In this era of peak TV, there are so many amazing shows available for audiences to watch at all hours of the day. Similarly, there are a lot of decent or terrible shows that people should avoid despite all the buzz they may receive. At the center of every show is a cast that viewers bond with every week. Characters are the doorway into these interesting worlds and a powerful performance makes it even easier for people to become hardcore fans of a show. But sometimes a rotten performance can completely kill a show and turn off potential viewers.
Sometimes the actors aren’t completely to blame for a dull performance. Even some of the world’s best thespians can’t deliver to the best of their abilities when the script they are working with is subpar. Directors and actors often get a lot of credit for a show’s success or failure, but the writers are equally to blame (or to praise!) for an annoying character. Sometimes the writers just don’t understand other people’s perspective well enough, often resulting in characters who say or do cringe filled things.
Come learn about 10 Performances That Ruined TV Shows (And 5 That Saved Them)!
15. Ruined: Iwan Rheon – Inhumans
Marvel took a big risk with Inhumans, and as of now it doesn’t seem to have paid off. A story that follows political squabbling among a super powered royal family, Inhumans was intended to be Marvel’s next big thing. Black Bolt, the King of the Inhumans, finds himself in political conflict with his menacing brother Maximus, played by Iwan Rheon.
The biggest name in the show is easily Rheon, who did a wonderful job bringing the menacing Ramsay Bolton to the small screen in Game of Thrones. While this character isn’t straight-up-evil like Ramsay is, Rheon still appears to be going through the motions in his performance. As of now it’s still unclear if the show will return, but hopefully Rheon brings something different to his character if they get a second chance.
14. Ruined: Jennifer Carpenter – Dexter
People may love to complain about the Dexter series finale, but fans also love talking smack on Debra Morgan. Played by Jennifer Carpenter, Deb is the foster sister of the serial killer at the center of the show. After her mother died at 16, she dedicated her life to becoming a detective just like her father and pushed herself despite how hard her dad was on her.
One of the character’s central traits is her tendency to get in a lot of bad relationships. No matter what actor Carpenter is up against, Deb comes across as desperate and annoying instead of strong-willed. She’s a skilled, full-grown detective, but for some reason she always feels like a stereotypical teenage girl more worried about boys than anything else.
13. Saved: Andrew Lincoln: The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead started out as an amazing program, but over recent years its quality has far-lagged behind that of the comic books. Characters act irrationally and stories are quickly sped up to make room for new plot points. While pop culture’s love of zombies may have kept the show afloat over the years, now it is up to the show’s lead – one of the few remaining characters to survive since season one – to keep things interesting.
Andrew Lincoln brings passion and intensity to the role of Rick Grimes. The leader of the rag-tag team of survivors, Grimes is forced to constantly make tough decisions and fight for his life, and Lincoln knows how to make every beat feel believable. Whether he’s shooting zombies or mourning the loss of a loved one, the British star absolutely kills it as an Georgian ex-sheriff.
12. Ruined: Josh Meyers – That ’70s Show
Sometimes, networks just don’t know when to pull the plug. That ’70s Show, a coming-of-age ensemble show set in Wisconsin, lasted from 1998-2006. Over the span of 200 episodes, audiences were able to bond with these unique characters and laugh at their exploits.
But, as the last season rolled onto the big screen, it was clear things were different. Topher Grace, the primary star of the show, walked away and left a big gap in his place. To keep things flowing, Josh Meyers was brought in as a new character and was immediately accepted by the gang as a replacement. A weird amalgamation of both Topher Grace’s and Ashton Kutcher’s characters, the nerdy goofball works in the record store with Hyde and even becomes a new love interest for Donna. Myers is no Grace or Kutcher, and the show died a slow and painful death.
11. Ruined: Eric LaRay Harvey – Luke Cage
Marvel’s Luke Cage series had a lot of good things going for it, but the show lost serious momentum when it killed off Mahershala Ali’s villainous Cottonmouth in the seventh episode. The Oscar winner was easily the strongest actor in the series, so it hurt even more when his replacement was so sub-par.
After Cottonmouth’s death, Eric LaRay Harvey was brought into the show to play Diamondback, Luke’s villainous half-brother. While Cottonmouth was a calm, plotting villain, Diamondback is a trigger-happy psycho with cliched motivations.
Instead of bringing a layer of depth to the role, Harvey plays him as a single-minded, jealous thug who thinks too highly of himself. Hopefully, the more intimate parts of his character, like his love of boxing, will humanize him a bit more in the second season.
10. Saved: Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
Anytime a single performer is asked to play multiple characters, there’s a big risk involved. There’s a chance the actress may embody one character more than another or that their performance won’t be believable enough to perceive them as a truly different person.
Orphan Black, a Canadian produced science-fiction show, stars Tatiana Maslany as a group of clones. The central push of the series follows Sarah Manning, a woman who chooses to take on the identity of one of her clones after she commits suicide. Each one of her characters has a different look, personality and motive, forcing Maslany to constantly shift how she appears and acts on screen.
9. Ruined: Taylor Schilling – Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black is one of Netflix’s biggest shows, but a lot has changed since it first premiered. Based on the memoirs of Piper Kerman, the show follows the lives of inmates at a women’s federal prison. Taylor Schilling has been playing the main character the whole time, but as the show developed, the focus moved away from her and towards the larger ensemble.
The prison politics are interesting, but it’s hard to feel engaged with anything during the first season due to Schilling’s performance. A suburban woman who lives in upstate New York, her life is flipped over when she is indicted for helping her ex-girlfriend smuggle drug money over an international border ten years prior. Over time, the prison slowly wears on her and her personality changes, but Schilling’s performance never picks up steam. Time spent with Piper is time wasted.
8. Ruined: Kristin Kreuk – Smallville
The Arrowverse and wide-offering of Marvel shows on Netflix likely wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Smallville. A coming of age story about Clark Kent, the show follows the boy who will become Superman as he grows up in rural Kansas. While most fans only know about Lois Lane’s relationship with Superman, which does become a part of the show in later years, at first the focus was on Clark’s high-school crush Lana Lang.
Played by Kristin Kreuk, Lana Lang is a terribly boring character. While she has a big heart and eventually opens up a non-profit to help metahumans, it’s clear at the beginning that Clark is interested in her solely due to the fact that she’s a beautiful girl. Her lack of emoting and annoying delivery made it easy to accept when Lois came into the fold and started to upstage her.
7. Saved: Ben Savage – Girl Meets World
There have been quite a few reboots of nineties TV shows lately, and Disney’s Girl Meets World is no exception. A sequel to Boy Meets World, the show follows the adventures of Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley. Girl Meets World is nowhere near as sharp, witty or entertaining as the original, but it’s not a terrible program.
The show’s saving grace is Ben Savage as Cory, a man who has now met the world and is comfortable with his position in it. He’s still the same goofy, loving person he was as a kid, but now he’s also a responsible adult. Taking on mentor role Feeny had in Boy Meets World, Cory is a history teacher and does a great job at making his students understand just how valuable lessons from the past can be. Savage plays both sides of Cory perfectly.
6. Ruined: Kristen Schall – 30 Rock
30 Rock is truly a gem of a sitcom. Created, written by, and starring Tina Fey, the show is a satirical look at how things work behind the scenes on a fictional NBC comedy show. Throughout the shows’ seven season run, a lot of guest stars popped up and made a mark on the world. Out of all of them, Kristen Schaal’s Hazel Wassername, a new member of the NBC Page program, is the worst of the bunch.
Schaal is great in other projects, specifically Bob’s Burgers and Flight of the Conchords, but something about her character doesn’t work here. She causes drama between other characters, plays the girlfriend role for the sexually ambiguous Kenneth Parcell, and finds herself aroused by fire or some reason. She’s just there for shock purposes and Schaal lays her aggressive shtick on extra thick.
5. Ruined: Ashton Kutcher – Two and a Half Men
Two and a Half Men isn’t for everybody, but during its peak years with Charlie Sheen there’s no denying it was a hit for CBS. His character Charlie Harper was a drunken, smooth-talking ladies man who had to put up with his brother and nephew living with him in Malibu.
In 2011, in the middle of Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” era, he parted ways with the show that made him a household name all over again. To replace the show and keep the money-maker rolling, CBS brought in Ashton Kutcher and made him play an innocent, goofy tech billionaire named Walden Schmidt. Kutcher was a big enough star to keep the show rolling for a few more seasons, but his awkward character and flat line delivery spelled a slow death-knoll for the hit sitcom.
4. Saved: Mads Mikkelsen – Hannibal
When NBC first announced Hannibal, people weren’t too sure how to react. While Hannibal Lecter is one of the most iconic fictional characters of the last century, many people felt he might work better on the big screen. But with master actor Mads Mikkelsen taking the wheel for the character, Lecter’s intense personality worked extremely well on the small-screen.
Instead of delivering a Anthony Hopkins imitation, Mikkelsen brought his own level of intensity to the character. He won a Saturn Award for best TV actor in 2013 and received nominations every subsequent year. The show is no longer be on the air, but rumors the series may return have been exciting fans for months. Mikkelsen might get one more chance to tackle everyone’s favorite cannibal.
3. Ruined: James Van Der Beek – Dawson’s Creek
A staple of the late ’90s, Dawson’s Creek follows a group of high school students as they transition through their lives in Capeside, Massachusetts. Everything from teen romance to hateful parents was touched on as the show tried to guide viewers through a traditional, affluent teenage experience.
While the show launched the careers of stars like Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson, Dawson himself, James Van Der Beek, never quite took off in the same way. He’s still in the public eye, but his career didn’t develop too much due to his lackluster performance in Dawson’s Creek. His bland acting and hushed tones are hard to connect with as audiences watch this young man grow into the television exec he always wanted to be. Plus, just look at that ugly-cry.
2. Ruined: Mandy Hampton – The West Wing
This one is a bit of a stretch because The West Wing is an amazing TV show, but man-oh-man was Mandy Hampton’s character Moira Kelly annoying. Due to the ensemble nature of the show, it was immediately noticeable that anytime the story focused on Kelly, the show seemed to drag down.
Hampton played a media consultant who was coincidentally the ex-girlfriend of Josh Lyman, the Deputy White House Chief of Staff and one of the stars of the show. Originally, she works for a rival candidate, but she jumps ship and joins the Bartlet team after she has a confrontation with her former boss. Ultimately, creator Aaron Sorkin wrote her out at the end of the first season and the character was never mentioned nor heard from again.
1. Saved: The Rock – Ballers
HBO’s Ballers is essentially a retooled version of Entourage that focuses on sports instead of Hollywood. The various characters in the show all have their own life drama taking place, but it’s hard to feel engaged with individuals in this world. While everyone is out there acting crazy, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Spencer Strathmore tries to keep cool and help his friends move forward. A former quarterback, Strathmore now works as a financial manager for his old friends still in the industry.
Despite the show’s relatively simple, repetitive nature, Johnson’s natural charisma makes it impossible to look away. Whether he is singing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” from his car or negotiating with business partners, The Rock brings a level of energy and fun to every shot he is in.
Are there any other performances that ruined or saved TV shows? Let us know in the comments!
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