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.
The Case for Gus (Breaking Bad)
Why this character is the actual worst: He’s an international drug lord responsible for mass distribution of methamphetamines across the Southwestern United States, so that certainly counts against him. Behind a placid exterior, Gus nurses a ruthless acumen for business and organized crime, and is happy to murder anyone who defies him, even if they’re making him money, like the show’s antihero Walter White.
Worst moment/s: After his loyal assistant Victor makes a mistake cleaning up a crime scene and is spotted by civilians, Gus decides to make an example out of him. He calmly dons a hazmat suit and picks up a box cutter, seemingly preparing to get rid of a stammering Walter, who caused the crime scene Victor cleaned up, but then wordlessly draws the knife across Victor’s throat. “Well, get back to work,” he says.
Worst trait/s: He bears grudges. Gus’s undoing is his unending vendetta against the Mexican cartels, which gets him to drop his cool exterior and eventually leads to him making some stupid decisions. But also, for such a good manager, he could value people’s loyalty a little more. Poor Victor.
Redeeming moments/qualities: He’s a polite man, and seemingly a good business owner: His legitimate business is the fried-chicken chain Pollos Hermanos, and darn if Gus isn’t nice to the customers, fair with his co-workers, and the kind of manager who does shifts behind the cash register just to stay in touch with everyone. Maybe he just should have stuck to chicken. —David Sims
The Case for Wilson (Daredevil)
Why this character is the actual worst: There are plenty of good reasons to despise Wilson Fisk. He successfully embodies corruption and intimidation. He’s also a sociopathic murderer. But perhaps the thing that really makes Fisk so awful is his warped sense of self. Even without the nuance provided in the comic, Fisk’s difficult start—he was a bullied, chubby child with an abusive father who he winds up murdering—makes it easy to feel for him. So does his love for Vanessa, his mother, and his right-hand man, James Wesley. But the tenderness he shows those closest to him only makes his brutal methods of dealing with just about everyone else even more heinous. Fisk commits unspeakable crimes but severely punishes even the most minor of transgressions against his loved ones. He’s at once overly sensitive and almost completely unfeeling.
Worst moment/s: The time he used a car door to liquify the skull of an associate after he was embarrassed on a date with Vanessa. Or the intensely personal and devastating murder of the journalist who unwittingly visited Fisk’s ailing mother along with Karen Page and learned about Fisk’s violent past.
Worst trait/s: Violent, murderous temper tantrums. The hypocrisy with which he defends those he loves while carelessly tearing others apart.
Redeeming moments/qualities: Just about any interaction he has with his elderly mother. —Gillian B. White