Jerks are everywhere on television nowadays. Sometimes, they come in the form of the anti-hero. Other times, they turn out in supporting roles. Sometimes, these jerks are so lovable that they’re hard to hate. Other times, they’re so irritating that it’s hard to keep them on our television screens for very long before we change the channel. No matter how we feel about them, they’re dominating our televisions, and with each scene, they leave a stench of douchery too strong to deny. Love ’em or hate ’em, a lot of TV jerks are what makes us want to watch some of our favorite shows — either because they happen to have an infectious charm or because they’re so annoying that you just have to tune in next week to see if they get their comeuppance. Actors never get enough credit for pulling off such believable performances in playing jerks. Maybe the reason why they’re so believable in the roles is because some actors are just natural jerks in real life.
A major key to acting is for the actor to pull something out of them that they didn’t realize was in them all along. Or, in some cases, they’re pulling out of them the kind of unappealing, wretched behavior that they were always aware of because it’s so well ingrained into their day-to-day personality. In other words, some actors are good at playing jerks because some of them actually are jerks. Now, this is not to say that all actors who play jerks are jerks in real life as well. For some actors, parts like these just come naturally, and some of the nicest of actors are able to find a way to play the sleaziest of characters with the greatest of ease. But if we look at specific reports that have popped up over the years regarding certain celebrities, we can deduce which actors may actually be as jerky as the characters they play on TV. Here are some examples of TV characters who are just as big of jerks as the actors who play them.
15. Pierce Hawthorne – Chevy Chase
The archetype of the grumpy old man has often been an endearing addition to many sitcoms, but when it arrived in the form of Chevy Chase as Pierce Hawthorne on Community, it felt more like an unwelcome character type. A large bulk of Pierce’s dialogue saw him being overly harsh to all of his fellow students whenever he saw the opportunity to be nasty to them. It’s hard not to get the impression that Pierce never wanted to be there. Truth is, Chase himself never wanted to be on the show and used his inner angst for his cast-mates as motivation for his character. Morale for Chase on the set was low from the start. His unhappiness would manifest itself in a feud with Community creator Dan Harmon, a walkout from the set (preventing a key scene from being shot), and even wanting to fight star Joel McHale on more than one occasion. This would persist until the show’s fifth season when Chase left the show, and his character was unceremoniously killed off.
14. Jack Donaghy – Alec Baldwin
For 7 seasons of 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy was America’s favorite TV d-bag. He ruled the office with an iron fist and a silver tongue. Unfair and controlling, he was hard to hate when played with the utmost charisma by Alec Baldwin. Too bad we can’t say the same for the actor himself. Granted, his acting ability is tremendous enough to win anybody over, but the glimpses of his real-life personality that we’ve seen over the years has turned us off of on the guy. When people are reminded that Baldwin has a checkered past, most people will think of his frequent run-ins with the paparazzi, but at least these moments can be justified. You’d eventually snap and wail off on a photographer, too, if you had people shoving cameras in your face 24/7 while invading your privacy. But one unforgivable moment that a lot of us tend to forget about the 30 Rock alum is how he berated his then 11-year-old daughter in April 2007. In a leaked phone message, Baldwin called his daughter a “rude, thoughtless little pig” and threatened to “straighten [her] a** out” when he saw her — all because she missed a phone call of his. If this is just a fraction of how Baldwin treats his family in private when the cameras aren’t rolling, that’s scary and downright disturbing.
13. Fez – Wilmer Valderrama
While Fez was arguably the most lovable character from That 70’s Show and was not a jerk by traditional means, he did commit a jerky offense near the end of the series by dating Mila Kunis‘s character, Jackie, the ex of both of his friends Hyde (Danny Masterson) and Kelso (Ashton Kutcher). Dating your best friend’s ex — let alone someone who previously dated TWO of your best friends — has to be violating one of the top ten guy codes. Under no conditions is a guy allowed to date a buddy’s ex, but Fez did just that during the show’s final season. Still, as jerky as that kind of move is, it pales in comparison to the jerky acts committed by the actor who played Fez, Wilmer Valderrama. On the show, Fez was a bit of a nerd, but Valderrama let it be known that he was a real-life player by constantly talking out of the bedroom whenever the opportunity presented itself. In a 2006 interview with Howard Stern alone, Valderrama bragged about courting several celebs. He claimed to have taken Mandy Moore‘s virginity, that Ashlee Simpson was a “screamer,” and that Lindsay Lohan liked waxing downstairs. Talking out of the bedroom in such a public forum is one of the scummiest things any guy could do and is a major guy-code violation.
12. Andy Dick – Andy Dick
Given how much Andy Dick‘s true personality tends to bleed into every character he plays, we can really just attribute any character in his filmography to being just as big of a jerk as he is in real life. For the sake of convenience, let’s stick to all of the characters he played on The Andy Dick Show. As a sketch show produced from Dick’s own mind, he had generally no filter. Therefore, he had free range to create and play several different characters who were, well, d*cks. As for his real life persona, to put it mildly, he certainly lived up to his last name. Dick has been notorious over the years for his abrasive behavior which has often gotten the comedian in some hot water, especially with the law. He often exposes himself in public, one instance at a McDonald’s getting him arrested. In 2008, he was charged with sexual battery after groping and exposing the breasts of a 17-year old girl. Another groping charge came in 2010 after sexually harassing a bartender. He even got kicked off the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live! after constantly touching one of Kimmel‘s guests, Ivanka Trump. This just barely summarizes the long list of offenses committed by Andy Dick. Maybe “obnoxious” would be a more fitting work for Dick than just “jerk.”
11. Marissa Cooper – Mischa Barton
As the star of The O.C., Mischa Barton played a snobby, spoiled character on the show. Turns out that the character of Marissa Cooper isn’t too far off from the actress who portrayed her. Much like Cooper, Barton came from a wealthy family that showered the heiress with lavish expenses. Coming from such an extravagant upbringing might have gotten to Barton’s head as there have been numerous reports of Barton being a difficult actress to work with on the set, and not just on the set of The O.C., but on other projects and shows like The Beautiful Life and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as well. Plenty of her former cast-mates have called Barton out on her diva behavior, but her most scathing of actions behind the scenes came when she sued her mom/manager, Nuala Barton, in 2015. Mischa claims that her mother mishandled her career by keeping 10% of her earnings as her commission, but there have been no facts to support this in the lawsuit. Last we heard from Mischa Barton was a January 2017 hospital visit for a psychiatric evaluation.
10. O.J. Simpson – Cuba Gooding Jr.
Okay, this one might be cheating a little bit. The title character which Cuba Gooding Jr. plays on The People vs O.J. Simpson is actually based on a real person. However, the way in which that real-life enigma is portrayed on the mini-series is a caricature of the real-life individual based on the public’s opinion of him. In that case, it should count. While the show keeps the debate open as to whether or not the former football player committed the heinous crime, it still depicts O.J. as an unstable jerk whose grip on reality manages to get worse the longer his prosecution drags on. This TV version of O.J. is most notable for his volatile and unnerving temper, a temper which Cuba Gooding Jr. himself has been rumored to have in real life. Such alleged examples of Gooding’s mean streak include an altercation at a restaurant where Gooding was seen giving a waiter a verbal lashing. Not to mention, recently, Gooding earned his jerk credentials after lifting up co-star Sarah Paulson’s skirt on stage in front of a live audience during a panel. Even for the sake of a joke, most viewers found it inappropriate.
9. Luscious Lyon – Terrence Howard
As the main star of hit FOX soap opera, Empire, it seems almost ironic how Terrence Howard has been the subject of as much controversy as his character Lucious Lyon has. The character himself has always been a cruel, conniving, homophobic, and manipulative Shakespearean antagonist. The number of heinous acts committed by Luscious remains endless — including dumping his young gay son in a trash can when he was a child for wearing heels, killing his best friend in cold blood, and publicly humiliating his ex-wife with a rap diss track — and the controversies of Terrence Howard run just as long. Most of the controversies surrounding Howard involve instances of stalking, harassment, and most notably, abuse. In 2001, Howard was arrested after breaking down the front door of his first wife’s home and hitting her in front of his kids. In 2011, his second wife, Michelle Ghent, divorced Howard and subsequently filed a restraining order alleging that Howard had been physically abusing her. Even his current wife, Mira Pak, has admitted that her husband has brought the volatile behavior of Lucious home on more than one occasion. Yikes!
8. Tommy Gavin – Denis Leary
Given that Rescue Me was written and created by star Denis Leary, it’s safe to say that his lead role as Tommy Gavin was more or less a television version of the actor himself. While it might also be safe to say that Leary has never been prone to committing any of the lewd or heinous acts that Tommy committed during the show’s run (i.e. sexually assaulting his estranged wife, Janet, in one episode), Leary has been the center of controversy for years for committing a different wrongful act, that act being plagiarism. Prior to breaking into the comedy business, he had been friends with comedy legend Bill Hicks. When Leary released his first comedy album, No Cure For Cancer, many critics (including Hicks himself) noticed the similarities between Leary’s schtick and Hicks’s own. At least three other comedians have gone on record in noticing the similarities as well. From his mannerisms to the topics he’d tackle and right down to the bad smoking habit, Leary’s act was eerily similar to Hicks’s and remains so today. Hicks once famously said that he quit smoking just to see if Leary would, too. If these plagiarism allegations are true, then Leary really is one big jerk.
7. Captain Kirk – William Shatner
Captain James T. Kirk is often cited as a snake charmer and an overall cool cat, but if one were to peel back the Captain’s layers, he’s an unapologetic jerk at his core. He’s always chastising his shipmates for little to no reason; he’s self-absorbed, full of himself, cocky to a fault, and has gotten the Enterprise in more trouble than he has gotten his team out of. If we were to take a moment to step back from any Star Trek canonization, we’d see that Kirk being a jerk is no coincidence. It seems to be because the original actor who played him, William Shatner, has always been a jerk himself. Shatner is often criticized for being hard to work with, and many of his former co-stars have expressed their dislike for the man, especially George Takei, whose savage monolog against Shatner at his Roast special felt too full of animosity to be just a joke. Most recently, Shatner drew the ire of much of Hollywood and its circles when he neglected to attend the funeral of former Spock, Leonard Nimoy. For many, it’s a move that earned Shatner the nickname “Captain Jerk.”
6. Betty Draper – January Jones
Standing among a sea of unlikable characters, Betty Draper may have produced the most hate from fans of Mad Men. While her supporters are few and far between in jumping to her defense as a misunderstood character, most viewers found Betty to be absolutely detestable and the most despicable character on the show, which says a lot if you’ve seen the show’s colorful cast of characters. January Jones, on the other hand, might actually be the closest thing to a nice person on this list. Her jerk résumé is noticeably tame compared to most of the actors on this list. No one has said a bad word about the actress — well, no one except child actor and Jones’s on-screen Mad Men son, Jared Gilmore. In 2011, Gilmore criticized Jones for being “unapproachable” on the set of the show. Keep in mind that the boy was about 10 years old at the time of his comments. “Unapproachable” is kind of a big word for a 10-year-old to lambast anyone with, yet alone a co-star. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the child’s words.
5. Darcy Edwards/Annie Wilson – Shenae Grimes
Judging by her filmography, Shenae Grimes tends to gravitate toward playing unlikable characters. She first did it on Degrassi: The Next Generation in her role of Darcy Edwards, a character who drew the ire of fans after falsely accusing Principal Simpson of sexually harassing her after he denied her own sexual advances not wanting to fornicate with an underaged student. Then, when she snagged the lead role of Annie Wilson for a rebooted 90210, audiences found this character to be just as aggravating to watch. Annie’s “finest hour” came when she played the victim when she was punished (which she deemed to be unfair) for drunk driving and running away from the scene of the crime. Much like the characters she plays, Grimes herself has been accused of terrorizing practically everybody in her path. Before the new 90210 even premiered, it was reported that Grimes was being rude to members of the cast and crew, including extras. One wonders if this is a case of her characters rubbing off on her or if her real personality is why her characters seem so nasty.
4. Brenda Walsh – Shannen Doherty
Long before Annie Wilson was the resident bad girl of Beverly Hills, 90210, Brenda Walsh was making viewers pull their hair out nearly every episode. At her core, Walsh was always supposed to be one of the more relatable characters, but for whatever reason, the majority of audiences found her to be despicable and grating. Whether Walsh being a jerk was completely unintentional or just a matter of viewer perception is up for debate. Maybe the reason why so many people interpreted Walsh as a jerk is because she was played by an actress who was pretty much a jerk in her heyday. Shannen Doherty‘s attitude seems to have simmered down in recent years, but at the height of her fame, she was a notoriously difficult person to work with. She actually blames the early success she found on the show, playing a character more experienced than herself, for why she turned out to be such a wild child in her own right. Nonetheless, she was so hard to work with on the set that Tori Spelling called her dad to get Doherty fired, and it worked. Her former cast-mates actually rejoiced over Doherty’s departure in interviews following the actress’s exit.
3. Hester Ulrich – Lea Michele
During the first season of Scream Queens, the character of Hester Ulrich was the perfect personification of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Starting off as an unsuspecting ugly duckling before emerging as the elusive Red Devil killer by the season’s end, Hester was quite the adversary for the Chanels. She proved to be an even bigger jerk in the second season after refusing to reveal the identity of the latest killer, the Green Meanie, and even bragged about knowing something no one else did. She’s a diabolical character that many critics were surprised to see the former Glee star, Lea Michele, pull off so well after playing such a goodie two-shoes in the FOX musical. Maybe Hester was a character closer to Michelle’s heart given how the actress has been rumored to be a bit of a jerk herself. Most rumors claim that Michelle is often rude and disrespectful towards everyone on set. She’s been noted to have been especially hard to work with on the set of Glee. Her former co-star, Naya Rivera, revealed in her book just how unbearable Michelle can be to have around.
2. Noah “Puck” Puckerman – Mark Salling
Puck started off as the brash, cocky, and all too-acerbic-for-his-own-good jock of Glee. For many viewers, one of the highlights of the musical show was watching this resident bully blossom into a sensitive, humble, multi-layered character as the series progressed. Too bad the actor who played him didn’t have a more satisfying character development. In fact, knowing what we know now about Mark Salling, “jerk” might be way too mild of a word for him. “Monster” or “pervert” might be more apropos in this case. Glee viewers first started raising their eyebrows at the actor in 2013 when allegations of sexual battery pointed in Salling’s direction when a woman accused him of forcing her to have unprotected sex with him. Salling would deny these allegations and settle out of court in 2015. That same year, just when Salling thought he was out of hot water, he was arrested for possession of thousands of videos and photographs depicting child pornography. In 2016, the actor was charged, but the trial, as of now, has been delayed indefinitely.
1. Charlie Harper – Charlie Sheen
The character of Charlie Harper from Two and a Half Men is essentially a television extension of Charlie Sheen‘s actual personality. So, naturally, both come off as equally big a-holes. While Harper’s jerkiness doesn’t extend much further than being a degenerative and immature man-child, Sheen’s terrible acts have been much more malicious. Along with the erratic behavior which he has displayed in the public eye, Sheen tends to take his belligerency to a more disturbing level in private. In 2009, he was arrested for assaulting his third wife, Brooke Mueller. In 2010, he was removed from his Plaza Hotel suite after trashing his room in an intoxicated rage. Probably the most shocking thing that Sheen has done is continue to have unprotected sex following his HIV diagnosis in 2011, which is wildly irresponsible. After going public about his HIV diagnosis in 2015, he admitted that not only had he slept with approximately 200 women after learning he had HIV, he also had unprotected sex with more than one person.
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