AMC / FX / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

Throughout the month of November, we’re soliciting readers’ help to definitively answer an age-old question: Who is the actual worst character on television? We reviewed your submissions, did our own research, and came up with a list of 32 characters across four different categories, who’ll go head to head over the next four weeks until one of them is crowned as the most despicable, unlikeable, flat-out awful (fictional) person on the small screen.

See the bracket in its entirety here.

The Case for Andrea (The Walking Dead)

AMC

Why this character is the actual worst: At every crucial decision point she encounters, Andrea is incapable of making the right call. She’s the absolute worst judge of character, throwing her lot in with the untrustworthy Shane and then the tyrannical Governor, and changing course only when it’s far too late. On paper, Andrea should be a hero: she’s a key member of the survivors fighting the zombie apocalypse and a crack shot with a sniper rifle. But she’s just too infuriating to root for.

Worst moment/s: At a crucial point in the third season, the sword-wielding hero Michonne has a chance to kill the Governor—and Andrea stops her, pointing a gun at her head and making her flee. The Governor, in case you didn’t know, is a brutal psycho who executes anyone who disobeys with his rule and keeps their heads in jars. Andrea eventually realizes the mistake she’s made allying with him, but only when he locks her in a room with a zombie to kill her.

Worst trait/s: She’s far too trusting. Andrea also hooks up with the villainous Shane at his lowest moment, and some of her friends end up dying at zombie hands when she supports his misdeeds.

Redeeming moments/qualities: Andrea is, at heart, a good person—she just makes a lot of mistakes, and it’s easy to blame the show’s writers for repeatedly using her to justify nasty turns of plot. In the first season, she loses her sister to zombies, which informs every decision she makes after that. So, it’s easy to sympathize, but hard to love Andrea all the same. —David Sims


The Case for Elsa (American Horror Story: Freak Show)

FX

Why this character is the actual worst: While running her “Cabinet of Curiosities” in AHS season four, Elsa is equal parts protective mother and murderous narcissist. These two personas make her the kind of woman who would take in society’s most vulnerable—such as a sweet, physically tiny woman, or a man born with shortened upper limbs—only to threaten their lives if they get in the way of her fame. There’s something especially grotesque about a person who behaves maternally only to betray the love and trust of her “children” for a vague chance of stardom.

Worst moment/s: When she accidentally-on-purpose stabs her secret lover Paul in the gut after strapping him to a spinning wheel. Later, as his condition worsens, Elsa lies about having called an ambulance. She also secretly sells the twins, Dot and Bette, to a serial killer because she thinks they’re stealing her spotlight.

Worst trait/s: She’s the World’s Worst Surrogate Mother, but it’s her accent that makes Elsa unbearable to watch. Her German lilt strains at some echoes of Old World glamour, but rendered in Jessica Lange’s trademark AHS breathiness (why she is always whispering?!), it makes every line of dialogue a struggle to digest.

Redeeming moments/qualities: Her wistful, aging-starlet performance of Lana Del Rey’s “Gods and Monsters” is one of the few truly charming moments of American Horror Story: Freak Show. —Lenika Cruz

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