Downright Destructive: The Most Toxic Characters In Television History

The majority of shows have a mix of characters, some who are good and some who are awful people. This helps to keep the show interesting, push the plot forward, and create tension among the characters. However, some characters are just downright toxic, with their actions towards others spanning from sadistic to manipulative and cruel. Take a look to see some of the most toxic characters in television history!

Joe Goldberg – You

Picture of Penn Badgley as Joe
Lifetime/Netflix
Lifetime/Netflix

Joe Goldberg is the main protagonist and fictional character of the book series You, as well as the television series of the same name. In the show, he is portrayed by the actor Penn Badgley, and by Gianni Ciardiello and Aidan Wallace as the youthful version of the character.

Joe is not only a stalker but a serial killer. He developed an incredibly delusional obsession with the character Guinevere Beck while working as a bookstore manager in New York.

Eric Cartman – South Park

Picture of Eric Cartman
Comedy Central
Comedy Central

Eric Theodore Cartman, otherwise known as Eric Cartman, is an animated character in the television series South Park, created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Cartman is voiced by Parker. He’s one of the four main characters of the series and first appeared in the 1992 animated short Jesus vs. Frosty.

Since his inception, Eric Cartman has been a narcissistic, arrogant, and prejudiced character who usually acts in psychopathic and sociopathic ways, such as feeding another character his own parents in a dish of chili.

Benjamin Linus – Lost

Picture of Linus
ABC
ABC

Portrayed by Michael Emerson on the hit series Lost, Benjamin Linus was a leader of the native island group known as the Others.

Originally known as Henry Gale by the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, he was one of the main antagonists of the second and third seasons of the show, although in later seasons, the show focuses on the main characters. Nevertheless, there is a feeling that he has a higher purpose in the series.

Dennis Reynolds – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Picture of Dennis
FX
FX

A fictional character of the FX television series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis Reynolds can be described as nothing short of a psychopath, and is portrayed by actor Glenn Howerton.

As a co-owner of Paddy’s Pub, he works alongside other characters in the series, including Charlie Kelly, Ronald ‘Mac’ McDonald, and his twin sister Dee Reynolds. He’s a major player when it comes to the gang’s schemes and doesn’t appear to care about anyone but himself.

Walter White – Breaking Bad

Picture of Walter White
AMC
AMC

Although Walter White started out as a high school chemistry teacher and family man, he has one of the most intense character arches in the history of television. Starting out as a man who is constantly walked over, he grows to become a ruthless narcotics kingpin.

By the end of the series, his kill list is nothing short of shocking, and Walter White is considered to be one of the most iconic television characters of all time.

Chuck Bass – Gossip Girl

Picture of Chuck Bass
The CW
The CW

Charles Bartholomew Bass, otherwise known as Chuck, is a fictional character in the television series Gossip Girl. While he is a secondary antagonist in the original book series, in the television show, he is an antihero and main character of the show.

Bass is known for his desire for financial gain, style, and carnal pleasures, and is regarded as the “bad boy” of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He is also manipulative and vengeful, sometimes plotting with Blair Waldorf.

Killgrave – Jessica Jones

Picture of Kilgrave
Netflix
Netflix

The Purple Man, otherwise known as Zebediah Killgrave, is a supervillain first appearing in American comic books by Marvel Comics. His body produces a pheromone that allows him to verbally control the actions of others. Initially a recurring enemy of Daredevil, he eventually became the archenemy of Jessica Jones.

A modified version of the character was portrayed by David Tennant on the Netflix series Jessica Jones, with the character being ranked in Rolling Stone’s “40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time” list.

Tate Langdon – American Horror Story

Picture of Tate
FX
FX

Tate Langdon, also known as The Rubber Man, is the main antagonist of the first series of American Horror Story, with the season being titled Murder House. In the show, his ghost befriends and becomes the boyfriend of Violet Harmon.

He is also the father to Michael Langdon, the Anti-Christ that is conceived after he assaults Vivien Harmon, Violet’s mother. The character was portrayed by Evan Peters, who also played James Patrick March in Season 5 and Kai Anderson in Season 7, and Tate again in Season 8.

Cersei Lannister – Game of Thrones

Picture of Cersei Lannister
HBO
HBO

Portrayed by Lena Headey in the HBO television show Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister is a member of House Lannister, the daughter of Tywin, and sibling to Jamie and Tyrion. At the beginning of the series, she is the wife of King Robert Baratheon.

As the story progresses, she rises in the ranks to find herself as the sole ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, doing whatever is necessary to secure her position and keep it, and killing anyone in her way if necessary.

Jan Levinson – The Office

Picture of Jan
NBC
NBC

Jan Levinson is a recurring character on the US television series The Office who was based on the UK version character Jennifer Taylor-Clarke. Jan Levinson is the Vice President of Northeast Sales at the paper company Dunder Mifflin and is the direct supervisor of Michael Scott.

Her character is known for her dysfunctional relationship with Michael Scott until their altercation at the dinner party in the fourth season. Jan is a no-nonsense boss and is regarded as a vain character, even using her child to her own benefit.

Stewie Griffin – Family Guy

Picture of Stewie
Fox
Fox

Voiced by Seth MacFarlane, Stewie Griffin is a character from the animated television series Family Guy. Stewie is an infant who talks and acts like an adult and is an undeniable sociopath, with constant plans to kill his own mother, Lois.

He has also developed a close friendship with the anthropomorphic dog, Brian, whom Stewie used to antagonize. For his condemnable actions, Wizard magazine rated him the 95th greatest villain of all time.

G.O.B Bluth – Arrested Development

Picture of GOB
Fox
Fox

G.O.B. is the self-absorbed brother of Michael Bluth, and is constantly trying to be a showman. He frequently attempts magic tricks, and is the founder of The Alliance of Magicians. G.O.B.’s personality is linked to his father, George, paying little attention to him as a child and getting no respect as an adult.

Michael is constantly concerned that G.O.B.’s actions will rub off on his son, George. This is because G.O.B. has asked him to do questionable things in the past, and has always been a bully to his younger brother Buster because he didn’t respect him.

Don Draper – Mad Men

Picture of Don Draper
AMC
AMC

Born Richard “Dick” Whitman, Don Draper is the protagonist of the AMC television series Mad Men. Draper is is a schemer and constant womanizer, always looking out for himself, no matter the cost.

At one point, when serving in the Korean War, he even switched identities with a man who’s killed, and then he relocates to New York City to start a new life. He eventually becomes the creative director for the Manhattan advertising firm Sterling Cooper, before becoming a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Dexter Morgan – Dexter

Picture of Dexter
Showtime
Showtime

Dexter Morgan is the antihero of the television series Dexter, where he is portrayed by Michael C. Hall. Dexter Morgan works as a forensic blood splatter analyst for the Miami-Metro Police Department.

However, in his spare time, he is a vigilante serial killer who murders those that have evaded justice in order to satiate his sociopathic tendencies. He follows a code taught to him by his adopted father, Harry, which states that Dexter can only kill those who are absolutely guilty of murder, and he must not get caught.

Alex Vause – Orange Is The New Black

Picture of Alex Vause
Netflix
Netflix

Alex Vause is a character played by Laura Prepon on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Prior to her arrest, Vause worked with an international narcotics cartel and was in a relationship with the protagonist Piper Chapman.

Vause is used as a way for Chapman to be indicted, with the two being reunited in federal prison nearly a decade after events that resulted in their breakup. Chapman and Vause begin their relationship in prison, although it is a tumultuous one.

Joffrey Baratheon – Game Of Thrones

Picture of Joffrey Baratheon
HBO
HBO

Joffrey Baratheon is a character in the HBO series Game of Thrones. He is the eldest son of Cersei Lannister and King Robert Baratheon. He is a spoiled and evil child, and, when he becomes king, the primary tormentor of Sansa Stark, among many other characters.

Joffrey is noted for his sadism and appears to have no other interests than violence and torture, especially when it comes to ruling the kingdoms. He even has no interest in sex, unless it’s torturing the women he’s presented with.

Danny Castellano – The Mindy Project

Picture of Danny Castellano
Fox
Fox

Toward the beginning of the show, Danny Castellano and Mindy had a relationship that kept everyone wondering if they would get together. In the end, they did and even went on to have a son together. However, Danny changed from the caring man that he once was to a possessive and controlling partner.

Some of his actions include insisting that Mindy be a stay-at-home mom and give up her career, with his manipulation eventually leading Mindy to leave him. Although the two did get back together, it was hard to overlook what he had done to Mindy.

Dr. Smith – Lost In Space

Picture of June Harris
Netflix
Netflix

June Harris, also known as Dr. Zoe Smith, is a main character in Netflix’s 2018 series Lost In Space. However, June Harris is a con artist who stows aboard the ship after stealing the identity of her own sister.

In addition, she manipulates the young Will Robinson into gaining his trust, only to turn on Will and his family. June Harris is a cunning character which makes her particularly threatening, and she had no problem betraying the family and even leaving a child for dead.

Ross Geller – Friends

Picture of Ross Geller
The WB
The WB

Although Ross Geller may be a beloved character on Friends, on a deeper analysis, Ross may not be the sweetheart that some people believe him to be. Ross can be seen as being overly possessive with his on-again, off-again relationship with Rachel, which makes their relationship particularly toxic.

Furthermore, Ross could never get over the fact that his son, Ben, liked playing with Barbie dolls, and when Rachel wanted to hire a nanny., he was convinced that the job could only be done by a woman.

Francis Underwood – House Of Cards

Picture of Kevin Spacey
Sony Television
Sony Television

The protagonist of the political television show House of Cards, Francis Underwood is a bloodthirsty politician that manages to rise from House Majority Whip to President of the United States.

Portrayed by Kevin Spacey, Underwood manages to achieve this position through manipulation, murder, and treachery, which makes him an incredibly formidable member of the United States government. There’s little that Underwood won’t do to get ahead, and his ruthlessness only grows as the series carries on.