32 of the Worst TV Show Protagonists

Watching TV is an enjoyable experience. Once you find a series that grabs your attention, you have to keep watching to follow the characters’ journeys. You’re immersed in a fictional world and like a book, we can get lost in the world of a TV universe. But as we follow the protagonist, we might find ourselves annoyed with them. The protagonist almost becomes like a close friend since we “know” them so well. We watch them make mistakes or respond terribly in situations–next thing you know, we can’t stand them. You’re rooting for them, then you’re not. You might flip flop. You can’t stop watching though, and so the show succeeded at making your return. Here, we rounded up our favorite worst protagonists on TV. Scroll to see if your favorites made it to the list.

1. Sabrina Spellman in “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Netflix’s horror series stems from the Archie comic of the same name. This interpretation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a thrilling ride. Sabrina finds out she’s the daughter of Satan, and suddenly you’re siding with characters who praise the devil’s power. Sabrina is powerful, and she knows it. However, she constantly puts herself in danger and does risky magic. She may be a witch with great power, but she’s still only 16 who just discovered it. She can be reckless, and it becomes so predictable. Yet, you want to find out her fate, and well–the finale did not disappoint.

2. Archie Andrews in “Riverdale”

The same developer of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, also brought us CW’s “Riverdale.” The camp vibes, dark themes, and random music scenes define the show. The protagonist Archie (just like the comic name) gets to be quite annoying, and this is for a few reasons. Archie always wants to save the day. He also ends up making bad decisions. Our favorite worst characters making irresponsible decisions is a common theme here. Plus, when Archie sings it feels cheesy and forced. Maybe after some time we just got tired of the repetitive formula of Riverdale, but Archie is always on a savior mission. His constant need to prove his toughness gets to be too much.

3. Meredith Grey in “Grey’s Anatomy”

“Grey’s Anatomy” is the kind of show you want to resist. You might laugh because everyone’s mom loved it. But, you might wonder what the hoopla is about. If you binge this show from the beginning for the first time, you will understand its success. Meredith and her colleagues take us on a wild ride of affairs, heartbreak, medical discoveries, and more–all while working in a hospital. Meredith is likable, but she can kind of be the worst. She’s extremely stubborn, so it can be frustrating. Meredith is relatable because she has many emotional and family troubles. People can identify with feeling unavailable or scared of intimacy. She’s also smart. At times self-sabotaging, she will make you angry sometimes. This is why she gets to be the worst, but people still can’t stop watching. The show is on Season 17!

4. Ted Mosby in “How I Met Your Mother”

The star of “How I Met Your Mother” has a romantic story to tell. After his best friend gets engaged, Ted Mosby decides to look for his soulmate, thus we see the events unfold leading to meeting his kids’ mother. With Bob Saget narrating as the older Ted, what could go wrong? Well, the younger version of Ted Mosby who we watch on the show can get messy. He’s often judgy, pretentious, and so set on finding the love of his life, that it goes over his head that he can be the problem. We want to find out who he marries though, so we watch until the very end.

5. Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City”

It’s already a popular opinion that Carrie in “Sex and the City” is an annoying protagonist throughout the series. She, of course, has her lovable moments. In the beginning, she’s highly likable. Great style, voluminous curls, and the covetable lifestyle as a funky, chic writer who’s always at the cosmopolitan parties. But as the series progresses, so does Carrie’s relationship with the infamous Big. Sure, he’s charming and seductive, but we see how he never aligns with Carrie’s wants and needs. Therefore, Carrie constantly falls into a toxic entanglement–quite literally when she continues to see Big even after he’s married. Carrie ends up becoming the insufferable friend of the group who can’t stop talking about her problems; she’s often self-absorbed and makes poor financial decisions that make us scratch our heads. Lastly, she makes off-hand comments regarding sex and disregards bisexuality–she’s a sex writer, for crying out loud. It doesn’t add up. We’ll see if she’s less annoying in the newly announced upcoming reboot, “And Just Like That…”.

6. Piper Chapman in “Orange Is The New Black”

Piper Chapman’s story is based on the real-life story of Piper Kerman, and her memoir is the basis of the series. This show exposes the cracks in the American criminal justice system, so it’s interesting. One wrong decision from years ago changes Piper’s life. It’s understandable why she doesn’t fit in in jail, and it sucks that she had to go when she was near the statute of limitations. But, Piper comes off entitled and a little whiny–her naivety is funny at times, and other times it just screams white girl privilege. Also, it seems weird she calls herself a former lesbian. Why can’t she just say she had an ex-girlfriend and leave it at that? Instead, we’re constantly reminded she has a fiancé who’s a man, which seems to equate to her no longer being a lesbian.

7. Dolores Abernathy in “Westworld”

“Westworld” shows us an eerie take on the future. We see what happens when people create androids, or robots made to resemble humans, too realistic and overindulge. They go to a western theme park full of “hosts” to partake in debauchery, violence, and adventure. Dolores is the oldest host in the park, and something goes wrong with her programming–that’s when she starts remembering things. She realizes she’s in an endless loop. At first, we really feel for Dolores. This is unfair. She has feelings, and she deserves better. Humans should not be able to inflict such cruel treatment for fun. But as the show progresses, Dolores becomes ruthless and violent herself in order to escape and get a real life. The whole time watching, it’s a back and forth roller coaster of empathizing with Dolores and then thinking, what in the hell? She’s killing people! She isn’t even an actual human being. This is what makes “Westworld” such a good show though; just because they’re hosts, why do we have the right to be so violent and cruel towards them? 

8. Jessica Day in “New Girl”

“New Girl” had a strong ensemble cast. The series centers on Jessica Day as the quirky, awkward but cute woman who moves into an L.A. loft with three men. All of them are funny, including her best friend Cece, a girl who does not live with them. Jess gets to be annoying after some time. Her relationship with one of her roommates, Nick, is exciting until it’s not. The problem with Jess is they pushed the dorky, cute, hipster-like girl a little too far. After a while, that trope became tired. If you stuck to watching “New Girl,” it’s because the other characters grew more interesting. Even though we ship Nick and Jess for a while, it’s Cece and the other roommate, Schmidt, that becomes more fun to watch.

9. Serena van der Woodsen in “Gossip Girl”

Serena had to make this list. “Gossip Girl” is a fun watch of the privileged in New York’s Upper East Side. Serena is the beautiful popular girl in school, yet we must always feel sorry for her because she wants to be taken seriously and leave behind her party-girl reputation. She feels guilty for sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend–that was the hint that she would be a problematic protagonist. Serena has moments of being good-intentioned, but it’s hard to fully enjoy her character when she finds everything is so hard for her even though she is very privileged and constantly gets what she wants. It’s not to say her problems aren’t real, but it did get annoying to watch sometimes.