This Hollywood super-agent treats his employees like animals, takes his wife for granted, and his only friends are the people who pay him for his services. But amid all that, he provides the world with soundbites like, “Hug it out, bitch” — so we can’t really complain.
Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
Answer this question honestly: What’s there to like about a womanizing lothario who puts himself above all others? Well, first there’s the suits. Barney Stinson is one impeccably dressed cad. And actually, once you break through that well-wardrobed exterior, there’s a guy who deeply loves his friends and really just wants to be loved in return. Now ask yourself this: What’s there to hate about that?
Ben Chang, Community
If he wasn’t so hilarious and well-meaning, Greendale Community College’s former professor would be a lot more likable. He’s a bit slimy (kidnapping two kids?!) and needs more attention than one person should. But in the end he really just wants someone to call his friend — can’t everyone relate to that?
Chuck Bass, Gossip Girl
This Upper East Side trust fund kid has done some despicable things over the past four seasons and still manages to garner fan fave status. He’s manipulative and vengeful (you know, like when he sold his girlfriend in exchange for a hotel) and often toes the socially accepted morality line (inadvertently injuring Blair), but in the end he’s always able to make us see the softer side of Chuck.
Clay Morrow, Sons of Anarchy
The aggressive leader of a bike gang who presumably had a hand in the death of his wife’s first husband really has no business being liked. But Clay does what he does — by whatever means necessary — out of love. Are his methods questionable? Of course. But does his underhandedness make us like him just a little bit more? Definitely.
Dexter Morgan, Dexter
No one on TV is a more universally loved antihero than blood splatter analyst by day/vengeance killer by night Dexter Morgan. The man is offing people, for goodness sake, and we’re all cheering him on! It’s all one big convoluted mess, but there’s no one more lovably despicable than this guy.
Eric Cartman, South Park
This troublesome little tyke is vile and offensive on so many levels, and yet his goofy voice and light blue beanie make him Comedy Central’s most irresistible character.
Dr. Gregory House, House
He’s grumpy and moody and set in his curmudgeony ways, and still somewhere inside Dr. Crankypants lies an ooey-gooey center that few ever get to see. Of course, viewers of the Fox drama are privy to all sides of this multi-layered man, hence our devotion to this antihero.
Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock
She’s constantly scheming with TGS costar Tracy Jordan, is a dreadful best friend to Liz Lemon, and is currently in her most normal relationship to date with a “gender dysmorphic bi-genitalia pansexual” — so yeah, Jenna Maroney has issues. Still, there’s something about this gal that we can’t help but love unconditionally.
Klaus and Katherine, The Vampire Diaries
Right off the bat, these two have an excuse for their lethal amounts of despicableness: They’re supernatural (evil) beings. Klaus took away Mystic Falls’ beloved hero Stefan, and Katherine has repeatedly played those Salvatore brothers (to say the least). Maybe it’s their killer good looks or scene-stealing skills, but these vamps are nothing but lovably deviant.
Larry and Jeff, Curb Your Enthusiasm
As mentioned above, Larry David and his manager/friend Jeff Greene are both pretty abhorrent. One is honest to the point of alienating those around him; the other is an unfaithful husband, absentee father, and easily influenced by his pal. And yet each week we tune in to see which average everyday occurrence they’ll dissect — probably because they are ultimately saying what we are all thinking.
Nancy Botwin, Weeds
She’s a mother of three who sells marijuana to make a living — what more is there to say? Nancy is not a good person, though she tries extraordinarily hard to be one, which makes her a lot less despicable. Hey, these are trying times and we can’t blame the lady for putting herself out there.
Jackie Peyton, Nurse Jackie
The thought of a health care professional engaging in even half the things Jackie does — including indulging rampant drug addiction — is horrifying. Yet somehow this struggling nurse speaks to her audience and remains relatively well-liked.
Sue Sylvester, Glee
Gimme an M! E! A! N! Any self-respecting person would be appalled if in real-life an adult (and teacher, for that matter) physically harmed schoolchildren and made it her life’s mission to destroy a show choir. But alas, Sue has shown that amid her many, many flaws, there’s a heart of gold — dipped in slushie-flavored protein shake.
TV’s Irredeemable Threesome: Hank Moody, Ray Drecker and Dan Scott
While there’s a plethora of despicable characters out there for viewers to love, there is also a handful of completely grotesque men who have gone so far over the line, it’s no longer even visible. Presenting: Californication‘s Hank Moody, Hung‘s Ray Drecker, and One Tree Hill‘s Dan Scott. Collectively, these men have murdered a brother, had an affair with a minor, made a living via prostitution, gotten sauced into a stupor, spent time in prison, and much, much more. Are these forgivable offenses? Um, maybe. But they’re all so repulsive, we’re not really inclined to explore that option.