There are some great leading male characters on television. This article is not about those men. It is about the jerks who seem more like the villains of their stories than the heroes. Guys who make me wonder how the audience is supposed to get behind their struggles when maybe if they whined a little less and spent a little less money on hair gel, they could get what they wanted.
I am not including awful individuals like Ray Romano and Seinfeld because I’m going to choose to believe that I’m supposed to hate them. These are characters that other people love and that receive a lot of the show’s focus.
I know that there needs to be an everyman who the typical audience can relate to. These guys aren’t the goofballs or the comic relief, they’re ordinary and responsible. Many people do relate to the characters I’m about to harp on, but that doesn’t convince me they’re not terrible.I thought about calling this article “5 Worst Straight Men” because they are the “straight guys” playing against each show’s jokers, but realized that might have other connotations…
Ross Geller on Friends
I love Friends. It’s an amazing show that still holds up over ten years later. If it’s rerunning on any TV channel, I’m probably watching it. But I have never, ever liked Ross. I will say that any emotional moments between Ross and Rachel still do make me cry because I’m human and because I love Rachel. Ross also has the distinction of being the only person on this list who still makes me laugh despite my lack of love for him. He’s funny, he’s just not someone I would ever choose to spend any time with. But because his love story is the such an integral part of the show, I don’t think the writers intended for me to see him as a nuisance.
Most Terrible Moment
- “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” This is the age-old, dividing issue of the ’90s. Was Ross cheating or did being on a break mean he could sleep with other people? Regardless of which side of the issue you fall on, I think his handling of it was immature. He HAS to be right about everything or he flips out. His screeching of the mantra “WE WERE ON A BREAK” never won any points with me, whereas an explanation of his side of the story would have.
- Remember when he didn’t get the annulment? I do. So does Rachel.
That being said, he’s hilarious and the best of the guys found here. He just wasn’t everything I wanted him to be, or even comparable to the other characters on the show.
Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother
Ted Mosby is the one who is supposed to introduce us to the mother of the show’s title. Somehow, he met and wooed a girl. How that happened I will never know. He has a lot of smaller moments that seem to indicate a lack of respect for women while also proclaiming his undying love for every woman he meets. Neither trait is likable, so when put together Ted becomes an especially awful tool. Something about him is just so smarmy! Fun fact: If I really don’t like a character in a show, I call them the “Ted” of that show.
Most Terrible Moment
- Everything to do with poor Victoria was a train wreck. He dated her while still hung up on Robin. He told Robin he had broken up with Victoria so that Robin would sleep with him. He kissed Victoria when he knew she was engaged to someone else. He called her up on her wedding day (unknowingly) and then agrees to run away with her. Then, for a second, he gains a little compassion and says, “I was left at the altar and it almost killed me. You’re someone’s fiancée, and I have to respect that.” Then he runs away with her anyway. That moment solidified my hatred of him. It takes two to tango, but this show isn’t about Victoria, it’s about Ted, and Ted is terrible.
- Keeping with the wedding theme, he even manages to make someone else’s wedding about him and his problems. Every time he’s asked to give a speech at a wedding, he breaks down crying about himself.
I agree very much with this website: http://tedmosbyisajerk.com/
Eric Forman on That ’70s Show
Eric had a pretty good life. He dated Donna, had great friends and never even had to leave his house to see them. But I doubt anyone has ever said their favorite That ’70s Show character was Forman. He’s just there. He’s awkward and annoying and if he didn’t have a cool basement I’m not sure anyone would hang out with him.
Most Terrible Moment
- His worst quality is that he’s spineless, and so it was hard to pick only one moment that demonstrated this quality. But, it turns out that he is the person who sent Hyde on a path of stonerdom and bad grades when he let Hyde take the rap for his vandalism at age 7. That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration on Hyde’s part, but it would not surprise me in the slightest if it were totally true. Also, Eric left for Africa aka Spiderman 3, leaving us to deal with Seth Meyers’s brother as the Eric fill-in. For that, I can never forgive him.
- That time he stole Cameron’s medical paper topic and then told her to get over it. It’s called camaraderie, Forman! Oh, wait… I’m thinking of a different awful Eric Foreman.
Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl
Dan has evolved from sad loser to arrogant douche. He used to stalk Serena van der Woodsen and discuss how meant to be they were, but now he writes terrible books and cries and ruins Blair and Chuck’s epic love. He spends his days being pretentious, ruining Serena’s life and whining.
Most Terrible Moment
- The entire Dan/Serena/Blair love triangle situation would have been ten times less awful if Dan Humphrey were not the worst human being on the planet. He was in love with Serena for so long, then blew her off for random other girls, then wrote a book about Blair and pretended like he had been after her all along, then wooed Blair while treating Serena like she was garbage. His basic response to Serena’s feelings was “Get over it.” Then he had sex with Serena while still dating Blair and somehow blamed her?! “I was trying to escape my own pain and you were trying to destroy your best friend. Those are two different things.” That conversation was the epitome of awful and I don’t know how anyone could like him.
- His hair. If you’ve seen it in motion, you understand.
Dave Rose on Happy Endings
Dave is not as bad as the other guys listed, but he is a downer on a show full of amazing characters. When I watched the first season and it focused on him and his breakup with the hilarious Alex Kerkovich, I was not interested. It was him blaming all his problems on other people while occasionally Penny was funny in the background. I gave the show another shot during its second season and fell in love, partially because of improved writing and story-lines and partially because of the spotlight being taken off of Dave and being more equally divided among the cast.
Most Terrible Moment
- When he became friends with Colin Hanks. Like all the other characters on this list, Dave can and often does fall prey to pretension. Though he does this the least of all of them, the episode where his food truck becomes popular and lures famous stars such as Colin gives him an outlet to act like he’s above his friends. Sure, Dave learns a lesson about true friendship yada yada but we still had to hear him say “You guys have sex dreams about me? I guess that makes sense. I do exude a bit of raw, unbridled…” before Jane mercifully cut him off.
- When he dated those girls just to get back at Alex for breaking up with him. One was too young for him, another was too crazy. He dragged them around to events like his friend’s birthday just to rub it in Alex’s face. His life during the first few episodes revolved around getting back at her. It was petty and not fun to watch.
The “straight man” can be a good role. Mitchell on Modern Family is amazing, for example. He has to deal with Cameron’s over the top attitude and still manages to hold his own and not be a wet blanket. As a matter of fact, the Dunphy clan is the perfect example. Jay, Claire and Mitchell all have over the top spouses and must maintain order in their respective households but still manage to be likable and fun. The guys I’ve listed fell far short of this mark, despite the fact that they’re the leads of massively popular shows.
Who else would you add to the list? Did I make any terrible errors in judgement? Feel free to make the case for your favorite guy if I’ve slandered him! I almost included Nick from New Girl… should he be on this list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @emhig.