10 of the most annoying main characters in TV history — sorry

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Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey in "Gossip Girl."The CW
  • It's a time-honored TV tradition that the best characters are usually side characters.

  • That leaves some main characters that are far less popular.

  • Dan Humphrey, Dawson Leery, and Will Schuester are some of TV's most annoying characters — sorry.

Often, a TV show's main character is its moral compass, but because that's no fun to watch, they are also messy and mistake-prone … which means they're also hypocrites.

At least that's the case for many of these characters, which we've deemed to be the most annoying main characters in TV history.

Meanwhile, anti-heroes and snarky side characters can be morally gray, get all the good one-liners, and make the difficult decisions the heroes can't.

The following TV shows all lasted for many seasons, leading to successful and lucrative careers for their stars. However, the actors may never be able to fully escape how much they annoyed some viewers.

Here are some of the most annoying main characters in TV history.

Part of Ted Mosby's character in "How I Met Your Mother" was his annoying tendencies.

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Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby on "How I Met Your Mother."CBS

Even though Ted's annoying qualities were built into his character — and in fact, his friends were constantly making fun of his quirks — it didn't mean it was any easier to watch him constantly make horrible decisions in his love life.

Over the course of nine seasons, we watched Ted emotionally terrorize multiple women, secretly pine for his best friend's fiancée, help another woman leave her husband-to-be at the altar, and then wonder why he wasn't finding his happily ever after.

Besides that, Ted is a snob, a stickler for grammar, and just a judgmental person. We think "HIMYM" should've just been about Marshall.

Elena Gilbert ping-ponged between two brothers on "The Vampire Diaries," making her no better than her doppelgänger, Katherine.

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Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert on "The Vampire Diaries."The CW

When Elena meets Stefan and Damon, a pair of vampire brothers, in the first couple of episodes of "The Vampire Diaries," she learns about their shared ex-girlfriend, Katherine. She also learns that Katherine's manipulations of the brothers led to a century-long rift between them.

Katherine is also established as one of the show's most formidable antagonists, with almost all of the characters hating her and judging her — and she admits to being a villain.

But what did Elena do over the course of the first six seasons of "TVD"? She started by dating Stefan while developing feelings for Damon, and she eventually dumped Stefan to be with Damon.

That's not even the annoying part, though.

What actually gets us is that Elena is probably one of the most self-righteous main characters in TV history, judging everyone else for making mistakes. Meanwhile, the character whose actions she most closely emulates is Katherine. Make it make sense!

Lucas Scott pitted two best friends against each other on "One Tree Hill" in a toxic love triangle.

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Chad Michael Murray as Lucas Scott.Warner Bros. Television Distribution

If a boy is dating your best friend while simultaneously sharing some of his deepest darkest secrets with you, bonding with you over your shared love of music and art, and brooding about your friendship: run.

We wish we could have told Brooke and Peyton this before they jeopardized their lifelong friendship for the affections of Lucas Scott in the first six seasons of "OTH."

Honestly, Lucas earned a spot on "FBoy Island" with the way he treated women.

Ross Geller made us laugh, sure, but he also made us groan on "Friends."

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David Schwimmer as Ross Geller in "Friends."NBC

If all you have to say in response to sleeping with someone else the night you break up with your girlfriend is, "We were on a break," you're annoying. Those are just the rules.

Ross easily provided some of the funniest moments throughout the 10 seasons of "Friends," and we'd never get rid of him. But his pretentiousness, "nice guy" vibes, and how he felt entitled to Rachel even after they had broken up remain annoying.

Rory Gilmore's lack of growth on "Gilmore Girls" annoyed fans to no end.

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Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore in "Gilmore Girls."The WB

Rory Gilmore's downfall in the Netflix revival of "Gilmore Girls" was the main topic of discussion after the show premiered in 2016, nine years after the original show ended. She still acted like a teenager, was sleeping with an engaged man, and kept forgetting to break up with her perfectly nice boyfriend.

But real fans know that Rory has always been annoying. Who can forget when she called her ex-boyfriend Dean "my Dean," even though he was married to someone else?

Or when she decided to drop out of Yale and steal a boat and then had the gall to act annoyed when she got sentenced to community service instead of prison?

Or when she got mad at one of her fellow students for stealing her study spot under a tree at Yale?

The list goes on and on. It's not like Lorelai or Emily are perfect, but we'd much prefer a Rory-lite seven seasons of "Gilmore Girls."

Even before we knew Dan Humphrey was the titular Gossip Girl, his judgy personality was grating.

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Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey in "Gossip Girl."The CW

Yes, the finale reveal that Dan was Gossip Girl made him extremely creepy. But before he was creepy, he was just a grating presence on the Upper East Side.

Dan simultaneously hated his upper-crust classmates and was desperate to be one of them. Even though he vocally complained about them, Dan ended up dating Blair and Serena and befriending Nate, three of the wealthiest people at his high school.

Plus, his Williamsburg loft was easily worth at least $1 million, and his dad was a former rock star turned gallery owner. You are not poor, Dan!

There's no shortage of memes about how annoying "Sex and the City's" Carrie Bradshaw is.

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Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City."HBO

Once "SATC" was revived as "And Just Like That," the memes started coming, and they haven't stopped. A recent meme format is how each one of the ladies would respond to various situations or disasters — and without fail, Carrie's only response is "Big is moving to Paris."

Across "SATC's" six seasons, Carrie proved to be a bad friend, self-involved, a cheater, and sometimes delusional.

However, she holds the friend group together and remains iconic, so we'll take her, annoying tendencies and all.

When Will Schuester of "Glee" pops up on TikTok, he comes with a trigger warning.

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Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester in "Glee."Fox

It's true. Anytime a "Glee" performance or scene is posted online, the caption or comments warn that Mr. Schue, the glee club's faculty advisor, will appear.

Between his inappropriate performances with his students, his punishing of Marley for not wanting to wear a bikini during a school performance, his dedication to rapping or singing '80s rock, and his declaration that all the kids in New Directions were "minorities" because they were in glee club, we can't pick the most annoying thing about Will.

None of the Gallaghers were easy to love on "Shameless," but Debbie takes the cake.

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Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher in "Shameless."Showtime

By design, the Gallagher family is full of anti-heroes. But over the course of 11 seasons, one Gallagher comes to mind as the most annoying, and that's Debbie.

Where to start? Most infamously, Debbie traps her boyfriend into getting her pregnant and then feels entitled to her older sister Fiona's support, even though Fiona made it clear she didn't approve of Debbie keeping the baby.

But Debbie never seemed to learn from her mistakes, and she didn't have the charm that Fiona, Lip, Ian, or even Carl did. Unfortunately, that lands her at the bottom of our Gallagher rankings.

Even though it was "Dawson's Creek," we'd prefer to leave Dawson out of it and focus on Joey, Pacey, and Jen.

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James Van Der Beek as Dawson Leery in "Dawson's Creek."The WB

If you've seen just one episode of "Dawson's Creek," you'll know why people can't stand Dawson. He strung his best friend Joey along for years, resented when she found happiness with Pacey, couldn't process any of his feelings outside movie references, and had one of the worst crying faces of all time.

It's a wonder that "Dawson's Creek" lasted six seasons without Dawson getting yelled at constantly.

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