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13 TV Characters You Love Despite Their Glaring Flaws

Characters You Can’t Help But Love Despite It All

By Kurt Anthony Krug     June 21, 2010


13 TV Characters You Love Despite Their Glaring Flaws
© Bob Trate

 

 
No matter what they do or who they could kill, you just can’t hate these rogues, ne’er-do-wells, and anti-heroes. You just can’t.


13 Flawed TV Characters

13. Gaius Baltar

From: Battlestar Galatica.
A shifty, unctuous weasel, Gaius Baltar is a brilliant scientist, phenomenal at manipulating people, and bedded a beautiful Cylon (Tricia Helfer), the same Cylon who got in his head. He did a LOUSY job when he replaced Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) as President of the Twelve Colonies and the fleet settled on New Caprica. He brokered a deal with the Cylons, which resulted in harsh living conditions for the human population and the deaths of many good and innocent people. He admits to Apollo (Jamie Bamber) that he has never done a selfless thing in his entire life. That’s not hard to believe! However, you have to admire his uncanny knack at self-preservation.

13 Flawed TV Characters

12. Stringer Bell

From: The Wire
Stringer Bell is a soft-spoken, even-tempered and oftentimes charming guy. In the first season of The Wire, he’s the trusted adviser of Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris), the thinking man who keeps the business running... and the business happens to be drugs. Barksdale goes to jail and Stringer takes over the drug empire, deftly employing his natural leadership, his keen business sense, and his knowledge of modern technology to outmaneuver the authorities and stay 10 steps ahead of them. As the organization grows, he pursues a business degree and moves to legitimize the operation. His ruthless business sense would put Donald Trump to shame. When Barksdale is freed from prison, master strategist Bell’s Machiavellian scheming lands his former boss back behind bars, leaving him to run the organization once more. But Barksdale knows he’s been had and sells his former general out to their mutual enemies, leaving the Bell gunned down in one of his prospective real estate development sites.

13 Flawed TV Characters

11. Lindsey McDonald

From: Angel
An attorney for evil law firm Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey was one of Angel’s (David Boreanaz) deadliest enemies. He participated in many campaigns against Angel, including hiring Faith (Eliza Dushku) to assassinate him. Not long after, Lindsey allies himself with Angel because he can’t stomach Wolfram & Hart killing a group of blind children. Before he can leave the firm, he’s offered a promotion and stays, participating in Darla’s (Julie Benz) resurrection. He next beats Angel with a sledgehammer and runs him over with his truck, but Angel still manages to beat him. After getting a hand transplant (Angel chopped his hand off), he leaves Wolfram & Hart, and he and Angel make their. Lindsey isn’t seen for two seasons, much to the disappointment of fans, but when he returns, he returns with a vengeance. When he was murdered in the series finale, fans were just as shocked and saddened to him die as they were Wesley (Alexis Denisof).

13 Flawed TV Characters

10. Al Swearengen

From: Deadwood
Al Swearengen is based on an actual historic figure from the town of Deadwood in the late 1800s. In the show, Swearengen runs the Gem Theater, a saloon and brothel in the “mining camp” known as Deadwood. Swearengen is ruthless and greedy and enjoys his position as the main power-player in town. His has an intricate network that controls the flow of goods and services through cunning talk and side deals. In the initial episodes we see him dispatch his thugs to kill a miner demanding restitution for a claim on a worthless mining property. After the claim proves prosperous, Swearengen tries to regain control of the deed from the miner's widow in the first of numerous criminal and dubious acts we see Swearengen commit. As bad as he is, Swearengen is protective of his people, often showing generosity and compassion when the situation calls for it. When Deadwood is threatened by outside influences, such as the ever-encroaching U.S. Government, Swearengen proves a valuable ally to the townspeople.

13 Flawed TV Characters

9. Dexter

From: Dexter
Despite his “normal” demeanor, Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter forensic expert for the Miami Metro Police Department, is a serial killer. Serial killers are some of the most devious and sinister and brilliant criminals around. His adoptive father taught him the ropes and to go after those “who deserve it” and those who the long arm of Johnny Law can’t touch. Hence, he doesn’t go after cute co-eds or children or mothers, his victims are other serial killers, who are deserving of the grisly fates and vigilante justice Dexter meticulously plans out for them. A serial killer who preys upon other serial killers? That’s a hell of a lot better than preying upon innocent bystanders. Plus, you have to admit Dexter does to serial killers what many law-abiding, yet outraged citizens can only dream of doing.

13 Flawed TV Characters

8. Vic Mackey

From: The Shield
Michael Chiklis himself described his character as “a cross between Hannibal Lechter and Dirty Harry.” That about says it all. Vic Mackey is a corrupt cop in Los Angeles who believes in what’s he’s doing as he steals from drug-dealers, kills in cold blood, and even has rabid attack dogs mutilate the genitals of a rape suspect. He murdered fellow cop Det. Terry Crowley (Reed Diamond) and pinned it on a dead drug-dealer because Terry was really investigating Vic. Despite all this, Vic is a devoted father to his children and considered a family man, regardless of the fact that he cheated on his wife. Vic is a prime example of how “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the series finale, he definitely got what he deserved yet a part of you couldn’t help but feel a small – very small – iota of pity for this bald-headed bad ass.

13 Flawed TV Characters

7. Jayne Cobb

From: Firefly.
Jayne Cobb is a mercenary who is loyal only to a paycheck. Remember, he ambushed Mal (Nathan Fillion) and Zoe (Gina Torres), but turned on his gang when Mal offered him a better gig. Thuggish with very little patience and tolerance for others, particularly Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his kid sister River (Summer Glau), Jayne also has the social acumen of a gnat with a strong need for self-preservation (he’s willing to sell Simon and River out to the Alliance). However, there are some complex layers to Jayne. He does have a healthy respect for Mal. When he was believed to be a folk hero in “Jaynestown,” a man took a bullet for him, which brought him to tears and he confessed to the townspeople then that he wasn’t a hero. It’s also revealed that he sends some of his money to his mother – who knitted him an orange hat with floppy ear flaps, which he proudly wears. To say he’s a big softy would be stretching it, but you have to admit he’s a complex man.

13 Flawed TV Characters

6. Don Draper

From: Mad Men
At first glance, Don Draper is an All-American who says the coolest things, gets the hottest babes, and is successful in his career as the creative director at advertising firm Sterling Cooper. He’s the type of guy who a man would like to sit down and have a drink with. He’s the type of guy who a woman would go to bed with. Looking a bit closer, Draper’s real name is Dick Whitman. He stole a dead man’s dog tags (the real Don Draper) during the Korean War and assumed his identity to get the hell out of Dodge.  Besides being a coward, he’s also a drunk, constantly cheats on his beautiful wife, smokes like a chimney, and is generally a moody asshole. Even when his half-brother, Adam (Jay Paulson), found out he was alive, cool Don gave him $5,000 (a lot of money in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s) to stay the hell out of his life. Devastated by having his last living family member snub him, Adam hung himself.  But that is all water under the bridge when we see Don drinking whiskey and then sleeping with his daughter’s smoking hot teacher.

13 Flawed TV Characters

5. Eric Northman

From: True Blood
This is one vampire whose malignance is on par with Angelus (David Boreanaz) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He would easily dust off Edward (Robert Pattinson) from Twilight. Even the Lord of the Vampires – Dracula himself – would have to admire some of the nasty acts Eric has pulled. A powerful vampire that’s over 1,000 years old and sheriff of Area 5, which is Louisiana’ vampire district, Eric has a taste for children, finding them “delicious.” He’s attracted to waitress Sookie (Anna Paquin), who has psychic abilities. His crush turns to overt lust, especially when he has Sookie suck silver bullets out of his body, where she inadvertently drinks his blood. Now, Sookie is attracted to Eric, who can keep tabs on her at all times. What a misogynist. Yet his charms, roguish good looks, and mystique keep fans coming back for more.
 

13 Flawed TV Characters

4. Tony Soprano

From: The Sopranos
 
The godfather of the DiMeo crime family (later called the Soprano crime family), Tony Soprano has masterminded some very heinous acts, including the murders of his friend Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) and his own nephew Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). However, despite the front that’s this tower of strength, Tony is coming apart at the seams from a psychological standpoint. It’s so bad that he has to seek out psychiatric help from Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), who diagnoses his panic attacks and depression as being too linked to his deep-seated mommy issues. She even brings this mob boss to tears at one of their therapy sessions, something many made men could never do.
 

13 Flawed TV Characters

3. Spike

From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
The self-proclaimed “love’s bitch” has left a trail of death in his wake for more than a century and a half, killing for the sake of amusement and excitement. With his thick British accent and a look that inspired Billy Idol and Kiefer Sutherland’s David in The Lost Boys, Spike has a fascination with Slayers, killing two and having a strong sexual attraction to Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), with whom he later falls in love. After she rejects him, he unsuccessfully tries to rape her. Definitely a creature of pure id, Spike tells it like it is and spouts off some damned funny one-liners (“The god of what? Bad home perms?”) and monologues (his play-by-play of Angel’s heroic acts). What’s more, Spike fights by Buffy’s side on his own terms, regains his soul, “dies,” then teams up with Angel (David Boreanaz) and company, battling Wolfram and Hart to the very end. 

13 Flawed TV Characters

2. Sawyer aka James Ford

From: Lost
Anti-hero Sawyer has roguish good looks and a sarcastic streak that makes the ladies swoon. This survivor of Oceanic 815 was a conman before the plane crashed on the mysterious island. When he was 8, Sawyer’s father murdered his mother and committed suicide after being swindled out of their life’s savings. Not only does he assume the name of the man who holds responsible for the fate of his parents, Sawyer also becomes the very person he vowed to take down, cheating many people out of their money, thus driving them into bankruptcy and not giving a damn. What a prick, huh? Oddly enough, Sawyer has a twisted sense of honor that makes hating him impossible. Case in point: He was about to con a couple out of their money but pulled out at the last second when he learned they had a young child. He did not want to put him through what he went through. Not only that, he’s one of the core four – the other three being Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lily), and Hurley (Jorge Gonzalez) – who oppose the Man in Black.

13 Flawed TV Characters

1.  Dr. Gregory House

From: House, M.D.
Abrupt, abrasive, insensitive, arrogant, embittered, crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, mule-headed, confrontational, critical, cold-hearted, unsympathetic, obnoxious, emotionless – those are words that describe Gregory House on a good day. Despite his faults – and there are many, not the least of which are this miserable bastard’s addiction to Vicodin and his penchant for hookers – House is one of the most brilliant surgeons ever. He’s diagnosed many bizarre diseases and saved many lives. That is perhaps his only redeeming value, earning him the grudging respect of his colleagues and the entire medical community, not to mention making him numero uno on this list.
 
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 TV has a place in our hearts and in our homes...hey, right by my Ansel Adams pictures.  Check out some great TV related articles. For your WTF needs, we have 20 WTF TV Character Deaths. If you want to lovingly lose your mind, try 10 Awful TV Theme Songs You Can't Get Out of Your Head
 


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COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 27
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jppintar326 6/21/2010 12:10:48 AM

Of course the king of all these type of characters is JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) from Dallas.

Betenoire 6/21/2010 2:05:39 AM

I agree as House was the first one that came to mind.

I also like Gibbs from NCIS who has more than a few himself.

Chopsaki 6/21/2010 2:42:31 AM

Entourage: Ari Gold

All in the Family: Archie Bunker

The Office: Dwight Schrute

Id stick Swearengen at number one, that guy was just ruthless and yet hilarious at the same time.

Al Swearengen: "Pain or damage don't end the world. Or despair, or fucking beatings. The world ends when you're dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man... and give some back."

karas1 6/21/2010 4:10:53 AM

What about Dr Nicholas Rush from Stargate Universe?

lracors 6/21/2010 5:50:26 AM

Fun list. I woulda put Baltar much higher like #3-4 and Vic Mackey #3-4.  Also, I agree JR shoulda made the list in lue of Stringer Bell.

animefanjared 6/21/2010 6:49:14 AM

What about Jack Baur?  The man's a sociopath who continually crosses the line in the pursuit of saving his country, and yet you are always rooting for him.  He's such a strong lead that your feelings for the other characters are almost entirely dependent on whether they are helping or hindering Jack. 

Case in point: Season 3 Chloe who questions Jack and plays by the book = annoying as hell.  Season 4-8 Chloe who does pretty much whatever Jack says and verbally bitch slaps anyone who disagrees = unendingly funny and entertaining.

Rheul_home 6/21/2010 7:12:26 AM

Swearengen, Dexter, and Baltar all need to be higher on this list. I'd also include Dwight from The Office.

ddiaz28 6/21/2010 7:13:38 AM

Stringer Bell definitely belongs on this list.  Even though he was such a bad guy, I couldn't help but like him at the same time.  I couldn't wait to see him get what was coming to him, but when he finally did get it, I was definitley sad.  You could even add McNulty to this list.  What a likeable asshole.

fft5305 6/21/2010 8:44:56 AM

I definitely would have had Dexter and especially Vic Mackey higher. In fact, I think Vic might have been my #1. Cool list, though, overall.

superrichtheman 6/21/2010 11:18:39 AM

Chops-

Archie Bunker is a great call. 

Gotta disagree with Ari Gold- I just hate Jeremy Piven no matter the role :)

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