Sometimes, characters manage to become not just disliked but actively despised by a film or TV series’ fanbase.

This can be on purpose – with the public’s allergic distaste for characters like Game of Thrones’s Joffrey Baratheon a testament to effective storytelling.

Other times though, it’s inadvertant, with the backlash to creations such as Star Wars’s Jar Jar Binks or Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Dawn Summers more a result of shoddy writing than any deliberate character choices.

And of course, sometimes the public can turn on a character for completely unfair reasons, such as Breaking Bad’s unfairly maligned Skylar White.

Here are 19 of the most hated characters across film and TV, ranked.

19. Ross Gellar – Friends

Look. Not everybody hates Ross Gellar. He’s one of the core characters on one of the most popular TV series ever made. But there’s a strong faction out there who aver that David Schwimmer’s hapless paleontologist is not only the “worst Friend”, but an all-round unbearable bloke. It’s true enough: for swathes of the series, his romantic buffoonery and shoddy decision-making are enough to leave you screaming at the screen.

Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica Gellar (Courteney Cox) in ‘Friends’ (Getty Images)

18. Mr Big  – Sex and the City

Of all Sex and the City’s romantic interests, none loom quite so, erm, large as Chris Noth’s Mr Big. While the character certainly had his defenders, others branded him “toxic” and “emotionally abusive”. Big’s untimely death at the beginning of SATC sequel And Just Like That… was, for many, divine retribution.

17. Sharpay Evans – High School Musical

Hit teen musical High School Musical put its own spin on the “Queen Bee” archetype with the character of Sharpay Evans, the film’s main antagonist. Ashley Tisdale excels at the part, making her character a genuinely insufferable foil for the story’s all-singing, all-dancing leads.

Ashley Tisdale in ‘High School Musical' (DISNEY CHANNEL/FRED HAYES)

16. Patty Di Marco – School of Rock

For a film like feelgood musical comedy School of Rock, there’s no need for a villain. The closest this film has is Sarah Silverman’s Patty Di Marco, who acts as a scold for both Jack Black’s vivacious wannabe rockstar and meek substitute teacher Ned Schneebly (Mike White). The buzzkill to end all buzzkills, Silverman’s character is the human equivalent of nails down a chalkboard.

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15. The Great Gazoo – The Flintstones

A character who became synonymous with hair-brained character gimmicks, the Great Gazoo joined the Flintstones during its final season. A small green alien whom only Fred, Barney and the children can see, Gazoo flew in the face of The Flintstones’s entire premise, reducing a once-great cartoon to rubble.

14. The Joker – Suicide Squad

It was always going to be a hard task playing the iconic Batman villain The Joker, following on from what many believe to be the defining interpretation of the character (Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight). For all his much-discussed “Method acting” flourishes, though, which included sending castmates used condoms in the post, Leto’s hammy edgelord Clown Prince was a big flop – unlike Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who ended up returning in multiple later projects.

Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad (Warner Bros)

13. Piper Chapman – Orange is the New Black

Netflix’s prison drama Orange is the New Black was celebrated for its big, diverse ensemble cast, with episodes often diving into individual characters’ nuanced backstories. It’s a shame then that the series’ lead character, convicted felon Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) was also its least interesting. Fans frequently complained about Piper’s prominence, and general air of uppity self-righteousness.

12. Dr Susan McCallister – Deep Blue Sea

The 1999 shark thriller Deep Blue Sea saw Saffron Burrows play Dr Susan McCallister,  the film’s female lead. While her character was originally supposed to survive the film, test audiences proved so hostile to McCallister – whose character is responsible for the experiments that caused the disaster in the first place – that the ending of the film was re-shot and her character killed off.

Saffron Burrows in ‘Deep Blue Sea' (© WV Deep Blue LLC)

11. Dawn Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

When a supernatural event manifests Buffy a younger sister, it saw this beloved CW drama take a sharp turn of direction. As played by Michelle Trachtenberg, Dawn was a perennial thorn in Buffy’s side, often causing needless problems through her own teenage petulance and penchant for being in peril. Her arrival was a common gripe among Buffy fans.

10. Seymour Skinner – The Simpsons

The Simpsons fans hate Seymour Skinner. I don’t mean the uptight school principal voiced by Harry Shearer, but the real Seymour Skinner, voiced by Martin Sheen and introduced in the polarising season nine episode “The Principal and the Pauper”. The episode reveals that the man we knew as Seymour Skinner was in fact an imposter known as Armin Tamzarian, who had assumed the identity of the presumed-dead Skinner after the Vietnam War. Hated doesn’t begin to cover it.

Seymour Skinner, Superintendent Chalmers, and ‘Seymour Skinner’ in ‘The Principal and the Pauper' (Fox)

9. Connor – Angel

Buffy spinoff Angel had its fair share of dubious plot decisions down the years, the most egregious of which saw David Boreanaz’s vampire-with-a-soul landed overnight with a teenaged son. Vincent Kartheiser, who would later prove magnificent as Pete Campbell in Mad Men, is frankly unbearable here, a whiny, unsympathetic drag.

8 and 7. Nikki and Paolo – Lost

Introduced to Lost near the start of season three, Nikki and Paolo were fellow survivors of the initiating plane crash. Conniving and deeply annoying, they were, by showrunner Damon Lindelof’s own admission, “universally despised” among the show’s fanbase, and after just 11 episodes, they were buried – quite literally.

6. Jenny Humphrey – Gossip Girl

Despite starting out as a relatively likeable character, Taylor Momsen’s Jenny devolves into a true fiend, a self-serving, unapologetic psychopath who drew the ire of many a Gossip Girl fan. She’s great to watch nevertheless – but in a way that sometimes makes your skin crawl.

5. Mutt Williams – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

It’s possible there’s an actor out there with the charisma to play Indiana Jones’s maverick son, but Shia LaBeouf sure wasn’t it. Introduced during the reviled fourth movie – and killed off before the fifth in a style reminiscent of The Simpsons’s Poochie the Dog – Mutt Williams was a horrific letdown, a bland, unconvincing bad boy who fumbled the franchise’s attempt at passing the baton.

Harrison Ford and LaBeouf in ‘Crystal Skull’ (Paramount)

4. Skylar White – Breaking Bad

A vehemently loathed character whose reputation can largely be put down to sexism, Anna Gunn’s long-suffering Skylar White was a hate figure for many fans of the hit AMC crime drama. Despite Bryan Cranston’s teacher-turned-meth-baron committing evil acts on a near-regular basis, it was Skylar, his complicit but ultimately far more well-meaning wife, who got the blame.

3. Scrappy Doo – Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo

Everybody loves Scooby Doo. But Scrappy? The mystery-solving mutt’s small, high-voiced nephew was introduced to freshen the series amid plummeting ratings, but the character was annoying, smug, and generally disliked. This ended up becoming the punchline of the first live-action film, when it’s revealed that Rowan Atkinson’s villain was in fact a robot operated by Scrappy the entire time.

2. Jar Jar Binks – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The first of George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels, The Phantom Menace, was a monumental disappointment among fans when it first came out. The brunt of their anger was directed at Jar Jar Binks, the buffoonish CGI alien played by Ahmed Best. The irritating character was seen to be an ill-judged attempt to pander to a younger audience, and played only a minor role in the subsequent two films. There’s a tragic backstory to this, however: Best later revealed that he at one point contemplated suicide, with the vicious anti-Jar Jar backlash taking a heavy toll on his mental health.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) in ‘The Phantom Menace’ (Lucasfilm)

1. Joffrey Baratheon – Game of Thrones

Maybe the single most hated character in the history of film and television, Game of Thrones’ nefarious boy king, Joffrey Baratheon, is actually one of the series’ most successful. He was supposed to be hated. He was spoiled. Vindictive. Pure evil. The infamous “Red Wedding” episode sealed his place on the pantheon of characters audiences simply love to abhor.

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