When TV shows reach a certain level of popularity, all of their qualities are generally embraced by the viewing audience, warts and plot contrivances and everything else that wouldn’t feel right in a different series. But once you can take a step back and look at things from an objective standpoint, some of the glaring faults become all the more obvious, and it often comes down to one awful character (or more) stinking up the joint.
Here are 11 popular characters from comedy series throughout the years that we should all just formally agree are the worst. I apologize to those of you who may love one or more of these choices, but if you happen to love all 11, then I apologize to everyone who knows you. Because these people are terrible.
Ross (Friends)Ross would be the poster child for this list if the posters weren’t already covered in drawings of dinosaurs and shit. Played to admitted drab perfection by David Schwimmer, Ross is just as self-involved as the rest of the Friends characters, only he’s got so much less self to be involved with. He’s randomly terrible with women, he tells work stories that he understands no one else cares about, and despite his obvious care for his sister and the rest, he can often be a lunkheaded asshole. The biggest proof of Ross’ lack of worth came with Rachel’s new boyfriend Russ, an attempted portrayal at a “worse Ross” that was basically just the same thing, only a little quieter.
Steve Urkel (Family Matters)Whenever the squeaky-voiced Steve Urkel would utter the nerve-shattering catchphrase “Did I do that?” I so often wished the “that” in question was releasing a deadly toxin into an inescapable room that Urkel happened to trap himself inside. While Family Matters wasn’t ever the most brilliant show, it started off as a somewhat humble family comedy, but took little time in adhering to and abusing the noxiously nasal nerdery that was the Winslows’ next door neighbor. And if the bespectacled buffoon wasn’t bad enough, he eventually brought out other versions of himself, including the super-smooth Stefan Urquelle, Bruce Lee Urkel, Urkelbot and Steve Winslow, among others. Their shared trait? They were all awful.
Marcy D’Arcy (Married…With Children)So, if you were on the side of the Bundys, then Marcy was as much the bane of your existence as she was Al’s. Of course, if you hated the Bundys, then you probably loved Marcy, and why would you be watching Married…With Children anyway? Played with self-deprecating precision by Amanda Bearse, Marcy is one of the biggest hypocrites on TV, always judging Al and his sexist grossness even though she’s only one half-decision away from divebombing down to his level. One had to feel sorry for Steve (temporarily) and Jefferson, but all three deserve judgment for not moving away from the family that inevitably always made their lives worse simply by existing.
Joey Russo (Blossom)I’m always going to complain derisively when a TV show presents a character whose main characteristic is being dumber than the couch they’re sitting on, but few people were as hard to watch on a weekly basis as Joey Lawrence’s Joey Russo, whose most memorable facet was saying the word “Whoa” as if he were at a magic show where the theme was “being allergic to puberty.” He was smart enough to figure out how to use baseball as a stepping stone in life, as well as how to get girls to fall for his generally awful hairdos, but I distinctly remember an episode where he asked “Where do we keep the water?” after a pregnant woman’s water broke inside the Russo household. No wonder Tony drank.
Joey Gladstone (Full House)Cut it out, and by “it,” I mean Dave Coulier’s voicebox. With the stand-up comedy scene booming in the 1980s, it’s fine that Full House decided to latch onto that career choice for Joey. But instead of going for someone with the self-aware stylings like Garry Shandling or the grammatical depth of George Carlin, they chose to make this guy proficient at imitating old cartoons and repeating hack catchphrases. (Catchphrases that worked so much better on Nickelodeon’s Out of Control.) I’m not sure why Joey didn’t move out at some point early in the run of this show, as bringing Star Search-watching women back to the Tanner household had to be hard on his infantile psyche.
Darrin Stephens (Bewitched)It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Bewitched’s early Dick York years or the later Dick Sargent years, Darrin Stephens was always a dick. (That’s the only time that joke has ever been made.) The most obvious reason is, of course, that he doesn’t let his loving, beautiful and extremely understanding wife live the witch existence that she was destined to live. Beyond that being a chauvinistic way to go through a marriage, it’s downright absurd that anyone wouldn’t want the assistance of magic to make life easier on all parties involved. You wash the dishes then, Darrin. You change all the diapers. It’s crazy that the show played Endora as villainous for disliking him, when she was clearly the smartest of them all.
Ben Seaver (Growing Pains)Child actors really get my blood pressure skyrocketing, especially when they’re playing slightly precocious, snot-nosed rascals. And rare is the nose snottier than that of Ben Seaver, played with “I’m the king of this family” pomposity by the sometimes-mulletted Jeremy Miller. It’s gotta be hard to have the cool-as-shit Mike as an older brother, but that doesn’t mean Ben has to be awful in every other way. I mean, this show introduced the abysmal infant-to-instant-kindergartener Chrissy, who could have been the worst part of this show (and all of early 1990s TV), but it’s STILL Ben. The Seavers should have permanently traded Ben in for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Luke, or at least bricked him into a room when they moved.
Chachi Arcola (Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi)For a beloved and popular show, Happy Days showcased quite a few awful characters, but few if any were worse than Scott Baio’s Chachi “I’m kind of a musician” Arcola, a younger cousin of the Fonz. It was clear that he came from the same family tree, as he was the cool guy trying to appeal to anyone creeped out by a 30-year-old playing a teen. But he was a total wa-wa-wankster and his entrance into the show offered little for anyone who wasn’t a lovestruck teenage girl. As disgusting as it is that he got his own spinoff series, Joanie Loves Chachi, at least it took him away from Happy Days for two years.
Rebecca Howe (Cheers)Don’t get me wrong, I think that Rebecca is the best character that Kirstie Alley has ever played, and I also think it’s her best performance. But that doesn’t automatically make her tolerable, especially in one of the most perfect ensemble casts in TV history. Rebecca could never fill the ,< href=http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Cheers-Brady-Bunch-Getting-Stage-Shows-72324.html>Cheers void left by Shelley Long’s Diane; not in terms of sexual tension with Sam Malone nor as a worthy employee of the bar. She starts off as a corporate shill and her money-loving character never quite leaves that world, even as she becomes weirder and more emotionally erratic. Plus, she burned the fricking bar down. Yeah, she funded its renovation, but ugh anyway.
Barney Rubble (The Flintstones)“But Nick,” you might be saying with or without an expletive, “why would you hate a guy who was able to put up with and forgive Fred Flintstone for the many wrongs done to the Rubbles on Fred’s behalf?” And I say, “That’s exactly why he sucks, because he’s a doofus pushover who should have befriended the neighbor on the other side of his house. He’s the equivalent of a background Sims character, but with a more annoying chuckle, and he was always trying to get Fred’s damned Fruity Pebbles, the bastard.” This has nothing to do with me being in love with Betty, I swear.
Bobby Brady (The Brady Bunch)I’ve already shared my feelings about child actors, so it should come as little surprise that I found Bobby Brady so goddamned annoying that I actively remained unborn until the early 1980s when Brady-mania had largely gone away. (It makes sense.) Not that any of the rest of the Brady kids were hot shit – especially the “I’m so cute that no one will recognize my dullardness” Cindy – but Bobby was easily the worst, balancing his useless time between pretending to be a badass and getting other people in trouble. I was indeed alive and already sick of Bobby by the time the shortlived dramatic take The Bradys aired, which featured Bobby getting into a racecar accident that left him paralyzed. That was my happy ending.