Let’s get this out of the way, right off the bat – there has never been a time where fans have had so many great superhero TV shows on the air. Marvel and DC have more and more shows coming out each year, and most of them are great. Unfortunately, even on good shows, there are a couple crappy characters. Most of the time, these characters don’t derail a show. It’s just that every time they appear on screen, you groan and go grab a drink from the fridge.
The worst part is that most of the characters on this list aren’t so bad that they can’t be fixed, though some are far too gone at this point. These bad characters are either the result of horrible ideas, or victims of common TV tropes. Some of them are inexcusable, especially when we’re dealing with characters that had long histories on the printed page. It doesn’t make sense to have bad characters when these writers have dozens of stories to pull from. It should also be said that the actors portraying the characters are mostly great, so the fault usually lies elsewhere. Without further ado, let’s look at the 15 worst characters in current superhero TV shows.
15. THEA QUEEN
During the first couple seasons of Arrow, Thea is just a bratty younger sister to Oliver Queen. That gets played out a bit, so they turn her into a bad guy, who learns how to be an extremely competent martial artist over a few months. Then, after that story runs its course, she makes the big leap into being Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick, who conveniently is an expert marksman. Finally, she becomes the Chief of Staff for Oliver’s Mayoral tenure. It’s ridiculous.
When you have a cast member that consistently changes careers, abilities, and characterizations, that’s the sign of a truly bad character. It’s hard to even nail down who she is as a character because every season she’s changing. Sometimes they explore her as a person, normally by giving her a boyfriend, but those are lame attempts to make her more than just a superficial character.
14. GRANT WARD
Grant Ward started Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as an interesting character. He was the prototypical S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He was a good straight man to Coulson’s quips. Ward was a little boring, but that was part of the charm. Then all hell breaks loose, and SURPRISE, he’s an undercover Hydra Agent. Holy crap! That’s awesome, right? Ward then became a pretty great rogue Hydra agent, but eventually the wheels fell off.
The fact is that Ward just lasted too long on the show. Brett Dalton’s performance was great early on, but once the first season ended, he should have either been killed or left the show some other way. Every season since, they’ve just dragged out the “is he bad?” angle before killing him off and making him possessed by Hive… and then killing him off again. Ward is a character who greatly overstayed his welcome.
13. RAY PALMER
In the comics, Ray Palmer is a great character. He’s survived decades of stories in the DCU. Unfortunately, in the Arrowverse, he’s a bit of a tool. This is no fault of Brandon Routh who, considering what he’s working with, does a great job. It’s just hard to make Ray Palmer a great character when he is so clearly a Tony Stark rip-off on the show.
If you show a random person on the street Atom’s suit, they would think it’s a new Iron Man armor. The suit he wears allows him to fly around and shoot weapons. Seriously, the whole third season of Arrow, Palmer is the jokester CEO of a tech company who flies around in a suit of armor protecting people. Come on! It’s not even until the next season that he gets the ability to shrink. Routh is the only reason Palmer is even watchable.
12. WILL SIMPSON
Nuke is not the most well-known Marvel villain. He’s had a couple amazing storylines, particularly involving Daredevil and Captain America. However, when they introduced Will Simpson, aka Nuke, on the first season of Jessica Jones, they took everything that made him interesting and discarded it. Instead, they turn him into a psychotic abusive boyfriend. Worst of all, they don’t even let him wear the facepaint!
Joking aside, Nuke is a very formidable villain in the comics. He’s basically an offshoot of the Weapon X and Super Soldier programs, who uses powerful drugs and cybernetic enhancements to murder people. In the show, he’s a cop with a military past who goes crazy, starts taking a couple pills and abuses women. People who just know him from the show think he’s forgettable, but comic fans see him as a wasted opportunity. So, no matter how you cut it, he’s just not a good character.
11. BRUCE WAYNE
If you have a show called Gotham, you better hope Bruce Wayne is the best character. Unfortunately, in reality, he’s one of the worst. By taking Bruce Wayne and making him an angsty teen, you are missing everything that makes Bruce/Batman such a beloved icon. If you talk to fans of Batman, and you ask what makes him awesome, no one is going to say, “I love how he mopes all the time and gets angsty about his parents dying!”
The actor who plays Bruce in the show is a fine actor, but the character just isn’t good at all. During the first season of the show, he’s so clearly forced into the storylines that it just feels wrong. There’s no reason why Bruce Wayne even needs to be there, and when he is there, viewers just get annoyed. For a show about Gotham City, that’s a travesty.
Netflix’s Luke Cage is a great TV show. Almost every character on it is memorable. Well, all but one. Shades is a character that is boring, one-note, and completely useless. “But he wears cool sunglasses all the time!” Sorry, that doesn’t make you a good character.
Shades isn’t actually a character. Viewers learn nothing about him, outside of his preferred eyewear. He was in jail with Luke, but why? What’s the point? The point is that he will be the person who recognizes Luke. That’s all. Before that, all he does is say “Diamondback isn’t going to be happy.” Seriously, he walks around looking sketchy, warns people about Diamondback, and then recognizes Luke. Sorry, bud, you’re not a good character. You’re just a guy in sunglasses.
9. HEAT WAVE
Heat Wave got shortchanged when he was introduced on The Flash. The big problem was he was introduced alongside one of the most interesting villains on TV, Captain Cold. When you’re trying to be relevant, and special, next to Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, you’re just going to suffer. So, Heat Wave ends up being written as a hot head (get it?), who is basically just angry muscle.
The Flash normally does a pretty good job fleshing out their villains. Some of the cheesiest, weirdest comic book villains are made to be pretty cool on the show. Heat Wave just never gets that luxury over the course of multiple Arrowverse appearances. He’s just dull, and that’s one of the biggest sins for any character, no matter the medium.
Winn is a poor man’s Felicity Smoak. Sorry, it has to be said. The producers of Supergirl were obviously trying to mimic the success they had on Arrow between Oliver and Felicity with Kara and Winn. Unfortunately, it just never worked. His unrequited love of Kara just didn’t have the same chemistry and fan interest as “Olicity.”
So, instead of pursuing that angle, the show just keeps making him more and more like Felicity. Evil dad? Check. Joins the heroes as the computer guy? Check. Makes nerdy, awkward comments all the time? Check. Actually becomes a pseudo-hero, who doesn’t actually do any physical combat while assisting the heroes? Check. Sorry, but if you’re just a bad copy of a character that already exists in the universe, then you deserve to be on this list.
Davos exists on this list because he represents another case of wasted potential. By inserting the character in the second half of what was a slow, meandering, overall bleh first season of Iron Fist, you tease what could have been a much better series. When he’s introduced and you learn who he is, you realize that Steel Serpent could have made a pretty great villain for the first season.
Wasted potential also can lead to poor characterization. In the first season of Iron Fist, Davos is a character that is clearly being held back. Audiences don’t learn a whole lot about him. He just becomes another boring character surrounded by other boring characters because the show’s producers want to “save” him for the future. Don’t waste our time with promises of what could be a better show, and then handicap the character because he’ll be better in the future. Annoying.
6. PHIL COULSON
We all liked Phil Coulson in the first two Iron Man films. We downright fell in love with him during The Avengers, where he made the ultimate sacrifice. But you know what? He should have stayed dead. Honestly, Coulson was the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the films.He even became the ver reason the heroes all come together at the end of the first Avengers film. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s almost too much of a good thing.
It’s like what your mom always told you, if you eat too much candy, it’ll taste good at first, but eventually you’ll get sick. Coulson’s shtick was fun in small doses, but over the course of the series, it becomes grating. On top of that, the convoluted way they brought him back from the dead complicated a character that was great because of his simplicity.
5. FISH MOONEY
Why is Fish Mooney a bad character? Let’s count the ways: 1) The name is the worst. It’s so cheesy and stupid, and doesn’t even come close to fitting the character. 2) Her dialogue is too corny for the corniest Bond villain. 3) She comes back to life, after a quality death, which negates the emotional impact of her demise to begin with. 4) When she comes back, she gains superpowers that are just used for plot conveniences, and aren’t really used to educate us on the character. 5) She dies again! Which we can hope is the final time.
Seriously, of all the crazy things Gotham has done, creating Fish Mooney is probably the show’s biggest sin. She wasn’t scary or intimidating. She wasn’t cool or unique. Fish is just one of the worst characters on any TV show in recent memory. Now, let’s wait until they resurrect her again.
4. DANNY RAND
You may have noticed that Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones aren’t on this list, and that’s for good reason. They’re great. You know who isn’t great? The fourth Defender, Iron Fist. Boy, was that show a letdown. While none of the Marvel Netflix shows have been perfect, they’ve all been anchored by a strong performance from the lead character. That’s why Danny Rand is on this list. If he was anywhere near a great character, Rand could have lifted the meh-ness all around him into a halfway decent series.
Now, this has nothing to do with the racial controversy that surrounds the show. Unfortunately, the character is just incredibly dull. His fight scenes were boring. His power is cool, but not used enough. He’s whiny. Worst of all, there’s no costume to be seen. Come on, Marvel TV, you could have done so much better than this!
3. JAY GARRICK
Jay Garrick is a classic member of The Flash comic book family. He’s been around for decades, and seeing him brought to life should be exciting. Unfortunately, the excitement around the character of Jay Garrick on The Flash TV series is less about Jay and more about the actor wearing the winged helmet. John Wesley Shipp played The Flash on the ill-fated ‘90s Flash series, and when the twist occurred that he would be playing Jay, everyone went crazy.
The problem is that Shipp and the writers created a Jay Garrick that’s basically The Flash from the ‘90s show. He is basically Barry Allen as an older, wiser Flash. They could have done so much with the character, but they were handcuffed by the Shipp casting. Shipp even admitted this in an interview where he said, “I figured Jay is my version of Barry, 25 years later, essentially. So I went back and I watched a couple of episodes of the 1990/91 version to kind of remind myself what I did.”
2. QUENTIN LANCE
Quentin Lance is another character in Arrow that changes every season to whatever makes him more relevant. He starts as a recovering alcoholic detective who hates Oliver Queen because he blames Oliver for the death of his daughter. Then he becomes an ally to Team Arrow and becomes a high-ranking figure in the Star City PD. However, after the death of Laurel, he becomes a drunk, yet again, and loses his job. Don’t worry though, eventually he comes back as the Deputy Mayor under Oliver.
You see? This is crazy. The writers on Arrow must think that drastically altering a character every season equals growth. Unfortunately, all it leaves viewers with is no idea who the character actually is. He’s a cliché alcoholic character that has emotional breakdowns whenever the writers need drama, then he comes back to being a good guy before having another emotional breakdown. Over and over again.
1. BARBARA KEAN
Who is Barbara Kean? The Gotham character is impossible to describe in a sentence. That’s because no one really knows who Barbara is. She started loyal and sweet art gallery owner, with some issues. Barbara then became a little bit more unstable. She then has a mental breakdown and kills her parents. She then becomes a sorta, kinda Harley Quinn. Don’t forget the time she was in a coma. Finally, she became a boss in the criminal underworld. However, she gets betrayed by her partner and is electrocuted, but probably will come back to life next season.
Did you get all that? Didn’t think so. Seriously, Barbara Kean is a character that is portrayed so unrealistically, with her character going through major changes on a whim, that she’s impossible to describe to someone. To think this is the character from the comics that gives birth to Batgirl. Wow.
Who is your least favorite character on superhero TV right now? Let us know in the comments!