HBO / ABC / 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, unlikable, flat-out awful (fictional) person on the small screen.

This bracket, while intended to determine the relative awfulness of characters on television, is subject to the fact that “worst” is a complex superlative that can incorporate a number of different qualities. In no way are we suggesting that being a narcissistic 20-something is equivalent to, say, killing people and eating them. Rather, our goal is simply to map out which of these fictional characters we love to hate and which we hate to love.

See the bracket in its entirety here.

The Case for Marnie (Girls)

HBO

Why this character is the actual worst: When people use “pretty girls” as an epithet, they’re talking about girls like Marnie Michaels. She’s a high-strung, annoying perfectionist who jumps to judge others, while her own life is a professional and moral mess. She manipulates men into having sex with her out of insecurity, including at least two of her best friends’ ex-boyfriends. Worst of all, she’s fake, offering false-toned apologies and always performing for those she’s trying to impress.

Worst moment/s: Being drawn in by the artist Booth Jonathan with the worst pick-up line in all of history; singing a ballad-version of Kanye West’s “Stronger” at her newly successful ex-boyfriend’s work party to get his attention; every time she sleeps with someone else’s boyfriend. And: Marnie and Desi.

Worst trait/s: She’s taken with fame, flattered easily, and willing to make a jerk of herself to win approval—mostly from (really lame) men.

Redeeming moments/qualities: In spite of herself, Marnie can be generous. She’s the first of the girls to be really patient with Shosh; she pays Hannah’s apartment bills. They’re rare moments of non-self-absorption, but they’re redeeming. —Emma Green


The Case for Fitz (Scandal)

ABC

Why this character is the actual worst: It’s impossible to beat Linda Holmes’s case for why Fitz is the worst, or Alyssa Rosenberg’s, or Kid Fury’s. Let’s just recap thusly: Fitz is an overprivileged, murderous, man-shaped infant whose libido dictates his foreign policy. As punishment for manipulating the engines of democracy to get him elected, his friends and associates have had to spend his presidency coping with his soul-deep corruption, petty jealousies, and severe allergy to anything that looks like accountability. He has, essentially, everything he’s ever wanted, yet he insists on more, thereby ruining the lives of everyone he says he loves.

Worst moment/s: Sending American troops to war in a bid to save Olivia’s life. Going to the hospital to visit an old friend about to die from cancer, just so he could murder her instead. The fact that he cheated on his wife with at least two different women barely even rates a mention in the long catalogue of Fitz’s sins.

Worst trait/s: He’s one of the richest, most powerful people in the world, with two gorgeous women vying for his affections. Yet this is his only expression.

Redeeming moments/qualities: Olivia and Mellie both out-league Fitz, but he’s nice to look at, preferably without sound/his shirt. —Matt Thompson

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