From terrible mothers to downright horrible fathers – TV has got plenty of bad parents that may or may not make you appreciate your own just a little bit more. Here is our list of the 10 worst parents on television:
1. Olivia Godfrey, Hemlock Grove
This woman killed her baby. Like, she reached down into the poor little thing’s crib and snapped her baby girl’s neck just because Juliet hadn’t been “born with the caul.” And then she went and wore white to the funeral! Honestly, Olivia, the sheer nerve of you.
The Netflix series also shows Olivia, played by Famke Janssen, as acting very coldly and dismissively towards her other daughter, Shelley – and though this is a bit of a deviation from the books, where she’s more openly warm towards Shelley, it’s clear in both versions that she favors Roman. Speaking of Roman, that whole relationship is tinged with weirdly sexual overtones.
This one time, in a coma-dream, Roman envisioned his own momma grabbing his junk and crooning. Also, spoiler alert: mother and son intertwine their tongues in one of the final scenes of the first season (okay, so it was more of a violent attack than a make out session, but it doesn’t weird me out any less.)
So yeah, Olivia’s a pretty interesting character, but she’s also terrible and we would definitely not want her as a parent – especially if she’s going to be highly neglectful, snap our necks while we’re sleeping, and/or try to get it on with us.
2. Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones
Props to Tywin (Charles Dance) for not killing Tyrion when he was a baby? That’s about the only nice thing we can say about the domineering patriarch of House Lannister on Game of Thrones, and it’s not even that nice! You don’t get cookies for not killing your infant son, even though you really, really wanted to.
If you watch Game of Thrones, then you know Tywin Lannister absolutely despises his youngest child, Tyrion. His wife died giving birth to him and, to make matters worse for Tywin, Tyrion came out a dwarf and then went on to sleep with a bunch of prostitutes. Unacceptable!
Tywin much prefers his other children, Cersei and Jaime, but he acts coldly even towards them. And he’s turned a blind eye to their incestual relationship, which is probably rooted in the fact that Cersei and Jaime are starved for fatherly affection. But we’re just guessing!
3. Frank Gallagher, Shameless
Shameless wouldn’t be shameless without Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy. The entire show’s premise is based on the fact that Frank is a terrible, absolutely no-good father to his six (Fiona, Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, Liam) children. Frank’s absence from his children’s lives is one thing, but his presence doesn’t help matters, either.
Last season, he drunkenly called Social Services on his own family and – consequently – the children were shipped off to live with foster families. Fiona ended up filing for legal custody, but she had to go to court to fight Frank on the issue.
During the court hearing, Fiona tearfully recounts her experiences with Frank’s alcoholism and drug addictions – explaining to a judge that she’d had to take over Frank’s parental duties ever since he left her with a sick Ian and distraught Lip on the street curb when she was very young. Frank is the definition of “bad father”.
4. Bart Bass, Gossip Girl
We’d say letting your only son go suicidal because he thinks you’re dead is pretty shitty parenting. And if he hates you enough to let you dangle off the side of a building and collapse to your untimely death, then you must have done something wrong. (Unless we’re talking about a We Need To Talk About Kevin situation.)
Bart (Robert John Burke) wasn’t always a sociopath, but in the last season of Gossip Girl he became just plain cruel and unsympathetic. He also kidnapped Blair and blackmailed his son. These are not the actions of a good father.
5. Regina, Once Upon A Time
Regina’s adopted son, Henry, was convinced that the townspeople of Storybrooke were really amnesiac fairy tale characters. In turn, Regina, played by Lana Parrilla, had Henry see a therapist because that’s ridiculous, right? Except that in this show it’s not!
At some point in the series, Regina has even tried to kill Henry’s biological mother, his maternal grandparents, and his paternal grandfather. Even though Regina truly cares for her son and tries to earn back his love, trust, and forgiveness, her controlling and dishonest behavior from Season One earns her a spot on our Worst TV Parents list.
6. Olivia’s father, Scandal
Before we knew that Rowan (Joe Morton) was Olivia’s dad, we knew him as the super secret CIA director of the super secret CIA operative group named B-16. He sent Jake to seduce Olivia and then watched the sex tape afterwards (not in a pervy way – we think – but as a tool to break up Olivia and Fitz). He then tried to have Olivia killed because she wouldn’t stop sleeping with the President.
We also see Rowan brainwash two of his B-16 agents, first by putting Huck in a hole for months and then by putting Jake in a hole also for probably months. (He puts a lot of people in a lot of holes.)
All this, and then we find out at the end of Season Two that this dude is her father. No wonder Olivia has horrible taste in men. Season Three will no doubt reveal the true extent of Rowan’s madness.
7. Mr. Lahey, Teen Wolf
We don’t really know all that much about Isaac’s dad (John Wesley Shipp) since he died shortly after we were introduced to him, but what we do know definitely earns him a spot on this list. Borderline psychopathic, abusive, aggressive, and freezer-happy, Isaac’s father tormented him for who knows how long.
Isaac has mentioned once that his father “wasn’t always like that,” but in the face of everything that man put him through, that means little. And to top it off, the writers of Teen Wolf continue to put him in triggering situations that cause him to flash back to those days, like: trapping him in a closet, having him hallucinate being trapped in a freezer, Derek throwing a glass near his head reminiscent of one of Isaac’s last memories of his father, and more.
So yeah, Isaac’s dad. Fuck you.
8. Norma Bates, Bates Motel
No mother-son relationship gets nearly as crazy, murderous, and incestual as the one between Norman and Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) on A&E’s Bates Motel. Just think about Hitchcock’s Psycho and how Norman ends up – he starts killing innocent people and develops a split personality which involves him dressing up as his mother.
On Bates Motel, we get to see the truly creepy dynamic between Norman and Norma play out over 10 episodes (and counting, since the series was renewed for a second season), as the creators of the show explore exactly how Norman ended up the way that he did.
First of all, Norma is extremely paranoid and possessive over Norman. I mean, she named him “Norman” after all. That’s not to mention all the implied incest stuff going on between the two of them. The series starts off with Norma killing her rapist. Norman subsequently helps her hide the body, increasing their mother-son bond and showing that Norman will do anything for his mother. By the end of the series, Norman is driven to murder his teacher after seeing a hallucination of his mother.
9. Hank Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This guy was so absent from Buffy’s life that, even though we’ve seen the show multiple times, we can’t remember what he looks like.
His absentee status starts all the way back in Season One, when his track record causes Buffy’s fear of abandonment to become a reality. Not long after this, he cancels their eighteenth birthday plans.
All of this may not sound so bad compared to the other characters on the list, but it all comes to a head in season five after the death of Joyce Summers. Instead of coming to town and helping his daughters through their grieving, he’s off in Spain with the secretary he ran off with. He’s been so unavailable that Buffy and Dawn can’t even find him.
10. Lucille Bluth, Arrested Development
Do we even need to explain this one?
While Lucille Bluth’s (Jessica Walter) treatment of her elder children is pretty bad, youngest son Buster gets the brunt of the bad parenting. Every year, she attends an event called “Motherboy” (yes, it’s just as creepy as it sounds) and after Buster’s hand gets torn off by a shark (which she is partially to blame for), she tries to switch to another son.
That is just one example of the various ways she manipulates that one particular son on a daily basis. Plus, she has various homicidal tendencies.
Oh, she also signs him up for the army to get revenge.
Did we leave anyone out? Let us know in the comments below!