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10 Once-Lovable TV Characters Who Became Completely Repulsive

 

 

 

The great thing about episodic television is that it allows writers to really flesh out every character, which, in turn, allows viewers to get more invested in their stories. For the most part this is a huge positive. And, in fact, it’s become the preferred method of storytelling for many of Hollywood’s writers.

The unfortunate side effect of evolving characters over dozens or even hundreds of episodes is that, whether the showrunners want them to or not, these characters sometimes transform in ways that make the general public want to reach through their TV sets and strangle them until their knuckles start to cramp.

Because television series are like relationships: In the beginning, your partner is pretty much idyllic, to the point you’re convinced the only thing that comes out of their butt is rainbows. As you spend more time with them, however, you notice they leave their toenail clippings on the kitchen counter and refuse to watch all Mel Brooks movies.

It can really sting.

So it is with your once-beloved television characters. Eventually, those rainbows fade away and you have to hold your nose every time they appear on screen.

Maybe the writers planned it, or maybe they just couldn’t figure out how to sustain a lovable character for 10 seasons. Whatever the case, some truly wonderful, fictional people have been utterly ruined by the time of the series finale.

10. Foggy Nelson (Daredevil)

Netflix

I want you to imagine yourself in a scenario for a moment. You’re a lawyer. A good lawyer, one that takes pride in fighting for “the little guy.” Your best friend and law firm partner is an easygoing blind man. But now you find out that he also moonlights as a superhero vigilante. What do you do?

If your answer was “Give him a high five and buy the nearest liquor store out of beer,” then good job, you’re a true friend.

Foggy Nelson is no such friend. Foggy Nelson gets pouty and distressed, refusing to give his longtime compadre a little kudos for his a*s-kicking, justice-serving second job.

Prior to this discovery, Foggy was serviceable comic relief. Sure, his jokes were never really that funny and the actor behind the character (Elden Henson) could withstand a few more acting classes, but overall, he was a solid counterbalance to Matt Murdock.

But as soon as he found out his blind buddy was the vigilante responsible for cleaning up the streets and, ya know, keeping the city safe from terrible people, he suddenly turned into a total sourpuss and spent most episodes contorting his face into super punchable expressions.

9. Monica Geller (Friends)

NBC

When this titan of all sitcoms began, Monica Geller was an amiable, responsible, clean freak who possessed all the typical traits of a neglected daughter. Sure, she was a little tightly-wound, but that’s what happens when you grow up in the shadow of your older brother, constantly craving attention.

It was easy to feel bad for her because her parents treated her like secondhand garbage.

Partly because of that, she couldn’t even hold down a relationship with an expertly-mustachioed Tom Selleck. Monica’s boyfriend troubles didn’t make her annoying, though. They made her pitiable and empathetic.

Then came Chandler f**king Bing.

From the moment she hooked up with the group’s funnyman at her brother’s wedding, Monica began a steep downhill slide into her position as the group’s most unrelenting shrew. In a post-Richard world, Monica lost nearly all of her redeeming qualities, and those traits which were generously referred to as “quirks” in the past – her obsessive tidiness, unhealthy competitiveness, and general egotism – began to careen out of control.

Every other scene in the later seasons involve Monica trying to control someone else’s actions with a domineering beligerence.

Remember that fight Chandler and Monica had right before they moved in together? Where she refused to let him bring pretty much any personal effects into their home? That’s a snapshot of their entire relationship.

8. Leonard Hofstadter (The Big Bang Theory)

CBS

It’s quite frankly amazing that this show has bullied its way into a tenth season, considering how few genuinely likable characters it has on its roster. That, coupled with the phantoms of any supposed “character development,” make watching The Big Bang Theory a masochistic exercise.

But clearly there are plenty of viewers who still find the recurrent, nerdy shenanigans to be endearing or, at the very least, tolerable.

Are those same viewers still able to swallow Leonard’s toolish ways on a weekly basis? It would be hard to believe any fans of the show hate themselves that much.

Over the years, Leonard has morphed from the group’s most well-adjusted member who couldn’t fathom how he had a chance with a girl seemingly way out of his league, to the self-pitying, condescending, distrustful sad sack who brings the group – and the girl he’s now oddly blasé about – down.

He’s like a more self-aware version of Sheldon’s bad traits.

Really, the further his and Penny’s relationship has progressed, the more we’re left to realize that she is his sole reason for being. That’s not a cutesy, romantic notion, either. Without the character of Penny, there would literally be no reason to include Leonard in the show. His character adds nothing but whininess and stasis.

7. Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

Warner Bros Television

Rory Gilmore,the precocious little tween with a heart of gold and a collection of pop culture references to make some Simpsons writers envious, was never the main reason to watch Gilmore Girls. (That would be her mother, Lorelai, because Lauren Graham is one of the greatest things to happen to television since Walter Cronkite). But for the first couple of seasons, she was a total delight.

Sure, her overly precious, mumbly, I’m-only-going-to-open-the-corner-of-my-mouth-because-I’m-basically-an-infant way of speaking was a little irksome, but hey, everyone’s got their quirks.

But then Rory went to college and, as so many college students do, became insufferable almost instantly. This was always a character played to be “well beyond her years,” but once she gets to Yale, her utter lack of impulse control makes her look like more of a petulant child than she did at the beginning of the series.

It’s during these later years – and continued through Netflix’s revival – that the cutesy facade falls away to reveal a very self-centered, bratty, even ignorant woman who’s much too accustomed to getting her way and crumbles at the mere mention of anything not going according to plan.

Also, she routinely leads men on and/or cheats on them and/or helps former boyfriends cheat on their wives. So…there’s that.

6. J.D. (Scrubs)

NBC

J.D. and Elliot, as The Janitor helpfully points out, are no “Ross and Rachel.” Their will they/won’t they relationship arc is painful to watch them flounder through – with the use of various “outside” beaus, any of which would be better suited for them than each other – and it’s even more painful once they finally decide to stay together.

It’s equally distressing to watch J.D.’s transformation from goofy, affable, slightly neurotic doctor-in-training to menacingly stupid, mean-spirited narcissist over the course of that relationship.

His metamorphosis is a swift one, and you can pinpoint the exact moment the writers decided to make J.D. into an asshat. It was at the end of Season 3 when, after three years of pursuing the woman he met on the first day of his internship, she professed her love for him. Suddenly, he doesn’t want her anymore. He doesn’t love her anymore. And he tells her this…after having coerced her into breaking up with another perfectly suitable boyfriend.

It’s a downhill slide from there, with his arrogance and self-centeredness taking center stage in most of his other relationships as well. Even his bromance with Turk suffers, particularly after his best friend becomes a father and J.D. starts acting like a petulant older brother who’s jealous of the new bundle of joy.

Also, his once-quirky internal monologue tries to be too weighty and profound toward the end.

5. Meg Masters (Supernatural)

Warner Bros

In her first incarnation, Meg was like a candy apple you got from that creepy neighbor on Halloween: Sweet on the outside, but all kinds of dangerous on the inside. The actress playing the black-eyed demon initially (Nicki Aycox) knew how to balance the character’s pretend naiveté with subtly sinister undertones.

It seemed unlikely that the character would be brought back after Meg’s first vessel bit the dust at the end of the first season, but the thing about evil spirits is they always find a way to come back.

So fans of Meg were delighted when she showed up at the start of Season 5, albeit wearing a different “meat suit” and being played by a different actress (Rachel Miner). That excitement quickly turned to sadness, which turned to endless irritation when they saw that Meg also underwent a drastic personality change. For the worse.

Gone was the sly menace wrapped in dubious charm. Gone were the mental chess games she played with the Winchester brothers. All that was replaced with a mush-mouthed, unambiguous Bond villain who tried way too hard to project a sense of cool.

Even after she turns into an ally for the Winchesters and Castiel, it was hard to be too sad when she finally bit the dust for good.

4. Lily (Modern Family)

20th Century Fox Television

Is it wrong to single out an adopted toddler as the absolute worst thing to ever happen to a TV show? If so…why does it feel so right?

All babies are cute in some way or another – even if it’s just in that “Awww, she doesn’t know where her feet are?” kind of way – but the infant version of Lily was a full-blown 10 on the kewpie scale. And although this might be an unpopular opinion, she was even great (briefly) as a yappy toddler, delivering very adult, crass lines with just the right balance of naiveté and hostility.

But then, as kids do, she grew up and became a bratty, almost demonic little child. There’s nothing cute or funny about the things Lily does and says now. It’s all bad, and Lily now serves merely as a fantastic reminder of why birth control is important.

Any scene with this little hellion is hokey, like there’s a terrifying stage mom just offscreen demanding that she “exude that famous Hathaway-Garland blend, dammit!”

No sitcom character should make you want to punt a child across the room.

3. Jim & Pam Halpert (The Office)

NBC

By themselves, Jim and Pam were two of the biggest reasons to tune into the show every week and watch this delightful workplace comedy. After a few seasons of typical will they/won’t they shenanigans, though, the two commenced their love affair and slow walk to the altar.

Once news broke of their couples status, it became Jim and Pam against the world, with every employee of Dunder-Mifflin starting to turn on them for some damn reason. (Maybe they were jealous of their collective hotness?)

Almost as soon as they tied the knot and officially became “The Halperts,” however, most of their charm and cuteness fell away to reveal the haggard, occasionally despicable core slowly melting away everything we’d come to love about the two lovebirds. All of a sudden, we were left wondering how their officemates didn’t lash out at them more.

They became insanely self-centered, frequently playing on people’s sympathies to get their way, even if it meant using their child to do so.

But they also began acting excessively terrible to each other, especially once Jim tries to break away from the job he’s always hated and start his own sports marketing company. Jim suddenly decides to start hiding major life decisions from his wife, while Pam opts for an unnatural brand of passive aggression.

Is it a realistic portrayal of a relationship? Maybe. It’s also extremely annoying to sit through.

2. Dexter Morgan (Dexter)

Showtime

The first couple seasons of Showtime’s seriocomic, vigilante porn featured a seriously conflicted protagonist. One with a never-ending compulsion to kill, who channeled those psychopathic tendencies toward killing only other murderers who slipped through the cracks of the criminal justice system.

He was a certifiable badass in cargo pants, righting injustices, delivering vengeful soliloquies, buying everybody donuts. There was plenty to like about Dexter in the early going.

As time wore on, however, the audience learned that Dexter’s “code” for killing was more like a list of suggestions that could be bent so that he – and by default, the audience – didn’t have to feel bad about any innocent bystanders who died as a result of Dexter’s urges.

Let’s go ahead and recap all of the innocent people who were killed by Dexter – whether intentionally or inadvertently – over the course of 8 seasons without any real repercussions.

James Doakes, a police officer who was hot on Dexter’s trail. Oscar Prado, who he killed “accidentally.” John Farrow, a photographer Dexter killed because of false evidence. Some guy named Rankin who talked trash to him in a bathroom after his wife had just died…WHICH WAS ALSO HIS FAULT. Also, Kyle Butler, Stan Liddy, Maria LaGuerta, his father, Harry, and his sister, Deb.

By the end of this show, was there anyone who could tolerate, let alone sympathize with this truly despicable human being?

1. Andy Bernard (The Office)

NBC

Once Steve Carrell left The Office, it created a gigantic hole in the ensemble. A hole that the writers desperately tried to fill with every quick fix they could think of, including a bevy of temporary managers. One of those makeshift managers was Andy Bernard, the Cornell alum with a preference for pastel slacks and a residual anger problem.

Making Andy the acting manager wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, but trying to make him a more dick-ish version of Michael Scott definitely was. Because no one can do what Steve Carrell did with that character. Nobody. And it became painfully obvious early on in Andy’s tenure as bossman that the writer’s room was unwilling to let go of all that leftover material they’d written for Michael.

The solution? Make Ed Helms mimic that same style of awful, awkward, clueless dialogue. But without any of the innocence and buffoonish charm that made it palatable coming from Carrell.

Matters became worse when Helms had to take some time off to film another insufferable Hangover movie, and the writers wrote him off the show temporarily via an impromptu sailing trip with his brother. When he came back weeks later, he transformed into Mega Douche, acting cruelly and intolerable in every single scene for no apparent reason.

 

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