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17 Times TV Shows Wrote Character Arcs Flawlessly, And 17 Times The Writers Absolutely Failed Them

I'll never forgive Modern Family for derailing Haley's character development.

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which TV characters had amazing transformations and which ones deserved way better arcs. Here's what they had to say!

Warning: Spoilers ahead!!!

1. Deserved better: Enzo St. John from The Vampire Diaries.

The CW

"We saw Enzo grow so much with Bonnie. They were so close to getting their happy ending, but they just had to kill him off. It was so unnecessary!"

diamond

2. Saved the show: Klaus Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.

Man sitting in chains
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"He was a great villain in TVD. I hated him in all the best ways. Then in The Originals, after he had Hope, he became a sort of antihero, and watching him sacrifice himself for his family over and over was great."

lindamatmuk

3. Deserved better: Marissa Cooper from The O.C.

Fox

"She made bad decisions, but she wasn't a bad person. She could have just gone to college and come back for the finale. Killing her accomplished nothing but another downward spiral for Ryan."

Lindsay Casey

4. Saved the show: Summer Roberts from The O.C.

Summer smiling
Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

"In the beginning, she seemed like she was just a stuck-up popular girl. Once we got to see more of her and her relationship with Seth, however, it became clear how likable she actually was."

RachellllA

5. Deserved better: Chuck Clayton from Riverdale.

Chuck topless and looking buff
The CW

"He came back genuinely remorseful and wanting to make amends for his Season 1 actions, but then his character was ruined yet again. His character could have been great POC representation, but they just made him a bad guy."

jbmasta

6. Saved the show: Zoë Rivas from Degrassi: The Next Generation and Degrassi: Next Class.

Zoë smiling
Netflix

"At first she was a mean, horrible, and all-around unbearable character, but her struggle with her trial and coming to terms with her sexuality really gave her depth. By the end of the series, she was one of my favorite characters!"

magnoliaj


7. Deserved better: Sebastian Smythe from Glee.

Sebastian sitting with his hands folded
Fox / Fox Image Collection via Getty Images

"Obviously he did terrible things, like throwing rock salt in Blaine’s eye, but he had the potential for great character development. He needed a redemption storyline."

happy_feet_12

8. Saved the show: Steve Harrington from Stranger Things.

Steve with his hands on his hips in the school hallway
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

"He started out as the typical asshole high school dude who spread terrible rumors about Nancy and tried to ruin her life. Now he is the doting mother of an unruly gang of teenagers, and together they all keep saving the world. An excellent redemption arc."

fredzesty

9. Deserved better: Rachel Gatina from One Tree Hill.

Rachel and Dan
The CW

"They kept showing that she was capable of doing better, but never gave her the redemption arc she deserved. Instead, they had her marry Dan for money and then just got rid of her. She deserved to at least reconcile with Brooke."

courtneyc4fa30a7b5

10. Saved the show: Santana Lopez from Glee.

Santana saying she feels about girls the way she's supposed to feel about boys, and she doesn't want to walk around mad at the world and fighting with herself anymore
Fox

"I didn't like her that much in the beginning, but her story was so heartbreaking. Her character helped me through my own coming out journey."

camilladaniele

11. Deserved better: Haley Dunphy from Modern Family.

Haley gives birth to her and Dylan's twins
Kelsey Mcneal / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

"I have no idea why the writers thought it would make a good storyline to have her character basically end up back to the way she was in the pilot. It would have been so much more interesting to have her evolve from a superficial teen to a badass woman doing something she loves."

ebony19

12. Saved the show: Nathan Scott from One Tree Hill.

Nathan transformation from season 1 to adult
The WB / The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Nathan Scott was a pile of hot garbage, a bully, a partier, and a hothead, but then he met someone who changed the way he saw things. He took responsibility, proved his father wrong, changed his life, married his girl, respected boundaries, and became an amazing father."

thegingerelizabeth

13. Deserved better: Guzmán Nunier from Elite.

Guzmán's final scene
Netflix

"He had fantastic development after his sister's death and had become a great character by Season 3. But then he and Nadia broke up, and all of that character development went completely out the window and he reverted back to his Season 1 jerk self."

Kelly Martinez

14. Saved the show: Schmidt from New Girl.

Schmidt sitting with arms folded
20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

"The first two seasons, he was made to look like the quintessential douchey man-boy: money hungry, pompous, and pretentious. As the show moved forward, we got to see him become the funniest, most down-to-earth, and most caring man in the show. The last season? Stay-at-home dad. I hated him for two seasons, then he became my favorite out of the whole cast."

blueribbs84

15. Deserved better: Lucifer from Supernatural.

Lucifer leaning on a frosted windowpane
Michael Courtney / © The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

"He could have been the coolest ally to the Winchesters, but instead the writers made him become evil. They gave him some closure in Season 11 and a chance for growth with Jack in Season 13, but then they killed him off. It was lazy writing, if you ask me."

katiethesupernaturalhunter

16. Saved the show: Lu Montesinos Hendrich from Elite.

Netflix

"How she acted and what she said to Nadia and everyone else in seasons 1 and 2 was awful — she was horrible, bossy, and manipulative. But her wake-up call in Season 3 made her grow. She went from being selfish to putting other people's needs before her own, even if it hurt her a lot."

Daniella

17. Deserved better: Justin Foley from 13 Reasons Why.

Justin looking sad
Netflix

"He was getting his life together, getting clean, and wanted to do better. But no, the writers just HAD to kill him off!"

aaitken2004

18. Saved the show: Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Animated Prince Zuko smiling slightly
Nickelodeon

"He started off as, let’s face it, a whiny brat who was hell-bent on finding the Avatar at any cost to restore his honor and return to the Fire Nation. As the show went on, he realized that no matter what, he would never restore his honor in the eyes of his father, which made him realize he had to grow for himself."

checkyalater_slater

19. Deserved better: Esme Song from Degrassi: Next Class.

Esme's breakdown
Netflix

"I think they were definitely setting up her character for a larger arc, but the show was canceled before she could be redeemed, and it basically ended with her being a villain. Her character had the potential to be a really important portrayal of mental illness, and I think she had some good qualities that deserved to be fleshed out as well. I also would have liked to see her relationship with Frankie develop — the chemistry between those two was just too powerful to ignore."

Kelly Martinez

20. Saved the show: Cordelia Chase from Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cordelia looking fierce
The WB

"She went from a bad-tempered, egotistical, cheerleading, richy-rich mean girl to the most compassionate, thoughtful, brave, and nurturing friend and team member. Angel would be nothing without Cordelia."

snowdesignediting

21. Deserved better: Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones.

Jaime Lannister standing in the snow
Helen Sloan / HBO

"The show botched his entire character arc, and I’ll never forgive the writers for it."

nicolew4dad774d7

22. Saved the show: Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill.

Brooke: "I stopped letting boys define me and started believing in myself"
The WB

"She had amazing development. She went from being a typical party girl to one of the kindest and strongest characters ever, and ended up being an inspiration to so many viewers. I'm still mad at Lucas for what he did to her."

RachellllA

23. Deserved better: Janice Hosenstein from Friends.

NBC

"This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think she had the potential to actually be a good character. She wasn't a bad person in the beginning, aside from her annoying voice and presumptuous personality. Making her character cheat on Chandler just felt so unnecessary."

CKaden

24. Saved the show: Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time.

Regina standing outside
Jack Rowand via Getty Images

"It took her almost six seasons of development and evolution to move on from her evil past and own her mistakes. Granted, she hit some bumps along the way, but she learned to be resilient and not to return to the person she once was."

rebeccay4eb654492

25. Deserved better: Tristan Dugray from Gilmore Girls.

Tristan wearing a jacket and looking serious
The WB

"He was attractive, intelligent enough to be at Chilton, and enough of a bad boy to be interesting like Jess. I would have been totally on board for a Tristan-Rory romance as adults."

shannonc4f8cc995d

26. Saved the show: Elektra Abundance from Pose.

Elektra smiling and holding a microphone
FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

"I could not stand her for a while, but honestly, she’s grown on me. She started out super selfish and rude, but as the show progressed, we got to see other sides of her and she became more relatable."

magsaloo

27. Deserved better: Hunter Hollingsworth from Degrassi: The Next Generation and Degrassi: Next Class.

Hunter trying to run away from a psychiatric hospital
Netflix

"He didn't deserve a redemption arc, but I would still have liked to see one. Degrassi ended with him just being a complete trash bag. I wanted more out of his mental health arc, and I wish his character had been fleshed out better."

Kayla

28. Saved the show: Petra Solano from Jane the Virgin.

Petra sitting in a chair and looking sad
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"She started out as Rafael’s mean wife who just wanted his money. Over the seasons, she morphed into someone both Jane and Rafael wanted standing next to them at their wedding."

Elsie Snuffin


29. Deserved better: Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl.

Jenny standing outside with many students in their uniforms
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"People hate her for the mistakes she made, but everyone forgets that she's also two years younger than the other characters. The two episodes where she and Nate date are the best in the series, and I'm convinced they would have been endgame if the writers had given her a redemption arc."

kwg58

30. Saved the show: Mickey Milkovich from Shameless.

Mickey smirking next to the side of a truck
Showtime / Courtesy Everett Collection

"He went from going to prison just so he wouldn’t have to admit that he’s gay, and pushing Ian away because he was afraid of his dad, to being out and proud and standing up to his dad so he could marry Ian."

kyliesalisbury

31. Deserved better: Alex Karev from Grey's Anatomy.

Jo getting emotional while reading the letter from Alex where he tells her he's in love with Izzie
ABC

"They really did him dirty. He had a great redemption arc, but then his exit flushed it down the drain."

jessicarutht2

32. Saved the show: Valencia Perez from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Valencia sitting in a theater seat and smiling while wearing a leopard-print top
Greg Gayne / CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Valencia went from being the evil girlfriend and just an obstacle to the love interest to being an amazing friend to Rebecca. She's so underrated."

lauracorinas

33. Deserved better: Lexa from The 100.

Lexa looking fierce while holding a weapon
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Lexa deserved so much better than the way she was treated on The 100. Not only did her death add to the growing list of unnecessary LGBTQ TV character deaths, but she had so much potential to do more alongside Clarke. I know Alycia Debnam-Carey had to leave the show for Fear the Walking Dead, but her exit deserved to be handled WAY better."

Nora Dominick

34. And finally, saved the show: Alexis Rose from Schitt's Creek.

Alexis and Ted break up and say how grateful they are to have met each other and how much they've grown together
CBC / Pop!

"I could not stand her for most of the first season, but I think her character arc is what made her so lovable. When we first met her, she was spoiled and entitled and had a massive ego. But by the end, she made the decision to finish her education, built a career for herself, and developed an ultimately healthy relationship with Ted, but also learned to put herself first before a man. She grew to be an absolute sweetheart, and Annie Murphy did an incredible job portraying Alexis’s arc."

let's go lesbians

Reminder that I, Kelly Martinez, do not necessarily agree with all of these opinions!!!

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.