The 7 most irritating kids on TV

From Dana on "Homeland" to Kim on "24" to A.J. on "The Sopranos," these inconsistent characters are maddening

Topics: Homeland, The Sopranos, 24, Mad Men, Editor's Picks,

The 7 most irritating kids on TVMorgan Saylor as Dana Brody in "Homeland" (Season 2, Episode 09). Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME(Credit: Kent Smith)

There’s nothing quite so frustrating as a kid on TV.

The best dramas on television are all about the relationships between adults — the often-pitch-dark challenges that folks with very diverse experiences get themselves into. And into the miasma of the worst of human nature will stride the protagonist’s kid, whining about why Dad hasn’t been home much lately or wondering what’s going on in the next room.

This isn’t to deny the humanity of, say, Dana Brody on “Homeland,” a teenage character who’s become central to the plot despite having no involvement in terrorism as yet. But she’s inconsistently written, largely because she exists as a mechanism to move the plot forward. The show’s adult characters have feelings and thoughts; she has plot events happen to her.

And that’s what’s so annoying about all of these characters, whose characterization is either nonexistent or the result of a writers’ room looking for an easy way to make things happen in the plot. Dana’s hardly alone in television history. Even on “Homeland,” she has her sadsack younger brother to signal when things are really upsetting (and do little more).

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    A.J. Soprano, "The Sopranos"

    This little lunkhead summarized perfectly the toxic effects of Tony and Carmela's materialism; he was snide, deeply spoiled, and entirely aimless. This aimlessness, though, wasn't fun to watch, just frustrating, as he got into scrape after scrape, moving the plot nowhere.

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    Bobby Draper, "Mad Men"

    Poor dopey Bobby. He's been played by four different actors, each of whom make the tot just an inelegantly written impediment to Don getting what he wants. When big sis Sally is onscreen, something electric will happen; what, by contrast, does Bobby want?

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    Dana Brody, "Homeland"

    Her brother Chris is annoying in much the same way as Bobby -- he never seems to have any clue what's going on, and just floats in and out of rooms -- but Dana is at once inconsistently written (she figured out her father was a terrorist, then forgot it between seasons 1 and 2) and such a drama queen that her emotional turbulence has, in season 3, become the center of the show's action. This show, as a reminder, used to be about the CIA's counterterrorism efforts!

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    Kim Bauer, "24"

    It makes sense that Jack Bauer had to have a daughter to give the show some emotional stakes, but the writers had absolutely no idea what to do with her: Kim's tangling with a cougar in the show's second season is the stuff of bad-TV legend.

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    Lady Edith, "Downton Abbey"

    To her credit, Lady Edith has not always been a nightmare -- at her best, she's part of a truly moving plotline. At her worst, she's merely there to evilly attempt to spoil whatever happiness or peace Mary may be enjoying. Her switches between good and bad Edith don't exactly feel human! We've seen her from both sides, but the majority of the time, she's sort of neutral, as when she decides to try to be a farmer. Okay!

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    Matt McNamara, "Nip/Tuck"

    This little goon managed to hijack an already ludicrously soapy show and became emblematic of its decline into the not-fun kind of soap; in one season, he became a meth addict and a burn victim, then later became a mime, then a serial robber who dressed as a mime.

    The most annoying TV offspring ever

    Michael Hewes, "Damages"

    Michael wasn't exactly annoying, but sums up the deeper problem behind nearly every character on this list. So much about TV shows is well-thought-out -- and then children are added who don't need to be there or at least are given no motivations other than introducing chaos to the series. Why did superlawyer Patty Hewes need a child on "Damages"? Her chilliness came through many, many other ways than through her estrangement from Michael, who never felt like a real character on a show full of great characters. He was just reactive, creating drama without adding feeling. The same is true of his counterparts on this list!

  • Recent Slide Shows

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...