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6 TV Anti-Heroes We Just Can’t Help But Love!

Written by Anya Bergstrom. Published: September 06 2023


There is something so special about rooting for a character who is, quite frankly, a terrible person. Despite all of their character flaws (and there are usually many), these anti-heroes all have a way of tugging on our heartstrings just enough to garner our sympathy. Here is a short list of our favorite anti-heroes that we just can’t get enough of!


1. Larry David - "Curb Your Enthusiasm" 

Playing a caricature of himself on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", Larry David is truly the devil’s advocate. With a blatant disregard for social cues and a vague distaste for societal norms, Larry takes the bullet for all of us and boldly points out all the social idiosyncrasies we encounter in our daily life. While he takes the brunt of the insults others haul at him for his ridiculous (but somehow very rational) behavior, we can’t help but admire his courage and wonder if, someday, we might be able to borrow some pointers from the free-spoken Larry on the show (while being less of a jerk, of course). 




2. Kendall Roy - "Succession"

A cut-throat, blood-thirsty businessman on the exterior, a child desperate for his father’s affection on the inside, Kendall Roy is a character you stick with until the very end. Kendall was promised the throne to his father’s media conglomerate Waystar Royco only to have the CEO seat swiftly taken away from him, which is a career move not many of us have probably experienced but an emotional turmoil that many can relate to. While betraying your family to become CEO of a company is truly not a strategic move worthy of sympathy, you can trust Jeremy Strong’s incredible performance to earn your deepest compassion for the boy that only ever wanted to be seen as competent by his father. 




3. Tony Soprano - "The Sopranos" 

There is no leaving out Tony Soprano in any list of TV anti-heroes! Arguably one of first few true anti-heroes portrayed on our TV screens, Tony Soprano is another character that we know we shouldn’t root for (just take a look at his criminal record!) but we still do. As the boss of a crime family, Tony is aggressive, violent, and, at times, ruthlessly cruel. However, when we see him work through his childhood trauma in the therapist's office, or when we see him go to great lengths to protect one of his own, we begin to understand his fierce love for his family – both his actual family and his mafia family. 




4. Fleabag - "Fleabag"

The character Fleabag (created and played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is best summed up by her own description: “a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist.” Fleabag is a sad and frustrated woman who is overcoming the loss of her best friend while trying to not be the designated screw-up of her family. She is emotionally immature and stubbornly pushes away all genuine attempts at affection from both her partners and her family. While we see how she is a terrible person, this anti-heroine reflects the frustration that many women fail to see portrayed on TV given the proliferation of male anti-heroes dominating the screen. With a sort of endearing bull-headedness, Fleabag deals with her grief by treating others as dispensable playthings existing for her own enjoyment and, perhaps, for our enjoyment too. 




5. The Gang - "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" 

Right out of the gate, “It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" establishes that the 5 characters (played by Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito) that make up “The Gang” are terrible people. Their narcissistic tendencies bring us such delightful deeds as kidnapping a news reporter or coming up with a fool-proof system to seduce women. All in all, these characters are wretched, selfish fools who will run into any situation blindly without any regard for others around them. Yet, despite their degeneracy, we can’t help but root for them as they playfully bicker with each other and pray that their bar, Paddy’s Pub, flourishes against the odds. 




6. Pete Davidson - "Bupkis" 

Pete Davidson, the new, slightly unconventional face of celebrity, knows that he is subject to public critique. Also playing himself in his semi-autobiographical series “Bupkis”, Davidson gives the audience a raw look into his own life, revealing his struggle with addiction and mental illness. He acknowledges his role as a screw-up, causing his mother immeasurable distress with his rowdy behavior and getting so caught up in his own amusements that he misses his sister’s big life events. Despite his outward nonchalance, we see Pete for who he truly is: someone who loves his family deeply, enough to make a TV series all about them. 




Who is your favorite TV anti-hero?