The most hated characters on TV

Television characters are really just actors pretending to be someone else, but that doesn't mean their onscreen personalities can't elicit strong emotions. Some characters are irresistibly likable, while others are awful enough to make a viewer's blood boil.

Why certain characters are hated can vary. It might be the intention of the show to present a character so horrible that the audience actively roots for their downfall. Other times, characters that are supposed to be likable and relatable simply don't come across that way. Here's a look at some of the worst offenders, and watch out: there are a handful of light spoilers ahead.

Negan - The Walking Dead

Needless to say, if you didn't catch the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead, you should probably watch it before reading this entry.

For those of you who did see the episode, you already know why you hate Negan. He was introduced in the season 6 finale, carrying his beloved barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat Lucille and telling the main characters he was going to beat at least one of them to death while the others watched. As he demonstrated in the season 7 premiere, it's a horrific way to die—and not one, but two very well-liked characters were beaten to death.

While other characters on The Walking Dead are responsible for horrific acts, what makes Negan stand out is his evident joy in committing them. As the beatings went on, he made bad puns and mocked the characters as they tried to die honorable deaths while saying goodbye to their friends and family who were forced to bear witness to the beatings. Laughing at someone's final moments of life while caving in their head in front of their loved ones is unthinkably depraved. No one deserves to die that way, and watching Negan murder those two characters was gut-wrenching.

If the episode had only focused on those deaths, Negan would have already made the list—but of course, he wasn't done. He spent the rest of the episode breaking down Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and it felt like watching a version of Saw directed by Michael Haneke. By the end, Negan had not only killed two important members of the group, he'd enslaved the rest. Let's just say we (and the show's protagonists) aren't looking forward to seeing him again.

Dana Brody - Homeland

When the mature and smartly paced Homeland debuted on Showtime in October 2011, it focused on Nicholas Brody, a scout sniper with the U.S. Marine Corps released by al Qaeda after spending years as a prisoner of war. Brody returned home to his family, which includes his teenage daughter Dana. She was annoying in the first season, but she helped broaden Brody and proved an important character in her own right, so it was an acceptable price to pay.

But for some reason, as the show wore on, instead of focusing on the main characters—fascinating people doing interesting things like tracking down terrorist cells—it spent more time on Dana and her teenage problems. Making it even worse, Dana is insufferable—a self-righteous, know-it-all teenager who thinks she understands how the world works. This isn't exactly an inaccurate depiction of some teenagers, but why should people have to put up with her after tuning in for a show ostensibly about a bipolar CIA agent and her complicated relationship with a man who has a complicated relationship with terrorist groups?

After season one, Dana adds nothing to the overall plot, and has dragged down the pace of the show in an incredibly annoying way.

Ted Mosby – How I Met Your Mother

Anyone who's seen an episode of How I Met Your Mother knows how annoying Ted could be. He was an intelligent guy, had a good job and a great apartment in New York City, was surrounded by friends, and was objectively good-looking. Overall, his life was pretty good; the only thing that could have made it perfect was marrying "the one."

Mosby dated dozens of smart, beautiful, and successful women during his search, but none of them were "the one" because of his arbitrary set of rules and high standards. He sat around and moped about it before going out with his gleefully unabashed womanizing friend, and treated women like objects.

This paradox of how Ted came across as a nice guy even though he was a pretentious slimeball explains why the show used a narrator. Without that voiceover, Ted would have just come across as a whiny phony who used his desperate wish to get married as an excuse for his deplorable behavior.

Ross Geller - Friends

The casting and development of the six characters on Friends was a tricky blend that produced TV magic. How does a show with such a thin premise become one of the most popular sitcoms of all time? That being said, the show wasn't perfect—and Ross Geller was just terrible.

Easily, Ross' biggest personal problem was his insufferable need to be right. He could never let something go, and it cost him at least one breakup with Rachel. Ross screaming "We were on a break!" was a halfway decent joke the first time, but was repeated often (and annoyingly) enough that it became his screechy catchphrase.

Ross was also often whiny and melodramatic. As soon as he encountered the slightest problem, it was like the end of the world. Then he'd go to see his friends—who, unlike him, were childless and often didn't have stable jobs—and bring the mood down because he felt life had somehow cheated out him of something instead of taking responsibility for his own actions. Would you want a friend like that? Viewers had to put up with him for 10 whole seasons of Friends.

Joffrey Baratheon – Game of Thrones

Young people in general can be annoying, but that's part of being young. Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones, however, took it to an awful new level.

Joffrey simply embodied everything that people innately hate. He was from a rich and prominent family, and he used his position in life to be a sadistic bully to those beneath him in society simply because he enjoyed it and it made him feel important. But if the tables were turned on him in any way, the true Joffrey came out and he showed his cowardly side. Even worse, he was unbearably smug. We would never advocate violence, even against fictional children; that being said, Joffrey deserved everything he got.

Pete Campbell – Mad Men

No matter where you've worked, you've probably come across someone like Mad Men's Pete Campbell. He wore his ambition like a snakeskin suit and felt entitled to everything he wanted. He didn't work harder and he wasn't better at his job than his co-workers, yet his self-centered ambition meant he had no problem throwing other people under the bus. Ambition is respectable, but squealing on someone else for personal gain is something even criminals look down on.

Skyler White – Breaking Bad

When we first meet Walter White and his wife Skyler, she seems like she's the motivation for Walter to start making meth. After finding out he's dying of cancer, he constantly says he wants to make enough money so his family is financially secure after he passes away. However, as the show progresses, we learn that Walter's motivation may be slightly more selfish than he originally stated; years earlier, he founded a company with a former girlfriend named Gretchen and a classmate/friend. Walter sold his share of the business after a falling out, it became incredibly successful after he left, and Gretchen married his friend/business partner. Walter took a job as a high school teacher—one he was overqualified and underpaid for—and married Skyler.

To give a greater sense that Walt missed out on more than just money and a successful career, Skyler's character needed to be somewhat unlikable. This would contrast her with Gretchen, the one who got away, and contribute to Walt's belief that he had to settle for everything in life, even the woman he married.

Another problem that Skyler had was that she was tasked with being the voice of reason in the show. While the viewer wants Walt to continue with the meth business and do well, that's not realistic. If your partner, friend, or family member told you that they were going to start making and selling meth, you'd lose your mind—it's one of the most toxic and addictive drugs available today and users, as the show clearly demonstrates, can be violent and unpredictable. No right-minded person would keep his or her children around a person who chose to make a living that way.

While Skyler played an important role in the show, it's too bad they didn't give her more complexity instead of settling for making her an irritating plot device.

Nikki and Paulo – Lost

By the third season of Lost, the show already a lot of characters and plotlines to work with, but hadn't really gotten around to explaining any of the many core mysteries that drove the often inscrutable plot. Instead of bothering to move those arcs forward, the series suddenly introduced two new characters who had apparently been on the island the entire time: Nikki and Paulo.

Had Nikki and Paulo added something to the plot, their arrival might have been forgivable. However, their boring backstory had nothing to do with anything on the canvas. It was like the showrunners wrote a rejected script for a crime series and decided to jam it into Lost. Fortunately, Nikki and Paolo didn't stick around long; in fact, in a truly satisfying twist, they were buried alive later in the season.

Caillou - Caillou

If you aren't around children much, you're probably fortunate enough to have never been exposed to Caillou.

A bratty toddler with a high-pitched voice, he can be torturous just to listen to, and God forbid a child in your care should watch the show. In nearly every episode of Caillou, he mistreats his sister (simply because he's kind of a jerk) and throws a temper tantrum when he doesn't get his way. That's annoying enough to watch, but it gets worse when the kids who watch the show inevitably emulate his behavior in real life. It's no surprise that "How to block Caillou on Netflix" has become a popular Google search.