10 Worst-Written Main Characters Of Great Shows

Split image showing Pete from Mad Men, Shiv from Succession and Christopher from The Sopranos

Since the main characters are the spine of a TV show, they are normally expected to have the best arcs and to be generally more interesting than anyone else. On most occasions, this tends to be the case, but there have been a couple of times when the people with the lion’s share of screen time end up being unimpressive.

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Despite existing in incredibly good shows, these main characters frustrate viewers by either making questionable life choices, having storylines with no payoffs or constantly pursuing activities that add no value to the overall plot. On other occasions, these individuals get forced to behave in generic ways, yet they are capable of so much more.



10 Shiv Roy (Succession)

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Shiv’s ambition and fierceness are impressive, but none of her arcs in Succession ever leads anywhere. Her professional life always seems promising only for her to be relegated to the sidelines. For example, she is at one point chosen by Logan as his preferred successor for the Waystar Royco throne only for him to change his mind. She isn’t in the succession conversation when Logan dies either.

As for her personal life, Shiv is shown to be stuck in an on-and-off relationship with Tom that never amounts to much. She clearly hates him and by being paired with him, she only comes off as manipulative and mean. Even her affair with the political strategist, Nate Sofrelli (which makes sense given her hatred for her husband), gets concluded unsatisfactorily, leaving Shiv with no goal or purpose.

9 Howard Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory)

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As an aerospace engineer and inventor of things such as the space toilet and multi-lens telescope, Howard is clearly intelligent, but he is restricted to sex-related tropes in The Big Bang Theory. For most of the series, Howard appears more concerned about wooing girls and what’s worse is that he doesn’t do it particularly well.

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Howard’s seduction attempts—which involve techniques such as ventriloquism and peacocking—normally come off as creepy and so rejection is always guaranteed. His tendency to constantly blurt out cringey remarks such as “I am a horny engineer,” doesn’t help either. Thankfully, he slightly improves after being paired with Bernadette.

8 Pete Campbell (Mad Men)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Pete Campbell blackmails Don Draper in Mad Men

There are numerous questionable things Pete Campbell does in Mad Men and the show would have been better off if it made him a straight-up villain or detestable person. However, Pete keeps alternating between being good and bad. At work, he also keeps swinging from competence to incompetence.

At one point, Pete is shown to be so poor at his job that he even blackmails Don Draper for a promotion yet after the SC&P and McCann merger, he is depicted as an advertising superstar capable of bringing in many new clients. Besides that, there is a lack of consistency in Pete’s relationships. He begins an affair with his coworker, Peggy, only to end it for no good reason. He then mistreats his wife, Trudy, for a long time and then starts acting as a perfect lover all of a sudden

7 Lana Lang (Smallville)

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Lana Lang is roped into too many romantic entanglements, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since Smallville is partly a teen drama. Unfortunately, each of her relationships plays out the same way, with Lana always wondering whether her current man is hiding something or not.

Lana also gets tied to an on-and-off relationship with Clark for too long, yet she never gets to play an important part in his superhero origin story. For multiple seasons, she and Clark are treated as an ordinary couple fighting over ordinary things. It’s thus no surprise that Lana is considered one of the Smallville characters whose appeal declined.

6 Christopher Moltisanti (The Sopranos)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Michael Imperioli as Christopher on The Sopranos

The New Jersey mobster, Christopher Moltisanti, is one of the most frustrating characters in The Sopranos because he never achieves his potential. As a fast-rising Cosa Nostra member, he is highly favored by the DiMeo crime family boss, Tony Soprano, yet he still ends winds up messing up his life by sinking into addiction and even engaging in domestic violence.

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Christopher is also one of the few gangsters on the show who has something going for him outside of crime. He is heavily into film production and even manages to make a crime-zombie movie named Cleaver, yet nothing more comes out of his efforts. After so much teasing about Christopher becoming the future boss and becoming a Hollywood heavyweight, he gets subjected to an unceremonious death at the hands of his own mentor.

5 Andy Bernard (The Office)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Andy at Dunder Mifflin from The Office

One of the things that make The Office one of the best American adaptations of British TV shows is that it doesn’t entirely clone the original characters. It also introduces a couple of exclusive ones, notably Andy Bernard. Regrettably, he is quite a poorly written character compared to the rest.

While Andy is hated for his narcissism and arrogance, the character’s major flaws mostly stem from his professional life. In the first few seasons, he grows from the Stamford branch’s Regional Director in Charge of Sales to the Scranton branch’s Regional Manager only for him to end up as a struggling singer in the last season. Why the sitcom would build him up so much only to destroy him is a mystery.

4 Skyler White (Breaking Bad)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Skyler White embraced her darker side on Breaking Bad.

In a show full of violent criminals, Skyler still stands out as the most hated character, but this isn’t just because she is hypocritical or inconsiderate. Compared to other individuals in the series, Skyler doesn’t have a purpose in life. She only exists for domestic disputes.

Throughout her time in Breaking Bad, Skyler never really focuses on anything and sees it out to the end. Her time at the A1A Car Wash is short-lived and so is her stint at Beneke Fabricators. For the most part, she spends her days questioning Walter White’s lifestyle. Additionally, she makes shocking decisions such as cheating on him and giving his money to her lover while still attempting to paint him as the evil one.

3 Rollo (Vikings)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rollo leading the French against Ragnar Lodbrok in Vikings

Rollo’s major problem is that he lacks a stand. In Vikings, each character is shown to strongly abide by the Norse pantheon and ideology or Christian doctrines. Rollo, on the other hand, keeps dancing between the two, hence the reason he ends up allying with Emperor Charles and becoming a Frankia noble.

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Even after doing so and getting to enjoy all the perks, Rollo still desires his former life hence he goes on to briefly team up with Bjorn for an expedition. Besides that, Rollo is inserted into too many betrayal arcs that it becomes monotonous. His only idea of advancing himself is to go against his brother Ragnar and even though it works, it soon becomes boring.

2 Charlotte Byrde (Ozark)

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In Ozark, every member of the Byrde family is perfect at something, except Charlotte. Martyr is an expert accountant who is great at manipulating both drug lords and law enforcement officers, Wendy is a ruthless manager, and Jonah is an expert hacker who even manages to create shell accounts to help his parents launder money.

Charlotte, on the other hand, never accomplishes a single thing in the series. Her only highlight is attempting to emancipate herself from her family, which she soon realizes is a terrible idea. Charlotte’s other storylines only involve her doing whatever her family is planning to do rather than making her own choices.

1 Michael Gray (Peaky Blinders)

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Tommy kills Michael in what is one of the best series finales of 2022 and when it happens, no one really mourns for him. Despite being Polly’s son, Michael is depicted as a villain during his stint in Peaky Blinders, but he never gets to be as formidable as the likes of Luca Changretta or Oswald Mosley.

Michael’s decision to attempt to replace Tommy as the boss of the Shelby empire is too sudden and happens without any buildup. Compared to the show’s other antagonists, Michael has no strengths or triumphs either. All his plans are thwarted, and what’s worse is how he is easily manipulated by his wife Gina without ever realizing it.

NEXT: 10 TV Shows That Should Have Ended At The Penultimate Episode


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