There's usually (at least) one character in every TV series that just gets under your skin and rubs you the wrong way. It happens. Nothing too strange about that.
But every so often, there's a TV character who seems to be universally hated for whatever reason.
And when it gets really bad, those characters end up being lightning rods of hatred—the focal point amongst fans and haters alike, who pour all of their gripes onto that one character and nitpick everything they do because they're just so unlikable.
When a character is written well, they can actually go from hated to loved—much like the early seasons of Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones—but those are few and far between. More often, a hated character just ends up being hated all the more.
Here are my picks for the most hated TV characters of the 21st century. We rank them from worst to... well, worst.
14. Diane Chambers in Cheers (1982)
Diane Chambers wasn't detestable in the traditional sense. She had certain factors that made audiences root for her throughout the seasons of Cheers, and it wasn't as if Sam was perfect either.
However, as their relationship grew, her faults were exposed further while Sam remained the same person he'd always been.
It was all made worse when they started trying to get back at one another, especially after she introduced Fraser Crane to the gang, which left a sour taste in everyone's mouth.
In the end, Diane Chambers wasn't as well-liked as the rest of the cast and she ended up suffering as a character for it—even if she did have her moments of brilliance here and there.
13. Ziggy Sobotka in The Wire (2002)
The first time you watch season two of The Wire, you hate Ziggy Sobotka. That's just a fact of life.
Fans of The Wire unanimously agree that Ziggy was one of the most unlikable characters in the entire series. He had no charm, no appeal, no redeeming qualities—and the result was that he simply sucked.
His story allowed The Wire to focus its second season on the corruption of the Baltimore dockyards, but his was a story of a nobody who thought he was an important player in a much larger game.
In retrospect, season two isn't as bad as it comes off on first watch. But why did it come off so poorly in the first place? A lot of that had to do with the giant stain that was Ziggy Sobotka.
12. Nate Jacobs in Euphoria (2019)
Throughout the first two seasons of Euphoria, we saw Nate Jacobs's toxicity unravel to reveal the person he truly is underneath—and pretty much all of it is despicable.
In the show, he's the jock star of the school with a great background and gifted athleticism. That's what everybody sees. But inside? He's just a boy who's scrambling for any meaning or purpose.
As he tries to cling onto whatever he can, Nate ends up mired in jealousy and pulls down everyone around him. The way he sets up Jules only to leave her in pieces? Devastating and hateful.
Since then, we've learned so much more about him—and yet he's still far from sympathetic. He's a train wreck and we all know it.
11. Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones (2011)
What more can be said about Joffrey Baratheon that hasn't already been said? The illegitimate son of his uncle and mother—not related to Robert Baratheon at all—Joffrey had a menace to him that was only made worse by the power he wielded.
We hated him because he did nothing but torment those around him for his own amusement, which led to many cruel moments.
Fundamentally, Joffrey was weak. He had no courage and he hid behind his crown, threatening everyone around him through his minions. Whenever it came time to fight, he was nowhere to be seen.
And when his comeuppance came, he deserved every ounce of it. Joffrey's demise was celebrated by fans for many reasons, but primarily because it meant the show could move on from this character who made every second he was on screen unbearable.
10. Livia Soprano in The Sopranos (1999)
If Satan personally handed out mothers to their children, Livia Soprano was certainly handpicked to torment Tony.
The constant disappointment and resentment she displayed towards her children in The Sopranos only got worse over time—until she finally breaks and agrees to have Tony killed.
Tony believed that she would never do such a thing, but he turned around when presented with undeniable evidence. And when that moment came, his wrath utterly terrified his mother.
Livia Soprano was a woman made of pure hatred, whose soul was corroded by blinding rage and irredeemably ruined.
9. Homelander in The Boys (2019)
Homelander was a character whom audiences wanted to like. We thought—even hoped—that he had an upward arc coming his way.
But as the seasons of The Boys went on, it's become clearer and clearer that he has no such redemption in store for him. He's already cemented himself as one of the most hated characters in TV history.
And that's by design: Homelander is a twisted satire of Superman. Outwardly, he wields the same powers and attributes that make him the most powerful superhero in the world. Inwardly, he lacks everything that made Superman what he was.
Homelander is unhinged beneath his public image, believing himself superior to everybody else on Earth because of his abilities.
We hate him because of his views on life, his views toward people, and his views of himself. And with his image of invincibility worn off following season three, he's more dangerous than ever before.
8. Ross Geller in Friends (1994)
Ross Geller is the character who was (seemingly) always treated unfairly by other people. But whether it was with Rachel when they were on a "break" or with Chandler and Joey when they were making too much noise in their own apartment, Ross was the real pain.
Ross didn't have too many likable moments in Friends, even if he had that one special scene where he put on a tuxedo and was willing to take a devastated Rachel to prom. These days, most consider Ross to be a typical "nice guy" when you peel back the comedy.
Overall, Ross just didn't have the same charm that other Friends characters had, and even the cast of Friends comes off as whiny in hindsight—all except for Phoebe Buffay, of course.
7. Andy Bernard in The Office (2005)
Everybody looked at Andy Bernard in The Office and thought the same thing: what a total buffoon.
He made his entrance in season three when Jim moves to the Stamford branch to get away from Pam, thus becoming Jim's new object to mess around with—until Andy demonstrates a vicious temper.
Throughout the whole series, Andy got softer but never stopped being the guy who sang a lot and often looked foolish. Fans took to Andy Bernard in an ironic way, knowing that his place in the show was to be the man that everyone else thought was a bit of a lunatic.
Not to mention the later seasons, when Andy Bernard turned into a huge jerk that lost most of his redeeming qualities.
6. Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother (2005)
It usually doesn't bode well for a TV sitcom when the majority of the show's fanbase grows sick of its main character after just two seasons. But for How I Met Your Mother? It seemed to give the show an edge.
Ted Mosby became so tiresome very quickly because of his endless diatribes about searching for the right person while being too whiny in the process. Fortunately for us, as Ted grew increasingly irritating, the rest of the cast grew increasingly more likable.
When the end came for How I Met Your Mother, many agreed that the show had gone on for too long and that the ending wasn't great—mainly because nobody cared about Ted anymore.
5. Marnie Michaels in Girls (2012)
Marnie Michaels of Girls could whine with the best of them. She consistently thought of herself before anyone else, and after a while, the audience could see that it would never stop.
However, what made Marnie worse was her awful moral compass for relationships—cheating, lying, and using people to get what she wanted. Marnie was very good at that, so it's no wonder that audiences didn't really like her at all.
Marnie is unique because her role in Girls was annoying but essential. She's Hannah's best friend, and when push comes to shove, she demonstrates why that is.
4. Janice Soprano in The Sopranos (1999)
Janice Soprano was Tony Soprano's sister and often acted as a kind of harmonic healer. But beneath that exterior, she had the same anger problems Tony had—without his most likable characteristics.
The entire show endeared audiences to Tony and his problems, which made Janice immensely aggravating when she ground away at Tony for the things he did. Janice was all the worst parts of her mother, and the audience hated her for it.
The underlying gripe with Janice is that she was a hypocrite who often admonished Tony for his behavior while becoming involved herself.
3. Jeremy Jamm in Parks and Recreation (2009)
The whole point of Parks and Recreation was to make the audience fall in love with Leslie Knope and her coworkers—they are, after all, the main characters—so when somebody as rude as Jeremy Jamm came on screen, it was natural to hate him.
Jamm is the human equivalent of a rat: he isn't wanted anywhere yet he thinks he can turn up anyway, because it's in his nature to ruin things. When he interrupted Leslie and Ben's wedding, he was on the receiving end of a Ron Swanson punch to the face, which the audience took great glee in finally seeing.
There were times when Jamm was funny, but one can't help but feel the show would have been better off without him. His annoying elements as a character far outweighed his comedic value.
2. Skylar White in Breaking Bad (2008)
Despite the fact that she was rarely in the wrong—save for a few off-kilter decisions—Skylar White became the most hated character in Breaking Bad because she was always a drag on Walter's criminal affairs even as she benefited from them.
Skylar was usually the voice of reason throughout the show, and she only wanted to protect her family from danger. But because we (the audience) wanted to see Walter break bad, we saw Skylar as a nuisance. It's quite interesting to think about.
The final scene between Walt and Skylar showed how much had changed between the start of the series and the end. Nothing remained but resentment between Skylar and Walt, which represented how the audience felt about Skylar anyway.
1. Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones (2011)
He was hateful, detestable, utterly unforgivable, and everybody despised him. Ramsay Bolton wasn't trying to do anything with an ulterior motive; he wasn't playing politics or trying to further himself in the world; he was simply a monster in human form.
From torturing Theon Greyjoy to raping Sansa Stark, one always worried what dark thing would happen next when Ramsay appeared on screen. And as he racked up kill after kill, we worried that he might never get the comeuppance he so richly deserved.
Ramsay Bolton was a character who got introduced solely to be hated by viewers—and it worked. With zero redeeming qualities, it's hard to watch Ramsay Bolton on screen without hating him. And to this day, he remains the most hated TV character of his era.