By Donald Liebenson, ReMIND Magazine
You know them, you hate them, but admit it, you love to hate them. If there was an Annoying TV Characters Hall of Fame, they would be charter members. They are bratty and they are aggravating, but these five are scene-stealing TV icons.
The term hate-watching might have its origins in golden-haired mean girl Nellie Oleson, portrayed by Alison Arngrim on Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls’ tormentor was in a class by herself when it came to being a snobby, entitled, spoiled brat. Check out the popular YouTube video “10 Times Nellie Oleson Gets What She Deserves.”
Ken Osmond’s Eddie Haskell, Wally Cleaver’s best (?) friend on Leave It to Beaver, is the quintessential two-faced creep. Without missing a beat, he can in one breath try to charm Mrs. Cleaver (“That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing”) and in the next torment “the Beav” (“Hey, squirt”). In the 1983 reunion movie, Still the Beaver, Wally finally hauled off and punched him in the gut. And America cheered!
Family Matters was supposed to focus on the blue-collar Winslow family. But in the first season episode “Laura’s First Date,” Steve Urkel, the suspender-clad nerdy neighbor kid with a crush on Laura Winslow, made a grand, geeky impression. Jaleel White became the show’s breakout star with his own catchphrase (“Did I do that?”) and more and more screen time to pester the Winslows and wreak havoc in their home.
In space, no one can hear you scream “Shut up, Wesley.” The insufferable Wesley Crusher, portrayed by Wil Wheaton on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was a whiny know-it-all child genius who time-after-time unaccountably saved the Enterprise. He is the Jar Jar Binks of the Star Trek universe.
No roundup of annoying TV characters would be complete without Cousin Oliver, portrayed by Robbie Rist on The Brady Bunch. Introduced late in the series’ fifth and final season, Cousin “Gee, I’m sorry, I was just trying to help” Oliver truly was a jinx; five episodes after his debut, what was once one of TV’s most beloved families was taken off the air.