The WORST TV Characters of 2019

By | December 28, 2019

Note: As always, this list is made up of the worst characters on good TV shows or ones perceived to be quality since there’s really no point calling out bad characters on bad shows.

Also, this is the very first time half the list has been made up of characters from the same series. I figured I could include a few more names from obscure shows most people are unfamiliar with or give the people what they really want: calling out “Game of Thrones,” because the final season’s real failure is one of character, as we see characters do so many things that make no sense or are inconsistent for them.

10. Roland West (Stephen Dorff) in “True Detective” …It’s not that this is an awful character so much as a completely uninteresting one. In previous “True Detective” seasons, the co-star (or sidekick) role was capable of menace and humor, sometimes in the same scene (Woody Harrelson, Vince Vaughn). But Roland never displays much except gruff disinterest. Anyone hoping this would be Dorff’s comeback–and I kind-of was–will be sorely disappointed.

9. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) in “Mindhunter” …We get it, series executive producer David Fincher has a thing for cartoonishly cold blondes (“Gone Girl”‘s Amy, “House of Cards”‘s Claire), but this role brings out some of Torv’s worst instincts (“Fringe”) as an actress, tending to underplay virtually any scene. Occasionally, this works to the series benefit (like her mesmerizing interview with a gay serial killer), but the vast majority of the time it just leaves us feeling nothing–like her botched romance with a mother this season, the ending of which was callous even for Wendy. And still the bulk of her scenes this season were variations on worrying about Holden’s mental state, which grew repetitive.

8. Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) in “Yellowstone” …There are several bad characters on “Yellowstone,” but probably the most “what the hell am I watching?” is Beth. The rootin’ tootin’ corporate-killer lawyer characterization is less “Annie Get Your Gun” and more “keep Annie away from the guns.” Whether she’s displaying a surreal hatred of her younger brother Jamie or screaming at virtually every character on-screen, the contempt-oozing Beth often looks more unstable than bad-ass.

7. Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) in “You” …Season 2 of “You” is not good, despite the strangely terrific reviews. Whereas season 1 was creepy, and nerve-jangling, season 2 largely evaporates that tension with a series of increasingly implausible events that just keep magically working out for our main character…a series of events that is remarkably similar to season 2 “Dexter” (never a show you want to copy). Season 1 Joe never let us forget that he’s a super-creep who’s stalking and manipulating a woman, before eventually killing several people close to her. Season 2 makes him into a “Dexter” like figure, before a season finale that actually gives him a chance at real love: his first instinct is to destroy it. That’s a strange reaction for a guy who’s spent two seasons justifying the worst behavior because he’s “the last of the romantics.” [Of course, a better series might’ve gotten us to see that Joe’s real turn-off is someone seeing the real him, but “You” isn’t interested in connecting those dots.] Although there was an even less likely romantic lead this year…

6. Cody Bonar (Theodore Pellerin) in “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” …This faux-aspirational spouting pyramid scheme vampire might be a realistic character, but Pellerin plays him with so much barely-concealed rage that he’s more repellent than anything. When the first season tries to morph him into a romantic lead, it’s even more off-putting.

“Game of Thrones” edition…

And if I had made an entire top 10 list of just “Game of Thrones” characters, I would’ve included Davos Seaworth (how did this bastard live?), Greyworm (most boring), Sansa Stark (a cartoonishly contemptuous snob in the final episodes after several seasons humanizing her), Bronn (a character I love but who was MIA for most of the season), and Euron Greyjoy (a villain that didn’t exactly work out).

5. Varys (Conleth Hill) …After spending the entire series secretly plotting to install a Targaryen on the throne, he decides to betray her and poison her because of something he thinks she’ll do. Of course, it can be argued that Lord Varys betrayal might’ve been the final straw that pushed her over the edge. In his final episodes, Lord Varys really did turn-out to be a Lord who had back-stabbed any monarch unlucky enough to employ him.

4. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) …Just to recap: Daenarys Targaryen got a worse death (stabbed to death by her lover in front of her “child”) than Cersei Lannister–who died in the arms of a man she had paid Bronn to kill. Even Headey thought Cersei deserved a worse death, and described her character’s ending as “disappointing.” It was Lena, it was…

Of course, that’s not the only reason this is one of the year’s worst characters. Whereas Cersei has always been the most human of monsters, these final episodes turned her into a wine-swilling cartoon, gazing out the windows and practically cackling while stroking a white cat.

3. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) …Tyrion’s time as “Hand of the King” ended with him being out-played by everyone around him and eventually framed for Regicide. His time as “Hand of the Queen” was spent by everyone praising him for winning a years-old battle (Blackwater…his only success) while ignoring that every decision he made for Daenarys was dead-wrong, and then eventually manipulating the queen’s lover/relative into killing her before she could kill him. Apparently, his siblings are the only incestuous couple he has real sympathy for, and you could argue that Tyrion’s softness towards his siblings was what led to the protracted warfare that deteriorated Daenarys’s mental state, when anyone else would’ve stormed King’s Landing first and then faced The Night King with a united 7 kingdoms. So that’s a great record for a Hand: one king killed, and one queen suffering unnecessary losses and almost losing a slam-dunk war before being driven insane, then orchestrating her murder. Naturally, Bran picks Tyrion to be Hand of the King…again…This is the definition of failing upwards. Of course, there may have been one character who was even luckier than Tyrion…

2. Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) …Jon Snow went out as he lived: by fucking up and getting rewarded for it, while surviving certain death through sheer blind luck. I can’t think of anything that strained plausibility worse than Snow’s 7 year lucky streak (The Battle of the Bastards, surrounded by the Night King on an ice pond, resurrected by witch after being murdered by mutiny), and in the final episodes he magically survived certain death by ice dragon (Arya killed The Night King at that exact moment), fire dragon (Drogon melted…the Iron Throne instead), and his murdered queen’s hugely loyal army (is there any way Greyworm wouldn’t have just killed Snow the second he found him?). After various “Prince that was Promised” prophecies turned out to go nowhere, Snow’s ending was even more head-scratching…

Worst Character of the Year: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) …I don’t even know if this needs an explanation. Bran tells people he can never be anything but the Three-Eyed Raven, then winds up as King. He also says he saw it coming, which perhaps means he manipulated events somehow. Tyrion says the best reason to pick Bran as King is because he “has a great story,” but leaves out the best part of that story: a king who can literally see the future. Bran’s ascendancy to the crown was probably the most unsatisfactory development in a lousy season. And actor Wright’s vehement defense of the final season felt self-serving, especially after delivering such a sub-par performance.

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