What makes you fall in love with a character? It’s not that they must be the good guys or gals, because – let’s face it – there are plenty of villains we love to hate out there! In order to answer this question, it’s best to understand what it is that characters do that makes us cast them aside without much thought. One thing guaranteed to earn them a ticket to purgatory is being annoying. To have any character constantly questioning the lead role, making the most idiotic choices and blatantly antagonizing the good guys is pretty much a hate-mail life sentence for the actors who portray these degenerates!
But, although not often, one of said disliked characters may fall into the writers good graces and get a turn for the best. Sometimes, even though you really abhor what they’ve previously done, you can’t help but notice those characters change and evolve, ultimately trying their best to make up for all the nuisance they once were responsible for. It’s all we can do to give them a second – or even third chance – and get our pompoms out to cheer that their change is a real one!
Here are 7 of these characters who got off on the wrong foot with audiences but, since then, have earned their rightful place under the sun – or, at the very least, annoyed us a bit less!
Game of Thrones – Sansa Stark
Which Game of Thrones fan doesn’t remember how spoilt Sansa was back in Season 1? She was self-centered and self-absorbed as any teenager can be and, although she even thought sadistic Joffrey Baratheon was her Prince Charming, we can’t fault her for that. Yes, she made her father’s life much more difficult than it had to be (some even say she made him lose his head!), and she treated her sister Arya as if the young girl had a serious rash, always avoiding anything to do with her. She was young, having only known life in Winterfell and she yearned for some time in the adventurous court at King’s Landing. Country girl goes into town, anyone?
Now, six seasons later, it would be unfair not to recognize how much Sansa has grown and changed. She’s matured much faster than she would have – had she stayed back in Winterfell – and she’s certainly suffered her fair amount of hardship to atone for her previous lack of care for others. She’s become that we can all respect and cheer for, and she’s even made up with her bastard brother Jon Snow. Sansa is on the way to becoming a political mastermind, one who has already led the Starks back to their rightful place at Winterfell, and she gave us the treat of the season when she fed her rapist Ramsay Bolton to his own dogs.
The Originals – Niklaus Mikaelson
Our dislike for Klaus goes back to his time on The Vampire Diaries, when he would go to any lengths to get what he deemed to be rightfully his. He’s lied, manipulated, tortured and killed his way around Mystic Falls for three seasons, before he and his Original family got their spin off in New Orleans. The Originals started off with Klaus condemning his unborn child and her mother Haley to death, simply to retain his grip at power. He fought his progeny many a time, he daggered his siblings a couple others, killed both his fathers and he even went as far as preventing Haley from having any access to their child by cursing her to be in werewolf form for good.
Klaus has always been the outcast of the Mikaelson family, the relegated child born of infidelity, desperately in search for someone to love him. On The Vampire Diaries, Caroline Forbes was the first link to his humanity and, on The Originals, it was the psychology student by day and bartender by night Camille who showed him what it is to be loved. His love for Cami anchored him to his more humane side, making him care for the ones around him and do his best to always play by the rules. By the time he said goodbye to his dying Camille, Klaus had become a truly family-oriented man, capable of sympathy and even remorse.
Downton Abbey – Thomas Branson
Although Mary Crawley is the one most people have a problem with in Downton Abbey, she didn’t make this list because she simply didn’t redeem herself enough by the series finale. Instead, Tom Branson is the one who started out as a rioting socialist chauffeur and turned out to be just the breath of fresh air the aristocratic Crawley family needed. Tom never did anything as remotely outraging as Mary in the show, but he did get on our nerves a bit in the beginning. He spent many dinner parties being as vocal as he could about how much he despised the Crawleys’ way of life, and he even teamed up with hardcore socialist Sarah Bunting, much to Lord Crawley’s dismay.
After marrying the youngest of the Crawley daughters, Sybil, and losing her in childbirth, Tom seems to change his views of the Crawley family little by little. He takes part in the management of the family lands, and encourages Mary to do the same. His anti-aristocratic perspective allows him for a more understanding and contemporary view of the world which, in turn, helps acclimatize the Crawley family in the 1920’s way of life. By Downton Abbey‘s finale, Tom had become a great father to his daughter Sybil, a confidant to both his late wife’s sisters Mary and Edith and, against all odds, a cherished son to Lord Crawley himself.
Arrow – Thea Queen
When Arrow premiered its first season, Thea was Oliver Queen’s little sister who had a hard time getting over her brother’s ‘death’. She had a deeply strained relationship with her mother Moira, rebelled against everyone and anything and even got into heavy drugs, like Vertigo. Thea also didn’t take Oliver’s return very well, resenting the attention he was drawing away from her. Her curiosity and her untamed personality led her to several dangerous situations, from which Oliver saved her time and again, until she found out he was the Arrow – right about the same time she also found out she was Malcolm Merlin’s daughter.
Thea’s road to redemption was a rocky one. Having Merlin as her new-found father, gave Thea the opportunity to become a better version of herself, one that could stand up for what she believed and defend her own if need be. Her romantic involvement with Roy Harper also eased some of her own rebellion, as she had to be the mature one in their relationship early on. Thea has been to hell and back – quite literally – and has as well as some of Star City’s enemies. She’s become a respected member of Team Arrow, fighting alongside her brother Oliver against those who have wronged the city – which includes her father. Despite being Merlin’s pet project, Thea has chosen the rightful path and has done more good than she ever did harm.
The 100 – Bellamy Blake
Bellamy started out pretty much as the most hated character in the sci-fi series The 100. Where Clarke was the voice of reason, Bellamy was the self-proclaimed leader who took the Arc’s 100 in a path of violence and chaos. He rebelled against the remaining leaders of the Arc by removing the monitoring bracelets, he defied the rules many times, raised his own army, promoted gladiator-style fights among the Earth’s survivors and even went as far as torturing his sister’s savior. Bellamy and Clarke never seemed to see eye-to-eye on anything, especially in the early stages – when Clarke’s sense of morality was still very much alive.
As the winds changed, so did Bellamy. From a leader without a cause, he went on to being the one in charge of rescue missions and to support Clarke in her own defying decisions. He learned to respect his sister’s Octavia and her freedom to make her own choices and, most of all, he replaced Clarke as a leader when she took off after killing her boyfriend Finn. Bellamy has joined the Guard and took part in helping the destruction of A.L.I.E., whilst navigating through some hard loyalty choices.
Grey’s Anatomy – Dr. Alex Karev
To say that intern Alex Karev didn’t have bedside manners would be putting it mildly. Karev didn’t get along with his fellow interns at first, let alone with attending doctors and patients. Coming from a broken home – with an abusive father and with a schizophrenic brother who tried to kill their sister – Alex had a hard time growing up, which reflected on his inability to form an emotional bond with anyone. He was a womanizer at Seattle Grace Hospital, a rude and careless friend and so competitive as to cause Meredith the guard of her adoptive daughter, by telling the Chief she had left her Alzheimer’s treatment.
Since then, Alex Karev has developed a deep appreciation for Pediatric medicine which, in turn, gave him the chance to address his feelings in a different light and has made him a more sympathetic man. He’s found his true love in Jo, an intern with a very similar background to his, and has taken over Christina Yang’s role as Meredith’s person – after Christina left the hospital and Seattle. Karev’s acceptance of who he is and his determination to be a better person, by making the hard and good choices, is what has made his atonement ever more sweet to watch.
The Walking Dead – Carl Grimes
When the zombie apocalypse took over the planet, Carl was just a kid whose father was in a coma and whose life turned upside-down. Dystopian realities will often create the worst environment for any child to grow, and things don’t get easier when you lose your mother and has no respect for your father as a leader. In the nearly two years since the events of The Walking Dead started, Carl has constantly disobeyed both his parents, put himself in dangerous situations, and proved to be a serious case of pain in the rear for his father (and viewers), with his persistent disregard for the severity of their situation.
Eventually, through the traumatic events he’s endured, his learning curve peaked and he gradually became more mature and aware of his role in the group. He’s stepped up on several occasions, exercising caution and heeding to other people’s advice. He’s made hard choices like when he killed a kid at the prison, he shot his mom in the head after she died to prevent her turning and she’s turned into quite a great shooter. In Season 6, Carl showed he was the better man when he disarmed Ron (after Ron tried to kill him) and not even the fact that he lost an eye seems to bring out the worst in him. He’s a reasonable and responsible young man, and, although technically still a teen, Carl has acquired the experience needed to know
They may have been blacklisted at first, but these characters have taken all the right turns on the path to becoming people we support, cry with and cheer for. It’s a testament to the actors who, through their great performances, have earned not only more screen time, but also better plots to develop. From rude, cruel, immature and annoying, these characters have put on layer after layer of emotions and personality characteristics that have made us – some, more than others – fall in love with them.
Have you ever fallen belatedly in love with a character you used to hate? Sound off in the comments below!
The Walking Dead – Game of Thrones – Outlander – Vikings – Arrow – Sense8 – Homeland