The TV landscape has changed plenty in the past few decades, and there are more diverse perspectives on screen than ever before. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some of the most toxic male characters on TV â€” or that there haven’t been plenty of them in the past. Whether they’re outright cynics or just manipulative boyfriends, these are guys you’d definitely want to steer clear of if you met them in real life.
Unfortunately, many of these characters aren’t outright terrible, at least not the way the show portrays them. Some of these figures, like Friends‘ Ross Geller or Gossip Girl‘s Chuck Bass, appear in romantic scenes as well as ones that come across as possessive. Even figures like Kilgrave, Jessica Jones‘ looming villain in season 1, seem to have their redeemable moments. Like in real life, it’s not always so easy to spot a toxic male character, at least not at first. Manipulative actions can look like kindness, making toxic behaviors hard to spot. But while figures like Ross have done some nice things over the course of their character arcs, that doesn’t excuse their their manipulative-seeming behavior. With that in mind, these are some of the most toxic male characters who’ve appeared on TV.
The Office is a beloved show for plenty of people, but its characters are hardly perfect. Michael Scott is, to put it bluntly, a sexist, homophobic, and racist boss. Fans of the show will argue that’s part of the show’s joke. But either way, there are plenty of Michael Scott scenes that are just painful to watch.
Friends fans rewatching the series through a modern lens might be surprised to learn Ross isn’t exactly the sweetheart they might remember. Ross was often possessive during his on-again, off-again relationship with Rachel, but that’s not even his only fault. He couldn’t accept the fact that his son, Ben, liked playing with a Barbie doll. And when Rachel wanted to hire a man as their daughter’s nanny, Ross couldn’t accept that the job could be done by anyone other than a woman.
Ted’s treatment of Robin over the course of How I Met Your Mother is questionable, to say the least, but he still wins her over in the end. Aside from his pushiness with Robin, though â€” who tells someone they’re falling in love on a first date? â€”Â he wasn’t great towards the other women he dated, either. He broke up with Natalie on her birthday, twice, and tried to pass it off as him doing what was best for her.
To be fair, Jimmy is far from the only toxic character on this show. Still, no one deserves to be yanked around the way Jimmy treats Gretchen. And there’s a reason so many people in Jimmy’s life frankly can’t stand him. Jimmy has a penchant for insulting other people, rather than hearing what they have to say. While that often works for his and Gretchen’s dysfunctional relationship, the constant rudeness can be devastating over time, especially for someone like Edgar, who Jimmy constantly mistreats. And that’s to say nothing of his abandoning Gretchen right after proposing to her.
Olivia and Fitz were always going to end up together â€”Â but both of them, and their relationship, were far from perfect. Fitz has a history of getting emotionally intense when things don’t go his way, and he was rarely appreciative of everything Mellie did for their relationship (and his public image). At one point, Fitz even called Mellie “ornamental,” saying her opinions didn’t matter.
Kilgrave is one of the most clearly toxic men on this list, considering the fact that he was the show’s villain in the first season. Still, he wasn’t the typical comic-book villain, because his manipulation was more subtle. At some points, Kilgrave even did things for Jessica that could be seen as acts of kindness or love â€”Â but really, he was just trying to control her. Villainy isn’t always so black and white, and Jessica Jones showed that toxic behaviors can take many forms.
Evan Peters often ends up playing toxic men in the American Horror Story installments, but Kai Anderson was one of his creepiest roles. Kai was skilled at luring people into his cult, but one of the most disturbing aspects was that he was able to win them over by pretending to be interested in them romantically.
When The Mindy Project first started, Mindy and Danny seemed to have a sweet will-they, won’t-they relationship. Eventually, they did, and they went on to have a son together. But Danny changed from the caring man he once was into someone who was possessive and controlling. He wanted Mindy to be a stay-at-home mom and give up her career, and his manipulation eventually led Mindy to leave him. The two of them did get back together in the end, but it was hard for the show to recover Danny’s character after all of his past actions.
This isn’t a popular opinion, but whenever I see posts about how perfect Jim and Pam are as a couple, I am not pleased. BuzzFeed’s Hilary Mitchell summed up why Jim Halpert is the worst in a viral article last year, and honestly, there are too many reasons to list. But a number of them involve his apathy and his making decisions without consulting his wife first. Pam didn’t know about his job in Philadelphia at first, and he bought his parents’ house without even asking her opinion. Plus, Jim’s treatment of Dwight isn’t really that funny â€” it’s just mean.
I’ll preface this one by saying that in the second season, the This Is Us writers have made Toby a much more sympathetic character than he was when the show started. He’s devoted to Kate and knew just how to help her get through their miscarriage. But in the first season, Toby was a clingy boyfriend who didn’t seem to respect Kate’s wishes.
He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer about the Super Bowl, instead creating an elaborate fake party and causing her to tell him about her late dad before she was ready. He also didn’t respect her relationship with her twin, Kevin, at first, saying he was competing with him for Kate’s attention. Fortunately, Toby’s character has gone in a much better direction since those early episodes.
Though there are many things to love about Fuller House, the show’s treatment of Steve isn’t one of them. He went from being a lovable Full House character to someone who’s honestly pretty clingy in the new show. He also mistreated his fiancĂ©e, C.J. â€” the D.J. lookalike he dated â€”Â by flirting with D.J. during their engagement and even during wedding planning sessions. He consistently disregarded C.J.’s feelings, with all of his actions motivated by his obsession with D.J. That level of devotion isn’t sweet â€”Â it’s just creepy.
As any fan of the CW show will tell you, Chuck was sexually aggressive with two women in the series’ pilot. That’s an impossible thing to come back from â€”Â and he didn’t change much over the course of the series. There was the time he tried to set Blair up to sleep with his Uncle Jack. And, honestly, every time he said “I’m Chuck Bass” was toxic enough, too. Chuck and Blair’s relationship was hardly a fairytale ending, and frankly, Blair and Dan should have been endgame.
Jonathan has had his share of sweet moments with his younger brother, Will. But when it comes to Nancy, Jonathan is pretty creepy, especially in the show’s first season. He’s essentially a stalker, and he took photos of her undressing while she was with Steve. Even if he wasn’t specifically seeking out those images, he still took them, and didn’t delete them. Steve was right to smash Jonathan’s camera â€” there’s no defense for him taking those photos.
This is a tricky one, since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend loves to play on tropes about nice guys and what it means to be emotional. But regardless of Rebecca’s actions, Trent is 100 percent a creep. He keeps showing up in Rebecca’s life (and in her house), even threatening Nathaniel in Instagram messages to her. Much like Rebecca’s devotion to Josh, Trent’s obsession with Rebecca is far from healthy.
Sherlock is the quintessential jerk who’s great at his job. He consistently gets away with mistreating everyone close to him, all because he’s such a great detective. He has redeeming moments, especially with Watson and Mary, but this is also someone who proposed marriage in order to help solve a case. And that’s not to mention how rude he is to Molly, like when he mocked her for wrapping his holiday gift too nicely.
Don Draper is one of TV’s greatest antiheroes, and his success came with a price. He’s is more than just a jerk â€” he’s willing to do anything it takes to get what he wants, including sexual aggression.
13 Reasons Why is controversial for plenty of reasons, but it’s also worth noting, though, that the show’s hero, Clay, isn’t much better than the rest of his classmates. He only starts being kind to Skye because he feels guilty about what happens to Hannah. And he slut-shamed Hannah after what happened with Justin. Yes, Clay is dealing with a lot, but he’s far from being a perfect guy.
You may not have realized it during the first time you watched these shows, but these male characters from your favorite TV shows were toxic.