Everybody loves a good villain. Sometimes we find ourselves rooting for the bad guys because a dastardly plot can be a thing of beauty. But villains make mistakes too, and here’s a list of television’s most ineffective villains — you know, the ones who just can’t seem to get their twisted, evil plots to go their way. 

Even though the bad guys (and girls) on this list are super bad, they’re not so great at it. Here’s a list of 17 of television’s most inept bad guys, who, try as they might, just don’t ever do the wrong thing right.

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Wile E. Coyote


Wile E. Coyote is the poster villain for evil schemes gone wrong. If even half of his plots had gone his way, that pesky Road Runner would have been dead a hundred times over. He was the ultimate underdog — outsmarted, outwitted and far less liked than his quick-footed foe. 

Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer


It almost doesn’t make sense that an immortal vampire with preternatural strength and superhuman senses would be so hapless. But poor Spike couldn’t execute a scheme if his life depended on it. And it often did. Even before that brain chip that kept him from doing harm to humans, Spike was kind of soft, as far as vampires go. Maybe it was his love for Buffy that made his existence so ill-fated, or maybe living in Angel’s shadow was too much to bear, but he was a terrible villain. 

Melisandre, Game of Thrones


It remains to be seen if Melisandre is as powerful as she claims to be, but we do know the Lord of Light has guided her directly into some major misadventures. She seems committed to her causes, so you have to give her credit for her faith, but her methods are questionable, and they don’t even really do their job. If you’re going to burn a little girl at the stake, it better cause you to win the war you’re waging. 

Mr. Burns, The Simpsons


Anybody who owns a nuclear power plant and is so careless with nuclear waste is, by default, an evil-doer. Also known as Charles Montgomery Burns, this Springfield villain is a pretty solid example of American corporate greed, and the folks at The Simpsons play the stereotype to the fullest. Mr. Burns is Homer’s boss at the plant, and is pretty awful generally, but his outdated Jazz-age references and application of obsolete technology make it completely impossible to take him seriously as a villain. 

Jenny Humphrey, Gossip Girl


Oh, Jenny … why couldn’t you just stay the young, wide-eyed, good girl? Once Jenny discovered kohl eyeliner and the rush of being the top mean girl, she crossed over to the dark side never to return. But she was a terrible villain because she was just too eager to be liked, and her desperation undermined her fiendish new image. 

Frank Delfino, How to Get Away with Murder


It’s hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys on a show like How to Get Away with Murder, and Frank is no exception. Frank does all of Annalise’s dirty work, but in some cases it seems like she’d do better to just do it herself.  

Plankton, SpongeBob SquarePants


Plankton is the main antagonist on SpongeBob SquarePants. As Mr. Krab’s former best friend and main competitor, Plankton is really more of a nuisance than an actual villain. Since his restaurant sells food nobody wants, he’s constantly trying to correct his business failures by stealing from the Krusty Krab. In the hands of a more capable bad guy, this might be a dangerous threat, but Plankton, aside from being tiny and completely harmless, is unorganized and never thinks his plans through very well. 

Gavin Belson, Silicon Valley


Gavin Belson is proof that having a lot of money doesn’t necessarily make you smart or resourceful. Gavin is the Chief Innovation Officer of a Google-esque tech company, and the direct antagonist to the founder of a rival tech company, Richard. Richard is the David to Gavin’s Goliath, but Gavin is so inept at executing his persecution, it really works itself out. Gavin is filled with so many harebrained ideas and plots that he’s really his own worst enemy. 

Pete Campbell, Mad Men


As most of us know, to love to hate a villain, they have to be charming and dapper, and have some redeeming qualities. Pete Campbell is none of those things, and his attempts to sabotage his enemies come off as petty and manipulative. Good villains aren’t supposed to be desperate, and we’re definitely not supposed to pity them. 

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Gangreen Gang, PowerPuff Girls


These ne’er-do-wells barely even rate as actual villains in the city of Townsville. Blossom herself said they’re “not even a criminal element — more of a nuisance.” Their crimes are petty, and they certainly aren’t any match for the Powerpuff girls. The worst part of this so-called “gang” is that they live in the city dump and any interaction with them left the girls smelling like trash. 

Fish Mooney, Gotham


Can you really call a villain this gorgeous and fierce incompetent? Maybe, if they lose power to their very own sidekick and wind up being sort-of dead, with their body being stored in an insane asylum. Getting betrayed by Oswald Cobblepot (or as he’s known in the villain world, Penguin) did give her some new villainous powers, but her sadistic tendencies get in her own way, and sometimes her evil-doing can get a little messy. 

Newman, Seinfeld


Newman may be known as Jerry Seinfeld’s “arch-nemesis” but his endeavors against Jerry don’t really amount to much trouble. He rarely succeeds in doing much more than making Jerry’s life a little more difficult and so his title of “pure evil” is bit of an overstatement. 

The Grinch, How The Grinch Stole Christmas


He’s the ultimate in big bads. The original grump and grouch, he’s got evil intentions, but his follow-through needs work. His hatred for Christmas makes him awful, but his efforts to ruin the holiday for everyone are thwarted by the growth of his very own heart. Hmmmpf. What kind of villain grows a conscience right smack-dab in the middle of their stunt? A terrible one.

Rose/Sin Rostro, Jane the Virgin


Any villain worth their weight in evil schemes has an alter-ego, a face swapping device and a secret lair in the Alps for their escape. Rose started out as Rafael’s stepmom, but there’s been at least half a dozen plot twists since then, and it seems like Rose, also known as Sin Rostro, could use a little tutoring when it comes to how to be the best villain. Lesson one: get organized. Rose has tried all sorts of different evil projects, and none really yield the nefarious results she’s hoped for. 

Healy, Orange Is the New Black


If Healy had more conviction, he would have been much more dangerous, and probably would have been taken a lot more seriously as a bad guy. He absolutely made the ladies at Lichfield Prison miserable, but his sad, hen-pecked life made him a pitiful brute at best. He had no power at home, and in turn had no confidence at work, so he wound up being a limp villain. 

Doctor Claw, Inspector Gadget


Doctor Claw was way smarter than Inspector Gadget, so it seems like he would have had better luck at carrying out his evil plans. If it weren’t for Gadget’s dog Brain, Doctor Claw would have taken over the world. Even though he was smarter than Gadget, he was continually outwitted by a dog, and that alone will cause you to get your bad guy card revoked.

Trevor, The Good Place


Adam Scott is too cute to be a bad guy. His character Trevor, from The Good Place, just comes off as a giant douchebag with every conceivable annoying male trait. Trevor is from “the Bad Place” (you know, hell) and so he’s just downright gross. He’s not dangerous or sinister, but being around him would definitely make you want to jump out a window. His attempts to torture and torment read more annoying and bothersome.

Who’s the least successful villain you’ve ever seen? Leave us your picks in the comments below. For more articles about your favorite TV shows, follow us on Facebook.

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Sundi Rose

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

I am a freelance writer and critic, blogging about pop culture, and how it effects our shared identities. I absolutely love TV and will watch anything once, and I love to talk about TV. So, it makes sense that I am also an University professor teaching courses in, popular culture and mass media.