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The Most Annoying Teen Characters Ever On Television

Being a teenager is the worst. 

Raging hormones arrive to transform you into an adult, but first destroy your body and emotional consistency. You're required to cobble together an identity based entirely on extracurricular activities, media consumption, and social cliques. You obsess over what other people think about you at all times, and your parents have expectations about your grades and future career prospects.  

As a result of all this crushing pressure and confusion, teenagers are no fun to be around. They're also definitely not fun to watch. That's why teens on scripted television are often played by 25-year-old actors controlled by 40-year-old Hollywood writers. It's also why "Freaks and Geeks" and "My So-Called Life" both only lasted one season — those shows depicted teens in a realistic and sympathetic light, and America couldn't handle the awkwardness. We don't want to see relatable teens who might remind us of our own disturbing adolescence. We want to see the sexy 20-somethings of "Riverdale" and their ridiculous drama that has no connection whatsoever to the cringe-inducing reality of teenage life.    

But since teenagers are the most annoying type of human, it follows that television's created more than its fair share of annoying fictional teens in spite of itself. Here, in no specific order — "annoying" being a subjective and therefore un-rankable term — are some of the most annoying TV teens of all time. 

Dawn Summers

A being of pure supernatural energy transformed into the 14-year-old sister of erstwhile only child Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) was not universally beloved by her elder sibling's fandom upon her "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Season 5 introduction in 2000. 

Dawn surely has her apologists, who point out that the compulsive wisecracking and performative self-deprecation of Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) make him just as annoying as Dawn. But because she embodies the stereotype of an annoying teenager with utter totality, Dawn must be included in this list. She whines endlessly, she's self-absorbed, and she frequently requires bailing out of perilous situations she could easily have avoided if only she had a shred of common sense.

We're certainly not the first ones to notice Dawn's ability to get on an audience's collective nerves. However, her introduction jostled "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" out of its Season 4 rut, and eventually lead the series back to Sunnydale High School, where it belongs. Even if she is a pain in everyone's tuchus, Dawn's presence on "Buffy" is ultimately a net positive. 

Connor

(Light spoilers for "Angel" ahead.)

Some characters are annoying because they do annoying stuff. Connor (Vincent Kartheiser) — the miracle son of vampires Angel (David Boreanaz) and Darla (Julie Benz) who, as an infant, was taken to a dimension outside of time where he grew up and returned to the present day a total badass, à la Nathaniel Summers – is annoying due to his arrival in 2001's season 3 coinciding with "Angel" going absolutely whack-a-doo banana pudding pies. 

After adult Connor shows up, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) ascends into Heaven, sleeps with Connor, becomes evil, and gives birth to Connor's child, who also happens to be a god-like version of Gina Torres. The formerly prim and proper Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) becomes impulsive and morally ambiguous. Angel also turns evil (again). Basically, Angel Investigations doesn't turn back into a likable, ragtag collection of demon-fighting mystery solvers until Spike (James Marsters) shuffles into the mix in Season 5.    

Connor cannot be held directly responsible for all of the mishaps above, and Kartheiser's career lived to act another day as Pete Campbell on "Mad Men." But when all is said and done, due to his association with "Angel" going off the rails, Connor bugs us for sure. 

Brian Krakow

Decades before anyone knew what the heck an "incel" is supposed to be, film and television almost always depicted undersexed teenage dweebs heroically and uncritically. But 1994's melodramatic gem "My So-Called Life" is — in this, and many other respects — way ahead of its time.  

Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall) is an underdog, but that doesn't make him the good guy in his story. He sulks constantly, makes us feel squirmy with his off-putting personality, and resents literal girl next door Angela Chase (Claire Danes) for dating anyone who isn't him. 

But Brian's social awkwardness isn't really his fault. In fact, Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) — obviously, the least annoying character on "My So-Called Life" — takes pity on Brian during the Christmas episode, when he calls into a depression helpline where Rayanne happens to be volunteering. The conversation gets anonymously steamy. It's the most action Brian gets throughout the 19-episode duration of the show. 

Krakow isn't a monster, and his depression definitely makes him more sympathetic to viewers. Still, his griping self-pity annoys the living bejesus out of us. 

Jubilee

A self-assured, sardonic presence in X-Men comic books, Jubilation Lee found herself reduced to a clumsy cluster of instantly dated buzzwords on '90s Saturday morning institution "X-Men: The Animated Series" (1992-1997).  

Jubilee is garbage, but she's also an essential element of the show. What superhero cartoon is complete without a totally useless teen sidekick? It's a trope of the form that dates back to classic Hanna-Barbera. Jubilee joins the likes of pioneers like Jan and Jace from the original "Space Ghost" (1966-1968), as well as Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog on "Super Friends" (1973). 

The Jubilee of Fox Kids, voiced by Alyson Court, is unfunny, excruciatingly earnest, and the wielder of easily the most useless powers of any character on "X-Men: TAS." But the perceived necessity for cartoon superheroes to hang out with dumb, defenseless minors who can easily be taken hostage has waned somewhat since the '90s. That means Jubilee might serve an important transitional role for the whole genre. Say what you will about recently introduced teen Avenger Reptil — his ability to turn into a dinosaur is much more threatening than Jubilee's hand sparklers. 

A.J. Soprano

(Light spoilers for "The Sopranos" coming up.)

A.J. Soprano is annoying in a way that makes sense. Due to the circumstances of his birth, A.J. Soprano (Robert Iler) grows up with a serious male role model problem. When papa Tony (James Gandolfini) berates him and slaps him around for trashing school property, underage drinking, and other teen antics throughout "The Sopranos" (1999-2007), it's difficult to take Tony — a gangster with sociopathic tendencies — seriously as an authority on socially constructive behavior. Furthermore, A.J. struggles with depression in later episodes, and let's certainly not trivialize mental health problems as "annoying." 

When we say A.J. is irksome, we refer to incidents like that time he got fired from Blockbuster for stealing cardboard promotional standees and calling in sick too often. Honestly. He's shiftless, spoiled, surly, disrespectful, and has questionable taste. Meadow, A.J.'s slightly older sister, has her own bratty moments, but at least she never called classic poet Robert Frost an "asshole." 

A.J.'s storylines also siphon time away from higher-stakes, more exciting stuff happening in the organized crime portion of "The Sopranos," which is probably the real reason why he rubs viewers the wrong way.  

Donna Hayward and James Hurley

We must clarify that when we say James Hurley (James Marshall) and Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) are annoying teens, we really just mean in Season 2 of "Twin Peaks," which ran from 1990 to 1991. James and Donna are perfectly fine as tragedy-struck students grieving their mutual friend Laura Palmer in 1990's Season 1. Donna does not appear in Season 3, and the adult James we meet in Season 3, aka "Twin Peaks: The Return," is far too cool for anyone to consider an annoyance. 

But James and Donna take a turn for the insufferable in the much-maligned Season 2 of "Twin Peaks." Their tragic, intense, and unlikely romance fizzles out when James's eyes wander to Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee). The entire show then feels like it uses his aimless fling with a troubled married woman to kill time before it decides what to do next. Meanwhile, Donna competes in the Miss Twin Peaks Contest, a beauty pageant so annoying (talents on display include "contortionistic jazz exotica") that it causes her and every other participant to become deeply irritating by association. 

Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge

Ever since its premiere on the CW in 2017, "Riverdale" has been what the kids call "extra."

While someone like Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) grates on her fair share of nerves, that simply puts her roughly on par with her fellow Riverdale residents. It's actually Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) who, if not for their respective good looks, would be the actual worst. 

Way too certain of their inherent righteousness and always eager to interject themselves into other people's business, Archie and Veronica seem to think the world revolves around them... which, technically, it does. After all, the source material their lives are based on is a sequential art franchise called "Archie Comics." Within the reality he inhabits, Archie is literally the center of the universe. While we realize he didn't choose that for himself, we still resent him for his inflated sense of self-importance.

D.J. Tanner

They don't call it "Full House" (1987-1995) for nothing — the series contains a complete deck of annoying characters. Once Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) crosses the threshold into her 13th year, she becomes profoundly so, often cited as the worst offender. But elder sister D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) really goes above and beyond the call of ordinary teenagerdom. 

D.J.'s a goody-two-shoes overachiever, smug as heck about her wholesome, risk-averse lifestyle. She loves enforcing rules and harshing buzzes. Plus, she's often a bad friend to Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber). Although D.J. is ostensibly a good influence on Kimmy, she scolds and moralizes her. Every time Kimmy visits the Tanner homestead, D.J.'s father, uncle, aunt, and her father's friend/tenant all casually insult and humiliate her, and D.J. usually doesn't express any issue with this. 

 Plus, what can be said about someone whose favorite music includes George Michael, Milli Vanilli, and Bananarama? 

Steve Urkel

Steve Urkel is immensely annoying, but that's a 100% deliberate choice on the part of actor Jaleel White and the creative team behind "Family Matters" (1989-1998). Counterintuitively, it's also why Urkel became one of the most famous television characters of the '90s. Apparently, people like to be annoyed sometimes! Insane! 

Like a baby goat who learned English, Urkel speaks with a nasal bleat. A next-level nerd, he lacks even the most basic of social skills. If he were real, he definitely would've traumatized Laura Winslow (Kellie Shanygne Williams) by stalking her, but since it's just TV, his behavior gets dismissed as hijinks. 

Despite Urkel's many zany flaws, audiences recognized his good heart, delighted in his catchphrases, and admired his capacity for mad science. A traveler of time and space who dabbles in cloning and genetic experimentation, Steve Urkel was the Rick Sanchez of the '90s, in many ways. 

Jan Brady

Plenty of kids or former kids stuck between narcissistic older siblings and snotty little brothers or sisters can relate to Jan Brady (Eve Plumb). Even so, Jan's self-pity and inadequacy complex are annoying in the traditional sense. 

At least they gave us her infamously bitter, exasperated cry of "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" The line transcends its era; it's quoted, repurposed, and meme'd to this very day. Most people only remember three things about "The Brady Bunch" — Jan's imaginary boyfriend, George Glass; that probably problematic episode where the brothers find a magic Tiki doll while vacationing in Hawaii; and Jan's triple denouncement of her pretty, popular sister Marcia. (Real heads remember the inverted joke in "The Brady Bunch Movie": "And Jan. My dear Jan. Isn't Marcia gorgeous?")

Although she didn't seem so at the time, Jan turned out to be the most important character on one of her generation's most memorable sitcoms. Still, her whininess is enough to land her on this list. 

Zack Morris

He's an unhinged male chauvinist and egomaniac who constantly insults and manipulates his friends, yet events generally unfold in his favor. No, we're not talking about Napoleon or another tyrannical dictator — just Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), the main character on "Saved by the Bell" (1989-1993). Zack is the one who talks to the camera. He's the perspective from which we see the goings-on at Bayside High School, and the individual the program wishes us to identify with and admire. 

What in the Sam Hill was wrong with television executives in the '90s? 

Today, an entire 52-episode web series is devoted to documenting Zack's many, many, many social, moral, and legal faux pas. And though he agreed to revive his old character for the contemporary relaunch of "Saved by the Bell," Gosselaar does not want anyone to think he considers Zack Morris remotely okay, even as an imaginary person. 

Zack is so insufferable that he alienates the guy who plays him. That's one heck of a trick. 

Brittany Taylor

Proactively vapid and oblivious to matters unrelated to cheerleading and her equally vacuous boyfriend, Brittany Taylor (voiced in a nerve-grating high-pitched squeak by Lisa Kathleen Collins) embodies the clueless popular girl stereotype. But "Daria" (1997-2001) is too smart to frame her as an antagonist to its eponymous malcontent (Tracy Grandstaff). That honor is reserved for Daria's little sister Quinn (Wendy Hoopes). Brittany is more of a side character whose conflicts revolve around dating the aforementioned Lawndale High quarterback Kevin Thompson (Marc Thompson). This means Brittany has the trifecta of annoyingness: an annoying voice, an annoying personality, and an annoying relationship. 

However, without dumb, shallow kids like Brittany and Kevin, Daria might not have developed defense mechanisms like detachment, irony, and sarcasm that made her an indisputable one-of-a-kind until Diane from "BoJack Horseman" lifted her fashion sense. Brittany might be irritating, but without people like her, there's no Daria. That makes her okay in our book... Well, not okay, she's still terrible, but ah... you get the idea.  

Beavis and Butt-Head

Both voiced by Mike Judge before he chilled out a little and made "King of the Hill," Beavis and Butt-Head may very well be the quintessential animated characters of the '90s. "The Simpsons" and "South Park" both transcend the decade; meanwhile, excluding the feature-length "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America" (1996), the pair of overstimulated morons do their best work planted firmly on the couch, in front of the TV, bouncing their streams of consciousness off music videos of the 1980s.

As far as we can tell, they don't stop snickering and chuckling unless they're sleeping. They're too slow-witted to carry on a normal conversation. Their seeming inability to talk to a woman without devolving into sexual harassment makes them difficult to imagine on contemporary television — although, it'll be much easier to imagine that once the new episodes ordered by Comedy Central air at some point in the future. Beavis and Butt-Head are pretty funny to watch, but if they were real, the sublime annoyance and endless idiocy of their company would make us bang our heads against the wall until we knocked ourselves unconscious. 

Cory Matthews

Sometimes television writers try too hard to create a person they think their target audience will identify with, inadvertently unleashing a raging narcissist. Perhaps this tells us something troubling about the true nature of humanity, but let's stay focused... 

With the power of hindsight, it's easy for us to say troubled teen heartthrob Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) should've been the main character and the boy who met the world. No shade intended towards Ben Savage, a handsome dude by normal standards, but it would've been more plausible for Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) to date somebody in her own league (especially one who didn't cheat on her, lie to her, and jealously try to prevent her from moving on). But the problems of Cory Matthews (Savage) go far beyond looks. In fact, his tendency towards wanton jackassery is extensively documented by multiple sources

If memory serves, "Boy Meets World," structured numerous episodes around Cory learning a lesson — he's getting the hang of the ways of the world via trial and error, essentially. This approach required a disproportionate number of errors that, now and again, went from innocent mistakes into deliberately mean-spirited behavior. He's also crazy entitled, getting upset whenever people around him don't conform to his whims. Ever notice how everybody's favorite character is either Shawn, Topanga, or sometimes Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), but never Cory? This is why. 

Dawson Leery

(Minor spoilers for the finale of "Dawson's Creek.")

On the surface, Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) seems like an earnest, decent kid, especially since other characters are forever exclaiming how great he is. Unfortunately, his relationships with women are pretty problematic. He's more than a little possessive of Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), his childhood friend and possible love interest, making her give up a trip to Paris and otherwise manipulating her into placing him at the center of her world. He slut-shames his girlfriend, Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams), and jealously ruins one of her dates after their short-lived relationship ends. A classic case of "nice guy" syndrome. 

Less worrisome but equally annoying is his pretentious path to becoming an artist. Lots of artsy teenagers are self-absorbed, self-righteous, and self-conscious, but only Dawson makes ridiculous, irony-free pronouncements like, "Edge is fleeting. Heart lasts forever," or, "I'm an artist, torture is a prerequisite." The posturing is particularly insufferable since his life is cushy. 

What kind of artist is Dawson trying to be? The '90s gave us "Slacker" (1990), "Reservoir Dogs" (1992), and "Clerks" (1994) — ultra-cool, shoestring-budget movies that led teens across the nation to believe that they could grow up to become filmmakers. Millennials all knew someone like Dawson — who spent a chunk of the 1998 pilot shooting an amateur movie — in high school or college.  

"Dawson's Creek" ends with a now-adult Joey and her beau, Dawson's best friend Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson), watching a TV version of their own lives, written and directed by their old pal Dawson. But most wannabe filmmakers inspired by the '90s indie boom didn't get to make their dream projects. Some of them couldn't afford New York or L.A.; others had their spirits and souls crushed by Hollywood.

Although Dawson doesn't get to be the famous auteur he originally envisioned, he finds success as a TV director, getting rich off a hyper-serialized shrine to the J. Crew ad that was his youth. Good for you, Dawson, you self-indulgent hack.