Television shows are supposed to feature leads that have the most compelling storylines, but after a few seasons, it’s not uncommon for viewers to find themselves more engaged with the lives of those around the title character. Whether the lead character is an anti-hero, a person who is morally ambiguous, or someone who just gets plain annoying after a few seasons, it can be easy for viewers to fall out of love with the protagonist. Sometimes they’re just the worst. Thankfully, there are other characters to take up the reins and become the person we want to see more of on screen.
Here are 10 shows with lead characters who were eventually eclipsed by their co-stars.
LEAD CHARACTER: Dawson Leery
SHOW: Dawson’s Creek
It’s not difficult to look back on Dawson’s Creek and realize that Dawson was awful. Even Dawson isn’t a huge fan of Dawson (James Van Der Beek said in an interview that Dawson is the kind of guy you’d find excuses to not hang out with). Dawson was needy, he strung Joey along for years, and he had approximately zero sense of humour about himself. On the flip side, Pacey was charming and kind and actually had reasons to be angsty thanks to his rocky family life. He brought humour to the humourless Dawson and showed growth and maturity when Dawson just showed himself to be narcissistic. Joey and Pacey 4 ever.
Sookie St. James
LEAD CHARACTERS: Rory and Lorelai Gilmore
SHOW: The Gilmore Girls
Both Rory and Lorelai were the poster children for terrible decisions and since they share the same name and poor decision making skills, we’re lumping them together. Lorelai cut her parents out of her life and continually lied to them and all the men she was with, which consistently lead to miscommunication and hurt feelings. As for Rory, she cheated on boyfriends, never got a job to help her single mother with bills, and then was confused when she didn’t get her dream job after taking zero internships during college. Oh, except for the one internship with Logan’s dad, which resulted in a single bad review that caused Rory to drop out of Yale. That’s what happens when your parents tell you that you’re wonderful way too often. Thankfully, we had Sookie, who brought some perspective and humour to Stars Hollow.
LEAD CHARACTER: Carrie Bradshaw
SHOW: Sex and the City
I couldn’t help but wonder, has there ever been a more celebrated and less likable character than Carrie Bradshaw? Her greatest strength was turning every conversation back to herself, never showing more than five seconds of support to any of her friends. Don’t even get me started on Carrie borrowing money to buy her apartment that was filled with $400 shoes. Or cheating on Aiden. Or outing her exes in her column. Or talking about her boyfriend while Samantha was getting chemo. Or making homophobic comments. We could go on. On the flip side, Miranda Hobbs was a grown ass woman who took care of herself and her friends and her baby and her ex, who eventually became her husband. And she did it all while listening to Carrie drone on about her own life.
Watch all six seasons of Sex and the City on CraveTV.
LEAD CHARACTER: Sarah Manning
SHOW: Orphan Black
First off, I know that Sarah and Alison are the same person IRL, but we’re talking clones here! Street smart Sarah almost always got in her own way thanks to her lack of people smarts, continually thinking she could figure everything out on her own, which made no sense since she hadn’t been successful at anything in her adult life. Her clone Alison was a success, whether it was being a mom who loved to craft or a mom who had to kill people to keep her family safe. They’re both skills! Alison knew when to ask for help, when to ignore Sarah, and when to make her own rules. Lululemon leggings have never looked so fierce.
Watch all five seasons of Orphan Black on CraveTV.
LEAD CHARACTER: Ryan Atwood
SHOW: The OC
We get it, Ryan had a tough childhood and Seth grew up in a gated community in Orange County, but at some point, we just couldn’t take any more of Atwood’s brooding. Thankfully, there was always Seth, with his fast quips and his Chrismukkahs. Even when we didn’t like Seth (Summer and Anna deserved better), we still loved him and rooted for the funny and cute underdog. White tank tops are overrated, anyway. Fitted band tees ftw.
LEAD CHARACTER: Hannah Horvath
Lena Dunham set out to make her character Hannah Horvath unlikeable and succeeded right up until the show’s finale. Even when there were chances for Hannah to grow, she would take half a step forward and two steps back. Something we didn’t see coming was how much we would fall in love with Shoshanna, who went from a Sex and the City-loving, New York newbie to a woman who saw just how volatile her group of friends were and decided to rid her life of them. She was self-aware and unafraid of telling others, usually her three closets friends, when they were being the worst, which was often. You do you, Shosh.
Watch all six seasons of Girls on CraveTV.
LEAD CHARACTER: Carrie Mathison
CIA agent Carrie Mathison may be a great cop, but it’s difficult to tell when she spends most of her time jumping into bed with the men she’s supposed to be interrogating. Is that how agents are trained? We think not. At least with Brody, he spent years being a tortured Prisoner of War and suffered from PTSD, which explained his sometimes-questionable decisions.
LEAD CHARACTER: Meredith Grey
SHOW: Grey’s Anatomy
Meredith’s lack of compassion for others is constantly being defended by the character because she is a brilliant surgeon and had a tough childhood. After 14 seasons, it’s gotten old. Real old. Can we finally just say it? Meredith is mean. Although she’s no longer on the show, Sandra Oh’s Cristina Yang gave viewers a character that was layered and interesting. Sure, she wasn’t a ray of sunshine herself, but her tough love never came from a place of using her past to defend being dark and twisty. She was a badass who stood up for herself, but also for others. We would definitely want Yang as our person.
LEAD CHARACTER: Ted Mosby
SHOW: How I Met Your Mother
We were supposed to love Ted, but after nine seasons of drawing out stories of his sexcapades to his kids, things got weird. On the flip side, Jason Segel’s Marshall remained lovable throughout the ups and downs of marriage, parenthood, family loss and job changes…and slap bets.
LEAD CHARACTER: Jenna Hamilton
The title of the MTV teen series should have been “Self-Involved,” because that’s exactly what lead character Jenna Hamilton was in every. Single. Episodes. Sure, most people are self-involved during their teen years, but Jenna’s woe is me act got really old, really fast, especially since she was a middle-class teen with loving parents, a supportive best friend, and a boyfriend that doubled as the hottest guy in school. So, why are we supposed to feel bad for her? Thankfully, there were Jenna-breaks care of her bestie Tamara, the fast-talking, truth-spilling, colourful teen who didn’t spend her adolescent feeling sorry for herself.
Watch all five seasons of Awkward on CraveTV.