11 Beloved TV Characters Who Are Actually the Worst

Do they really deserve to be the leads?

TV shows would be pretty boring if all of the characters were great people who made the right decisions all of the time. Not to mention, that wouldn't be very relatable for viewers or true to life. We need villains, protagonists, and everything in between. But, sometimes characters who win over viewers are not quite as great as they seem to be. There are a number of TV characters who are beloved, even though they are actually the worst.

Sometimes, this is by design. Some characters are meant to be complicated, but keep us rooting for them anyway. Other times, characters are straight-up awful, but fans love them anyway, often because they're entertaining or charismatic. And in some cases, characters are intended to be good, but as the years pass and shows are reconsidered, some of their actions end up looking totally unreasonable.

Keeping reading to find out about 11 TV characters who are loved by fans but maybe don't deserve it.

RELATED: The Most Hated TV Couples of All Time.

1
Jim Halpert, The Office

John Krasinski on "The Office"
NBC

Jim (John Krasinski) is usually a nice guy and one of the more reasonable people at Dunder Mifflin, but he's definitely done some things that are questionable or outright wrong, depending on who you ask. His offenses range from coming on to Pam (Jenna Fischer) way too strongly while she was still engaged to Roy (David Denman) to pulling some pranks against Dwight (Rainn Wilson) that went too far. Fans have also taken particular issue with Jim buying his parents' old house for him and Pam to live in without even asking her first.

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2
Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

Alexis Bledel on "Gilmore Girls"
Warner Bros. Television

Rory (Alexis Bledel) begins Gilmore Girls as a precocious teen who is best friends with her mother, Lorelai (Lauren Graham). As the series goes on, Rory becomes increasingly selfish and privileged, and has many missteps that involve her dating life—though she rarely sees them as problems. She cheats on one boyfriend, Dean (Jared Padalecki) with another, Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), but then later has an affair with Dean while he's married, which she tries to justify. In the sequel series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, she also has a relationship with Logan (Matt Czuchry) while he's engaged to someone else.

3
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Sarah Jessica Parker on "Sex and the City"
HBO

Carrie Bradshaw is a complicated character, who makes mistake and (mostly) owns up to them, including when she cheats on Aidan (John Corbett) with Mr. Big (Chris Noth). But, one major issue that some viewers have with the character is that she's a bad friend. This includes assuming her friends Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) will focus on the problems in her personal life and career while she tends to not give the same attention to theirs, and often rejecting their advice.

4
Ross Geller, Friends

Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer on "Friends"
NBC

People love the show Friends and the funny dynamic between the characters, but years after the series ended, a backlash arose against Ross (David Schwimmer). This reconsideration of his character primarily comes down to his treatment of on-again-off-again girlfriend Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), including lying about having their marriage annulled, being generally jealous and possessive towards her when she was in other relationships, belittling her career, and the whole "We were on a break" debacle.

5
Chuck Bass, Gossip Girl

Ed Westwick on "Gossip Girl"
The CW

Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) isn't a character who is subtly awful. This is a character who was beloved despite how outwardly terrible he is. The first episode establishes him as a sexual assailant when he tries to rape Jenny (Taylor Momsen), and subsequent seasons show him participating in a manipulative and toxic on-and-off relationship with Blair (Leighton Meester). He once even tries to sell a night with Blair to his uncle for a hotel. Seriously.

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6
Don Draper, Mad Men

Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks on "Mad Men"
AMC

Being beloved even though he's the worst is kind of the whole point of Mad Men's Don Draper (Jon Hamm). He continues to hold his job in advertising despite not showing up for work for days on end—or showing up drunk to meetings—and remains in relationships with women despite his lies and adultery—at least until they grow sick of him. Thanks to his charm, viewers have a similar experience to the characters he jerks around.

7
Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother

Neil Patrick Harris on "How I Met Your Mother"
CBS

Many fans of the show How I Met Your Mother see Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) as one of the highlights, but the character is actually a pretty terrible person. It mostly comes down to how he treats women, which includes coming up with various schemes to have sex with them, hooking up with women his friends are interested in, and—one of the most troubling facts—secretly recording women without their consent.

8
Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy

Ellen Pompeo on "Grey's Anatomy"
ABC

Meredith Grey was the protagonist of Grey's Anatomy for 18 seasons until actor Ellen Pompeo began taking on a reduced role. But while fans followed her story for years and years, they also saw her become an increasingly insufferable person. Some viewers have pointed to her whining too much and being full of herself. She also commits some specific crimes, such as tampering with the results of an Alzheimer's trial, which has a hugely negative effect on the career of Dr. Derek Sheperd (Patrick Dempsey).

9
Seth Cohen, The O.C.

Adam Brody on "The O.C."
Fox

Nerdy high schooler Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) was the most beloved character when The O.C. aired in the early 2000s. But in hindsight, some fans realized just how obnoxious he could be. He is often self-centered, tries to date both Summer (Rachel Bilson) and Anna (Samaire Armstrong) at the same time, is unreliable—such as when he suddenly flees town on a boat trip—and often lies to his loved ones.

10
Jane Villanueva, Jane the Virgin

Gina Rodriguez on "Jane the Virgin"
The CW

As with many of the other characters on this list, viewers have a problem with how self-absorbed Jane the Virgin's Jane (Gina Rodriguez) could be. She also has been criticized for not learning from her mistakes and for wanting what she can't have, including in her relationships with Rafael (Justin Baldoni) and Michael (Brett Dier), who she went back and forth between.

RELATED: The Saddest TV Episodes of All Time.

11
Zack Morris, Saved by the Bell

Mark-Paul Gosselaar on "Saved by the Bell"
NBC

It's easy to assume that no one from the classic teen sitcom Saved by the Bell is all that bad—the show's tone is pretty light—but popular guy Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) really is terrible. The character sells kisses with classmate Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies) without her consent and appropriates Native American culture, among many other offenses. The website Funny or Die even created a video series Zack Morris Is Trash about all of the things he does wrong.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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