Have you ever been watching a television show and had the irresistible desire to punch a character in the face? Who hasn't, right? Well, today we're going to take a look at the ten biggest douchebags in television history. To be clear about this, I'm not talking about the actors who played them (although in some cases the actor himself was actually a bigger douchebag than the character -- I'm looking at YOU, Dustin Diamond).
First, though, we need to establish the criteria. To be considered a true television douchebag, one must fall into at least one of the following categories:
Category A: Takes Excessive Abuse
Douchebags of this type take mountains of crap from pretty much everyone they come in contact with. Name-calling, physical violence, embarrassing pranks, they've seen it all. They have no backbone and therefore serve as doormats for their antagonists. In short, they're a statue in a world of pigeons.
Category B: An Over-inflated Self-image
These guys think that they're charming, attractive, and intelligent while everyone else on the planet just thinks they're dorks.
Category C: Flat-out Geeky
Here we're talking about your stereotypical geeks, complete with goofy glasses, highwater pants, pocket protectors, perhaps a lisp. This is compounded by the fact that generally speaking, these guys have no idea just how dorky they really are. Note: This category does not apply to those geeks who are fully aware that they're geeks and are comfortable with it (see "Sheldon, Big Bang Theory").
Category D: Incredibly Annoying
It might be a squeaky voice, maybe it's a particularly grating catch and over-used catch phrase, or perhaps it's just an excessively perky attitude, but these douchebags do nothing but annoy the crap out of basically everyone. You would cheerfully bludgeon them to death with a pipe wrench.
Category E: Sponges
These douchebags are completely unable to support themselves emotionally or financially and exist solely by mooching off the system or other people. Sometimes they express gratitude to those supporting them, but more often they don't . . . it's just take, take, take and whine, whine, whine.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the top ten, in reverse order:
Douchebag Category: A, C, D
Even among the misfit, remedial class criminals known as the Sweathogs, Arnold was the bottom-feeder. He constantly took crap from Barbarino and Epstein and would do anything they said in an attempt to be accepted by the group. His laugh was reminiscent of a seal with a bronchial infection, and whenever he thought he new the answer to one of Mr. Kotter's questions, he'd raise his hand and shout "OOH! OOH!" like he was giving birth.
Still, Arnold did have sort of an endearing quality about him, and every so often he got the upper hand with his tormentors . . . so he wasn't a complete douchebag. Still, he was in high school and carried a lunch box. There's just no getting past that.
Douchebag Category: B, D
When you're the dorkiest member of a group that includes someone named Potsie, not much else really needs to be said. Richie was the smart one, Fonzie was the cool one, Potsie could at least sing. Ralph always thought of himself as a comedian, but let's be honest, he wasn't all that funny. His humor basically revolved around tired one-liners and recycled Vaudeville routines, and his tendency to claim "I still got it" didn't fool anyone. He never had "it". Hell, the funniest thing about him was his name . . . Ralph Malph. Seriously, what kind of parents would do that to a kid? The thing is, Ralph's father was named Mickey (don't believe me? Click here.) so the Malph family had obviously been screwed up for generations.
8. Danny Partridge (The Partridge Family)
Douchebag Category: B
Anyway, Danny spent most of his time screwing with older brother Keith who was trying to do nothing more than write moderately catchy 70's rock songs and nail all the teeny-boppers he could. Danny thought he was clever, but he was actually just a hippie version of Eddie Haskell, someone just begging to get the shit beat out of him.
And did anyone else notice that it took him almost two full seasons to realize that you don't strum an electric bass, you pluck it?
7. Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch)
Douchebag Category: None specifically, he's just an all-around douche.
It was 1988, I was working at a movie theater in Pasadena. Robert Reed came in to watch some movie, I forget what it was, but for the sake of argument we'll say it was Steel Magnolias. Halfway through the previews, Reed comes storming out of the theater and confronts me by the ticket booth.
"Are you going to turn down the fucking volume in there, or are we all going to go fucking deaf?" asked the man who once chastised his son Greg for sneaking a goat up to his room. Not "Excuse me, but the sound in theater five is a bit loud," not "Would you mind turning the sound down just a tad." Just a barrage of F-bombs.
The character Mike Brady was a douche also, for many reasons. The episode where he and Sam get busted for illegal parking while dressed up in their Prince Charming and Dopey costumes comes immediately to mind.
Douchebag Category: A, B, C, D
Lots of TV's misfits had a delusional perception of themselves, but J.J. Evans was the most self-deluded of them all. He thought he was cool -- no, check that, he thought he was DYN-O-MITE! -- but he was basically just a ghetto version of Screech (more on him in a few minutes). His sister Thelma and little brother Michael were both much cooler than J.J. and everyone knew it.
To be completely fair about it, though, it wasn't all J.J.'s fault. Given his physical stature, approximately six feet tall and weighing in at about 58 pounds, the guy was pretty much a walking cartoon. He looked like he went to the blood bank and forgot to say "when". He was so skinny he had to wear scuba fins in the shower just to keep from slipping down the drain. When he turned sideways, he was invisible.
You get the idea.
Douchebag Category: A, B
A veritable encyclopedia of arcane knowledge, Cliff pestered the patrons of Cheers and endured their constant ridicule with grace and dignity. The height, or rather, the depth of Cliff's douchbagginess came during his appearance on the show Jeopardy! With an insurmountable lead heading into Final Jeopardy, all Cliff had to do was not bet everything he had, and he was a sure winner. However, Cliff HAD bet everything and when he responded to the Jeopardy answer "Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwarz, and Lucille LeSueur" with "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?", he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
His buddy Norm was not surprised.
Douchebag Category: B
Ted shares an apartment with his ex-girlfriend, and as a result, gets a front row seat when she brings home guys that are way better-looking and cooler than he is. And he's okay with this. Some might call that attitude mature and honorable, but who do they think they're kidding? He's a douche. Plus, he comes off like he thinks he's better than his friends simply because he's a college "professor" and can use big words from time to time. Yeah, he's basically a nice guy, but there are plenty of nice douchebags around. Most of them are waiters.
3. Stanley Roper (Three's Company)
Douchebag Category: A, D
KNOTTS: How about if I just recycle all my Barney Fife bits?
PRODUCERS: You can keep the stupid grin and the snorting, but aside from that, you'll have to come up with something new.
KNOTTS: Okay, all right. Can I dress like a pimp?
PRODUCERS: You can dress like a 70-year old white dweeb would THINK a pimp dresses.
KNOTTS: Awesome. I'll go get my white patent leather shoes.
Anyway, Roper has got to be the only male character in TV history who consciously avoided sex. Now granted, his wife wasn't exactly Farrah Fawcett, but you'd think that he'd want to shut off the lights and go for it every once in a while.
Jack, Janet, and Chrissy were constantly putting things over on Roper, most commonly trying to assure him that Jack was gay. This, of course, led to Roper's mocking Jack by doing a little fairy dance. Political correctness was still about a decade away.
Oh, and one more thing. Whenever Roper said something he thought was funny, he looked right into the camera and grinned like an idiot. Again, a pipe wrench would've been handy right then.
Douchebag Category: A, C, D
Also known as "The White Urkel," Screech Powers was a member of a peer group that, in the real world, would have had absolutely nothing to do with him. Oh, sure, Slater would've beaten the shit out of him on a weekly basis, and maybe Zack would've played humiliating pranks on him, but there never would've been anything even remotely resembling friendship between these guys. And the hot girls? Forget about it. Dorks like Screech don't have normal friends in high school. Hey, I don't make the rules. If I did, all high school band members would be allowed to have the cheerleader of his choice for an evening of wanton lust, retroactive to 1983. Are you out there, Lisa DeAngelis?
Douchebag Category: A, D, E
Okay, Alan got kicked out by his bitch of a wife, and then moved in with his brother Charlie. Fine. But the way Alan takes advantage of his brother's generosity enjoying a Malibu beach house, maid service, and free baby-sitting while never offering to kick in some cash once in a while, well, it's disgraceful. Charlie would be well within his rights to kick the shit out of Alan every Friday night at 7:00. One particular case comes to mind. Charlie, for some reason or other, owes Alan about twenty bucks. When Charlie is slow with the repayment, Alan takes it upon himself to siphon gas out of Charlie's car to cover the value.
That, my friends, is major league douchebag activity right there. Never mind that you're living rent-free in a million dollar home, Alan, go ahead and be a dick about twenty dollars.
And Alan gets trampled by everyone. Charlie, his ex, Berta the housekeeper, his other ex (who doesn't have enough brain-power to light a refrigerator bulb), and even his son Jake. For that reason, as well as many others, Alan Harper earns the title of "Television's Biggest Douchebag". Congratulations, Alan, your winner's check is in the mail.
Sure it is.
Feel free to add to this list in the comments section, I'd love to hear your thoughts!