10 Movie Characters Who Don't Deserve Your Love (And 9 Others That Really Do)

One of the weirdest aspects of rewatching movies is how your experience informs your take on certain stories and characters. For instance, movies that you loved as a child can transform in front of your very eyes when you rewatch as an adult or even a parent with children of your own.

A young blonde man speaks directly to camera
A young blonde man speaks directly to camera

Awesomeness Films / Paramount Pictures

Even just having the opportunity to stand back and analyze a character's choices with substantial thought can turn a movie character that you previously loved into someone you despise, and vice versa.

A sad teenager plays with letter magnets on a refrigerator
A sad teenager plays with letter magnets on a refrigerator

Marc Platt Productions

So, with this in mind, I've assembled 10 movie characters that were maybe, perhaps, too admired by audiences, as well as 9 movie characters that deserve more love than they received from the masses:

SHOULDN'T LOVE: The "Driver" from Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling sits in a car, holding a toothpick to his mouth with leather gloves

A mysterious criminal who ultimately goes to great lengths to protect the innocent people he loves after they are drawn into a dangerous conflict, Ryan Gosling’s “Driver” character is an incredibly likable anti-hero at first glance, resorting to horrific violence when necessary in order to serve a greater good. But after a little time to mull it over, the moral compass of the character doesn’t really excuse his bizarre and rage-fueled revenge plans, which disregards the physical and emotional collateral damage of his actions. That’s not to say that his actions aren’t somewhat justified in the dramatic bigger picture, but in retrospect, he’s maybe a bit less “quiet, beautiful badass” and more “cold-blooded sociopath willing to leave a trail of grieving loved ones to spare the people he cares about.”

Marc Platt Productions / FilmDistrict / FILM STILLS / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Ellen, aka "The Lady," from The Quick and the Dead (1995)

Sharon Stone in a dusty cowboy get-up stares intensely while holding a glass cup and a holstered gun

Following her provocative and star-making performance in Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone was largely done dirty by Hollywood as she displayed fantastic versatility in projects such as Casino and The Quick and the Dead. In the latter, Stone plays "The Lady," another mysterious and deadly anti-hero with an emotional and personal motivation in entering a violent quick-draw tournament run by a ruthless outlaw. As opposed to Gosling's "Driver," "The Lady" has more than enough moral justification to seek her revenge, and as the stylish neo-Western film's antagonist becomes more and more despicable, you'll only root harder for her to overcome the odds.

Columbia Tristar / Album / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction (1994)

John Travolta in a black suit and bolo tie smokes a cigarette at a theme restaurant

There's no denying that John Travolta reinvigorated his waning career with his iconic role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, offering a character you can empathize with even when he's dancing at a '50s club, cleaning blood out of the back of a car, or about to jam an adrenaline needle into someone's heart at his heroin dealer's home. However, the character is also the one who orchestrates every step of his downfall, from being unnecessarily hostile to Butch to ignoring the fateful signs that instigated an awakening in his partner, Jules. As such, Vincent Vega retroactively kind of comes off as a total putz whose luck didn't run out; he basically stumbled into his own undoing.

Collection Christophel / RnB / Miramax / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Chev Chelios from Crank (2006)

Jason Statham in a track suit holds a gun to a gangster in a warehouse near a dead body

Crank may not be the best-known Jason Statham vehicle, but this cult franchise produced two of the most bonkers and unbelievably fun action-comedies in modern times. As such, Chev Chelios is an incredibly enjoyable on-screen gangster as his over-the-top physical comedy, dry wit, and his roll-with-the-punches attitude make him an unlikely perfect fit for the material. Hell, what's there not to like about a character who has a hard-hitting fight sequence inside and outside of a flying helicopter?

Lions Gate Films / Entertainment Pictures / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Billy Costigan from The Departed (2006)

Leonardo DiCaprio, gaunt and in a leather hoodie and baseball hat, stands behind a brick wall

Leonardo DiCaprio's third collaboration with Martin Scorsese resulted in one of his instantly unforgettable roles as the haunted and determined undercover officer Billy Costigan in The Departed. The noble yet doomed character helped inject the compelling drama with humanity and tension, and yet in retrospect, he almost feels like the least important character in his own story, especially when it comes to his fly-by-night romance with Vera Farmiga's Madolyn. For a Golden Globe-nominated actor, it's strange that this role might not even make it into DiCaprio's top 10 roles ever, with subsequent turns in The Wolf of Wall Street, Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood overshadowing this otherwise solid turn by a country mile.

Warner Bros. Pictures / Pictorial Press Ltd. / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Russell Stevens from Deep Cover (1992)

Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum stand in shock in the rain near a stairwell

Bill Duke's moody and intense Deep Cover has become the subject of recent cultural re-evaluation in recent years, thanks to a re-release via the Criterion Collection. It may never receive the attention that, say, Goodfellas or Point Break may, but Deep Cover does include a genuinely stellar performance from Laurence Fishburne, whose character's ultimately cynical and anti-authoritarian turn should feel all the more relevant to audiences in the social landscape of 2023.

New Line Cinema / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Jack and Rose from Titanic (1997)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet stand on the front of The Titanic for the iconic "I'm Flying" scene

Listen, I'll be the first to admit that I was there with my fiancé in the theater for the recent 3-D re-release of Titanic, and yes, I did get misty (once again) at the whirlwind romance of Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet's Rose DeWitt Bukater. Yet despite the romantic chemistry for the pair being off-the-charts, the two characters individually have plenty of frustrating moments, from Jack keeping the stolen jacket after his reconnection with Rose to Rose's jumping off the lifeboat mid-descent, which is borderline taunting the people desperately trying to climb aboard to take her spot. This doesn't even factor in the moment at the end of Titanic, where the elderly Rose throws the Heart of the Sea into the ocean, which would have given her descendent's infinite generational wealth, and then making it to Heaven where she doesn't see the father of her children or her family, but the guy she hooked up with on a boat 80 years ago; it may be romantic, but it's still not cool!

Lightstorm Entertainment / Cinematic Collection / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Mara and Dylan from Spontaneous (2020)

Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer smile against a bloody backdrop for the poster of "Spontaneous"

This underrated romantic comedy fell under the radar thanks to its mid-pandemic release in 2020 as well as its rather unconventional subject matter, but that doesn't change that the film features some of the most potent and wonderful romance scenes between Katherine Langford's sharp-tongued Mara and Charlie Plummer's meek Dylan. The characters are not only likable and really fun in their interactions, but watching their respective connection grow in an otherwise morbid situation feels special in a way so few of their cinematic contemporaries do.

Awesomeness Films / Entertainment Pictures / Alamy


A life-like little girl doll in a brown button-up coat stares ominously outside of a window

As a film, M3GAN delivered in a big way as 2023's first big horror hit, introducing what many are considering as the next big genre icon in the title character. But what is there that is really to love about the character of M3GAN? The TikTok dances? The amount of sass in her sinister talk-back? There's a ton of potential for M3GAN to become the next Chucky, but the substance isn't quite there yet.

Universal Pictures / FlixPix / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Gabriel from Malignant (2021)

Annabelle Wallis lays in her bed as a mysterious dark-haired figure rises from behind her

Now, if we want to talk about horror characters that deserve appreciation, look no further than "Gabriel," another creepy creation from M3GAN writer Akela Cooper and filmmaker James Wan. Not to dive into too much spoiler material, but Malignant is a wild and bonkers ride, with the ultimate revelation of Gabriel being one of the most memorable scenes in the genre in recent memory. The character really captures the spirit of every oddball sociopath from direct-to-video horror history and deserves to be put on a pedestal for the numerous unbelievable set pieces that he inspired in his big screen debut.

Collection Christophel / Warner Bros. / Atomic Monster / Boom Entertainment / Boom! Studios / New Line Cinema / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Kevin McCallister from Home Alone (1990)

Macauley Culkin reads a dirty magazine while he is all alone at home on Christmas

Let's be clear here: I grew up watching and loving Home Alone just like everyone else, and I'm not here to contest that whatsoever. But there is something that happens as you grow older and rewatch the film, as some of Kevin McCallister's behavior seems to hit a little different as you age. Do I think he's kind of an a-hole? Do I have greater empathy for his elderly neighbor and the underpaid pizza delivery guy he for sure victimized? He may be in the right with the Wet Bandits, but he's definitely out-of-line in many of his other interactions.

20th Century Fox / Maximum Film / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Erin from You're Next (2011)

Sharni Vinson stands in an open window holding an axe in an intimidating fashion

In stark contrast to Kevin McCallister, Sharni Vinson's awesome and underestimated hero Erin from Adam Wingard's You're Next can and should be more loved as a selfless and kind final girl who goes above and beyond the call of duty for her loved ones (even if they're surreptitiously working against her). Introduced as this loving and humble potential daughter/sister-in-law, Erin eventually sheds her lowly exterior to exhibit the savage survivor inside of her, a duality that Vinson sells extremely well.

Icon Film Distribution / Cinematic Collection / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Marty McFly from Back to the Future (1985)

Michael J. Fox stands in a puffy jacket and all-denim wardrobe, staring at something confusing near a park

Back to the Future is a beloved cinematic property that introduced a handful of characters that have become pop culture mainstays, including the film's central protagonist, Marty McFly. But outside of his basic moral principles and a bit of a wily edge to him, there's not much to really admire about Marty McFly. In retrospect, he's truly a middle-of-the-road character with an appealing "everyman" status whose more interesting neuroses are only explored in subsequent entries of the franchise.

Universal Pictures / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Tree Gelbman from Happy Death Day (2017)

Jessica Rothe stands near a colorful and massive clock in the dark

This writer certainly has a soft spot for time-loop movies, but Happy Death Day was certainly one of the more unexpected treats in recent years, with Jessica Rothe's Tree Gelbman showcasing one of the more satisfying emotional journeys of a character in genre fare. Add in the character's physical stakes and the way Rothe handles the story’s blend of comedy and humor, and it’s hard not to love this hapless (yet certainly not helpless) hero.

Universal Studios / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Dominic Toretto from The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez brandish guns while walking out of a dirty garage

I'll be there for every movie in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but that's not to say the love for some of the franchise's stalwarts isn't, on some level, at least tongue-in-cheek, if not full-on ironic. Case-in-point: Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto, the leader of the bunch who often preaches about family and loyalty and the like. On one hand, people connect with the core message behind the monologues and one-liners, hence why the film series has such a global audience, but c'mon, there's a silliness to it all (and the franchise in general) that the property and character never seem to recognize. As such, Dom eventually starts to come off exactly like a dude pushing 50 in a novelty tough guy muscle tee, which makes sense given he's transformed from a DVD player thief to a World War III-stopping secret agent.

Universal Pictures / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Xander Cage from xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Vin Diesel, Ruby Rose and their friends examine a concerning situation on a beach

Now, if we want to talk about a Vin Diesel character that more people should get behind, let's chat about Xander Cage, the returning hero of the xXx franchise. As opposed to Dominic Toretto, Xander Cage is at least self-aware in his own absurd, stunt-driven universe, despite sharing many of the same qualities as Dom. Cage recognizes his unusual circumstances but embraces the weird and wild nature of the proceedings, which makes the performance and character all the more likable. I mean, 90% of Dom's crew are highly-trained drivers and thieves, and Xander's crew has a DJ just because he can! I want a random DJ in my mercenary group, dangit!

Paramount Pictures / Atlaspix / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: John Kramer, aka "Jigsaw," from Saw (2004)

Tobin Bell sits in a dark industrial room in a black-and-red cape

The character of John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) in the Saw franchise connected with horror fans in a huge way throughout the '00s, as we were all dazzled by his deadly traps, his gravelly theatrics, and his flesh-rendering form of karma. But as the franchise went on, viewers realized just how paper thin and ideologically hypocritical Jigsaw's whole mission statement had been, and while the series is currently awaiting its next entry following the Chris Rock brainchild Spiral, it's not exactly a secret that Jigsaw and his acolytes' escapades can be in the dictionary under "diminishing returns."

Twisted Pictures / ProdDB / Alamy

SHOULD LOVE: Mary Shaw from Dead Silence (2007)

A ghostly old woman with a carved out jaw stares in the darkness

Even though Jigsaw may be an overexposed horror villain, James Wan's second creepy creation deserves to be exalted as well, as Dead Silence has only aged like a fine wine and become a great cult horror title. Bolstered by the nightmarish puppeteer Mary Shaw (played by esteemed acting veteran Judith Roberts), Dead Silence still offers some truly unsettling imagery and was sadly undervalued upon its initial release. Luckily, as more eyes discover Dead Silence, the Mary Shaw hive has continued to rise, especially as Wan continues to take over Hollywood.

Universal Pictures / Cinematic Collection / Alamy

SHOULDN'T LOVE: Scott Pilgrim from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Michael Cera puts on an angry face and gears up for a fist fight

The movie-to-character gap has never been wider in terms of likability as it has been with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, as the film makes no excuses for the title character being a real SOB. From his childish shrugging of his personal responsibilities with his partners to his selfish blaming of his partners for his problems, Scott Pilgrim is a cruddy dude who is bolstered by an affable personality (and a great cinematic vehicle for his exploits). That's not to say Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is any less enjoyable as a singular moviegoing experience, but we can all agree that Michael Cera's evil ex-battling philanderer is far from the hero of his story.

Universal Pictures / AJ Pics / Alamy

You've read our picks, but what are yours? Who's a movie character that people love, but really shouldn't? Or vice versa? Share your pick(s) in the comments below!