There’s a good chance you watched too much television growing up. Hey, we’re not judging. In case you haven’t noticed, obsession with entertainment is kind of our thing. Still, if you grew up on a steady diet of children’s television, there’s a good chance you saw quite a few good shows and quite a few bad ones. That’s what you get when some showrunners insist on treating kids like adults (and some are just trying to sell toys). Regardless of their overall quality, there are a few things that just about every kid’s show have in common.
Unfortunately, annoying characters are one of those things. We get that you probably had a report card or two hanging on the refrigerator, but the truth is that kid’s shows can get away with featuring annoying characters because many young viewers simply aren’t developed enough to notice their awfulness. Actually, young audiences often find themselves attached to the most annoying character on a show because they are the ones that talk loudest, possess seemingly infinite energy, and are usually the source of a catch phrase or two. Once you get older, though, you begin to realize that many of your most beloved characters are some of the most annoying creations to ever appear on television.
Here are the 15 Most Annoying Characters From Kids TV Shows.
15. Scrappy-Doo (Scooby-Doo)
The original Scooby-Doo series was a great show. Sure, every single episode revolved around the same formula – the gang has to pull over, the gang thinks there is a ghost, the gang discovers it’s not a ghost – but if we’re going to start denouncing shows for following a formula, we’re going to be here a while. The point is that Scooby-Doo’s family-friendly horror film formula worked.
That is until the writers decided to introduce Scrappy-Doo in an attempt to “freshen up” the formula. It’s clear now that Scrappy-Doo’s purpose was to lure in even younger viewers and make it look like the series was evolving, but even kids could tell that Scrappy just did not mesh with the rest of the group. He was a catchphrase spewing ball of infinite energy that stole way too much screen time.
14. Snarf (Thundercats)
Thundercats was a…hmm…almost said the word great there. The truth of it is that Thundercats was a very interesting show, if not necessarily the best of its kind. At a time when numerous Japanese animated series were being poorly translated for American audiences, Thundercats came along and dared to suggest that strange cat/human hybrids could be just as big of animated action stars as giant robots.
While Thundercats wasn’t always top-tier entertainment, the only especially noteworthy blight on the show’s reputation is Snarf. Snarf is…well, there are some less than wholesome theories about what Snarf is, but we know that he’s technically the former caretaker of Lion-O and tends to speak only by uttering his own name. While the same is true of Hodor and your average Pokemon, Snarf was rarely anything more than really bad comic relief and a constantly irritating presence.
13. Pepe Le Pew (Looney Tunes)
Looney Tunes was a show well ahead of its time. Even though it began as a fairly standard animated series, the show entered its so-called “golden age” way back in 1945. This is the time that popular characters such as Road Runner, Marvin the Martian, Yosemite Sam, and Foghorn Leghorn made their Looney Tunes debut and became pop culture icons.
That’s also the time that the show introduced us to Pepe Le Pew. Le Pew was a skunk who fancied himself a ladies’ man despite the fact that he produced a familiar skunk odor. While watching Pepe Le Pew now is somewhat odd because the character is really just a bundle of negative stereotypes, the real problem with Le Pew is that he’s a one note comedian. Nearly every Pepe Le Pew short plays out the exact same way, and his repertoire of jokes grow real thin real fast.
12. Fran Fine (The Nanny)
We suppose there is an argument to be made that The Nanny wasn’t specifically designed to be a kid’s show, but it was one of those family friendly sitcoms that everyone could watch and hate equally. Okay, the show wasn’t that awful, but it was a typical sitcom of its era, by which we mean that it relied on a series of running jokes and catchphrases for much of its humor. It wasn’t exactly on the level of Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, or Frasier.
The one thing that people tend to remember about this show is the performance of Fran Drescher. To a degree, Drescher’s performance in the show was intentionally grating. She has a very…unique voice that was complemented by dialog written to add an aspect of shrillness to her delivery. That said, you’ll need an iron will to survive more than an episode’s worth of her performance.
11. The Annoying Orange (The High Fructose Adventures of The Annoying Orange)
The Annoying Orange actually began life as the star of a web series. You couldn’t really classify the web series as a kid’s show, due to the fact that many early episodes contained some questionable lines of dialog. However, Cartoon Network believed that a show starring pieces of fruit with human facial features superimposed onto their peels and skins could become the next big kiddie sensation.
This is where things really went downhill. Now, we understand that Annoying Orange is supposed to be annoying, but there’s a difference between “Spongebob annoying” and “constantly repeat a series of awful puns in the most grating way possible annoying.” The High Fructose Adventures of The Annoying Orange’s writing was so awful that it became impossible for children or adults to digest whatever charm the character was supposed to be relying on.
10. Dee-Dee (Dexter’s Laboratory)
Dexter’s Laboratory was a fantastic show. Truly, it was. Dexter’s Laboratory helped put Cartoon Network on the map and established them as more than a channel you flip to whenever you want to catch some Flintstones’ reruns. While you could argue the show was a little underappreciated during its prime, this series about the adventures of a boy genius was one of the smartest animated programs of its era.
None of that changes the fact that Dee-Dee was annoying. Now, we acknowledge that Dee-Dee was supposed to be a nuisance in her role as Dexter’s somewhat accidental foil/occasion co-conspirator. However, there is something about watching Dee-Dee destroy everything in her path while yelling high-pitched (and often nonsensical) screams of victory that eventually went from “humorous” to downright intolerable.
9. Alpha 5 (Power Rangers)
We love you Alpha 5. Truly, we do. At a time when Earth needed teenage heroes with attitude, you were there to…you were there. Alpha 5 is Zordon’s assistant and second-in-command at the Power Rangers’ headquarters. Like so many of the characters on this list, however, Alpha 5’s real role is comic relief. He’s the robot that the writers turned to when they needed a character to say something “witty” so that all the rangers could huddle together and share a good laugh.
The problem with Alpha 5 can be summed up with the help of his memorable catchphrase; “Aye yai yai.” Alpha 5 loved to say that nonsensical phrase whenever he was feeling excited, and believe us when we tell you that this little bot is always excited about something. Alpha 5 is such a cheaply constructed character that you have to double check to make sure he isn’t based on some kind of racial stereotype. He isn’t. He’s just annoying.
8. Great Gazoo (The Flinstones)
Did you know that the Great Gazoo was supposed to be hail from the planet Vulcan? It’s true. The idea even came about before Star Trek had begun airing. We don’t exactly know why the character’s home planet was changed, but we know that factoid is the last time that Great Gazoo was ever anything close to interesting.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Poochie was added to the Itchy and Scratchy show in an attempt to keep things interesting? That character was partially inspired by Great Gazoo. Gazoo was a little green alien who used magical abilities to get Fred and Barney out of jams. Now, we’re not going to criticize a show where dinosaurs are used as can openers for being ridiculous, but we will say that there isn’t a single scene featuring Gazoo that doesn’t inspire an eye-roll.
7. Woody Woodpecker (Various)
Woody Woodpecker made his animated short debut in 1940 – a time when Americans were wondering if the economy would hold and whether or not there would even be a world left after the war had its say. Looking for anything to take their mind of global troubles, audiences welcomed the adventures of a mischievous little bird and his screwball antics.
The problem was that Woody never really grew much as a character after 1940. While characters like Bugs Bunny benefited from increasingly clever writing and the opportunity to work with a cast of great characters, Woody remained stuck in an era when a few “animals doing human things” gags and the world’s most grating laugh could still inspire a chuckle from viewers. Viewed through modern eyes, however, Woody comes across like that class clown who is always “on,” but never funny.
6. Steve Urkel (Family Matters)
If you remember the later episodes of Family Matters but didn’t watch the series from the beginning, you might be shocked to find just how different the early episodes of the show were. In the beginning, Family Matters was a fairly standard sitcom about a working class family just doing working class things. One of the things that helped the show stand out early on was the occasional appearance of a nerdy neighbor named Steve Urkel who resonated with audiences because…umm…we’ll get back to you on that.
Okay, there certainly is something charming about the character, but we’re just as convinced that everyone turned Urkel into a star because of a shared desire to punch him. Steve was a grating enough character when he occasionally appeared in an early episode, but by the time Urkel got his own dance and started building time machines, we knew we were going to hate this little dude forever.
5. The Map (Dora the Explorer)
Dora the Explorer was part of that wave of kid’s shows where one or more of the main characters would speak directly to the audience and teach them about everything (except for why it’s creatively cheap to break the fourth wall). The gimmick of this particular show is that a young explorer named Dora would go on adventures and ask the audience to help her out. This led to a lot of awkward pauses, telling a character named Swiper not to swipe, and the frequent consultation of a singing map.
“I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map!” Even if you only caught an episode of Dora in passing, there’s a good chance you can read that transcript and hear The Map repeat it in his singsong voice. The Map was the animated equivalent of water torture. You knew the song was coming and were helpless to prevent it. Once you had it stuck in your head for reasons you can’t understand, you knew you were going to hate The Map forever.
4. Every Single Smurf (The Smurfs)
Have you ever wondered why the Smurfs speak in that weird Smurf language that involves them replacing random words with variations of “smurf?” Apparently, the idea for that language came about when one of the show’s creators was having lunch with a friend and accidentally used the wrong word when trying to ask for the salt. The two friends spent some time speaking only in variations of that word. At some point, they thought that it might be funny if an entire show was based on that joke.
They were wrong. Dead wrong. Re-read the first sentence of this entry for about 20 minutes, and you’ll have a general idea about what it’s like to suffer through a Smurfs episode. While there is more to the Smurfs than Smurfs saying smurf, any pleasure you could derive from the show is always ruined by about the 30th usage of the word smurf.
3. Joey (Full House)
There’s a chance you don’t really understand just how popular Full House was. While the show struggled to find an audience during its first couple of seasons, the series became a ratings monster around the time of its fourth or fifth year. Reasons for this vary, but you have to understand that Full House was an incredibly pure breed of family sitcom complete with wholesome messages at the end of each episode and lots of family bonding.
Then you have Joey. According to the show, Joey was a friend of the Tanners who made his living as a stand-up comedian. We find this to be highly unlikely, as Joey has never been funny. It’s annoying enough when you see Joey do bad impressions of cartoon characters to make the kids giggle, but when you see him perform in front of a room of adults and realize that his entire schtick involves him being a low-budget Robin Williams, you start to really appreciate the full extent of Joey’s powers to annoy.
2. Screech (Saved By The Bell)
Saved By the Bell actually began as a show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss that focused on a teacher and some of her students. When that series failed, NBC’s president decided to re-launch it as a series focused on the teenage students. While this ended up being a good decision from a ratings standpoint, it’s often remembered as a terrible one by those who had to suffer through years of the teenager named Screech.
We’d say that Screech is a combination of every high school nerd you’ve ever heard of, but that’s not quite accurate. Screech is more like the embodiment of that voice high school bullies would do whenever they were making fun of the nerds in their class. He’s a stereotype of a stereotype, turned up to 11.
1. Elmo (Sesame Street)
A Sesame Street writer named Nancy Sans once admitted that the Elmo puppet just kind of hung around the studio for years, but none of the show’s creative team could ever really find the right personality for it. Eventually, Elmo became a childish puppet who referred to himself in the third person. While that makes Elmo slightly annoying by his very nature, what really makes Elmo so irritating is the level of celebrity he achieved.
Around the time of the Tickle Me Elmo fad of 1996, Elmo began appearing on more and more talk shows, commercials, and product lines. Nobody could quite tell you why Elmo of all characters became the biggest mainstream star on Sesame Street, but his sudden rise in celebrity meant that Elmo began stealing a lot of screen time from other beloved characters. In essence, Elmo is the Kim Kardashian of Sesame Street.
Did we miss any hyper-annoying kid’s show characters? Let us know in the comments.
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