10 TV Characters Who Really Get On Our Nerves

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The most annoying TV characters of all time include Sheldon Cooper, Joffrey Baratheon, and Cousin Oliver.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

There are some characters that become so popular they get their own spin-offs, such as Kelsey Grammer as Fraser Crane or Matt Leblanc as Joey from Friends, but on the other end of the popularity spectrum are the ones that make shows unbearable. These characters don’t elicit cheers when they enter a scene, but rather, groans, with the audience wondering why so much screen time is consumed by such an annoying character.

The reason for the annoyance can be varied, it could be they make bad decisions all the time, are overly reliant on a catchphrase, or any other individual reason. Yet what’s important to remember is none of them are annoying because of the actor portraying them; each talent on this list gave their best in a thankless role.

10. Ross Gellar – Friends

Played by David Schwimmer, the time has not been kind to Ross Gellar; even if he was never the most popular of the cast of Friends, his pursuit of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) has not aged well. Considered to be a “nice guy,” the character is filled with plenty of dating red flags that would cause him to be ignored and ghosted on dating apps today. All of that isn’t including when he says Rachel’s name at the altar while getting married to Emily (Helen Baxendale) or choosing to walk into Rachel’s room instead of his girlfriend Bonnie’s at the end of the Season 3 cliffhanger.

All of the good qualities of Ross as a character, such as his thoughtfulness, compassion, and willingness to go far out of his way to help his friends (for example, the disposable camera incident at his sister’s wedding), are overshadowed by his horrible relationship habits. Re-watching Friends today, it’s hard to wonder why Rachel stays in contact with her stalker.

9. Steve Urkel – Family Matters

Steve Urkel was meant to be a one-shot guest character, and instead, Jaleel White did such a fantastic job playing the nerd next door to the Winslows that he dominated the series, and Family Matters was now about him. A few seasons in, and every episode was about Urkel’s latest crazy invention, one of which transformed him into “Stefan,” allowing White to be on the show as essentially himself, but it broke the immersion that the series took place in our reality.

Nothing captures how badly Steve Urkel sabotaged what should have been Reginald VelJohnson’s show as the two-part finale, which featured Urkel being sent into outer space. By then, the audience had left, as a show that was in the top 50 every year had fallen out of the top 100, and everyone knew the answer to Urkel’s question, “Did I do that?”

8. Lori Grimes – The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead was filled with annoying characters, most of whom wound up being eaten, but none has earned the ire of the fans quite like Lori Grimes, the wife of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). Sarah Wayne Callies did a fantastic job playing the manipulative, selfish character that always seemed to complain, used her status as a mother as a shield against accusations she wasn’t pulling her weight and pitted two best friends against each other for no reason.

The writing let down the fantastic actress and did so in a major way, as fans celebrated when she died during childbirth. Season 2, in particular, saw Lori playing Rick and Shane (Jon Bernthal) against each other, undermining the group and putting everyone’s life in danger because she seemingly wanted to be with the alpha male. It’s hard to pin down her motivation, with the writing staff leaving Lori out to dry more than any other character in the series.

7. Cousin Oliver – The Brady Brunch

It would be much harder to list Cousin Oliver, played by nine-year-old Robbie Rist if the actor himself wasn’t aware of how bad his character was and what it did to one of the most popular shows in history. The Brady Brunch was a history-making show, but by the time of the show’s fifth season, ratings were cratering as the kids were getting older, so the producers introduced their never-before-mentioned cousin, a tactic that has become known as “Cousin Oliver Syndrome.”

The precocious little tyke was out of place among the now pre-teen and older children, and young Robbie Rist did his best, but everything Cousin Oliver did was annoying. From his shouting of lines to a basic misunderstanding of every situation, Oliver has no redeeming qualities, and it’s a crime that the final line of the series is “Me! Cousin Oliver!”

6. Joffrey Baratheon – Game of Thrones

First off, it’s a shame that Jack Gleeson has left acting following his amazing work as Joffrey Baratheon on Game of Thrones. It’s his fault that everyone hated his character because of the sick glee he’d get on his face when doing or saying the most horrible things, from mocking Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to his demands of the women sent to his room to entertain him. At one point, a supercut of every time his uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) slapped him was among YouTube’s most popular videos.

The boy king was at least hated in-universe as well, so this is the first time audiences are meant to find a character annoying and not endearing. No one tries to see things from Joffrey’s side, and there are no memes proclaiming “Joffrey was right.”

5. Kim Bauer – 24

Elisa Cuthbert is a charming, gorgeous actress who has gone on to be a fan-favorite comedic performer on Happy Endings and The Ranch, but a large subset of fans will always hate her character, Kim Bauer, on 24. Playing the daughter of Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland), the first few seasons were famous for Kim getting caught up in a bizarre, and frankly, stupid, situation that distracted from the high-stakes political thriller.

The worst was in Season 2 when Kim Bauer was caught in a cougar trap, then attacked by a cougar that managed to avoid the trap. As a recurring character, Kim was much easier to handle in later seasons, but as part of the main cast, she served no real point. Fans tuning in for the inventive, high-concept thriller were understandably annoyed over the constant misadventures of Kim.

4. Kimmy Gibbler – Full House

As with Joffrey, fans weren’t supposed to embrace Kimmy Gibbler, played with perfection by Andrea Barber, personifying the annoying kid next door that’s friends with your kid, and you don’t know why. Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) was always especially annoyed by Kimmy, likely due to the fact that they had similar senses of humor and would frequently match one-liners.

Kimmy Gibbler existed to be the punchline and to elicit a response with her outrageous outfits, which made her both a fan favorite and also highly annoying at the same time. When the character came back in Fuller House, now as a single mom, she was…much the same, which was both delightful and horrifying.

3. Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory

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Sheldon Cooper was always meant to be one of the leads of The Big Bang Theory, but yet he’s very similar to Steve Urkel (beyond being super intelligent nerds) in that, over time, the character’s gravity bent the entire show to accommodate him. It was hard, often, to see why the other characters hung out with Sheldon, someone that always put everyone down, refused to compromise, and demanded everyone do what he wanted at all times.

Eventually, his relationship with Penny (Kaley Cuoco) helped to humanize him, as did the influence of Bernadette (Mayim Bialik), but to most viewers, that never evened out his treatment of the other characters, specifically Howard (Simon Helberg). Why Sheldon, of all the characters, was the big breakout of the ensemble is a mystery, but it doesn’t detract from how he’s the most annoying character in recent history.

2. Janice Soprano – The Sopranos

Janice Soprano, played amazingly well by Aida Turturro, is the worst part of The Sopranos, and again, this is a character that’s incredibly annoying on purpose. The sister of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), Janice was supposed to have the same qualities as the mob boss, just without the mob providing an outlet that rewards being sociopathic and ambitious. Those traits, in a normal person, are toxic and serve only to drive everyone away.

Janice, during her seasons on the show, was a constant thorn in Tony’s side and annoyed the audience with her terrible decision-making, horrible comments, and her relationship with Ralphie Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano, in another annoying character role). All of that was by design, to try and show how Tony Soprano wasn’t to be idolized, but what creator David Chase achieved was creating a character that made everyone want to skip all of her scenes.

1. Scrappy-Doo – Scooby-Doo

Widely considered to be the most annoying character ever created, Scrappy-Doo is so hated, he’s also the only one that has been banned from his franchise. It’s true, from 1988 to a brief cameo in 2011, and then never again since, Scrappy-Doo never appeared in animation. The nephew of Scooby-Doo was hated because of his constant evoking of “Puppy Power” and “Let me at’em!” while his legs circled wildly, and as with Cousin Oliver, the overall writing and focus of the series shifted completely to focus on him.

Fred, Daphne, and Velma were sidelined while Scrappy joined Shaggy and Scooby on adventures that happened to involve real supernatural beings and not just people in masks trying to lower the value of real estate. Replacing beloved characters with an annoying sidekick aimed squarely at young children was not a recipe for success. Thankfully, the live-action Scooby-Doo movie redeemed Scrappy by making him the villain he was always meant to be.


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