The protagonist is the audience's way into a story. More often than not, protagonists are written so that the audience can put themselves in their shoes. However, this isn't always the case.

Unreliable and unlikable protagonists are a fun literary tool. You get to experience the story through the eyes of someone you distrust, which completely changes the story for you.

u/Land013 asked:

Who is the most unlikable fictional protagonist?

Here were some of the answers.

Wow, Who Writes Like This?

There's a fantasy book series called The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and the titular main character is a terrible human being.

He starts out mad at society because he has leprosy in the modern-day and is a social reject because of it, but when he gets magically transported to a fantasy world he gets healed, and then in a fit of rage and denial, he assaults the woman who healed him.

I don't completely remember but I think she was underage too. Let me tell you, that's one way to get me to stop reading a novel less than 100 pages in. I have no idea how the author squeezed ten novels out of a horrible protagonist like Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.


Bad Writing

I'm surprised no one said Rachel Berry from Glee.


I think she was supposed to be a flawed main character who eventually learns her lesson that you have to be nice and less self-centered. But Ryan Murphy took it too far in the direction of making her flawed so that the nice things she occasionally does at the end of episodes to prove that she "learned to be nicer" just don't do enough to redeem her


Pay The Piper

Piper from OITNB. Literally any other character would've made a better protagonist


Definitely one of those shows where you keep watching for everyone else and hate the main protagonist.


Sometimes the unlikable protagonist serves a purpose.

Yum Yum Leech

Allan from Two and a Half Men. All he does is leech off his successful older brother while criticizing his every action and causes every other person in his life to dislike him to the point his son would refer to him as a loser.

He also always complained about being broke and having nothing good going for him and did nothing to make things better for himself.

And after his brother died, he just began leeching off the billionaire who bought the house instead of getting his own place and eventually quit his job and just leeched off everybody else.


I'll Never Let Go Jack

I might get some hate for this but I have to go with Rose Calvert from Titanic.

What she did to the crew was lie to them then waste their time and money telling her story to them.

Yet at the end she throws the one thing they were looking for overboard to be lost at sea.


Gilmore Worsts

Rory Gilmore. Lots of problems in the original series, but they basically came back for a reboot to remind us THIS PERSON IS F**KING AWFUL


Lorelai is awful, too. She treats the men in her life like dirt and her level of selfishness is insane.

For some reason the episode that most disgusts me is the one where she actually disrupts her best friend's (Sukie's) wedding to deal with her own issues, and Sukie stands by smiling. Ridiculous.


And sometimes, they just ruin the show.

Cringe People

Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory. If cringe was personified, it would be Sheldon.


He's the fastest case of Flanderization I've personally ever seen. Usually it takes at least four seasons before it even starts to set in, he was already becoming a caricature of his own character by season 2.



Patrick Star.

He's done lot of despicable things (including but not limited to stealing his best friends' pet, ruining a rare collectible card he knew his friend wanted and being a deadbeat dad).

But the one episode that really opened my eyes as to what a major a**hole this guy is, is the one where he has no money to pay for his own food, so Spongebob pays for his kids meal, under the condition they share it. After Patrick eats all the food himself, he also wants the toy that comes with it completely for himself.

He mocks Spongebob for reminding him of their agreement and becomes just insufferable about hogging the toy. In the end he eats the toy just so Spongebob can't have it, and buys a new one with money he stole from Spongebob's wallet. Just a selfish piece of sh*t.


Soarin', Flyin'

Don't know if this has been said yet since I'm way too lazy to scroll all the way down before making a comment but Troy and Gabriella from the High School Musical series.

We all watched HSM 1-3 as kids and we're told these were seemingly flawless protagonists who were always in the right because they were attractive people-pleasers, however, re-watching the movies through a slightly more mature lens (as well as seeing other people online come to the same conclusion as you) reveals that Sharpay (the villain of the movies) is MUCH more suited to being the protagonist than our Christian rock power couple.

Troy and Gabriella just waltz in one day, completely inexperienced might I add, expecting to just automatically get the leads for the musical whereas Sharpay and her brother Ryan have been the only committed and hard-working members of the theater program to date so of course, they would expect they would get the roles and it's completely valid for them to be upset about it.

Troy and Gabriella spend three movies essentially complaining because the world doesn't revolve around them only for everything to go their way in the end. You can't even blame Sharpay for resenting them when they so clearly take for granted the humble love and support of their parents, where while Sharpay's parents do love her it's clear they are consumed by their wealth and show neglectful tendencies.

You may call her a diva but I prefer the phrase confident, I mean it's show biz for crying out loud I would MUCH rather have someone a bit overconfident who is good at what they do and knows it rather than two newbies who want to feel special and second guess every choice they make. I now realize I just put more effort into a Reddit comment than my school essays so I'll just leave it like this. Troy and Gabriella are the true antagonists because they are selfish little sh*ts, thank you for coming to my Ted talk.


Who are the most unlikable protagonists you've ever read about?

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Typically, I would write an intro about my own experiences with the weird kids at school, but I WAS the weird kid in school. Not in a bad way, more like a “I had a John Waters phase” when I was 16 and everyone knew it. So like, cool-weird. At least I hope so.

Schools aren’t always so lucky to have the cool kinds of weird kids though. The spectrum of weird extends even further than that, and can sometimes end up very disasterous.

U/Imaginary_East5786 asked: What was the weirdest thing the weird kid did at school?

​Let’s start with the grossest of the gross. Because why not.

Was it worth it?

peeing ralph wiggum GIF Giphy

He heard that you'd automatically get suspended if you peed your pants at school. He wanted to find out if it was true, peed his pants, got suspended.


Scientific method:

> Observation: 'I've heard that by peeing your pants you will be suspended'

> Hypothesis: If I pee my pants I will be suspended

> Experiment: I peed my pants and I got suspended

> Conclusion: If I pee my pants I get suspended


Uhhh what was the intention here?

He got mad that he didn't understand how to play a game at lunchtime so he started hitting and punching the nearest person to him, who happened to be me. When I shoved him away and asked him what the hell was he doing, he whipped his unit.out, charged at me and when I shoved him away from me again he started crying and ran away with his member still sticking out.


​Next ones up are the lowkey (or even highkey) disturbing stories. These weird kids can get a little scary.

Boom theret.

At my middle school, someone decided to get a little attention with a good old fashioned bomb threat. Except they thought that a bomb threat meant literally writing "bomb threat" somewhere. Worse yet, they misspelled the f*ck out of it, and wrote "boom theret."

So we had to go on a brief, very awkward lockdown while the police checked the perimeter for booms.


I hope there was no overlap in the columns.

Serial Killer Halloween GIF by GIPHY CAM Giphy

She wrote a list of all the girls and boys she wanted to kiss and murder and then casually passed it out on the playground.


2 separate lists or just the 1?


Same list 2 columns lol.


Holy crap.

Had the weird kid in high school ask the teacher to use the bathroom. She said no and this dude legit stabbed his hand with a pencil. Went all the way through then asked if he could*t was wild.

This was Pearl High School in Mississippi. This was the school Luke Woodham shot and killed his girlfriend and her friend at the school. This kid stabbed himself with the pencil about 2 months after that happened. This was late 1997.


​Most of the time, however, the weird kids are pretty d*mn funny.

Ok, but this takes a lot of skill.

Had a kid nicknamed "cheeseburger" in the grade ahead of me in high school. He got his nickname because when it was time for his class to go to lunch, he snuck into the roof and crawled his way into the cafeteria, dropped down and proceeded to steal all the cheeseburger put out for lunch. Unfortunately they caught him in the act and sent him to the principal's office.

A year later he was caught stealing a teacher's computer, and in the process of being arrested he bit the officers hand, getting him sent to juvi never to be heard of again.


Every school had the cat girl.

cat dragging GIF Giphy

The weird kid at my highschool tied a string around his pencil case and pulled out around the halls pretending it was a dog. He still lives in my hometown. I think unemployed.

Oh also weird girl in middle school acted like a cat. She would meow and hiss at people, lick the water fountain and rub her body on the teacher's legs. In 8th grade. I have no idea where she ended up.



Weird kid in elementary was a self proclaimed alien. Once, while waiting for the bus, she told me "On my planet we eat people like you" and proceeded to bite me. We later became friends in high school and she used to give me massages during lunch break in the quad. Just realized now she was likely tenderizing me.


I was exactly this kind of weird.

He didn't say much, but if asked, he would go to the front of the class and perform Tip-Toe Through the Tulips with all of the emotion and volume of Tiny Tim, holding nothing back.

The last I heard, he became an energy trader, made a ton of money and married well.


I can definitely relate to that last one. In middle school, my English teacher would let me go to the front of the class and perform monologues or songs from Broadway musicals. Weird, but that’s what happens when schools cut funding for the arts and the theatre kids have no outlet.

As long as you’re not hurting anyone, I say let your freak flag fly, man

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