As much as many fans will tell you that their obsession with a movie or TV show is about how much love they have for the characters, the truth is that if there's one thing fans want more than a character to love, it's a character to hate. Not someone mildly unpalatable, a little creepy, or slightly annoying, but someone to really, gut wrenchingly, make-your-blood-boil despise, to the point that every time they appear on screen your face automatically falls into a disgusted grimace.
It's a huge part of enjoying any character-based drama, something that all the best writers and producers know: just look at Game of Thrones. The vast collection of rogues, traitors, assassins, and schemers on the character list are evidence of a creative team that knows how much we love to hate and uses it to great affect.
As always though, there are people out there who take things to the next level, and unleash their hatred for an on-screen persona on the unsuspecting actor. Sometimes this is harmless and humorous, but often things can get surprisingly out of hand. There are actors who have received death threats or been verbally assaulted and physically struck.
Read on for 15 Times Fans Took Character Hate Way Too Far.
15 Eugene - The Walking Dead
Josh McDermitt must have been delighted when he landed the role of Eugene Porter in AMC's massively successful The Walking Dead, back in 2014. A role in a long-running, well-established series with an excellent reputation and strong cast is a dream for any actor, but McDermitt has recently discovered the dark side of success, and dealing with zombies is probably much more straightforward.
After his character Eugene's defection to the side of the nefarious and brutal antagonist Negan, a betrayal that has resulted in the death of a long-time protagonist, McDermitt had to entirely remove himself from social media due to multiple death threats and torrents of abuse directed against him. His response has been calm and collected, trying to minimize fans' access to him online and reporting all serious threats to the police.
Hopefully things will calm down and Josh can get back to the safety of a factory surrounded by hoards of undead zombies for season 8, which starts this October.
14 Bronn - Game of Thrones
Fortunately, character hatred being transferred onto actors is often harmless and more rude than life threatening. Jerome Flynn, the actor who plays the cheerful sellsword Bronn in Game of Thrones is currently experiencing this strange and awkward situation.
Following Bronn's actions at the end of last season, where he successfully wounded Drogon the dragon and almost caused the death of fellow fan-favourite Daenerys Targaryen, Flynn has reported that his postman won't speak to him, which must be fairly awkward on the doorstep every morning.
This could be Bronn's toughest enemy yet: he won't be able to get his hands on any of his deliveries. If HBO delivers scripts in hard copy, this irritated fan could bring the entire worldwide sensation of a series to a grinding halt. Never mess with the postman!
13 Oliver Queen - Arrow
Stephen Amell spends plenty of time fighting crime and vaulting about in tight trousers as the star of the CW's Arrow, but last year he found himself in a real-life dangerous situation with an enraged fan.
According to a post on Amell's Facebook page, he was approached by a fan who abruptly head-butted him and stated that he wanted to defeat "The Arrow" in a fight. Amell was able to calm things down by talking with the fan and stepping away from the confrontation, and it seems likely that this was simply a case of an overexcited fan who wanted to act tough.
Amell's behavior is an example of the kind of everyday heroics that we need to see more of, but onlookers were no doubt disappointed that there wasn't an acrobatic confrontation to write home about.
12 Skyler White - Breaking Bad
AMC's Breaking Bad had a host of memorable characters across its five seasons, and the success of the show gave them and the actors who played them an intense, close relationship with their fanbase. Not all of those relationships were positive, however.
Anna Gunn, who played Skyler White in the series, received hate-mail, death threats and general abuse, so much so that she penned a piece for the New York Times discussing the issue and searching for its underlying causes. She argues that hatred towards herself and Skyler comes from a fundamentally misogynist place, and that the rabid fan hatred for Skyler was bringing wider stereotypes about women to the surface.
Gunn certainly dealt with a oddly organized level of hatred: as she points out, there are entire Facebook pages devoted to hating Skyler which still get posts regularly.
11 John Black - Days of Our Lives
Drake Hogestyn is best known for playing John Black in the seemingly endless soap opera Days of Our Lives. He played the character for over 20 years and never had any serious problems with fans, but on New Year's Eve of 2006, a crazed fan broke into his house and assaulted him and his wife.
According to Hogestyn, the fan was a religious fanatic who was obsessed with a Days storyline in which his character was possessed by a demon. Hogestyn and his son were actually forced to overpower the intruder and secure him with duct tape while they waited for the police to arrive.
Luckily, no one was seriously injured: it's all so dramatic that it wouldn't have seemed out of place on Days itself. However, the incident is a grim reminder that celebrities are often in danger in a world where their addresses can easily be found through the internet or other channels.
10 Angela Valdes - Power
Power, the Starz series about drug kingpin and nightclub owner James "Ghost" St. Patrick, has enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity, with strong financial backing from legendary rapper 50 Cent. Like all good series, it has a character who is roundly despised: Angela Valdes, Ghost's former lover.
Lela Loren, who plays the calculating assistant DA, received a string of death threats and social media abuse following Angela's actions at the end of season three, with fans wanting both Angela and Loren herself dead. Not content to sit back and take it, Loren took to Instagram to defend herself and hurl a few choice words back at these threatening fans, suggesting that the needed to seek help if they couldn't distinguish fact from fiction. Ouch.
Despite the desires and wishes of these fans, Angela is still going strong as of the end of season 4.
9 Anthony Fremont - Twilight Zone
Bill Mumy, an accomplished and multi-talented performer who rose to prominence as a child actor in the 1960s, experienced a particularly disturbing fan attack.
Mumy's character in the classic psychological/supernatural horror television series The Twilight Zone, Anthony Fremont, famously developed psychic powers, and used them to teleport a family member to their death.
A mentally disturbed fan approached Mumy at a convention many years later and demanded that Mumy similarly transport him. When Mumy tried to ignore him, he proceeded to strangle his idol, who was fortunately rescued before any serious damage was done.
This quite frightening example of fan hatred gone too far, and along with the earlier Drake Hogestyn incident, is a reminder that fans and performers interacting must always be carefully managed.
8 John Stape - Coronation Street
In the world of British soap opera, Coronation Street is legendary. The show, centring on lives of the inhabitants of the titular street in a northern English city, has been running since 1960 and has provided years of high-stakes, northern sounding entertainment to millions of fans. Unfortunately for the cast, some passionate fans can get a little confused, and for actor Graeme Hawley this confusion turned violent.
While drinking at a pub in Manchester, Hawley was allegedly assaulted by an enraged fan, who was angry about a storyline that was being played out on Corrie at the time. Hawley's character, high school teacher John Stape, was involved in an on-screen affair with a schoolgirl, a controversial move that evidently proved too much for this fan to take.
The "fan" placed Hawley in a headlock, and had it not been for the intervention of nearby bystanders, could have caused him serious injury.
7 Rob Titchener - The Archers
This one is a little different, as it doesn't involve a screen star. However, the story is so awful that it had to get onto the list.
The worlds longest running radio soap opera, The Archers, is a British based program set out in the countryside. It has been broadcasting its gentle, character-based rural drama for over 50 years, but recently the show courted some controversy with a storyline about domestic abuse.
The character of Rob Titchener, played by actor Timothy Watson, was revealed as an abusive husband, and the backlash from fans was enormous. Many felt the show had gone too far, responding angrily online and forcing Watson off of social media. Some fans however, took their hatred for Titchener out on Watson in person, accosting him in the street and hurling abuse at him - all while he was accompanied by his two young children.
There is a positive side to this story however - the storyline distressed some fans so much that they organied a collection for domestic abuse charities that went on to raise tens of thousands of pounds.
6 Syed - EastEnders
Something about British soap operas seems to attract fans who take their hatred to unwanted places. This time, some fans of EastEnders, the long running soap set in East London, couldn't seem to distinguish between young actor Marc Eliot and the gay Muslim character that he played, Syed.
Once again, the actor was abused in the street, called names, and hounded around the town. Given the controversy of the character, it was expected that there'd be some robust discussion about the different religious, cultural, and moral values that he represented, but some fans seem to get so drawn in that they forget that most actors are just doing the best they can to convincingly portray a character written by someone else.
Regardless, no actor, and very few characters, deserve to be abused in the streets. Thankfully Eliot's strong commitment to the role was later recognized with an accolade at the British Soap Awards.
5 Caz Hammond - Coronation Street
Imagine the confusing scenario: as a successful actress on Coronation Street, you've made it. You're known to millions, you get regular work, and you're set up to have a long and successful future. Yet when you walk into the supermarket, trying to pick up your weekly shopping, people hurl abuse at you.
Rhea Bailey experienced just this in 2016, when she was unable to enjoy shopping trips after her character, Caz Hammond, turned nasty on the show and became a villain. Bailey actually sought advice from former soap villain actresses on how to deal with the stress of contact with the public, and revealed that other women she knows within the soap opera world suffer similar abuse.
While this may seem like a minor issue, it's worth noting that many of us take our anonymity for granted, and the stress of facing daily tasks while being abused by the public is something that is actually very serious.
4 Alex McAllister - River City
Jordan Young, an actor in the Scottish soap opera River City, opened up recently about the abuse he receives while attempting to do his shopping, revealing a specific incident.
Young plays Alex McAllister, a character who has become increasingly more nefarious as the show has progressed, getting involved with drugs and various other unsavoury activities. Young says that a cashier in his local discount store refused to sell him a bottle of water and started shouting at him due to his role as Alex, claiming that she "knew what he was up to."
Young also says that he frequently has trouble in various supermarkets and gets dirty looks when he walks down the street. Fortunately, Young can see the positive side of things, saying that he must be doing something right on screen to be attracting as much hatred as he does.
3 Cersei - Game of Thrones
Lena Headey, who has catapulted to superstardom as the icy, ruthless Queen Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, opened up on late night talk show Conan recently about some of the hate she receives from fans.
Headey says that she tends to get either love or hate, but not much in between. She recounts a particular tale about going to buy a table and being called a "b---h," and just generally finds herself in situations where she feels as though people forget that she isn't an utterly ruthless, incestuous Queen of a fictional kingdom that is constantly in a state of conflict. Which is odd when, judging by her interviews and media appearances, she's actually a rather fun, quiet lady who just happens to be an extremely talented actress.
2 Mr. Brodie
Coronation Street returns to the list for a third and final helping, this one even more ridiculous than the last. Actor Nicholas Asbury appeared on the show for three episodes, in which he played a vet who came to diagnose, care for, and ultimately put down a fan-favorite dog, Schmeichel.
Asbury revealed in an interview in 2012, that he was jeered in the streets of Manchester by gangs of fans who refused to distinguish the actor from the character and who he claimed "Take Corrie as gospel."
Asbury, a trained Shakespearian actor, said he woke up the day after the show aired and couldn't walk down the street without hearing angry accusations from upset fans who wanted the dog to survive. Luckily they were all bark and no bite - no one was hurt in this case.
1 Green Ranger - Power Rangers
Many of the entries in this list have been relatively harmless, with a few upset fans taking things a little too far by getting emotional or angry and forgetting that most actors have no control over what their character does next. However, as we have noted from a couple of entries, serious and worrying incidents do occur.
One such incident took place at the Phoenix Comic Con, where a disturbed fan who claimed to be The Punisher was caught sneaking weapons into the building. It was quickly established that the suspect was out to kill police officers, as well as a celebrity guest at the comicon, Jason David Frank. JDF plays the Green Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and it was only through the vigilance and hard work of security and police that a potential disaster was averted.
Do you have any stories about fans taking things too far when they're hating on a character? Let us know in the comments!