Dispensing with the more obvious ones like Urkel, Eddie Haskell, Scrappy-Doo and the Great Gazoo, here’s a little rundown of TV characters who I’ve found irritating over the years (in no particular order):
Phyllis Lindstrom—"Mary Tyler Moore Show" Flighty characters always get on my nerves, and Phyllis was the epitome of flighty-ness. Why Mary and Rhoda didn’t just tell her to go get stuffed is beyond me. And they even gave Phyllis her own show, too? Oy!
BeBe Glaser—"Frasier" Didn’t you just want to kick her in the head every time she appeared on screen? I love "Frasier", but there were an awful lot of inconsistencies on that show, one example being how Frasier always harped on maintaining his own principles and ethics, yet BeBe had none whatsoever. There’s no way in hell Frasier would hire a sleazy, underhanded twit like BeBe to be his agent—he was a psychologist, and would have easily seen right through her right off the bat.
Claire Huxtable—"The Cosby Show" I know they meant well on this show, but I got really tired of Claire’s preachiness, not to mention the way they made her out to be such a saint, as if she had all the answers and never did ANYTHING wrong. Her constant arrogant stare of disapproval over everything Cliff and the kids did was quite irritating, too. Good gravy, she’d get on Cliff every time he wanted something good to eat—and he was a freakin’ doctor, for crimeny’s sake!
ANY character played by Tony Danza I don't need to elaborate, do I?
Maxwell Sheffield—"The Nanny" I always hated that tight-assed snob with the crappy Brit accent and his faux-Ricky Ricardo "Miss Fine!!!" shtick. And what a dumbass—it took this douche, what, six years to notice he had a hot babe living under his own roof?!? Yes, I know Fran's voice was every bit as annoying as Yoko Ono's singing, but that’s what earplugs are for!
Diane Chambers—"Cheers" There are two distinct camps of "Cheers" fans—one side prefers the early "Diane years" with Shelly Long, and the other prefers the "Rebecca years" with Kirstie Alley. Count me in the latter group, because I couldn’t stand that pseudo-intellectual phony snob Diane. Shelly Long is a decent actress, and very attractive too, but that character grated on me like a Zamfir record. And that whole on-again/off-again love affair with Sam (or "Sahm" as she snobbily pronounced it) got old real fast, too. Apart from Diane being the frequent target of Carla’s verbal skewer, I’ll take ol’ "Granite Panties" (Rebecca) any day over her. I’ve heard from more than one source that Shelly Long was a royal pain in the ass to work with too.
J.J. Evans—"Good Times" Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually thought "Kid Dynomite" was funny 30 years ago. I guess that’s the difference of viewing things with 42-year-old eyes as opposed to 12-year-old ones. I now see why John Amos and the late Esther Rolle complained so vehemently about the buffoonish nature of J.J.’s character. I watch the show now just hoping James would fucking lay him out just once. And J.J.’s constant bragging about his prowess with the opposite sex was so ludicrous—he was about as proficient with women as Anna Nicole Smith would have been as a contestant on "Jeopardy!".
Col. Flagg—"M*A*S*H" Okay, the over-zealous "intelligence" officer was funny the first couple times he appeared on the show, but it got really stupid after a while, and Flagg reached his nadir when he tried to dupe the far more intelligent Major Winchester and/or Col. Potter, as opposed to the ever-gullible Frank Burns.
Vic Ferrari—"Taxi" Not only was it totally implausible for Latka Gravas to have an alter-ego who spoke English properly, it wasn’t funny, either! Sorry if I’m too thick here, but I never "got" Andy Kaufman—his brand of humor just went right by me most of the time. Loved the Latka character—brilliant stuff, there—but beyond that, I thought Kaufman was just an arrogant smart-ass.
Elvin—"The Cosby Show" Gonna have to side with the rank-and-file on the JumpTheShark website here—was this guy not just about the biggest wuss on TV? Ain’t no way in hell a cutie like Saundra would fall for a dork like him anyway.
Dr. Zachary Smith—"Lost In Space" "Oh, the pain!" I take back what I just said above: here’s the biggest wuss in TV history! Don’t mean to bash the late Jonathan Harris—he was brilliantly campy as Dr. Smith—but his act did get rather tiresome after a while, and you kept hoping the Robot would zap his ass a couple times, or maybe the Robinsons would take off in the Jupiter II without him, stranding him on some misbegotten planet with the talking carrots. Smith actually made a more interesting character early on in the series when he was more sinister and out to sabotage the mission. But, the "LIS" producers noticed how the high-camp on "Batman" was generating huge ratings over at ABC, thus a legend (of sorts) was born. "Never fear, Smith is here!"
Cousin Oliver—"The Brady Bunch"; Jeremy—"Eight Is Enough"; Alex—"One Day At A Time"; Little Ricky—"The Partridge Family"; Seven—"Married…With Children"; Raul— "Chico & The Man" I lump all these together because they’re examples of desperation on the part of established shows with child stars who outgrew their youthfulness and/or cuteness. So what did they do? Trot out some younger cousin, neighbor kid or adopted orphan to try to boost the ratings, and it almost NEVER worked! These new characters almost always trashed the show’s original chemistry, and were more of a nuisance than anything else. Only "M…WC" had sense enough to drop their kid like a hot potato—the rest of these shows, in most cases, went off the air within a year after the kid’s arrival. Another example of this phenomenon (for different reasons) is Raul on "Chico & The Man". That show should have ended the minute Freddie Prinze blew his brains out, but the producers disrespectfully brought in this cheeky little kid to replace him, and it was just plain wrong! The only exception I can think of where this ploy actually worked was when Janet Jackson joined the cast of "Good Times" as Penny.
Mr. Furley—"Three’s Company" Why did Jack Tripper have to worry about being outed for being gay with this fucker chasing him around wearing a pink scarf and a bad toupee? Loved Don Knotts as Barney Fife, but he should have quit while he was ahead.