We seem to be in the middle of a Renaissance for the Twilight Saga. It’s not a bad thing. Just because the legions of fans for Twilight were mainly teenage girls, it didn't deserve the ridicule it received. Many fans for the series didn’t feel like it was okay to openly be fans at the time. If this Twilight Renaissance gives them a place to do so, then good for them.
That said, there are some problems with the series. The phrase “problematic fave” gets thrown about probably a little too much. In the case of the Twilight Saga, it’s probably apt to use it there. The depiction of Native Americans, the whole “imprinting” thing, a lot of parts of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) relationship, it all adds up for the most part. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t enjoy it. Go right ahead. You can enjoy it and still admit its problematic aspects.
That’s what we will dig into today. Perhaps one of the most problematic characters within the series is Edward Cullen. Is he a dreamy teen vampire or something else? In the world of Twilight, he’s a little bit of both to be quite honest. While detractors and fans of the series have poked fun at the "not so great aspects to the character," it is still worth it to gather them all together and examine them.
Here are the 19 Things Wrong With Edward Cullen We All Choose To Ignore.
19 The Age Difference
One of the obvious ones to get out of the way first, there’s a huge age difference between Bella and Edward. When he and Bella meet, Edward is over a hundred years old. Granted, in most vampire literature, there’s usually going to be a significant age difference between the characters. In a good portion of vampire lore, the age difference is usually between two adults. For most of the series, however, Bella is a teenager. That definitely presents certain uncomfortable implications for the older fans of the series.
Still, even so, Edward was changed as a teenager. There’s definitely a lot of teenage behaviors that he embodies, like his moodiness. Still, we have to wonder if he is old enough to know better.
18 Attracted To Bella Because He Wants To Bite Her
There are a lot of reasons why people can be attracted to another person. Wanting to bite them, admittedly, is probably one of the weirdest ones we’ll ever hear in our lifetime. Essentially, that’s what attracts Edward to Bella. She’s his singer. As his singer, she smells like the best things in the world to him. He wants to bite Bella though. That’s kind of the sticking point for the start to this grand love affair.
Rather than keeping away from the human who smells far too good, Edward decides to come back, follow her, and date her. It proves that the age difference between the pair has to be just a number. This is the type of plan that teenagers come up with.
17 Purposefully Keeps Bella In A Life-Threatening Situation
There’s a complication that all vampires who date humans continually have to face. They are, technically, dating their food source. While that is usually explained away through exceptional control, the vegetarian vampires in Twilight have a tenuous control at the best of times. Newly converted vegetarian Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), for example, goes insane with hunger when Bella has a paper cut. It sets off the Cullens into a feeding frenzy in New Moon.
If Edward is going to date a human, then he really needed to have some necessary precautions in place. Part of it is Bella’s choice, she chooses to hang out with the vampires. It’s also on the vampires to make sure that they can exercise enough self-control as well.
16 Briefly Led A "Dexter" Life
We touched on this briefly earlier. Edward, for a time, went rogue from Carlisle’s teachings and vegetarian lifestyle. During this time, Edward used his telepathy to read the minds of the worst of humanity and then he drained them dry. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not entirely a bad thing. Or, to our jaded 2019 eyes, it’s not a bad thing. Like how Dexter would hunt criminals. Unlike Dexter, Edward had a conscience and returned back to Carlisle.
Since then, as we said, it’s led to the biggest case of self-loathing ever and only served to convince Edward of his monstrousness. Rosalie (Nikki Reed) got rid of some really bad guys and you don’t see her losing sleep over it.
15 Simultaneously Scares Bella While Also Trying To Woo Her
In the first part of the Twilight Saga, Edward Cullen is the King Of Mixed Messages. He gives Bella baleful stares, looks like he smelled something bad, and disappears for weeks. When he returns, he’s suddenly interested in Bella even while keeping his distance. Once Bella figures out the truth about him, Edward tries to scare her off while also trying to bring her closer. He constantly asks her if she’s terrified of him yet after he does something he deems “monstrous.”
While Bella does get a little freaked out, she ultimately doesn’t care. In Edward continually trying to scare Bella, it just starts coming across as him being a bad boyfriend. Eventually, he stops, but it got old fast.
14 Watched Bella While She Slept
This is the most obvious character flaw to ever exist for Edward Cullen. Everyone who makes jokes about Twilight jokes about how Edward watches Bella sleep. The jokes are there to be made because it is weird. It is really strange and unsettling to watch a girl that you barely know sleep. It gets even worse when said girl doesn’t even know you’re doing it. Why is Edward even watching her sleep when all he wants to do is bite her? If he’s trying to make sure she stays alive, then don’t go near her.
He watches her sleep though. Bella somehow finds it charming over everything else. It remains easy joke fodder for anyone who pokes fun at the series.
13 Breaks Up With Bella In The Most Traumatic Way Possible
Edward, honestly, didn’t really deserve to be taken back by Bella after New Moon. After the rough party with the Cullens where Bella nearly perished because of a papercut, Edward takes her into the woods, dumps her, and leaves her there. Sure, dumping a human after she’s nearly ended by your family, it makes sense. Breaking up with her in the most scarring and traumatic way possible? It’s just not cool. Bella spends hours lost in the woods, which probably contributes to the nightmares that plague her for months afterward.
Maybe Edward did it purposefully, so she would hate him. In doing so, it makes the audience the opposite of sympathetic to him. There are real dangers in those woods. The Cullens hunt mountain lion and bear in them. Bella could have ended up in a way worse situation than being lost for a few hours because Edward thought this was a good idea.
12 He Followed Bella Everywhere
Worse than watching Bella as she slept was the fact that Edward essentially followed her. Honestly, we have to wonder at this point if the folks who created You were a little bit inspired by Twilight. Yes, Edward follows Bella after deciding that he won’t run away from her. He watches her at her home, at school, and when Bella goes out with friends. Meyer tries to make this a good thing when Bella almost gets attacked during a trip to Port Angeles. After all, if Edward hadn’t been following Bella, then who knows what would have happened to her?
It comes across as more unsettling than charming. Out of all the things in the book that haven’t aged well, then this is one of the worst offenders.
11 Hates That Bella Has Friends He Doesn’t Approve Of
When Bella does have a relationship outside of the coven, specifically her friendship with Jacob Black, Edward is not pleased. He makes the displeasure know repeatedly to Bella, who shows a bit of a backbone and keeps going to La Push to see her friend. Even with both the shapeshifters and the Cullens trying to convince her otherwise, Bella makes sure to go and see Jacob.
It doesn’t devolve into an argument, but it is some willing disobedience from Bella to Edward. He doesn’t like that she has friends he doesn’t approve of that she continues to see. Eventually, things do cool between the shapeshifters and the vampires in wake of more pressing threats.
10 He's Not A Good Coven Member
A coven, in the case of the Cullens, functions more or less like a family. There are parental and sibling relationships alike within the group dynamic. For the most part, the Cullens seem to live in relative harmony. The kids go to school, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) goes to the hospital, and Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) does other things. They all appear to care for each other and enjoy their roles in their family. Then we get to Edward, who is the broodiest person ever.
He kind of just draws in his family to his drama with Bella. Edward asks them to risk their lives for a human girl that he wants to bite. Plus, he doesn’t even thank them for their help, which is the most frustrating thing.
9 Doesn’t Have Much Of A Personality
If you take a film or writing class of any kind, then you will hear the phrase “show, don’t tell” ad nauseum. Edward’s personality falls under that phrase. Bella’s lack of one makes sense. She’s the everygirl, a point of view character made paper thin in order for readers to project themselves onto. That’s fine because, usually, that’s how it goes. Edward, on the other hand, should have something going for him.
To be fair, they do try in the movie. They have him crack jokes and be dramatic. Overall, however, anything about Edward the person is more informed rather than shown. He’s the stalwart protector and the broodiest vampire on the West Coast. There’s nothing much outside of that.
8 He's Ultra Clingy
Once Edward starts to date Bella, he just keeps by her side at all times. While it does make a little sense, it also reflects a clinginess to the character. Bella and Edward both become co-dependent to each other at an almost frighteningly quick degree. For the most part, however, Bella is without Edward when he’s left her. The brief intervals of alone periods are usually spent thinking about the other person.
Maybe possessive is a better word than clingy, but the way that Edward stays close to Bella like she’s his security blanket cannot be anything else. Honestly, in terms of the co-dependency on the characters of Edward and Bella, they’re just as bad as each other.
7 He's Perfect And That's Boring
To be honest, perfection is more in the eye of the beholder than anyone else. Perfect characters largely make for boring ones as well. If someone is already perfect, then, well, how can they grow or change? Unless the perfection is self-imposed and then they have to learn how not perfect they really are. Unfortunately, that is not what Edward goes through in the Twilight Saga. He’s perfect for the sake of being perfect.
Much like his stone skin, Edward doesn’t really grow and change over the course of the series. He’s still, largely, the same Edward he was at the beginning of the series. Married with a kid, perhaps, but still the same fundamental guy. It just makes for a boring co-lead character.
6 Made Himself The Center Of Bella’s World
Maybe this one is unintentional and has to deal more with Bella’s own issues, but it still goes on the list. Edward inserted himself into Bella’s life so completely and thoroughly that he made himself that center of her whole world. It was to the point that, when they were together, Bella didn’t want or really care about her family or friends. When the pair were apart, Bella went into a depressive spiral and purposefully put herself into dangerous situations in order to hallucinate Edward.
If Edward cared about Bella at all, then he would have tried to make this a healthy relationship. Bella should have had interests and relationships outside of him and his coven.
5 Refuses To Engage With Humanity
If the Cullens and others like them are going to respect the sanctity of human life, then they should at least engage with humanity. They don't have to be best friends with them or anything but be more than aloof god-like figures to a bunch of high school students. It’s clear that some members of the Cullen family would love a chance to interact with humans more. Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and Alice (Ashley Greene) take to Bella quickly for that reason.
Edward, however, shows no real interest in humans until he meets his singer. Even then, he’s more focused on bringing her into his world than vice versa. Edward makes it clear in the books pre-Breaking Dawn that he wants Bella to be human awhile longer. Maybe she would have been if he showed more interest in her human life.
4 Makes Decisions For Bella
A major complaint for the character of Bella Swan is that she’s largely passive in her own story. It’s definitely a frustrating aspect of the character, who defers to who she perceives are her “betters” (read: vampires). Edward, however, tends to act in what he thinks is Bella’s best interest without really consulting Bella herself. When he “stole” her to get her away from James (Cam Gigandet), he does so without her foreknowledge. He plans on forcing Bella to get rid of their baby in Breaking Dawn as well.
The fact that he’s willing to make those decisions on Bella’s behalf is distressing. It also only lends credence to the abuse readings many of the series detractors are more than happy to point out.
3 The Most Self-Loathing Person Ever
If there had to be a defining personality trait for Edward Cullen, then it would be his self-loathing. The guy just dislikes himself. For reasons that, to most readers, don’t seem all that justified. He ate some truly bad guys during his years away from Carlisle, it’s not like he was breaking into an orphanage for a snack. Yes, no one can decide who lives and who doesn’t. Still, it doesn’t justify his level of self-hatred.
It could also be due to his vampirism, which Carlisle did as a promise to Edward’s mother to save him from the Spanish Flu. Edward doesn’t entirely like being, as he puts it, a monster. At the same time, if he hates it so much, then why has he stayed this long? He just exists in order to hate on himself. That’s honestly kind of depressing.
2 Wants To Read Bella’s Thoughts
Maybe it’s a “keep the vampirism a secret” thing or a “growing up in the early 1900s” thing, but Edward Cullen is not the best sharer to ever grace the planet Earth. While most vampires don’t really remember their human lives, it’s clear they keep some things from it. Edward, definitely, has that good old repression that marked the turn of the twentieth century.
It’s frustrating because Edward is a telepath. For the most part, he’s privy to everyone’s inner commentary and thoughts. He always knows what’s going on with the people around him.. Bella, however, does not broadcast her thoughts to him. She does share them with him. Edward, oftentimes, has an issue doing the same thing or withholds things that Bella needs to know.
1 Drama Queen
Maybe “drama queen” isn’t the best title in the world to use for Edward. He does tend to veer toward the dramatic side more often than not. It’s actually kind of awkward to watch in the movies. The scene where Edward shows Bella his diamond skin is more hilarious than chilling on the rewatch. Then there was his plan to end his life in Volterra.
Rather than confirm, in person, that Bella was amongst the living, he hightails it to Italy in order to step into the sunlight and show off said sparkly skin so the Volturi would take him out? At the same time, call and make sure Bella’s amongst the living before the worst case scenario.