BWW Picks the Best and Worst Character Arcs on Television

Anybody who watches television has characters who they absolutely adore. And then there are those they absolutely despise. You know the type, the ones who make you roll your eyes and yell, "ugh not you again!" at your TV screen. Some of these characters you might have loved initially, but as their story arcs developed, you found yourself suddenly hating them, or vice versa. Today, we've assembled our picks for the best and worst character arcs on television, featuring characters that have grown immensely on their respected shows and others who have greatly deteriorated over time.

Top 4 Best Character Arcs on Television (in no particular order)

1. Mellie Grant (Scandal) Mellie Grant, played by Bellamy Young, is one of the strongest characters on SCANDAL and one of the strongest female characters on current television. She steals every scene she's in. Initially, I did not like Mellie at all. Her personality was passive and she seemed to take a backseat in her marriage by not standing up for herself against her husband's infidelity. However, as SCANDAL progressed so did Mellie, her backstory, and her personality. She was First Lady of the United States for 8 years and stood by her husband, President Fitzgerald Grant, as he had a long-lasting affair with Olivia Pope. She eventually began to put herself first and focus on her political ambitions, but continued to pull for her husband's success as president. She sacrificed so much in life, including her own career ambitions, to help Fitz become president. Mellie is intelligent, manipulative, self-sacrificing, and an allaround badass.

2. Stiles Stilinski (Teen Wolf) Stiles went from being the Designated Human Sidekick in season one of TEEN WOLF to a vital member of the WOLF Pack, to the villain of season 3B, and then back to a member of the WOLF Pack. Portrayed by Dylan O'Brien, Stiles Stilinski is basically the Hermione of Teen Wolf. The pack wouldn't have had nearly as many successes in defeating the supernatural villains without Stiles' above-average human detective skills. Since day one Stiles has been loyal to his best friend, Scott McCall, and was his sole support system for a while. In season 3B, the Japanese myth season, his body was possessed by a nogitsune, a dark kitsune that feeds on chaos, pain, and strife. This season brought out a darker side of the carefree, comic relief character that we hadn't seen before. Hardships in his life were highlighted, like the death of his mother, frequent panic attacks, and anxiety over his friends continually being in danger. Stiles is able to face the DARKNESS and constant threats in his life with wit and humor and balances out the comedy and drama of TEEN WOLF in an integral way.

3. Jasper Jordan (The 100) Jasper's character arc on THE 100 is as
brilliant as it is heart-wrenching. The character, played by Devon Bostick, was a
happy-go-lucky kid that slowly crumbled into a dark and empty character over four
seasons. His hopeful sense of humor and outlook on life declined into a mordant
humor and morbid outlook by the end of the second season. In season 2, he had fallen in love only to have his girlfriend die after Clarke exposed her to radiation. Jasper transformed from a happy and hopeful human into a bitter and depressed person just waiting for the world to end. He had several brushes with death and had been taken hostage multiple times throughout his time on THE 100 before eventually choosing to die at the end of season 4 during Praimfiya. Jasper's humor that we missed from season one returned in the fourth season, but with a much darker tone. He was happy because he knew the world was ending and he was going to die soon. Unlike his friends, he was unable to cope with the trauma in his life and spiraled far into a complex and depressing character, but still managed to remain a fan favorite until the very end.

4. Helena (Orphan Black) The clone Helena, portrayed by the amazing Tatiana Maslany, is a captivating character. She began as an assassin, abused as a child and brainwashed into killing her sisters. There weren't many redeeming qualities surrounding this character when she was introduced, however, as the series progressed the other clones and the fans warmed up to her immensely. She became much more than an inhuman killing machine. Helena was given interests and moved from hunting and killing her sisters to protecting them and fighting with them against those attempting to control their lives. Her character is intriguing because she was portrayed as violent and inhuman, yet we sympathized with her because although she had villain-like tendencies, she was also a victim. Helena was an adult woman with a ton of blood on her hands who still managed to possess a childlike innocence.

Top 4 Worst Character Arcs on Television (in no particular order)

1. Olivia Pope (Scandal) If I had made this list a year ago, Olivia Pope would definitely not have been on this list. Her actions in the latest season of SCANDAL (season 6) are what have earned her a spot on here. Portrayed by Kerry Washington, Olivia Pope is the leading lady of Scandal, The Fixer. She prides herself on fixing peoples' problems and always having the correct answer because, like she loves to tell everyone, her gut is never wrong. Don't get me wrong, she's done some amazing things over the course of the show and Kerry Washington's portrayal of the character is outstanding. Every character on SCANDAL is morally ambiguous, however, Olivia's actions in season 6 have left a sour taste in my mouth about he character. She seems to have forgotten that she wears the "White Hat" or that she's a "gladiator" fighting for justice. She focuses more on her own political aspirations and treating those around her with disregard. Olivia treats Jake Ballard like his sole purpose is to serve her and do her biddings, forcing him to run as vice president. While much of her recent behavior can be attributed to her dysfunctional relationships with her parents (her father headed a covert government agency that specialized in torture and assassinations and her mother is a terrorist) and that time she was abducted and auctioned off by vice president Andrew Nichols, her character arc has definitely taken a turn for the worse. She no longer resonates as the amazing Fixer who helps people, but more as a conniving, power-hungry individual who will stop at nothing to win the White House. Olivia Pope's White Hat is now soaked blood.

2. Debbie Gallagher (Shameless, U.S. version) Debbie went so wrong, so fast. The
character, played by Emma Kenney, was cute and extremely mature for her age as a
child but turned into a selfish, entitled brat once she hit her teens. In a rush to grow up,
Debbie falsely tells her boyfriend, Derek, she's on the pill in an effort to get pregnant.
She does get pregnant and then spends season 6 arguing with Fiona about keeping the baby. Fiona doesn't support Debbie's decision in keeping the baby and basically tells her she'll have to find her own place once the baby is born. Debbie lied to Derek about being on the pill, lied to Fiona about getting an abortion, and basically kicked Lip's new girlfriend out of her own apartment because she wanted the place to herself. Debbie's personality is less than agreeable and she is the worst of the Gallaghers, including Frank, which says a lot.

3. Clarke Griffin (The 100) The mighty Wanheda. Eliza Taylor does a beautiful job at portraying this character, it just sucks that her character, well, sucks. Season one Clarke didn't' suck, in fact, season one Clarke was amazing. She was the only one of THE 100 kids concerned about finding food and surviving on the ground. It was only once she gained power and people looked to her as a leader that her character arc began to decline. Clarke became self-righteous and made political decisions with a blatant disregard for her own feelings, her friends, and her mother. She seems to enjoy taking on problems by herself, like she so often says "I bear it, so they don't have to." It's fine that she wants to be a leader, but part of being a good leader is knowing when to delegate. Clarke acts like self-sacrifice is the only way to get things done and it's the move she turns to the most. Hopefully her time alone on the ground has helped her grow as a person. I guess we'll find out in season 5.

4. Piper Chapman (Orange is the New Black) Does anyone like Piper? I feel like it's safe to assume that no one does. She's the worst. Amidst the other women's struggles facing discrimination, Piper's story is a tired search for self-validation with a general disdain for those around her. Taylor Schilling is excellent in this role, it's just unfortunate she got stuck with such a plain and annoying character. No matter how much I tried to root for her in the beginning, Piper always seems to take one step forward and two steps back. Her behavior is unsympathetic and all she manages to do is whine about her situation. Pass.

SCANDAL images courtesy of ABC/Richard Cartwright

THE 100 images courtesy of The CW

OPRHAN BLACK image courtesy of BBC America

TEEN WOLF image courtesy of MTV

SHAMELESS image courtesy of Showtime

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK image courtesy of Netflix



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From This Author Brooke Yunis