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Has there ever truly been a perfect TV series? We’d all like to think so, and surely we could rattle off several that we consider the best of the best. But when you really think about it, almost all shows, as wonderful and popular as they are, have at least one blemish. Typically, this weak spot is an actor who isn’t up to snuff with the rest of the cast of characters. After all, a character is only as good as the actor who portrays him or her, and we feel the following list gathers some of the worst offenders in the recent history of popular television.

Chandler Riggs, Carl Grimes on “The Walking Dead”

Bear with us on this one. We know Carl jokes are like beating a dead horse these days, but we honestly don’t think it’s Carl that’s the problem. After all, a character who is the only surviving child growing up in a zombie apocalypse should be one of the most interesting in the bunch. So why isn’t he? Unfortunately, it’s because Chandler Riggs has been unable to bring the appeal of the character to proper light, and we feel in a different actor’s hands, Carl would be an easy fan favorite. Perhaps it’s time for a TV magic fast forward, where we skip ahead a few years and everyone else is the same, but Carl is played by someone else.

Kaley Cuoco, Penny on “The Big Bang Theory”

Maybe it’s wrong of us to say, but it seems like almost anyone could play the role of Penny on “The Big Bang Theory” to about the same level as Kaley Cuoco. Is it a coincidence that her character was the only cast member played by a different actress on the show’s original pilot? Maybe. But the fact that the show was retooled and re-shot with only Penny given a significantly drastic overhaul and a new actor says to us that it’s a pretty flimsy character that is easily replaceable, and every performance we’ve caught of Cuoco on the show backs that. If we had to name an actress to embody the epitome of “what’s her appeal,” she would be it.

RJ Mitte, Walter White, Jr. on “Breaking Bad”

Yes, RJ Mitte serves his purpose as Walt, Jr. on “Breaking Bad,” but other than breakfast, we feel like that is because he was never really given much to work with. And while the argument will surely be made that being given no real story might make someone seem like they don’t have much acting talent, our counterargument would be that if the person had the right appeal, a bigger story would be constructed for them. And since five seasons went by with no real development for the character, we have to think it’s because there wasn’t much to work with.

Laura Prepon, Donna Pinciotti on “That ’70s Show”

“That ’70s Show” will go down as one of the better comedy series of the 1990s. There is no doubt about it. And while no one’s performance on the series was glaringly bad, Laura Prepon was easily the weak link in the chain. Now, this may actually have been partially due to the character never really being given great storylines, but again, those come when the writers and creators see potential in the actors to pull them off. Prepon is a much better actress now than she was then, but then is what we are focusing on and it was pretty obvious that she hadn’t been acting for long.

Adrian Grenier, Vincent Chase on “Entourage”

In the first case on this list of the lead actor being the weak link, we simply can’t stand the acting of Adrian Grenier. He’s just terrible. And while it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about his performance that irritates us so, just look at the facts: Grenier has booked two acting gigs that almost no one has heard of since “Entourage” ended in 2011, and he is soon to be seen in an “Entourage” film next year. Clearly his acting skills are a real hot commodity. That’s sarcasm, by the way.

Cathy Cahlin Ryan, Corrine Mackey on “The Shield”

Ugh, talk about nepotism getting in the way of a damn near perfect series. There were actually two really bad actresses on “The Shield,” Cathy Ryan and Autumn Chiklis, who were related to the show’s creator (his wife) and the show’s main star (his daughter) respectfully, but it’s pretty unfair to keep attacking children on this list. Plus, Ryan was much more prominent and annoying throughout the series. It may not have even been a case of bad acting per se, but she certainly gave Corrine Mackey no personality whatsoever, and when your character is supposed to be the better half of the series’ antihero, any appeal at all helps.

Okay, so we’ll pick on one more kid and be done for real this time. We’re not sure if you’ve ever had to sit in a casting office before and listen to kids rehearse their lines with their parents, but that is what Nolan Gould’s delivery sounds like every time he speaks on “Modern Family.” The sad thing is, since the show became such a fast success, he’ll probably never need to up his game because he’s already got the part. Seriously, though, if you told us that he was actually reading his lines off cue cards, we’d believe it.

Jonathan Ahdout, Behrooz Araz on “24”

Because there always needs to be one obscure person on every good list, we give you Jonathan Ahdout. Boy, oh boy, did this guy have godawful line delivery. And we’re not referencing a particular line, we are referencing every line. Sure, he was just a recurring character during season 4 who never showed up again, but the fact that we remember his awfulness this distinctly shows what an impact he made. And not in a good way, we should add. But please don’t let him sully possibly the best season of the series for you. We swear no one will ever be worse.

Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld on “Seinfeld”

Let’s face it, of the cast of “Seinfeld,” Jerry Seinfeld was the one you could tell was acting. Everyone else seemed very genuine in their roles, but something about Jerry’s occasional smirks and odd faces that didn’t quite fit were very telling that he was the one with the least acting background. But don’t get us wrong, we love “Seinfeld” and think everyone on the show was great, but we’d be lying to ourselves if we couldn’t admit that we knew the whole time that he was the weakest actor of the bunch.

Gillian Anderson, Dana Scully on “The X-Files”

This is another show that was great despite a lead actor who couldn’t act. Now we’re not saying that this was all Gillian Anderson. Her character was written as the skeptic to all the paranormal things happening on the show. But she took conveying skepticism a bit too far, to the point of just being flat out boring and dull. The fact that the show actually survived several more years after the departure of David Duchovny is nothing short of a miracle when you think back on just how lame the Dana Scully character was, and that’s why Anderson concludes our list.

 

 

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