10 Sitcom Bad Guys Who Aren’t Really Villains

By z20z.com 15 Min Read

Summary

  • Sitcom villains aren’t always truly evil; they often get unfairly labeled due to their antagonistic behavior toward the main characters.
  • Some sitcoms do have genuinely evil villains, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
  • Many characters labeled as villains in sitcoms are just misunderstood or have valid reasons for their actions.

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While sitcoms don’t tend to have truly evil villains, there still tends to be an antagonistic character, but a lot of sitcom villains aren’t actually that bad at all. These characters unfairly get the villain tag, either from the show’s audience base or from other characters directly, but this doesn’t mean that they are one. Even though there are plenty of hilarious characters that cause obstacles and difficulties for others, they’re not necessarily a bad guy.

However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t truly evil villains in sitcoms. Some of the best TV shows in the comedy genre have some great examples of this, such as Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) in The Simpsons or The Vulture (Dean Winters) in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. At a closer analysis, a lot of these so-called villainous characters were just antagonists to the main characters, not bad people.

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10 Toby Flenderson

The Office

Meredith taking a picture of Toby and Pam in The Office Goodbye Toby
The Office

Release Date
March 24, 2005
Cast
Mindy Kaling , Jenna Fischer , Kate Flannery , Ed Helms , Craig Robinson , Paul Lieberstein , Ellie Kemper , B.J. Novak , Angela Kinsey , Oscar Nunez , Rainn Wilson , Brian Baumgartner , Phyllis Smith , Leslie David Baker , Creed Bratton , Steve Carell , John Krasinski

Seasons
9

Throughout The Office‘s 9-season run, Toby (Paul Lieberstein) was often used as Dunder Mifflin’s punching bag. Although a lot of the abuse Toby faced was from Michael (Steve Carell), it still managed to carry on after he left, instead passing the torch to Andy (Ed Helms). While he did have some odd behavior at times, Toby didn’t do anything villainous toward Michael and was simply trying to do his job. Without Toby, Dunder Mifflin would likely have had a lot more lawsuits, and Michael would more than likely not have gotten away with half of the things he did.

9 Red Foreman

That ’70s Show

Red Forman in center over young cast of That '70s Show
that 70s show

Release Date
August 23, 1998
Cast
Topher Grace , Mila Kunis , Ashton Kutcher , Mark Brazill , Laura Prepon , Wilmer Valderrama , Debra Jo Rupp , Kurtwood Smith

Seasons
8

Despite Red’s (Kurtwood Smith) constant threats toward Eric (Topher Grace) and his friends, he is just a protective father. There’s no doubt that Red was hard on the kids, and even Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) at times, but a lot of Eric’s reactions to him were simply blown out of proportion. It was always perceived that Red was breathing down Eric’s neck about everything, but this isn’t true.

Red often let Eric’s behavior slide. A great example of this is when Eric and the boys flashed the President and Red worked out who was behind it. Instead of punishing him, Red offered his son respect when he realized Eric had done it to save him from being forced to ask a question he didn’t believe in. While Red was often hard on Eric, he knew when to pick his battles, and Eric could have been a lot more appreciative of him.

8 Karen Filippelli

The Office

Rashida Jones and John Krasinski as Karen and Jim at David Wallace's party in The Office

Although Rashida Jones’ Karen wasn’t a regular cast member in The Office for very long, she made quite an impact, mainly because of her relationship with Jim (John Krasinski). Karen had a difficult start in Scranton, struggling to connect with her new coworkers, but did eventually strike up a bit of a friendship with Pam (Jenna Fischer), unaware of the past between her and her boyfriend. While it may have seemed a little heartless for Karen to tell Jim that Pam’s presence was causing an issue with their relationship and future, she was making the right decision.

Karen was trying to do what was best for not just them as a couple, but also for herself, not wanting to live in another woman’s shadow. With such a focus on Jim and Pam’s relationship in The Office, it’s no surprise that anyone who stood in the way of that was hated. However, Roy (David Denman) never received the same treatment, and he wasn’t exactly respectful of Pam.

7 The McPoyles

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Liam and Ryan McPoyle looking at each other in Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Although there’s no doubt that Ryan (Nate Mooney) and Liam (Jimmi Simpson) McPoyle are unusual characters, and often sketchy, they aren’t villains. Even when they held the gang hostage in Paddy’s Pub in season 3, it’s only to scare them as revenge for how they treated their other brother. The situation only gets worse and becomes legitimately dangerous when the gang escalates it, unable to resist not insulting the McPoyles. The gang often can’t understand why the McPoyles are so angry, but choose to ignore that it’s their own actions that have led the McPoyles to appear villainous to them.

6 Ann Veal

Arrested Development

Mae Whitman as Ann Veal in Arrested Development
Arrested Development

Release Date
March 15, 2019
Cast
Jeffrey Tambor , Ron Howard , Michael Cera , Alia Shawkat , David Cross , Jason Bateman , Portia de Rossi , Tony Hale , Will Arnett , Jessica Walter

Seasons
5

Ann Veal (Mae Whitman) received a lot of crass comments in Arrested Development, to the point that being ignored was a better result for her. Michael (Jason Bateman) was in particular harsh toward her, often calling her “egg” and “bland, and forgetting who she was in general. He was very questioning of George Michael’s (Michael Cera) relationship with Ann, but Michael’s selfish concerns had to do with his disinterest in Ann’s appearance rather than who she was as a person or how she treated his son.

Ann was very involved with multiple members of the Bluth family tree. Even when she was due to marry Gob (Will Arnett) later in the show, it was made out that Ann was forcing him into the relationship. In reality, Gob was more interested in showing off his magic tricks and could have easily walked away. Ann wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but she didn’t deserve a lot of the mistreatment she faced in Arrested Development.

5 Barry Kripke

The Big Bang Theory

Barry Kripke raising his eyebrows and looking unimpressed in The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory

Release Date
September 24, 2007

Cast
Kaley Cuoco , Johnny Galecki , Jim Parsons , Melissa Rauch , Mayim Bialik , Kunal Nayyar , Simon Helberg

Seasons
12

While Barry Kripke (John Ross Bowie) had at least one run-in with each member of the gang, it was mainly Sheldon (Jim Parsons) who labeled him a villain. There’s no doubt Barry Kripke has problems as a character and wasn’t particularly likable at times, but he never did anything to directly cause obstacles for the gang. When he finds out Amy (Mayim Balik) and Sheldon have broken up, his interest in her is genuine and not to upset Sheldon, for example.

He was also fiercely competitive when it came to physics work, but no more so than Sheldon was, but once again, this wasn’t to purposely mess with anyone, and Sheldon simply couldn’t handle not getting his own way. Sheldon also gets frustrated when Barry doesn’t want to be his friend, despite him actively trying, but a friendship cannot be forced and Barry doesn’t owe him anything for that. While Barry was a difficult character, he was seen as being a lot worse than he truly was.

4 Beverly Goldberg

The Goldbergs

The Goldbergs

Release Date
September 24, 2013

Cast
Jeff Garlin , Wendi McLendon-Covey , AJ Michalka , George Segal , Hayley Orrantia , Sam Lerner , Sean Giambrone , Troy Gentile

Seasons
10

There’s no doubt that Beverly Goldberg (Wendi McLendon-Covey) was the ultimate overbearing mother, but she never had bad intentions. Beverly was always fiercely protective of Barry (Troy Gentile), Erica (Hayley Orrantia), and Adam (Sean Giambrone), to the point of embarrassment, trying to be involved in her children’s lives as much as possible. However, Beverly always came from a place of love, even if it meant all boundaries were thrown out. Even when Beverly was antagonistic, things would always resolve with the understanding that she was using her own logic to try and be helpful, rather than actively fighting back.

3 The Janitor

Scrubs

Scrubs

Release Date
October 1, 2001

Cast
John C. McGinley , Robert Maschio , Donald Faison , Christa Miller , Neil Flynn , Judy Reyes , Aloma Wright , Zach Braff , Sarah Chalke , Sam Lloyd , Ken Jenkins

Seasons
9

The Janitor in Scrubs told so many lies that it’s not a surprise that J.D (Zach Braff) saw him as a villain, but ultimately, he was just bored. The Janitor (Neil Flynn) often pulled pranks on J.D., but there were also times when he was supportive and helpful to him and the other hospital staff. The Janitor’s pranks did get more intense as the show went on, but this could be because of J.D.’s retorts, escalating the war between the two even more.

The Janitor was underappreciated by many, as proven in the season 8 episode “My Finale.” The Janitor admits to liking J.D., and putting the penny in the door in the pilot episode, but realizes that the doctor had never learned his real name. While the two did have an unusual rivalry, J.D. was often overdramatic when it came to the Janitor’s actions.

2 The Captain

How I Met Your Mother

The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) was written to appear as a villain when first introduced in How I Met Your Mother. However, it wasn’t until the Captain’s split with Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) that it became clear that he wasn’t. Even though there was a lot of pressure on their relationship, especially because of their significant age gap, the Captain always made an effort with his wife and was conscious of her feelings.

Because of the sob stories Zoey spun to Ted (Josh Radnor) and his unusual behavior, the Captain was perceived as being unhinged and dangerous. Even when he returned to the show as Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) boss, at one point Marshall (Jason Segel) got the idea that the two were having an affair, which made no sense for the character. While the Captain slowly became accepted by the gang over time, the negative reaction he received from them in his earlier appearances was unfair.

1 Jerry Smith

Rick And Morty

Jerry covered in mud and surrounded by some of the unproductives in the Rick and Morty episode Childrick of Mort
Rick and Morty

Release Date
December 2, 2013

Cast
Spencer Grammer , Kari Wahlgren , Chris Parnell , Sarah Chalke , Ian Cardoni , Harry Belden

Seasons
7

While several characters have faced a lot of abuse since the first episode of Rick and Morty, Jerry Smith (Chris Parnell) has had it the worst, by far. Despite the character being designed as a whiney and feeble father and husband, a lot of Jerry’s arguments are logical. Jerry often blames his father-in-law, Rick (Ian Cardoni) for the breakdown in his marriage to Beth (Sarah Chalke), although the actual cause of this can’t be truly determined.

While it seems like an excuse that Rick would be responsible for Jerry and Beth’s failed relationship, it shouldn’t be that hard to believe, given the way Rick treats the entire Smith family. Rick also causes a lot of friction in the house, especially with repeatedly taking Morty (Harry Belden) out of school to help him and take on adventures. Jerry loves Beth and wants her meddling father to not cause any further trauma for her than he already has, so it makes sense why he is such a buzzkill in the animated sitcom.

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