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    25 "Universally Hated" Characters That Honestly Deserve More Respect

    Revisiting these characters with fresh eyes may change your mind about them once and for all.

    There are a lot of things that can get you hooked to a TV show or movie. One of them is a really intriguing character that you love to hate.

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    Over the years, fans have sounded off on the characters that truly irked them. Everything looks different with 2022 eyes, however, and some of these characters don't seem so bad after all.

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    Beware of spoilers ahead!

    1. Anakin Skywalker seemed like theeee emo kid in Star Wars (until Kylo Ren showed up).

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    People were not here for Anakin's whiny ways and no one has sympathy for the good guy gone bad arc, but to be fair he kind of went through a lot. Generational trauma like no other, coupled with the pressure of being the chosen one, can definitely drive someone to the dark side.

    2. Dawn Summers was already at a disadvantage for being sprung on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer fans five seasons into the show.

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    A lot of fans would come to feel that Buffy was held back by her constant worrying about Dawn. To be fair though, Dawn was just a kid growing up in the shadow of a younger sister who, at first, was exhibiting a lot of behavioral and emotional problems and later was revealed to have a unique power. Everyone was pretty hard on her and her circumstances rarely rose above bleak.

    3. Emily Waltham was put in a no-win situation on Friends.

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    First of all, coming into an already-bonded friend group in your 20s is akin to hell for the more type A folks out there. Emily was a little uptight, but hanging out with your boyfriend's ex all the time is a major buzzkill. Then he says the wrong name at the altar and wants you to stay with him, but also wants to keep his "friendship" with her? BOY BYE.

    4. Janice Litman was annoying, but totally misunderstood, too.

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    Janice's shrill voice and neediness gave her a bad wrap, but she really loved Chandler. But who amongst us hasn't been unfairly judged by their boyfriend's friends? She's endlessly nice to them and they are all rooting against her pretty much the entire time she and Chandler are on and off.

    5. Meredith Blake from The Parent Trap does not seem entirely unreasonable as an adult.

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    Meredith Blake is kind of a boss, sorry to say. At 26, she's bagged a peak-condition Nick Parker, who is not just any single dad, but a small empire owner. She's an ambitious and driven woman who sees an opportunity and goes after it, which is kind of different from being strictly motivated by money.

    Her attitude toward having a stepchild is not ideal but 1. she/they didn't do themselves any favors there and 2. you too would lose your shit if you found out your almost-spouse forgot to tell you about A WHOLE OTHER IDENTICAL CHILD.

    6. Bella Swan from Twilight sucked but was relatively reliable for a teenage girl.

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    Bella Swan took care of a lot for a girl who had all varieties of teenage drama, plus supernatural wildcards. She took care of her dad and was a dedicated student, so really she was doing better off than most other teen girls.

    7. Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter is awful, but only because he's being raised that way.

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    With distance from home and his own life experiences, Malfoy grows from his gross entitled, borderline supremacist views. He realizes that status didn't get him anywhere he thought it would and starts working by his own agenda instead of his father's.

    8. Andie McPhee from Dawson's Creek was not quite the goody-goody you thought she was.

    Andie McPhee and Pacey Witter on 'Dawson's Creek'
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    Andie's eagerness and positivity are pretty annoying and feel out of place in Capeside. Once you learn about her dark past, you have to feel for the girl. She has been through it. And despite the fact that she's a little messed up, she puts her stuff aside to help Pacey learn how to navigate his own feelings, sometimes to her own detriment.

    9. Dawson Leery was really unlikeable for a main character, while we're at it.

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    Over the years, it's slowly been revealed that everyone low-key hated Dawson's whiny, entitled, obsessive demeanor. He let spur-of-the-moment outbursts almost ruin relationships in his again and again.

    To be fair though, Dawson was weirdly a 26-year-old dude stuck in a 17-year-old's body for a while there. The maturity thing seemed to come from being a spectator to his parents' hot-and-cold marriage. He loses his dad, he loses the girl, and he loses his mind there for a minute during the college era.

    10. Sharpay Evans from High School Musical was salty, but she really got the short end of the stick.

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    Troy and Gabriella, who always seemed to be falling into situations without trying to, got precedence time and time again when Sharpay, who was 100% into everything she did, ended up falling short. The next two movies are people getting her hopes up and screwing her over and while she still manages to shine, she gets a lot of crap for it.

    11. Squidward from SpongeBob Squarepants is every adult.

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    Remember asking yourself why Squidward was always so cranky? It's because he was an adult! And had to be, day after day, no matter how absurd everyone else around him was being. Who doesn't know those feels?

    12. Patty Di Marco from School of Rock also had to be the grown-up more often than she wanted to.

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    Patty seems like a square when you're a kid, but her wanting her boyfriend's roommate to pay his half of the rent and not be disgusting or rude about it is not unreasonable. Then imagine fighting said guy's battle for him through ups and downs and STOLEN IDENTITIES, only for him to turn around and dump YOU when all is said and done?

    13. Emily Gilmore from Gilmore Girls can be a bit of a grandma about things, but she can also be a badass.

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    Was Emily Gilmore a little cold-minded and judgy? Sure, totally. But she was also a lot more flexible and accepting of things that were, for a woman of her time and stature, hard to wrap her mind around. You can look at the fact that she threw money at her problems as negative, but not everyone who has money is willing to share it, so there's something to be said for that as well.

    14. Wilhelmina Slater from Ugly Betty was not as extra as you thought she was.

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    Wilhelmina Slater is another misunderstood boss. She was fierce to the point of harshness at times, but she also knew what it was to experience a real setback and rise above it.

    15. It wasn't Karen Filippelli's fault on The Office.

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    Jim is who you should be mad at, not Karen. Karen's role as the thing keeping Pam and Jim apart isn't her fault, especially considering Jim was less than transparent about wanting her in Scranton. In the end, she got baited into a relationship with a man who was still in love with another woman and when she found out, she was rightfully pissed.

    16. Ryan Howard from The Office was your average corporate ladder climber.

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    Yeah, Ryan wasn't great. He was supremely obnoxious and painfully arrogant, but he was the kind of guy who does that in the name of Climbing The Corporate Ladder. In a way, he deserved respect for being unapologetically himself.

    17. Screech Powers from Saved by the Bell got on most people's nerves.

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    So goes the life of a nerdy kid, however. His friends loved him, but they also ragged on him pretty frequently about the things they knew him to be self-conscious about, AND they forgot his birthday. He found a girlfriend in Violet, but her parents didn't like him and ended things.

    18. Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother isn't a guy you want to date, but he's not your mortal enemy.

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    Ted Mosby's Robin obsession is overdone on every level. In trying so hard to be the good guy, he makes it hard to like him. While he's solidly not the good guy, he's not quite the bad guy either. He's a jerk, but not a malicious one.

    19. Will Schuester from Glee was just in the middle of a freaking circus, honestly.

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    Schuester was a crappy teacher for his Spanish students, but he was a hell of a Glee guy. You can sympathize with how he's living vicariously through these kids, even when he takes it way too far. He's a caring teacher, but his dedication is selective. Really, he's wishy-washy but he's not an entirely awful guy.

    20. Blair Waldorf was absolutely the worst at the beginning of Gossip Girl.

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    No question that Blair was a mean girl, a bully, a busybody, and more. But the girl had some damage. Her best friend, who her boyfriend was uncomfortably obsessed with, left her the same year her parents split up and her dad moved out of the country with a man. The pressure to be perfect led to an eating disorder, and that's just where she's at when the series begins.

    Blair's moral compass definitely whips back and forth throughout the series, but her setbacks actually cost her something enough to keep her from ever going too far off the deep end.

    21. Jake Ballard was just about his business on Scandal.

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    A lot of Jake hate is rooted in him standing in the way of Fitz and Olivia. While they never got their happy ending, there was something really satisfying and a little heartbreaking about his relationship with Eli.

    22. Piper Chapman's prison girl-bossing was a little bit much on Orange Is The New Black.

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    Piper Chapman is that woman you know who somehow gets herself in insane situations time and time again and somehow, things just work out for her. Infuriating without a question, but that's just her reality.  It looks laughable in comparison to the other women you meet on her journey, but she isn't entirely unlikable.

    23. Jake Peralta can't be Jake Peralta without an enemy like The Vulture on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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    The Vulture is the worst at literally every chance he's given and if nothing else, that takes commitment. He's entitled and believes he's a lot better at his job than he thinks. It's in th

    24. Skyler White became one of the most hated characters on Breaking Bad, but it was thanks to a lot of projection.

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    Skyler White didn't ask for not one bit of anything that she ended up in the middle of. She found out about her husband having cancer while she found out he'd taken up a life of crime. "Because Skyler didn't conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender," Anna Gunn expressed of the polarizing character.

    25. Joffrey Baratheon from Game Of Thrones was just a child at the end of the day.

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    Possibly the worst child ever depicted on TV? I'll give you that, yes. But Joffrey was just a kid who was behaving the way he was taught and even encouraged to. His demons came from the fact that he knew he wasn't deserving of the title he ended up with. He didn't command the respect of a king, have the intelligence of a king, nor the admiration.

    It's the one desire he has that can't be granted, and that's pretty grim. That's a lot for a kid with a natural mean streak to deal with, and it does explain (but not justify) a lot.

    What other "bad" characters were actually totally misunderstood? Let us know in the comments.