Most of these characters aren’t necessarily bad guys–they’re just a little bit mean, a little bit crabby, and they give our beloved leading characters a little too much trouble. Some of these characters ARE bad guys. So bad we hide our faces in our shirts and peek out over our collars when they come on screen. Either way, we love to hate all these characters. We might not like everything they do, but in the back of our minds we know the good guys need a bad guy, and the characters we’re rooting for need a nemesis to help them grow stronger and overcome their obstacles. These are some of the characters we love to hate!
Smelly Nellie Olseon
Little House on the Prairie aired from 1974 to 1984. Barring the occasional traveling charlatan or rogue schoolroom teacher, most of the people in Walnut Grove were good-hearted and helpful. Well, except a couple of richie-riches by the names of Harriet Oleson (Katherine MacGregor) and Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim). Nellie was the worst! She was always jealous of Laura (Melissa Gilbert) and she used her little brother Willie (Jonathan) to steal marbles, bribe people with candy, and generally do all her dirtiest work. Despite her hatefulness, Laura tried to see the good in Nellie. Maybe Laura could do it, but we couldn’t . . . And yet, who could really blame this kid? Her Mom was the town gossip and she raised Nellie to be exactly how she was. Maybe Laura realized that, too.
No Heart, No Face
You’re sitting in front of your TV as a kid enjoying the adventures of your favorite emotion-embracing Care Bears. You’re giggling along with Cheer Bear and getting pumped up for a great day with Funshine Bear. Suddenly, the nemesis of your furry friends show up–No Heart. Ack! Guys, this dude was so scary. He didn’t have a face. His entire joy-sucking personality was captured in his eyebrows. He was an empty pit of eyebrowed emotionlessness and he wanted to steal all your happiness. He was even worse than Nellie.
Toby Flenderson is the Worst
Pam Beasley (Jenna Fischer) thought he was kind of cute. Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) hated him. Michael describes his general impression of Toby (Paul Lieberstein) when he says, “I tried to talk to Toby and be his friend, but that is like trying to be friends with an evil snail.” At first, audience members felt kind of bad for the guy. After a while, Michael’s hatred started to wear off on us, too. By the time Toby was leaving for Costa Rica in season 4, we laughed with reckless abandon when Michael gave him a rock as a going away gift, then said, “Can I just say that of all the idiots, in all the idiot villages, in all the idiot worlds, you stand alone, my friend.” Toby deserved it. Incidentally, the actor who played Toby was also a writer on the show. He even wrote some of Michael’s hateful lines!
The Night King and His Eyes
There’s something terrifying about a villain you can’t destroy. No matter how strong you are or how many people you gather from surrounding towns, you aren’t going to square off with the Night King from Game of Thrones and win . . . don’t worry, we won’t include any spoilers here. As terrifying as the Night King’s gaze was when he locked in on one of the characters we grew to love, we also loved the scenes in which he dominated. It was like watching an ancient car wreck where every car in the world (or chariot in the world) was piled on top of one another–we wanted to look away, but we were mesmerized by those evil eyes!
The “Excellent” Montgomery Burns
Montgomery Burns (Harry Shearer) is the oldest citizen in the fictional town of Springfield on The Simpsons. He might not be a scary villain, per see, but he’s definitely fun to hate! He routinely subjects Springfield and its residents to his abuse, including the time he blocked out the sun to force residents to increase their use of electricity! When you own the only nuclear plant in town, you can do dastardly things like that. Even that could be forgiven . . . but he went too far when he tried to steal candy from the Simpson’s baby, Maggie (currently voiced by Nancy Cartwright). Don’t worry, she took care of it.
Nosey Mr. Roper
There’s no specific reason to dislike Mr. Roper from Three’s Company. I mean, yes, he’s crabby, he threatens his tenants with eviction when they’re late with rent, and his poor wife, Helen (Audra Lindley), doesn’t get any love or respect from the man. But, he’s not really a bad guy. The main reason audience’s love to hate him is that he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else in the room. Helen told Mr. Roper that one of his tenants, Jack (John Ritter), prefers men over women because he normally wouldn’t allow a man to live with two women. She thought she was helping! And Mr. Roper holds this little tidbit over his head at least once per episode. See what we mean? He’s no Night King, but he’s not completely innocent.
Terrifying Todd Alquist
You might not think it to look at him, but this guy is arguably the scariest villain on television. That’s saying a lot since the other bad guys on Breaking Bad were SO terrible that one of them had half his face blown off and still walked out of the room. Todd (Jesse Plemons) is a soft-spoken young man among a brood of obvious vipers when he first shows up in season five. At first, you think he might be a friend. He seems to be enamored of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and he happily works alongside Jesse (Aaron Paul). Then, out of nowhere, this doe-eyed boy kills a kid on a bike just because the kid saw the guys working out in the desert. That moment of unmitigated violence changes the way we see him. Then, he awkwardly asks out Lydia (Laura Fraser), and we’re kind of sad she says no. Todd has a terrifying ability to deceive and destroy, and Jesse Plemons has a knack for playing him!
Prideful Pete Campbell
Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) is the kind of guy that makes you roll your eyes when you see him walking down the hall. You know the type–insecure but prideful. He’ll do anything he can to get ahead at work but he just doesn’t have what it takes to be at the top. Throughout all seven seasons of Mad Men, Pete wished he was as talented as Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and as smooth as Roger Sterling (John Slattery). But he wasn’t. He was just Pete the climber who ends up sleeping with a Los Angeles real estate agent when he could have been enjoying life with a wife and child who loved him. Even so, there are plenty of moments along the way when we root for Pete–we love to hate the guy who is his own worst enemy.
Crabby George Costanza
George Costanza (Jason Richards), from the seminal show Seinfeld, kept us laughing for nine straight seasons. There’s not really anything to “hate” about George, but he’s the kind of character you just wanted to yell at sometimes, “Grow up!” Or, “Calm down!” George is grumpy, cheap, and he’s perpetually quitting jobs, which keeps him dependant on his aging parents (Estelle Harris and Jerry Stiller). By season 8, we watch George learn that his deceased wife was worth a lot of money . . . or would have been, if she stayed alive. The news that he was losing out on money hits George harder than his wife’s death! If he was a real-life friend, we’d throw him to the curb. But since he’s part of one of the most successful foursomes in TV history, we just keep watching and laugh along.
Bossy Wayne Arnold
Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey) from The Wonder Years is an archetypal big brother who bosses his younger brother Kevin (Fred Savage) around. He also makes fun of Kevin relentlessly, and he’s more interested in girls and his car than doing anything with the family. Wayne can’t seem to keep his mouth shut about the chemistry between Kevin and his childhood crush Winnie (Danica McKellar), or help score cool points for Kevin by picking him up from the mall without lurching forward every time Kevin touches the door handle. Wayne disappoints us all the time. Even so, every now and then the show’s writers reveal a softer side of Wayne. So, it’s a love hate relationship the viewers have with this big brother. Our love for him really surfaces when we watch his parents, Jack and Norma (Dan Lauria and Alley Mills), try their hardest to help Wayne make the grades that will help him get into college so he won’t be drafted into the Vietnam War. Wayne just isn’t smart enough to do it, which breaks our hearts. We don’t like the guy, but we definitely don’t want him to have to face the perils of war.