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The 20 Scummiest Characters in Romantic Comedies


Rom-coms tend to be remembered due to their quirky, love-struck characters fighting against all odds for their happily ever after. Sometimes, the formula will switch up and have the lead start off as enemies turned to lovers. Nevertheless, every rom-com has one or two characters that love to stir up drama for everyone else; after all, it is a rom-com. These characters are often sneaky, manipulative, and downright reprehensible. Here are 20 of the scummiest characters in rom-coms.


20 Jasper – The Holiday (2006)

Sony Pictures Releasing

Jasper from The Holiday is as scummy as they come. This character once dated Iris, cheated on her, then continued to use her in the workplace just so that she could help him with his workload and provide emotional support. When Jasper becomes engaged to the woman he cheated on Iris with, Iris travels to Los Angeles in hopes of fleeing from Jasper. Even so, she still gives him one last chance when he tracks Iris down, seemingly trying to reconcile, only to once again show his true colors when he asks Iris to return to London to help him with work.

Fed up, Iris ends their abusive dynamic once and for all. By all accounts, Jasper deserved to end up alone by the end of the film, instead of flying back to London to a woman who would likely receive the same treatment Iris did in the long run.

19 Daniel Cleaver – Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Daniel (Hugh Grant) flirting with Bridget (Renée Zellweger) at work
Universal Pictures (International)
 

If someone takes the cake for abusive ex-boyfriends, it’s Daniel Cleaver. Cleaver is Bridget Jones’s manipulative boss, who uses Bridget to boost his ego as a self-proclaimed womanizer, starting an affair with her soon after becoming her superior. Bridget’s breaking point is when she realizes Daniel is cheating on her with his colleague, ending their relationship.

But even so, Daniel’s influence lasts long after their relationship; his lies make it seemingly impossible for Bridget and Mark to come together, and Daniel is relentless in trying to get Bridget back. Daniel is nothing but trash for the entirety of this movie.

18 Amy – Trainwreck (2015)

Trainwreck
Universal Pictures

Ironically, the biggest jerk in Trainwreck is its protagonist, Amy Townsend. Amy Townsend leads a carefree lifestyle as a sex-positive writer for a men’s magazine. Amy’s biggest fault isn’t her lifestyle, but her treatment of those around her, especially sport’s doctor, Aaron Conners. Aaron is a pretty solid guy who genuinely cares for Amy, tending to her explosive personality and providing support for her and her family.

Amy has some major commitment issues, though, and often trivializes Aaron’s feelings for the sake of her own. After numerous misunderstandings and a brief breakup, Amy manages to make amends to Aaron, finally committing to a serious relationship, but the number of times Amy mistreats Aaron are borderline abusive and outright inexcusable.

17 Mauricio – Shallow Hal (2001)

shallow hal
Twentieth Century Fox

Hal is no walk in the park for the women he dates; he’s rude, aloof, and as Shallow Hal‘s title suggests, shallow. That noted, it doesn’t help that his best friend, Mauricio, is as shallow as Hal, if not more. Together, they both constantly criticize women and hold unrealistic standards of their dating prospects. Fortunately for Hal, he meets Rosemary and is able to see people for what truly matters, their inner beauty. Mauricio just can’t be a supportive friend to Hal, though, ending Hal’s hypnosis out of sheer jealousy that his friend could find true love over him. Mauricio isn’t just a bad friend; he’s a despicable human being with no redeeming qualities.

16 Mark – Love Actually (2003)

love-actually
Universal Pictures

Love Actually features a list of complex characters, and some aren’t great people, Mark being a prime example. Mark and Peter have been best friends for practically their entire adult lives, but things take a sour turn when Peter marries Juliet, who Mark acts standoffish towards.

The couple believes Mark hates Juliet, but he is actually in love with her. Juliet makes the realization when she watches a video of their wedding, filmed by Mark, where Mark focuses all the attention on her. While feelings aren’t something that can be controlled, actions are, and Mark acts underhandedly by confessing his love to Juliet one Christmas Eve at her doorstep, with Peter only being a few feet away from them.

15 Ben – He’s Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You
New Line Cinema

Bradley Cooper has become one of the most acclaimed actors over the past couple of years, garnering Academy Award nominations for movies such as Silver Linings Playbook and American Sniper. Nevertheless, Cooper started his career taking on rom-com roles that usually left a lighthearted feeling in audiences, or made them utterly hate his character. In He’s Just Not That Into You, Cooper portrays Ben, a man leading an underwhelming marriage with Janine.

When Ben meets Anna, an aspiring singer, he manipulates their friendship with the promise of helping Anna’s singing career. They start an affair, which is eventually discovered by Janine. Though Janine agrees to work on their marriage, Ben continues his affair with Anna, and it’s not until both women leave him that Ben realizes his mistakes. Even so, it’s Ben’s loneliness that bothers him the most. Ben is selfish, and for the most part, irredeemable.

14 Pat Healy – There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Matt Dillon as Pat Healy in There's Something About Mary
20th Century Fox

The baddie in There’s Something About Mary, Pat Healy, goes out of his way to keep Mary and Ted apart. A private investigator first hired by Ted to track down Mary, Pat lies to Ted about Mary’s adult life and then moves to Miami to pursue her. Through lies and manipulation, Pat manages to win over Mary and the two start dating. Pat’s web of lies starts to eventually unravel, with Ted coming back into the picture to fight for Mary’s love, along with a list of other men willing to cheat, lie, and go to outlandish means to be with Mary. In reality, none of these men deserved Mary, especially Pat Healy.

13 Lucy – 13 Going on 30 (2004)

Judy Greer in 13 Going on 30
Columbia Pictures

Judy Greer has an innate ability to make audiences love her whether she’s the villain or the protagonist in a movie; 13 Going on 30 is no exception. In it, she portrays Lucy Wyman, Jenna’s childhood bully who ironically grows up to be her best friend and co-editor at Poise. Nevertheless, Lucy remains as mean-spirited as she was in middle school, and she secretly plots to get Jenna fired so that she can take her place at Poise. Lucy is the definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

12 Warner – Legally Blonde (2001)

Warner in Legally Blonde
MGM Distribution Co.

Warner Huntington III is one of the biggest jerks in rom-com history. Not only does he break up with Elle in order to pursue a Vivian while at Harvard Law School; he constantly reminds Elle that Harvard is seemingly out of her league, belittling her for his belief that she isn’t remotely fit to study at the school. Aside from his poor treatment towards Elle, Warner takes his fiancé, Vivian, for granted, soon relegating her to something along the lines of a study buddy instead of his partner.

Ironically, Elle and Vivian are far more suited for Harvard than Warner, who obtained a slot only through his family’s influence at the school. Warner holds zero loyalties to anyone but himself, attempting to reconcile with Elle when she wins the Brooke Wyndham trial, realizing her worth. Fortunately, Warner gets his just deserts when Elle rejects him and Vivian breaks off their engagement, leaving Warner to navigate his remaining time at Harvard alone.

Related: Legally Blonde 3: What We Hope to See in the Highly-Anticipated Movie

11 Kathy Morningside – Ms. Congeniality (2000)

Apprehending the criminal in Miss Congeniality
Warner Bros

Kathy Morningside is not a force to be reckoned with. Hiding under the guise of encouraging director for the scholarship program for aspiring scholars, Kathy holds a darker side driven by contempt for any woman she considers below conventional beauty standards, including Gracie Hart. Kathy’s contempt turns into full-blown lunacy when she learns she’s being replaced for The Ms. United States scholarship program, planning to have the winner annihilated onstage as revenge. Gracie manages to stop her in her tracks, but Kathy comes dangerously close to fulfilling her plot as the stage goes up in flames when the crown explores midair.

10 Harry – When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Harry Met Sally movie
Columbia Pictures

Another rom-com protagonist on the list of scummy people, Harry is anything but a likable character at the beginning of When Harry Met Sally, riddled with misogynistic views towards women and a condescending attitude towards Sally, the two get off on the worst imaginable start, remaining enemies for years until they, somehow, manage to work out their differences and start a friendship.

While Harry does offer some useful advice to Sally over her dating life, he resorts to his usual, chauvinist demeanor when he and Sally sleep together. Instead of addressing their feelings, Harry runs away from Sally, making her feel used and rejected. Harry does come to his senses, but his stumbles along the way make it difficult to remember him in an overall positive light.

Related: How When Harry Met Sally… Changed Romantic Comedies

9 Pat – Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
The Weinstein Company

Pat Solitano Jr. is root for. While he suffers from an underlying mental illness that isn’t diagnosed until later in his life, Pat still manages to offset a string of disastrous events in Silver Linings Playbook. When he discovers his wife cheated on him, Pat almost beats her lover to death. Following his release from a mental institution, Pat puts his parents through countless sleepless nights during his outbursts.

Pat’s overall dynamic with Tiffany is founded in disrespect, from him constantly criticizing Tiffany over her own mental illness, and ultimately, using her to relay a message to his ex-wife. Pat is a victim of circumstance who comes across as the movie’s villain due to his lack of accountability.

8 Blake – Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

Isn't It Romantic
Netflix

Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine have had amazing onscreen chemistry since their time working in the Pitch Perfect franchise. In Isn’t It Romantic, the pair portray Natalie and Josh, two coworkers who have unspoken feelings for each other, with one big obstacle standing between them, Natalie has a low self-esteem and doubts just about every opportunity that comes her way, especially romance.

After a freak accident, Natalie finds herself in an alternate, rom-com reality where she’s caught amidst a love triangle between Josh and Blake, a powerful businessman. Blake is seemingly the perfect man, except that has ulterior motives towards Natalie, looking to further his career by romancing her. Unfortunately for Natalie, Blake is everything she despises about rom-coms encompassed in one person.

7 Martin – Love, Simon (2018)

Martin from Love, Simon-1
20th Century Fox

Martin is a complicated character. At first, Martin just comes across as an artsy kid who feels way out of his league when it comes to Abbey, hoping to win her heart over with Simon’s help. Nevertheless, it’s how Martin asks for help that is utterly despicable; he blackmails Simon by threatening to expose his e-mails to Blue if he doesn’t help him. Not only do Martin’s threats cause Simon to lie and manipulate his friends, Martin exposes Simon’s secret regardless when Abbey rejects his advances.

Martin takes away Simon’s right to share his true identity. Fortunately for Simon, his friends and family prove supportive and Blue comes forward to reveal himself to Simon.

6 Julianne – My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

My Best Friend's Wedding
TriStar Pictures

Julianne is another leading lady to fall in the morally reprehensible category. Julianne and Michael are best friends who, at one point in their friendship, make an oath to marry each other by the age of 28 if they both remain single. Three weeks prior to her 28th birthday, Julianne and Michael agree to meet after not seeing each other for some time, leading Julianne to think Michael is going to propose.

Instead, Michael reveals he’s marrying another woman. Julianne proceeds to do everything in her power to break up Michael and his fiancé, Kimmy. What makes Julianne so unlikable is her narcissism; she never cared for Micheal romantically until she felt her chance slipping away, and even so, it’s primarily her fear of loneliness that drives her actions.

5 Josie – Never Been Kissed (1999)

never been kissed
20th Century Studios

When referencing Never Been Kissed, most people tend to condemn Michael Vartan’s character, Sam, for his unethical advances towards Josie when she’s one of his students.

Nevertheless, Josie is a terrible person herself. Josie lies and manipulates throughout her entire time at South Glen South High School, she brings her brother along for the scheme to help her fit, in the process exposing many innocent girls to his predatory behavior, and lastly, Josie plans to turn her and Sam’s unsettling affair into a sensational story for the Chicago Sun-Times. Josie is a scheming opportunist throughout the entirety of this movie.

4 Joey – 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Joey Donner 10 Things I Hate About You
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

This late ’90s teen rom-com has Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger leading a modern-day version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It’s a fun, somewhat convoluted tale that makes audiences laugh and smile as its leading characters, Kat and Patrick, who begrudgingly fall for each other. Of course, no great rom-com comes without a repulsive villain; in this film, it’s Joey Donner. Joey is conceited, cruel, and shallow, spending most of the movie pursuing Kat’s younger sister, Bianca, with Kat disapproving the entire time.

While Bianca initially thinks it’s because Kat is jealous of her happiness, Kat finally confesses that she dated Joey when she started high school and that he plans to use Bianca as he did with her. Bianca eventually discovers that Kat was right all along, coming to her senses before doing anything worth regretting with Joey—and gives audiences a satisfying climax when she beats up Joey in front of the entire prom. Joey had it coming all along.

3 John Tucker – John Tucker Must Die (2006)

John Tucker Must Die cast
20th Century Fox

It’s hard to decide whether to love or hate John Tucker. While he has a reputation for dating various girls at the same time in school, John has a charm that makes him compelling to watch, making audiences wonder how long will he go before his luck runs out, especially when three of his former conquests come together to destroy John with the help of the unpopular Kate Spencer.

The plan has its ups and lows, but somehow, John always manages to have impeccable luck in every sabotage attempt by the girls. Ultimately, John’s time with Kate teaches him to be a better person when she confesses her part in the revenge plot, teaching John an important lesson in transparency in relationships.

2 Marianne – Easy A (2010)

Easy A
Sony Pictures 

Amanda Bynes was a staple of teen rom-coms in the early 2000s, as the lead. In Easy A, Bynes tackles her first mean girl character as Marianne, Olive’s arch-nemesis. Marianne is a religious bigot who, after overhearing Olive lie about an encounter with a college student, spreads the rumor and changes Olive’s reputation for the worst. While Marianne gets her due punishment when she discovers her boyfriend cheated on her, it’s entertaining to see Amanda Bynes portray a character completely outside her normal type.

1 Abigail – The Lost City (2022)

Sandra-Bullock-Daniel-Radcliffe-The-Lost-City
Paramount Pictures

Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way since portraying the titular wizard in the Harry Potter franchise, showing the world his acting chops extend to portraying different characters-types. In The Lost City, Radcliffe portrays Abigail, a greedy business executive determined to find a lost city in the Atlantic holding a priced artifact, The Crown of Fire.

While Abigail is underestimated by both foes and minions alike due to his inoffensive appearance, he has some genuinely menacing outbursts excellently portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, notably when he leaves Loretta and Alan to their impending demise as a volcano threatens to consume the lost city and everyone in it. Abigail is one of Daniel Radcliffe’s most ruthless portrayals.



This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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