Last month, I wrote a post about literary heroes who are garbage people. I had to make some tough choices as I was putting it together, because some characters aren’t necessarily garbage people but they are damn annoying. It’s been niggling at me ever since: don’t these annoying characters deserve their moment in the sun, too? So, here you have it. The most annoying characters in literature, as determined by me.
Harry (Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling)
This one is first, because I’ve just got to get it off my chest! We all love the Harry Potter books, it’s the children’s series that changed the world etc etc, but ZOMG! Harry is the most angsty, self-absorbed nincompoop of all time! At first, he was kind of sweet, locked in his cupboard under the stairs and then staring around the world of magic in wide eyed wonderment… but by the time we get to Goblet Of Fire, he’s turned into a right arsehole. He seems to completely lack basic empathy – he can’t understand why his best friend might be a little peeved that he’s always the center of attention, for crying out loud! – and he basically runs around getting high off his own fumes for the next few years. Ugh! There are so many wonderful characters and true heroes in J.K. Rowling’s magical world, but I’m sorry (not sorry), Harry ain’t one of ’em.
Nick Carraway (The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate the fact that The Great Gatsby only exists because Nick Carraway thinks he’s the first guy to discover that partying with pretty girls is fun. Give me a break! Everyone else hates on Daisy and Tom, and really every character in this book is a right pain in the arse, but Nick is especially annoying. He trails after Gatsby like a puppy dog, he treats the creep like the second coming, and he can’t understand why no one comes to the funeral of the sad rich guy who borderline-stalked a girl for years. Seriously! If you want to re-visit the Jazz Age, by all means do so, but choose Gentlemen Prefer Blondes instead; at least Anita Loos makes fun of the mopey white guys who seriously under-appreciate their ridiculously privileged lives. Read my full review of The Great Gatsby here.
Augustus Waters (The Fault In Our Stars – John Green)
I realise, in saying this, I risk being attacked by an angry mob of John Green fans, but it has to be said: Augustus is pretty much the main reason The Fault In Our Stars sucks. He’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl stuffed into the body of a teenage boy amputee, a series of shitty affectations cobbled together into something resembling a character, ugh. The whole “I put cigarettes in my mouth but I never light them because it’s a metaphor” thing? It’s a metaphor for “you’re a dick”, mate. Get in the bin. Read my full review of The Fault In Our Stars here.
Cather “Cath” Avery (Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell)
Cath is pretty harmless, on the whole, but damn the girl can get in her own way. If I’m being honest, there’s a few sour grapes rotting at the pit of my annoyance. Throughout Fangirl, she demonstrates time and time again that she does not give a single fuck for the time and effort that her writing professor is investing in her, and it infuriates me! Doesn’t she know how many writing students would give their left arm and their first born for that kind of attention? She just leaves it all flapping in the wind, so she can stay holed up in her room writing fan-fiction on a Saturday night (instead of doing her actual assignments for classes), and whinging about her sister having a life (instead of actually communicating with her, like a grown-up). Read my full review of Fangirl here.
Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury)
I really have no time for this guy at all. First, he lets himself get brainwashed into making a living doing a shitty job. That’s not great, but it’s understandable. But then he harangues his wife for being brainwashed into wanting a few material things and liking a few psychoactive substances, the hypocritical prick. And, to top it all off, he goes and meets a teenage girl, decides to have a mid-life crisis, and basically destroys the entire social order and runs off with his tail between his legs as the world burns down. Fahrenheit 451 is a beloved book, I know, and its message is perhaps even more resonant today than ever before, but Guy Montag is one of the most annoying characters in literature, hands down. Read my full review of Fahrenheit 451 here.
Pearl (The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne)
I can appreciate that Pearl is just a kid, and she’s been raised under a lot of undue pressure, so her annoying nature isn’t entirely her fault… but she drove me up the wall the whole way through The Scarlet Letter. Her mother, Hester, is a warrior woman, fighting the good fight and raising her head defiantly in the patriarchal world that would see her brought down. How could she raise such an entitled shit of a kid? And Hawthorne codes her as some kind of magic sunflower child, he may as well have written her a halo. What’s more annoying than that? Read my full review of The Scarlet Letter here.
Jake Barnes (The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway)
Another American classic, another mopey privileged white dude. Jake Barnes spends the majority of The Sun Also Rises feeling very sorry for himself because his dick hasn’t worked since the war. I guess travelling the world, drinking and adventuring with friends, just isn’t enough for some people. His little problem apparently stops him from pursuing a love affair with his girl-crush Brett – and she just goes along with it! I don’t understand! This is such a solvable problem (haven’t they heard of cunnilingus? sheesh!), but they’d rather just sit around and whinge about it, with lots of long longing looks and stuff. Blegh! Read my full review of The Sun Also Rises here.
Beatrice (The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri)
So, we all know The Divine Comedy is split into three parts. Dante spends the first two of them telling us all about how hot this chick Beatrice is, and how he’s pretty much only going through all of this so he can hook up with her in heaven. And when he gets there, she’s a total bitch! She literally tells him not to look directly at her (because she’s so hot he’ll be blinded, apparently) and hangs shit on him for not being an angel already. Then, after this heaping serve of sass, she totally retreats, just stands around smiling meekly (and coughing! why so much coughing?!) for the rest of Paradiso. She’s rude, and annoying! Read my full review The Divine Comedy here.
I feel much better having got all these petty annoyances off my chest. You should give it a try! Who are your most annoying characters in literature? Tell me in the comments (or over at KUWTP on Facebook!).
You know what NEVER annoys me? When Keeper Upperers throw some small change in the tip jar to keep this project going! Any amount, and all payment methods, accepted:
June 18, 2019 at 9:49 PM
Haha, when I saw this link roll up on FB, I couldn’t wait to see who you’d chosen 😀 What struck me first is the huge number of main characters to make the list, which makes it even more annoying for us readers to put up with them for so long. They are always right there in our faces. Obscure annoying characters we can find it easier to overlook, but when it’s really all about them, I completely understand your reasoning. Great picks!
June 20, 2019 at 12:56 PM
Hahaha that’s really interesting, I hadn’t noticed that – maybe the main characters have their annoying-ness compounded because the reader is forced to stay in their heads the whole damn time, as you say 😅 Thank you!!
June 20, 2019 at 12:56 PM
Hahaha that’s really interesting, I hadn’t noticed that – maybe the main characters have their annoying-ness compounded because the reader is forced to stay in their heads the whole damn time, as you say 😅 Thank you!
June 19, 2019 at 8:45 PM
Gads, I’d better not get started in on this kind of review because I’m sure the ones that I hate would be loved by everyone else and probably for astute reasons. Nearly every time I read one of these lists I find myself defending the characters that people dislike and loathing the ones that they find appealing.
June 20, 2019 at 11:21 AM
Hahaha if it helps, I think everyone feels that way a little bit when they put together a post like this – I sure did! Annoyance is in the eye of the beholder, after all.
July 27, 2019 at 5:42 AM
I adore Harry!
(Spoilers) Yes, he gets angsty and times, but he’s a teenage boy who grew up without guidance, and in a fully abusive situation. He’s lost so much, and manages to not be a total DB — even to sacrificing himself for the good of his community! He is not seduced by the Elder wand, and his best friend actually WANTS him to marry his sister; I’d say those are all something.
July 27, 2019 at 8:56 AM
Hahaha you’re certainly not alone there in your love for him, I’m definitely in the minority! He does redeem himself in the end, of course, and you’re spot on, Ron’s vote of confidence in marrying Ginny counts for a lot. 😉
July 28, 2019 at 1:56 AM
I completely agree with you about Mr. Potter: I can’t abide him. I am of the age to have been a Potter fan in my teens, and indeed I was, but I always wished the series didn’t have Harry in it, or at least that he was a different kind of person. I understand why he was there, as he was supposed to be the everyman character for us to travel with as he discovered the magical world, but his intense selfishness grated on my nerves, especially around the Order of the Phoenix.
I’m loving your KUWTP list and fun discussions such as this.
July 29, 2019 at 9:27 AM
Oh, I’m *so* glad it’s not just me! I worried for a long time that I was the only one who found Harry to be an annoying so-and-so for a large part of the series 😅 Thank you so much! ❤️
May 20, 2020 at 11:14 AM
looks like this idiot just desperate for attention insnt he?
May 23, 2020 at 1:33 PM
Absolutely, Mike – can’t get enough of it 😉👍