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The Worst Things BoJack Has Ever Done On BoJack Horseman

"Back in the nineties, I was in a very famous TV show..." So goes the tune from BoJack Horseman, a show where humans and anthropomorphic animals mix freely in a rich satire of Hollywood and celebrity culture. That's its hook — but its power lies in being a powerful exploration of trauma, mental illness, and addiction. 

BoJack is a washed-up sitcom actor who made millions on a Full House-style sitcom called Horsin' Around. Despite his fame, riches, and subsequent successes, he is deeply unhappy. His miserable childhood haunts him, both as memories of drunken fights and constant verbal abuse and in the ways in which it warped his personality. BoJack is selfish, cruel, and impulsive. The fact that he knows that this is, in large part, due to inter-generational trauma does not absolve him. The show's central question emerges from this morass: How do you become a better person when everything in you wants to be cruel, selfish, and impulsive?

BoJack's journey isn't a straight line towards progress, but it's one of the most riveting stories of the last few decades' worth of television. These are his worst choices, cruelest comments, and lowest lows — all of them a testimony to just how hard he had to work to be better.

Miscellaneous horsefeathers

Not every terrible thing BoJack has done is world-shakingly awful. Here, we've assembled a list of his lesser crimes.

BoJack lives in Hollywood, but for most of the show, this magical land of red carpets and child stardom is actually referred to as "Hollywoo." Why? Because back in season one, BoJack steals the "D" from the Hollywood sign as part of an elaborate plot to make his ghostwriter Diane Nguyen fall in love with him. This creepy overreach is for naught: Diane's boyfriend Mr. Peanutbutter outsmarts BoJack and takes credit for this silliness.

Then, in season two's "Let's Find Out," BoJack appears on a game show with Daniel Radcliffe, who rubs him the wrong way. When BoJack is given the chance to donate $500,000 to charity by naming the actor who played Harry Potter, he purposefully flubs it by naming Elijah Wood. The cash is burnt to a crisp.

Season five see's BoJack's mother die. "Free Churro" consists entirely of his impassioned eulogy. Too bad he's in the wrong room, confusing and upsetting a grieving family of lizards.

Towards the end of the fifth season, BoJack grows dependent on painkillers. Desperate, he deliberately crashes his car in order to go to the hospital and get more drugs.

Doctor Champ Is Off The Wagon

When BoJack finally goes to rehab in the sixth season, he is aided by Doctor Champ, a therapy horse. As he carefully notes, he's not an actual psychiatrist — his literal title is "therapy horse," in a reference to rehab centers that offer horseback riding as a therapeutic activity. Like Mr. Peanutbutter, "Doctor" is his actual first name.

Champ is able to reach BoJack, and pushes him to leave rehab after he stays there for nearly six months. BoJack is terrified to leave but finally packs his bags. The only problem is that BoJack had a water bottle full of vodka among his things. He didn't actually drink it — it ended up acting as a potent symbol of the omnipresent temptation to relapse. Unfortunately, after a series of accidents, the bottle winds up in a shipment of normal water bottles, and Doctor Champ chugs it. He's a recovering alcoholic himself, and tasting alcohol triggers a full relapse. 

BoJack eventually hunts him down and checks him into a different rehab clinic. Doctor Champ is furious and terrified, thinking he's ended his career and put his marriage in jeopardy. He spends the rest of the show as an alcoholic, cursing BoJack as someone who ruins everyone who cares about him. Later, he gives sensitive information about BoJack to reporters hunting for dirt.      

Letting Kelsey Jannings down

Kelsey Jannings is an indie film director who gets the job of directing the story of Secretariat. In BoJack's world, Secretariat is also a racehorse, but there, that just means he's a horse who was also an internationally famous runner. When it was revealed that he'd been betting on his own sport, he was banned for life. Eventually, he committed suicide. BoJack grew up idolizing Secretariat, and though he's honestly too old to play him, Kelsey takes a chance on him and casts him in the role of a lifetime.

For a while, things go well. He gives her the sadness that she wants, even if he is kind of a jerk on set. They both want to do a scene in the Oval Office when President Richard Nixon meets Secretariat, but the producer nixes it. In an elaborate, absurd scheme, they sneak into the Nixon Library and do a bit of guerilla filming there. 

It's a perfectly-shot scene, but the producer is furious and fires Kelsey. BoJack emerges unscathed, of course. He never reaches out to Kelsey to apologize.

A couple of years later, Kelsey calls him with a role in a new film. She knows what he's capable of and wants a chance to prove herself again. He agrees enthusiastically but stops paying attention when his agent demands more money. The option for the film passes and Kelsey gets screwed out of another opportunity, thanks to BoJack.


Getting around Ethan

The unfortunately named Bradley Hitler-Smith plays nerdy Ethan on Horsin' Around. BoJack, having enjoyed a few trysts with his mom while they were still castmates, never exactly warmed up to the kid. Ethan blames this affair for the dissolution of his parents' marriage.

As an adult, Bradley leaves television and achieves success managing a hardware store.  He's itching to get back into show business, however, and starts trying to sell a sequel to his old show starring him as an adult called Ethan Around. He doesn't bother contacting BoJack about it because he assumes he wouldn't want to do it. Of course, not being invited makes BoJack want to do it.

Predictably, BoJack changes his mind and wants to back out. He doesn't have the guts to tell Ethan, lying to him instead about wanting to do it but being very busy. Bradley is persistent, and BoJack winds up having his publicist harshly tell him no.

Later, as BoJack is trying to make amends for past mistakes after Sarah Lynn's death, he agrees to do the show again. He urges Bradley to give the Ethan character the best lines. When he meets Chloe, a child actress who plays a role roughly similar to Sarah Lynn's, BoJack freaks out. He's afraid of corrupting another young co-star and walks out on Bradley yet again, with no explanation. 

What is this, a crossover episode?

BoJack hates Mr. Peanutbutter's obnoxiously upbeat attitude, as well as the fact that his 1990s show Mr. Peanutbutter's House was a rip-off of Horsin' Around. BoJack is even more annoyed when he learns that the ghostwriter for his autobiography, Diane Nguyen, is his girlfriend. BoJack likes her cynicism and sense of humor immediately and sees her as a kindred spirit. Naturally, he grows jealous, and assumes he must be correct in attempting to break them up. Demented schemes ensue, but BoJack's very real anger only grows.

Eventually, Diane leaks the first two chapters of the autobiography, which prove to be a smash hit. BoJack is happy to accept all praise, but still humiliates Diane at a public event by asking her to validate him as a "good person" as part of the Q & A portion.

Later, he starts seeing Diane's therapist behind her back, which she explicitly asked him not to. Diane gets dumped by said therapist because she feels BoJack needs her more than Diane does — but of course, BoJack abandons the therapist himself after only a few sessions.

BoJack also abandons Diane when she stays at his house, leaving her there for months. He avoids telling her the truth about some of his worst actions, despite the fact that they might implicate her, who is publicly associated with him. When she confronts him about it, he alienates her.

Who says cats aren't loyal?

Princess Carolyn started her relationship with BoJack as his girlfriend, back when she was an assistant to his agent. She eventually takes him on as a client when she becomes an agent herself. Thus begins two decades of on-again, off-again rigmarole.

BoJack depends on her to prop up his ego when he feels like a failure. He's a horrible client, turning down roles and dragging his feet on his memoir. He never gives her proper credit when he pulls off a success, and she has to nag him to remain civilized in public at all times. He is, in short, the client from hell — and when they're dating, a terrible boyfriend to boot.

When she breaks off to form her own agency, she struggles to balance everything and makes mistakes that cost BoJack. Instead of cutting her slack, he fires her at dinner. After she helps out at a ridiculous emergency at his restaurant, she begs for one last chance. She asks for just six more months to set things right. His response? A terse "No." 

All she does is love and support him, and all he does is try to push her away. 

Shut up, Todd!

Todd Chavez, in many ways, is the most resilient of BoJack Horseman's characters. For one thing, he stays as BoJack's house guest for over five years, recieving constant abuse. BoJack doesn't kick him out because he's afraid of being alone, and Todd's presence validates him — but that doesn't mean he ever bothers to treat him well.

When Todd develops a science fiction rock opera that has a chance at success, BoJack puts a ridiculous plan into action to sabotage him. He hires Margo Martindale (in the world of BoJack, she's also an esteemed character actress, but additionally, a wild-eyed thrillseeker) to push Todd into buy an addictive video game on the night he has to buckle down to finish his show. BoJack is afraid that if Todd is successful, he'll move out.

Later, when Todd winds up in prison, BoJack barely notices his absence and doesn't help him. Nor does he attend Todd's graduation ceremony from his improv troupe. The final straw is BoJack sleeping with Todd's high school girlfriend and current good friend, Emily. It's not out of spite, but selfishness. BoJack shrugs when confronted and says, "I was lonely, and she was there."

Despite everything, Todd is there to help BoJack when he gets out of prison in the final season.   

Down and out with Philbert and Gina

BoJack ends up starring in Philbert, a hard-boiled detective show. His co-star is Gina Cazador, a career character actress used to shallow roles and exploitative bargains. She and BoJack have a workplace romance that starts off as purely sexual, but it's clear that both develop feelings for each other. BoJack clumsily tries to help her with her dream of doing musical theater, which fails miserably.

When he hurts his back trying to out-do Mr. Peanutbutter, he gets hooked on opioids. He denies he has a problem and grows paranoid. In a scene in Philbert where he's supposed to fake-strangle his partner, BoJack actually throttles her for real, and has to be pulled off her. They play it down for press reasons, as she doesn't want to be known as the girl who was choked by BoJack. But the trauma stays with her: Later seasons see her panic when a scene partner gets physically close in a way she didn't anticipate. In the high-pressure world of Hollywood, this gets labeled as "difficult," and threatens her career. 

Abandoning Herb Kazzaz

When BoJack starts out as a stand-up comic, a comedian named Herb Kazzaz takes him under his wing. Herb, BoJack, and Herb's girlfriend Charlotte spend a lot of time together.

Herb pitches Horsin' Around to the network and it lands. When Herb tells BoJack, BoJack is sad that his friend is leaving him ... until Herb tells him that he wants BoJack to be the star. The show is a hit, but Herb is arrested for "public lewdness," meaning he was caught having sex with a man in a public place. The network wants to fire him immediately, so Herb begs BoJack for his support. Herb tells him that BoJack has a lot of power and can force the network to stand behind him.

However, network executive Angela Diaz browbeats BoJack into staying on and keeping quiet. Years later, she tells him that she was terrified that he'd call her bluff. BoJack could have saved Herb's career.

Wracked with guilt, BoJack continues with the show after Herb is fired and cuts off contact with him entirely. It's not until years later when Herb is dying of cancer that BoJack comes to see him. While their visit is pleasant, Herb doesn't forgive him for not reaching out. Then BoJack gets into a wrestling match with him over a sentimental knick-knack. Bad look, BoJack. 

Escape from LA

BoJack reconnects with his old friend Charlotte at Herb's funeral, and she gives him her card. BoJack ends up walking out on Secretariat and shows up at Charlotte's shop in New Mexico unannounced. She's delighted to see him and he meets her husband, son, and 17-year-old daughter Penny. When questioned about why he's there, he lies and says he's come to New Mexico to buy a yacht. He does, in fact, buy one — then proceeds to stay in New Mexico.

It's no big deal, at first. Everyone is so charmed by BoJack that he stays with the family for a couple of months and becomes a trusted, avuncular figure. When Penny doesn't get a prom date, BoJack volunteers to take her. Things quickly spiral: He buys bourbon for Penny and her underage friends, then, when one of them ends up with alcohol poisoning,  BoJack dumps her and her date off at the ER and speeds away.

At the end of the night, Penny tries to kiss BoJack. He rebuffs her and tells her to go to bed, then goes to sit with Charlotte in their backyard. He makes an overture of his own, but Charlotte refuses him. Reeling, BoJack leaves to sleep on his yacht.

Charlotte hears a noise on the yacht. She walks in, and sees Penny with BoJack. Nothing has happened ... yet. Charlotte, infuriated, orders him to leave her home immediately.  

The life of Sarah Lynn

Of all the people BoJack impacts, child co-star Sarah Lynn is the one he had the greatest opportunity to influence in a positive way. What he does instead makes this his greatest failure as a human being.

Bullied into show business by an overbearing stage mother, young Sarah Lynn is desperate for the approval of her Horsin' Around castmates, especially BoJack. He has the opportunity to reach out to the lonely girl, but instead, he gives her the cold shoulder.

Sarah Lynn rides the success of the show to a lucrative pop career. She turns her nickname on the show, "Prickly Muffin," into a far more suggestive dance hit. BoJack pops in on her after a concert. She's initially delighted to see him until she realizes he's there to ask her to be a guest on his new show. He just wants something out of her, like everyone else does.

Years later, 30-year-old Sarah Lynn crashes at his house. Her fame has faded, and she's addicted to a whole range of drugs. BoJack tries to play the responsible TV dad, and she screams at him. Then they have sex. Uninterested in being told what to do, Sarah Lynn moves on to other enablers.

The death of Sarah Lynn

A couple of years later, Sarah Lynn is nine months sober. BoJack, crestfallen after not getting an Oscar nomination, calls Sarah Lynn up and asks her to go on a bender with him.

It's an epic binge, filled with booze, pills, psychedelics, cocaine, drywall (by accident), and more. BoJack frequently blacks out. At one point, they go to an AA meeting so Sarah Lynn can pick up her nine-month sobriety chip, even though they're both drunk. Then they drive to Ohio so BoJack can try to make amends with Penny, who's in college at Oberlin. Naturally, this goes poorly.

Sarah Lynn notices that BoJack has some heroin on hand, and they snort it. Sarah Lynn sees that she's won an Oscar in the fleabag hotel they're staying in. BoJack takes her to the place she really wants to go: the planetarium. She falls asleep and doesn't wake up.  

Instead of calling 911, BoJack leaves, waits 17 minutes, and then walks back into the planetarium, "discovering" her body. Once again, his unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions makes others pay the price. He may not have killed her, but "she followed me down because she thought I was a safe place."