When it comes to TV, there will always be characters you love to hate, but the characters you grow to love are precious. Hate isn’t designed to diminish over time, and having it turn into love is rarer still. If anything, hate blinds us so that we don’t see these characters coming. There’s so much certainty in deciding a person isn’t for you that the thought of those opinions changing someday never comes up. The unexpectedness makes you mushy.
TV forces us to be in the company of people we dislike past the point we’d decide to call it quits. These characters are fictional, but there’s a lesson in their development that’s real world applicable. If we want to watch a show, we have to watch everything on it. We can’t decide there’s certain parts we’re going to skip. Real life gives us far more options to avoid things that we’re adamant we won’t like. You can’t get along with everyone, but you can reach a deeper understanding of those who hold different opinions. TV makes us give people a chance, and it wouldn’t hurt if real people were shown the same curtesy, regardless of whether the end result is love.
They may not have started out as fan-favorites, but we definitely came around on these 15 Beloved TV Characters That Everyone Used To Hate.
15. Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) – Veronica Mars
It’s difficult to look back on a show without the knowledge of what happens next, but from the head space of meeting Logan Echolls for the first time, he’s not the boyfriend you’d want to take home to the parents. It’s not that Logan and Veronica doesn’t have chemistry. It’s that in the pilot, he’s smashing the head lights of her car with a crowbar. Chemistry doesn’t even come into the equation.
There’s no seeing a true love interest coming out of those first encounters, just a spoiled bully who’s dating Paris Hilton, but luckily, it doesn’t take long before their shared grief over Lily, and potential as a couple, is apparent. The early days of LoVe were rough, but “no one write songs about the ones that came easy.”
14. Zelena (Rebecca Mader) – Once Upon A Time
Zelena was never a terrible character, but the Wizard of Oz arc during the second half of season three wasn’t one of Once Upon A Time’s strongest (did every villain need to be in love with Rumplestiltskin?). It also had Zelena going into season four posing as Robin Hood’s dead wife (whom she killed!), to become pregnant with his child.
That whole storyline of her road to motherhood is extremely icky and doomed. However, it’s having a child that changes Zelena, and her appearances on the show become much more anticipated afterwards. Her relationship with Hades was one of the more interesting couplings to come out of the later seasons, and her recovering bond with her sister, Regina, is the family connection both were desperately due.
13. Dr. Peter Prentice (Adam Pally) – The Mindy Project
Dr. Peter Prentice was a bro doctor that joined the show in season two and did not hit it off with Mindy when they first met. Exhibit A: their first conversation. Not realizing she was a doctor, Peter didn’t back down but continued to question her job like she was making a claim, instead of stating a fact.
Desperate for a date to an ex’s wedding, Mindy agreed to take Peter along in the episode, “Wedding Crashers.” Basically, thanks to the escort service she called charging too much, Mindy gets to know the man who will become her best friend.
That’s the best part about Peter. While The Mindy Project has been criticized for Mindy not having more female pals, her relationship with Peter is no less underrepresented (the mixed-gender friendship that’s strictly platonic). They bring out the fun in each other, but are also around for the tougher life choices. When Pally left the show as a regular in season four, he was missed.
12. Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski (Jim True-Frost) – The Wire
A product of nepotism, Prez’s father-in-law ensured he got transferred, not fired. Maybe that can slide in some businesses, but Prez was a cop, whose continued employment on the street was a danger to others. He blinded a young teenager and got sent to another department.
Prez isn’t the sympathetic person in this story, but he also got pushed into doing a job he wasn’t suited for, and for most, that would’ve been the end of the line. They would’ve never had a chance to discover their knack for police work, elsewhere, and Prez does. Working behind a desk for the wiretap, Prez shows a talent for code cracking and is able to prove himself in ways no one would’ve expected.
This being The Wire, when Prez gets assigned to the street again, he makes another deadly mistake that convinces him he should quit. He’s not given up on making a difference, though, taking a new job as a middle school teacher where his dedication is perceptible.
11. Luke Ward (Chris Carmack) – The OC
Famously delivering the line, “Welcome to the OC, b*tch!” in the pilot, Luke was tailor-made for the wrath of viewers. He cheated on Marissa. He bullied and beat up Seth Cohan. He was Ryan’s romantic rival.
Then Ryan and Luke got partnered together for a school project, and neither were too keen about it, but they were able to get along for the good of the assignment. Luke found out his dad was gay and blamed Ryan for the news getting out at school. Ryan didn’t tell, of course, but when Luke’s former, homophobic friends start to turn on him, it’s Ryan and his pals who are there to back him up. Suddenly, we meet video game, guitar playing, softy Luke, who knows how he acted before was horrible. So while he then has an affair with Marissa’s mom (the heart wants what the heart wants), the last we saw, he was living happily with his dad in Portland.
10. Winston Bishop (Lamorne Morris) – New Girl
For a long time, Winston Bishop was the character New Girl didn’t know what to do with. Filling in for Coach — when Damon Wayans, Jr. had to leave the show after the pilot — every imaginable quirk was laid on Winston until he was less of a character and more of a, well, whatever the show needed him to be that week.
Reeling back on those quirks was difficult, but instead of trying to explain Winston, the show put all their chips on his dream of becoming a police officer. It’s an unlikely pursuit, but Lamorne Morris was able to sell it, just like he’d sold prankster Winston, bird shirt wearing Winston, and basketball star Winston. This time, he would have the perfect scene partner in Nasim Pedrad’s Aly, and Winston’s widely come to be viewed as the best character on New Girl.
9. The Hound (Rory McCann) – Game of Thrones
You don’t end up on Arya’s list without having done something to warrant it. For the Hound, who was Joffrey’s bodyguard when the show started (which itself doesn’t make you popular with Starks), his murder of Arya’s friend, Mycah, left him with no remorse. Mycah’s one crime was being in the vicinity of Joffrey getting embarrassed by a girl and her direwolf.
What the Hound does do, for reasons uncertain, is stick out his neck to protect both Stark girls. At first, it’s small gestures of kindness, largely when Sansa is targeted by Joffrey. He also stops her from being raped by an angry mob, and later on, he offers to help her escape to Winterfell in the aftermath of the battle of Blackwater. Sansa turns him down, but the Hound runs into Arya on the road, and decides to ransom her instead.
It’s not the most selfless plan, but while he could’ve tossed her off to the closest Stark enemy, the Hound continually looks for places where Arya could be with family. Their extended time together ends with the Hound appearing to die, but Arya no longer has him on her list, and the Hound is alive. We’re excited to see his road to redemption continue with the Brotherhood Without Banners.
8. Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) – Bates Motel
It would be a poor reflection on White Pine Bay’s police force if there wasn’t one cop suspicious of what was going on behind closed doors at Bate’s Motel. Since Shelby already had the cop who was sex trafficking girls on the side position filled, it fell on Romero to intrude on Norma and Norman’s lives. That made him annoying, but when Alex came to Norma’s aide at the end of season one, the woman who couldn’t trust anyone — because of how it might turn on her son — slowly started to gain a friend in the local sheriff.
In order to afford sending Norman to Pineview in season four, a mental health facility that could help him with his blackouts, Norma asked Romero to marry her for the insurance. Their brief, but real, love was the happiest the show ever allowed Norma to be.
7. Teddy Talbot (Clayne Crawford) – Rectify
Teddy didn’t know Daniel before he was on death row. They’re stepbrothers, but his dad married Daniel’s mom after he was convicted. Daniel’s release, then, after nineteen years, puts Teddy in an awkward position, but one that’s difficult to feel sorry for when Daniel’s pain is more pressing.
Paulie, Georgia still thinks Daniel’s guilty, and his family are his last wave of support. Teddy is more inclined to believe rumors than the people who are closest to him, and his concerns about their tire store losing sales are ill-timed. He’s jealous that Daniel gets along with his wife, Tawny, and makes light of what his stepbrother went through in a despicable fashion.
Daniel breaks, and when he does, it’s Teddy who gets hurt. Without excusing Teddy’s behavior, the show doesn’t act like Daniel’s actions were vindicated, but shows the trauma Teddy went through from the experience. Teddy’s not always likable, but he’s a character you grow to care about and see as human.
6. Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) – Gotham
With Barbara Kean, it’s important to start with the disclaimer that characters don’t have to be evil to be interesting (and in real life, that’s an absolute). It just so happens that that’s the unhealthy message relayed by Barbara’s evolution on Gotham.
Back when she was Jim Gordan’s fiancée, Barbara was boring. There’s no nicer way of putting it, but after she fell under the purview of Jason Skolimski (the Ogre), and killed her parents, Barbara became a villain. Villain origin stories are where Gotham excels, and Barbara’s preoccupation with Jim and his new girlfriend, Lee, followed by a stint as queen of Gotham after Penguin was out, showed Barbara to be one of the best. All Erin Richards needed was the right material for her ruthlessness to catch you off guard, and when she’s able to bring the other female villains together (Catwoman, Tabatha) she’s tops.
5. Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) – Nashville
So you see, before he married Juliette Barnes, and was a single dad to Cadence for a while, Avery was Scarlett’s terrible high school sweetheart. Unable to support her budding career in the music industry, because his was going through a slump, Avery ditched his band when he thought he could make a name for himself solo and had an affair that ended things with Scarlett.
Fast forward to season five, and Avery has the chance to go on a tour that’s a dream come true for him, but he turns it down. Juliette needs him around, so he doesn’t tell her about the offer, so there’s no discussion. Somehow, Avery’s become the person people turn to for advice, and his words of wisdom are commonplace on the show.
4. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisoff) – Buffy/Angel
Every Watcher needs a little stuffiness to his personality, but Wesley Wyndam-Pryce took it up a notch when he first appeared on the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Come to replace Giles as Buffy and Faith’s Watcher, Wesley didn’t have the stomach for much fighting himself, but he did rebel enough to get fired by the end of the season.
Like Cordelia, Wesley joined Buffy’s spinoff show, Angel, and became a leader over the course of five seasons. His choices invoked some controversy, not because he was annoying anymore, but because he would make decisions that went against his friends. The biggest, and the one that left him in a lonely place for a while, was to interfere with Angel’s son, Connor. Wesley thought he was acting in Connor’s best interests, but events went awry. It’s a dark journey that Wesley goes on, but his heroism, after starting out the fool, is legitimate.
3. Valencia Perez (Gabrille Ruiz) – Crazy Ex-Girfriend
Whether or not you were on board with Rebecca’s season one quest for Josh Chan’s affections, there was no question that his girlfriend, Valencia, had to be eliminated. Bossy, manipulative, and way too good at yoga, Josh didn’t have a voice in their relationship, and that made you dislike her more.
Trouble is, Valencia loved Josh, and while he may have been unhappy while they were together, she had no reason to think that when he didn’t speak up. This is a woman who wanted to get married, but waited years for Josh to propose. She loved him, and the best part of season two is the inexplicable girl group that develops between Rebecca, Valencia, and Heather, after having dated each other’s exes.
The moment of truth, though, is when Rebecca starts dating Josh again, and the only thing you can think for the next few episodes is how the news will hit Valencia. THAT’s how you write and develop a character.
2. Petra Solano (Yael Grobglas) – Jane the Virgin
As established with Valencia, the other woman doesn’t have an easy hand on television, starting with the fact that she’s considered the other woman. Petra and Rafael were married in season one. It was Petra who was trying to get pregnant, when Jane was artificially inseminated. Neither woman was responsible for what happened (that blame goes to Rafael’s sister, Luisa) but Petra got the raw deal when her marriage fell apart.
Was she cheating on Rafael, and trying to have a baby for the prenup money? You betcha. Petra’s been a true telenovela villain, but she loved Rafael, even while she participated in their relationship’s destruction.
Just think of the amount of crap she’s had to go through anyway, with her mother, her Czech Republic ex, and her sister putting her in a coma. The worst would have to be the constant comparisons to Jane. This is an ongoing problem, and Petra’s done a lot of growing up, but she’s always kept in second place. Hopefully, that changes.
1. Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) – Twin Peaks
Officially, Bobby was dating Laura Palmer when she died. Unofficially, Bobby was seeing Shelly and supplying Laura with drugs, which he got from Shelly’s abusive husband, Leo. Laura was seeing James, but Bobby didn’t know about that. There’s nothing like a guy upset that his girlfriend had another beau when his secret girlfriend’s married, but Bobby “woofs” his discontent from the inside of a prison cell.
This is the long way of saying Bobby was obnoxious. His dad would give a speech and Bobby would look incredulous as to why he was talking. These are the outward manifestations of his character. Internal Bobby is one of the most layered characters on Twin Peaks, whose affair with Shelly turns into something meaningful and substantial. There is a roving eye phase where he flirts with Audrey Horne, but the apology he gives after is memorable. All that’s left to explain is the murder he committed in Fire Walk With Me, and we can consider Bobby fully redeemed.
Which TV characters did you once hate but now deeply love? Share in the comments.
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