We love TV. We love TV shows. We love TV characters. Well, for the most part. Unfortunately there are some characters on TV—on shows we like, on shows we hate—that are just so freaking annoying. Characters who make us groan every time they show up, who make us throw things (soft things) at the television set, who make us, however briefly, consider not watching the show at all. Because it's the holidays and our cold, Grinch-like hearts are extra black this time of year, and because everyone's doing top 10 lists right now, we decided to make a list of the top 10 most annoying characters on television. Agree with us? Vociferously disagree? Let us know in the comments!
10) Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, The Office
They didn't use to be annoying. Oh how we loved them once. We awwwed at their doe-eyed budding romance, guffawed at their cutely sarcastic asides, even swooned at their regular-folks good looks. But now? The two characters have just gotten so smug, haven't they? Jim's little eye rolls to the cameras and Pam's bordering-on-cruel humoring of Michael's crazy ideas—it all just seems so mean-spirited now. We get it, Jim and Pam. You're cute and young and have found love, while everyone else in the office is old and weird and alone. But you know what? We like those weirdos a lot more than you two these days. Heck, we even like Ryan more than you two. And we really don't enjoy Ryan. The writers need to write more scenes, or whole episodes even, where Jim and Pam prove to be just as silly and clueless as the other characters, or we may never like them again.
9) Vanessa Abrams, Gossip Girl
Why, exactly, is Vanessa even on this show? The character in the books was interesting—a shaved-headed, sexually curious artiste. But because The CW seems mostly unwilling to have any truly off-beat characters, they've served us this wan, lukewarm, centrist version of Vanessa. For the first two seasons her presence was only occasional, which we could tolerate. But now she's on every darn episode, stinking up the joint with her dumb video projects and wicked habit of dating really annoying boys (Dan's half-brother, anyone?) Vanessa doesn't really serve any grand purpose as a character on the show, she's only tied to Dan after all, and Jessica Szohr isn't exactly Kitty Hepburn in the acting department, so we're really not sure why she's not only still on the show, but been given a far bigger role this year. We suspect it has something to do with the fact that she's the only person of color in the otherwise lily-white cast.
8) Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
Legen... wait for it... darily annoying. What began five seasons ago as a fun little joke—look it's little Doogie Howser, an out gay person, as a total lady-hound!—has devolved into a lazy and uninteresting and overacted nightmare. Around the time the whole Bro Bible or Bro Code book came out, the dude-bro Barney jokes started to become increasingly stale and painfully forced. While the writers stirred up some interesting new notes last season by having Barney fall genuinely in love with Robin, that relationship is done now and he's back to his old, tiresome phrase-coining tricks. On a sitcom where most of the other characters are admirably fleshed-out as real people, Barney remains the sole caricature, a series of jokes your college buddies came up with that you laugh at less and less as the years go by.
7) Rita Bennett, Dexter
While we mostly love the beatific Julie Benz, her complaining wifey character has been reduced to little more than whimpering and murmuring about Dexter's commitment to the family. We thought the character might go a little dark by stepping out on Dexter with the hunky next door neighbor, but all we got was a little kiss, Rita apologizing, and then feeling bad that Dexter didn't feel bad. Why the Dexter writers, who have shown that they can craft interesting well-rounded women characters in Deb and LaGuerta, tromp so heavily into nagging wife cliches with Rita is a more baffling mystery than some of Miami Metro's murder cases. Might Rita die next week? For the first time since the series began, we really feel like we wouldn't miss her.
6) Mark Benford, FlashForward
Mark Benford is an alcoholic. And that's the best thing about him. A poor man's Jack from Lost that talks like Christian Bale's Batman and Steven Seagal, Benford is so one-dimensional that he disappears when he turns sideways. And he's supposed to be our hero? Never before in the history of television have we had to rely on such an incompetent FBI agent. Not only do we not trust him to figure out what happened in the event of a worldwide blackout, we wouldn't even trust him to find out what happened in the event of a freshman coed's blackout at a frat party. And for God's sake, unfurrow your brow.
5) Brandon, V
The heavyset sidekick is a staple of entertainment, and almost impossible to screw up. But along comes V with the most annoying fat friend ever. Brandon, Tyler's portly wingman, is just around to say things like, "Dude! Awesome! That chick is hot!" The guy is so annoying he makes Tyler look tolerable by comparison. Our theory? The writers needed an alien to befriend Tyler before the invasion and came up with Brandon, a lizard in disguise (it's so obvious). Only they forgot to give him a human side, too.
4) Elliot Stabler, Law & Order: SVU
While we still love this show's silly/grim melodrama, our beloved Det. Stabler is wearing on our nerves a bit. Seriously, just how many cases can you get Too Close To? How many times can you let your bellicose Catholicism and old-guard Marines-iness affect how you handle a case before you have to turn in your gun and badge, permanently? SVU has always been the most interesting iteration of Dick Wolf's theater-industry-saving (so many actors employed...) juggernaut franchise, but not only because it deals with wicked and prurient things like sex crimes. We also enjoy that you do get to know the characters a little bit, that there's some genuine psychology at work in the heroes beyond the original series' weary seen-it-all-ism. But it has gotten to be a bit much. Olivia's problems are at least a bit more nuanced, whereas every other week the show seems to simply be the Christopher Meloni Acts Intense Hour. For example, did you see that ludicrous solitary-confinement episode? We half expected "White Rabbit" to start playing while Elliot went slowly mad in his cell. Talk about melodrama.
3) Bill Compton, True Blood
The worst thing that can happen to a TV show is for its romantic lead to make his big entrance and then sorta... whiff it. While we love love love True Blood, we're just not down with the fangs that Sookie Stackhouse is banging. Because he's short and whiny and prudish and a too-awkward mixture of gruff and tender. There's nothing dangerous about him, and isn't the implicit danger sort of the whole point of a vampire/human love story? A nation of TB fans seem to agree with us, judging by the collective sighs of relief (and moans of... well, relief) that went up when the far more intriguing Eric strode onto the screen. We get that Bill is central to the whole saga and mythos of the story, but does he have to be such a weenie all the time, especially when standing next to the (way taller) Eric?
2) Abby Sciuto, NCIS
There is a lot of annoyingness on NCIS, a big, clunkily-written, flag-waving rock 'em sock 'em. That British guy with the bowtie? Why is he there? The other dude, the supposed-to-be-hot one? Feh. But worst of all is Abby Sciuto, the alterna techie who exists solely to give the show a little quirk or "edge." Only NCIS isn't that kind of show, it's not plugged-in enough to give us smart jokes about trendy things. Abby is the rah-rah Conservative's idea of what a snarky Liberal should sound like, and it just doesn't work. Plus, it cuts into all the gunplay! We want more shooting, less creaky jokes about goths and other "Look at that crazy broad" stuff.
1) Eric Murphy & Johnny Chase, Entourage
Much like Barney, Johnny Drama was a funny, likable mook that has of late become a broadly-drawn bore. His character has gone from being a subtle and sympathetic joke about loser celebrity siblings to just plain pathetic, as dumb and sloppily-rendered a depiction of male idiocy as latter-years Homer Simpson. And Homer is, you know, a cartoon. And Eric... Well, Eric's been annoying from the get-go. This little pissy fast-talker who has no right to be pissy or fast-talking. The joke in the early seasons was that he was a Sbarro manager turned inept Hollywood player. But now that the show has settled into an irksome rhythm of sweet cars, hot chicks, and good times, Eric is nothing more than a Napleonic boy's fantasy, a character who's suddenly "cool" because it's easier to have him be cool. And while we're at it, you know who else is annoying on Entourage? Everyone. Especially The Women. You know, all those lanky model types who are always so down with "Vince" and "E" and "Drama", who play to the sexy whims of the boys' club. If Sex and the City was the ultimate female fantasia about a city full of interesting, impossibly-dashing men, then Entourage is a crude, and depressingly popular, male dreamscape about a city full of dimensionless women who just want to spend their languid afternoons getting stoned and putting out. And we've really grown tired of it.