The Top 20 Controversial TV Characters of All-Time

Television is still one of the most popular forms of mainstream media and most people with success stories will tell you that they got their big break after they appeared on a television in some way, shape or form. Reason being it provides a platform to a much bigger audience and even as we live in the era of technology, television shows and stations are not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact they continue to get bigger and better which is why most people who thirst for fame will do whatever it takes to get them there even if it means raising eyebrows for all the wrong reasons. Most successful actors, actresses, socialites or in short most celebrities admit that they did something controversial either on set or behind the scenes of television just to grace our silver screen.  But which actors played the most controversial roles?  Below is a compilation of the top twenty controversial TV characters of all time.

Archie Bunker- All in the Family

Topping our list is Archie Bunker from the All in the Family. The fictional character from the early 70′ show tops our list thanks to him causing controversy in nearly all forms, but mostly it came in ignorance and racism. He is regarded as a low brow, blunt character who has a tendency of calling people names.  For example he tends to refer to his son in law as meathead because according to him, Mike has no brains.  Bunker was never taken lightly by the public as it’s been said he promoted rude culture by making it look cool and funny. Archie also frequently prejudices specific groups such as blacks, gays, Hispanics, Catholics and Jews.  Granted the show ran in the 70s but there’s no chance a show like that could run today.  None.

Beavis & Butt head

Due to its animated nature, Beavis and Butthead managed to stay on television but we’re 99% sure if these guys were real life characters this show may have never been on the air. In this cartoon series, the two characters tend to engage in delinquent and sociopathic activities which made most parents of the kids they engage with on the show loath them while the kids end up loving them more. For example in one episode, there is a child who burns down his parents’ house while his sister is still inside.  And trust us, that’s just one example.  Beavis & Butt head was always under scrutiny because it imposed extremely sociopathic behavior on the kids who watched it. Although it has been long off the air, it still left an imprint on some of the kids which can never be cleared.

Don Draper- Mad Men

If there was one television show which could not escape the feminist’s eyes, it is Mad Men and it’s mostly for for its controversial character Don Draper. The man was at the height of masculinity with a lot of money to throw around. In the series, Don Draper was constantly accused by the feminists of objectifying women, which he did. For instance in one of the episodes, he tells one of the women characters that his only job is to give her money in exchange for things like sex and ideas.  Don’t think that would exactly play out in this day and age.  That was taken wrongly by most people. In addition to Don Draper being criticized by feminists, he was also on the receiving end of most people who consider his lifestyle as a TV Character as immoral and also as one which promotes violence, alcohol and drug abuse.

Stewie Griffin – Family Guy

Stewie’s another example of a character who would never make it as a “real” person.  Because Family Guy is a cartoon there’s a ton more leeway. Although he is just a baby, some of the scenes which he is featured in cause chaos long after they are aired.  Anyone questioning whether or not Family Guy is intended for children need only to observe Stewie for about 5 seconds.  For instance in one episode Baby Stewie brutishly attacks the Bryan who is the dog on this show for allegedly not paying him back. Stewie can be seen pushing the dog down the stairs, shooting him and even breaking a glass over his face.  While it’s intended to be humorous and make fun of violence, it in fact promotes it. According to most people, that not only promotes animal brutality but also negatively impacts children as they tend to grow up thinking that violence is okay.   Stewie’s also been known to “cross the line” on numerous occasions including remarks about terrorism, sexuality, and myriad of other issues.

Tom & Helen Willis – The Jefferson’s

Although it raised controversy, when you look at it from the right perspective, Tom and Hellen Willis left a positive impact.  Up until this show’s airing you hadn’t seen many mixed raced couple on TV and these two were ground breaking.   Most people don’t know this but The Jeffersons premiered only ten years after the law which prohibited marriage between the black and white people was abolished by the government.  The show was under scrutiny from people who felt that it was not right for such racially integrated marriages to take place.  In this case,  we can say it caused controversy for all the right reasons as it helped reduce racism through the use of humor.

Murphy Brown – Murphy Brown

At the time, Candace Bergen’s portrayal of Murphy Brown was groundbreaking.  Murphy Brown was a single mother with a successful career who maintained a balance between her career and motherhood. Some of the critics said that Murphy Brown was creating a bad picture to the younger girls who would now go against the moral values by thinking it is possible to get a child and lead a successful career thus leading to broken families. Some of the people who criticized her role even included the then President. On the other hand most feminists supported her saying that every woman is allowed to choose her own way of life and that families come in many forms thus what really matters is the bond and commitment.

Dexter Morgan – Dexter

Perhaps nowhere more in the history of television did viewers root for a serial killer more than in the show Dexter.   In the series, Dexter was a  man who has murderous intentions and who has devised his own way or code of killing people.   While on the one hand he’s a sick maniac,  on the other you can’t help root for him because everyone he kills is in some way or many ways, horrible. Dexter would first torture his victims in a room which seemed empty, then slowly kill them with a knife.  Most of the decriers of the showclaimed that Dexter was promoting the rise of cults and serial killers in America.  After a few years of the show running, more than three people were killed in the Dexter fashion.

Al Bundy — Married with children

Al Bundy is one of the most popular “guy’s guys” in sitcom history.  However, that didn’t come without a huge amount of controversy.  Most people called Al a modern day Archie Bunker, a working class stuff who had nothing better to do than rag on most people in society.  In Al’s case he was always guilty of putting down the opposite sex, degrading them, and also making fun of the lower class, a class which he was in.  Albeit the show was a comedy and never intended to harm these groups, feminists were all over Married with Children.  If you go back and watch the show now, you’ll understand why it could never be aired in the modern day.

Jack Bauer-  24

Jack Bauer was known as one of the toughest television characters of all time.  However, it didn’t come without controversy.  While Bauer seemed invincible, his flaw was doing anything and everything to get what he needed.  Often times that included torture, and fierce torture at that.  In virtually every episode, Jack is involved in highly violent activities which involved murder and inhumane torture to his enemies just to get his way.   His interrogation techniques were widely criticized. Critics said that displaying such a character tends to motivate violent activities by law enforcement on their victims.

Peter Griffin- Family Guy

Peter Griffin is yet another character on Family Guy who causes all hell to break loose with each episode. Peter tends to make fun of everything while at the same time is oblivious to nearly everything.  He verbally and physically abuses both son and daughter and has zero concern for societal convention.   In classic Seth MacFarlane fashion, in one episode, Peter goes over the top and makes fun of people with the Parkinson’s disease, while in another he mocks those with Down syndrome.  Peter does not stop there and instead he goes on to mock a patient just found out he has AIDS. Instead of waiting for the doctor to take the news to him, Peter and a group of other guys rush in to tell him that he not only has AIDS but full blown AIDS, something which crushes the hope of the victim and also causes his health to plummet.  Remember folks, this was merely one episode.

Ren and Stimpy – The Ren and Stimpy show

Amazingly these two TV characters were on a cartoon which aired on Nickelodeon of all stations (eventually MTV) and was allegedly banned thanks to their highly graphic sexual content which should obviously not be on a kid’s program. Also, people claimed that it included dark content which added no educational value to children that cartoon shows should entail. Generally, cartoon are specifically meant for children, while Ren and Stimpy came nothing close to that.  Cartoons should include hilarious and educational scenes that can amuse kids and at the same time educate them.  If it weren’t for Nickelodeon, Ren and Simply might have pulled it off.

Joe Carrol – The Following

Most of the TV Characters on our list are fictional, and Joe Carrol is no exception. In the TV series which aired on Fox, Joe Carrol is a serial killer who accumulates a number of followers (hence the name of the show). Joe and his followers brutally murder innocent people, and in the first season, they kill women just for having the same name as Joe’s wife. Most of the time they are always one step ahead of the law, and their cult is quite successful. Joe is considered a controversial TV character for obvious reasons.  Whenever you are rooting for a serial killer, it doesn’t set a great example for your viewers.

Eric Cartman – South Park

It would be impossible to create a list like this and not include Eric Cartman.  He is hands down one of if not the most controversial cartoon  characters in TV history.   Matt Stone and Trey Parker brilliantly created this little overweight, annoying talking, bluntly overweight character that somehow endeared fans.  Perhaps it’s his crazy voice, or simply his devilish ways, but it’s obvious that Cartman’s a fan favorite.  Considering how much homophobic, racist, and misogynistic verses come out of his mouth, it’s wonder the show receives its share of criticism on a weekly basis.  Then again, it also receives its due praise.

Maude Findlay – Maude

Abortion has always been a hot topic, and Maude Findlay, the TV character on the show named Maude was under fire for allegedly trying to make abortion look like a good thing to do.  It was groundbreaking for television and Bea Athur caught a ton of flak for participating in that kind of dialogue.  In the series, Maude getspregnant unexpectedly and chooses to procure an abortion. Apart from that, she was also perceived as a character who tried to break the barriers for women hence making her a controversial figure to those who still wanted women to be under the rule of their husbands and stick to the “old fashioned” way.

Hannah Baker – 13 reasons why

The dramatic TV series released early this year also makes it way on our list as it has had its share of controversy too. It was received with mixed emotions with some people claiming it is the best TV series for 2017 while the other half claims that Hannah Baker who is the TV character that the series revolves on does not create a good picture to the other young people in the society. Some claim that her role in the show promotes suicide, underage drinking, body shaming and rape culture among students while others claim that by airing such sides of the society it creates awareness. Trust me you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of an argument between the critics and the fans of the TV show.

Jodie Dallas- Soap

The early 80’s American was not only experiencing changes in its economic sector but also its culture, and as we know, change is never accepted by many people thus the LGBTQ community was unacceptable to many people back then. That is why Jodie Dallas was one of the most controversial TV characters in that age as he was the first gay character to be on TV. Jodie was constantly ridiculed and scrutinized by many religious organizations while many campaigns were held against the TV show.

Bart Simpson – the Simpsons

The whole show itself has always been subject to controversy scrutiny and hence selecting one character to be the most controversial is quite a daunting task. However, after watching several episodes, there is no doubt that Bart is the most controversial TV character in the Simpsons show. He plays the son of Homer Simpson and is always misbehaving, but the parents just let it pass or even if he tries to punish him they end up taking ice cream. Most parents argue that including such a character in a TV show that kids watch is not right because they may end up thinking that they are not supposed to be punished thus developing hatred towards their parents when they get grounded or any other form of punishment from the parents.

Andy sipowicz — NYPD Blue

Andy Sipowicz, a TV character on Fox’s NYPD blue is also on our list. He starred in the movie as a detective and he partners with John Kelly in the show. Criticizers claim that Andy alcoholic character and also being a homophobic and misogynist creates a negative impact on the society especially to young teenagers. He constantly objectifies fellow women in NYPD blue something which feminists were totally against.

Tony Soprano – The Sopranos

Although the show is considered as one of the best series to ever air, it too could not escape the scrutinizing eye of fault finders and in this case, Tony Soprano is the one who got the whole load of controversy. Being the lead role and a leader of criminal organization, people who criticize him claim that he promotes criminal gangs and their activities by trying to strike a balance between the activities his organization is involved in and his family. Another reason why he is on the receiving end is thanks to his violent nature which automatically leads to claims of violence elevation.

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