Television girlfriends have always had a special place in our hearts. For teenage girls, they were the ones we dreamed of being like and for teenage boys, they were the ones they dreamed of being with. While we have to admit they definitely bring the flavor to any show that wouldn’t be the same without them, it’s also safe to say that sometimes they made us want to reach into the television screen and tell them how stupid they were being. We also couldn’t help but assume that we would be a much better girlfriend if we had the chance to get with someone like Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill.
From missing certain cues and signals that delayed them getting into a relationship we ended up falling in love with, to just being a rude and snooty high school cheerleader, or even just a bitchy grown woman. Still, sometimes these girlfriends were terrible because the relationship was just not meant to be. As much as we wanted it to work and as much as we waited for the big moment, the writers of popular television shows often kept us hoping and praying for a romance that would never happen. But for the ones that did, we are definitely over some of them either not seeing the level of amazingness they are dating, or just being way too into themselves to notice how good they have it with the guy who is head over heels in love with them. For some, it’s as simple as just not knowing what they want or being focused on their careers. So join us as we take a look at some of the worst girlfriends on the small screen, whether they meant to be or not.
15 Penny From The Big Bang Theory
Penny from the hit CBS series The Big Bang Theory might have ended up tying the knot to Leonard Hofstadter on the show, but I think we can all come to a unanimous decision that she was not a great girlfriend. The show definitely highlighted the idea that Penny, who was an aspiring actress working at The Cheesecake Factory, is a definite upgrade for the nerdy yet brilliant scientist Leonard. Still, she ended up giving Leonard a chance and it worked out in her (and his) favor. But it’s no secret that Penny often displays very self-centered qualities that seep into her and Leonard’s relationship. It’s almost like she knows she’s prettier than the typical women Leonard would date, so she thinks he should see it as a privilege to be with her. Even if that’s the case (we plead the fifth on that one), one would think Penny would be a tad more gracious because Leonard is a great catch too.
14 Temperance Brennan From Bones
Temperance “Bones” Brennan and Seeley Booth might be going strong now and even expecting their second child together on the final season of Bones. But before they got to husband and wife status, Brennan was a terrible girlfriend. This is mostly because she didn’t know what she wanted and often denied her feelings for Booth, even though they were right there in plain sight. In her defense, Booth was giving her mixed signals for awhile too. So we’ll keep this in mind for when we make our Worst TV Boyfriends Ever list. But for now, Brennan is in the hot seat. Because when she actually did decide to give Booth a chance, she made her grand gesture by leaving her then boyfriend alone on a boat. Bad girlfriend much? On a side note, the boat was named Temperance so her now-ex clearly thought they were together for the long haul.
13 Alex Parrish From Quantico
I don’t think I’m the only one who had a love hate relationship with Alex Parrish on the first season of Quantico on ABC. The star was my TV BFF in my head but her relationship with Ryan was way too rocky to keep up with. She was so secretive about her past even when he admitted that he had been spying on her. Yes, that was a bad move. But she often used it against him and couldn’t see that he genuinely loved her. If she did, she certainly took advantage of his feelings and knowing that he would always be there for her. When she did give him a chance, things still went left in season two after he proposed before they took on a rogue CIA training agency. It might be safe to say she chose her career over Ryan on multiple occasions. I guess even Alex can’t have it all.
12 Peyton Sawyer From One Tree Hill
Yes this one is definitely a throwback. But Peyton Sawyer knew how to play the damsel in distress character a little too well on the hit One Tree Hill. Yes, it caught Lucas Scott’s attention more than once; in fact their first intense moment was when she was stranded on the side of the road because her car ran out on her. While I can count the number of times Lucas was there for her, it’s not too high when it comes to when Peyton was there for Lucas. In fact, she was actually dating his brother, Nathan Scott, when they met and fell in love. But it’s safe to say she often let Lucas love her and while she loved him hard, it’s almost like he was too busy rescuing her to be able to enjoy it; he even risked his life for her. But then again, that’s love, especially teenage love.
11 Kate Pearson From This Is Us
Kate Pearson and Toby Damon are clearly one in the same. And I completely understand putting your health before any relationship. But Kate doesn’t necessarily exemplify girlfriend goals in the popular series. She is really determined to lose weight and often gets jealous of Toby when he shows more progress than her after making very little effort (but what girl wouldn’t care about that?). Still, one of the things that really made me give her the side eye is when she almost had a love triangle with a worker at the fat camp she attended. She went as far as going to the guy’s house to give him a piece of her mind. That could have gone so right for her but so wrong for her and Toby. Thankfully she ends up leaving the camp and possibly any temptation behind. But it’s a wake up call for her and Toby as they decide to really get to know each other before they tie the knot.
10 Jane Villanueva From Jane The Virgin
So Jane Villanueva is one of the most lovable girls on television; she’s chipper, authentic, and of course her innocence is at a level that any woman would want to obtain. And even though it wasn’t intentional, she wasn’t the best girlfriend to Rafael or Michael. So first with Michael, they were engaged when she found out she was pregnant with Raul’s baby (thanks to an accidental insemination). And while she tried to fight for her and Michael’s relationship, things just didn’t pan out and she moves on with Rafael — didn’t see that coming! But while with Rafael, she realizes that she’s still in love with Michael. This is a lot of back and forth for Jane, who is normally a sweet girl. In her defense, she didn’t have much experience with being a girlfriend. And she’s certainly come a long way since the earlier days. We can only hope that Jane will let her experience in the past help her.
9 Rachel Green From Friends
Rachel Green might be an audience favorite on the classic sitcom Friends, in fact, that role is a major part of how Jennifer Aniston became a favorite in our everyday life, but as a girlfriend, she gets two thumbs down. Rachel was still known for being a bratty character despite her sweetheart appeal. In fact, that’s what made her downside sting even more, it was totally unexpected. Like Penny, Rachel was very into herself. I mean, we never even learned the last name of her boyfriend, Tag, who she dated for most of the seventh season. Let’s not forget the times she made Ross answer to her every beck and call but rarely would do the same for him, if ever. All she had to do was give him the pouty face and her wish was his command. Still, the fact that they didn’t realize they were still married after they thought they were divorced (which was Ross' fault) and they fact that they always ended up back together might be an indication that they were always meant to be.
8 Serena Van der Woodsen From Gossip Girl
Serena Van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl is pretty much in the same category of girlfriends as Penny from The Big Bang Theory. She learned the hard way though that while she dated Dan Humphrey, who was lower on the social totem pole than her, there was no way he was going to let her get away with any type of snooty behavior. Still, when she wasn’t with Dan, Serena had no problem keeping a guy around as arm candy, whether it was to make Dan jealous or really be in a relationship. From Blair’s stepbrother to Nate’s cousin Trip van der Bilt, who is actually married to another woman, to Carter and the much older Steven Spence, there were no boundaries to who Serena would date. But in the end, she and Dan actually made it work. Now we’re just waiting patiently for news of a Gossip Girl reboot or even a movie, because even if Serena was the worst girlfriend, we still love her.
7 Christina Yang From Grey’s Anatomy
So pretty much any leading female, past and present, from Grey’s Anatomy could be considered a bad TV girlfriend. But Christina Yang takes the cake this time around. Her unforgettable moment when she was supposed to marry Preston Burke ended in catastrophe. She actually pretty much left him at the altar. She tries to move on with then newbie Owen, and things actually went well for quite a while. She even stuck around after he accidentally strangled her in his sleep concerning a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder incident. But of course their relationship went awry when it turned out that Owen wanted children and Christina didn’t. They had an ugly breakup that ended with Christina moving across the globe. Interestingly enough, she might have been a better friend to her BFF Meredith Grey. But I have to say that even her fallout with Meredith was a shocker. Still, it might just be okay to assume that Christina is not the girlfriend type.
6 Olivia Pope From Scandal
Olivia Pope’s first mistake is that her boyfriend was married...and the President. Like, can you not find anyone else? Interestingly enough, Olivia’s relationship with President Fitz is what made the show as juicy as it was when it first started. Olivia might have been the one to really have Fitz’s heart in comparison to Mellie, or any other woman, but the whole idea of it was just not cool. Then of course when Jake Ballard was thrown into the picture, Olivia tried to move on with someone else, but for some reason was never able to shake her relationship with Fitz. She even went as far as challenging Mellie against Fitz, knowing that she was the one who had his heart, even if she didn’t have his last name. She kind of has a bad rap when it comes to her relationships, but her career is still on point. Isn't that what really matters?
5 Naomi Clark From 90210
So avid fans of the 90210 reboot know that Naomi Clark would probably not be in the running for too many “Girlfriend of the Year” awards. But neither would her friends Adrianna Tate, Annie Wilson, or Erin Silver. All in all, they were just high school and college girls doing their thing, they make mistakes. Naomi often took things a step further when dating though and wanted the guys to think she was the center of their universe. And often they did. But it was her boyfriend turned husband Max that showed her she couldn’t get everything she wanted, no matter how many times she could bat her eyelashes in a minute or how many wads of cash she could flash to get her way. Naomi had more than a few humbling moments, including the one that included Max telling her he wanted them to go their separate ways for good. Unfortunately, by then, Naomi was actually a changed woman. It was just too late to show it.
4 Robin Scherbatsky From How I Met Your Mother
Robin Scherbatsky had no problem being one of the guys on the hit series How I Met Your Mother. But when it came to fulfilling girlfriend duties, she often fell short. In her defense, it’s pretty difficult to transition from being in the friend zone to having an intimate relationship, whether it was with the playboy Barney Stinson or the guy who pretty much really did live next door, Ted Mosby. It seems like Robin would be happier just going to play hockey in Canada. I have to say I didn’t see the whole relationship between Robin and Barney coming. In fact, she was really the only one who he fell in love with after his character was known for playing women right and left. They even the tied the knot! But they broke up just three years later in what will always be known as one of the saddest episodes in How I Met Your Mother history.
3 Sarah Braverman From Parenthood
Sarah Braverman was another favorite on the small screen, but her lack of relationship skills puts her on the list. In the beginning of the six season series, Sarah was known for not really setting boundaries (or goals for that matter) in her dating life despite being the mom to two teenagers. Her daughter, Amber, even had to remind her at times that they were watching her every move. She really made things worse when she cheated on her then-fiance, who was also Amber’s teacher, with Hank, the new photographer she was working with (played by Ray Romano). In the end, Sarah and Hank get married so at least the kiss that ended her engagement wasn’t a complete waste. Plus, Sarah made up for her past mistake when she helped Hank get through his discovery that he had Asperger syndrome.
2 Mindy Lahiri From The Mindy Project
Essentially, Mindy Lahiri wasn’t a good girlfriend at times because she didn’t want to be. She loves the idea of love but when it comes to actually following through, Mindy nearly fails every time. It’s not because she’s not interested in the guy, or that they aren’t interested in her. Mindy is just being the Mindy we all love in pretty much every episode. I can’t say that I hate it because she really helps all of us relate to her in our journey of not just singlehood, but friendships and career. She might not be a good girlfriend but she’s definitely a good friend! She’ll be there with a bowl of ice cream and adorable matching pajamas to turn any bad day into a hilarious one. It’s just that when it comes to her love life, she has yet to master being a good girlfriend. At least it's fun to watch her try.
1 Marissa Copper From The OC
Marissa and Ryan might have been relationship goals back in the early 2000s, but when it came to her being a good girlfriend, I think I’ll pass on giving her the title. Yes, she genuinely loved Ryan, but she often used that as a way to get back at her mom, Julie Cooper, who wasn’t a fan of him. It’s like she loved seeing her mom not be able to do anything about their relationship, and that could have been the fire that fueled it to begin with. And while Julie was so worried about Ryan’s influence on Marissa, she wasn’t the best example for him. She often got him in trouble and she was partially to blame for Ryan having to switch schools. Well, Marissa was the one who was kicked out, but Ryan being Ryan, followed suit and refused to go to the private school without her. Gotta love them.